Yesterday the Diario Co-Latino highlighted the United Communities’ initiative to organize the communities affected by flooding and advocate for government action. The president of United Communities, José Santos Guevara is quoted denouncing the governminent’s claims that they have completed the levees along the Lempa River. The levees remain incomplete and the corresponding entities have yet to begin repairs of areas damaged by last October’s flooding. (See post from October 2008)
The article comes on the heels of a 5-day march to San Salvador organized by the communities of El Salvador’s four river basins – all of whom are affected by flooding year after year . Community representatives will present their demands at the Presidential Palace on Friday February 27th.
The communities of El Salvador’s four river basins continue to struggle to be heard at a national level. Recent TV and newspaper interviews express their frustrations with federal entities and representatives.
The national budget goes before the Legislative Assembly next month, with no concrete proposals for the communities left vulnerable to flooding year after year. Despite an aggressive campaign to allot resources for levees and drains in the nation’s four coastal river basins, neither the Legislative Assembly nor the Ministry of Cattle and Agriculture have taken the necessary measures to guarantee the safety of these communities.
The grass-roots initiative for such resources began advocating in the Legislative Assembly this year after the Ministry of Cattle and Agriculture refused to heed their complaints. The Ministry said they would only continue piece-meal repairs of existing levees due to lack of resources. They also refused to produce reports of past accounts, such as the 2006 FOPROMID 4 million dollar fund for emergency response and infrastructure, money donated by foreign governments after Hurricane Stan.
At the Legislative Assembly, the communities were well received by representatives from all of the major political parties, but were unable to move forward with a concrete proposal. The Ministry of Agriculture is the entity responsible for presenting any projects, while the Legislative Assembly is only able to suggest and/or approve the proposals.
Therefore, the organizations are back at the table, working on a new demand for the Assembly and the Ministry. The piece asks the Ministry of Agriculture for explanations as to why they refuse to include comprehensive projects in their annual budget. And since it is the government’s responsibility to protect these communities, they also demand retribution for lost crops as a means to reactivate the region’s agriculture.
Meanwhile, the families of all four river basins are struggling through a second bout of flooding this year and the further degradation of the few existing levees left to protect them.