Advocacy, Partnership for Growth

Bajo Lempa Rejects the Public-Private Partnership Law

The Inter-Institutional Group of the Bajo Lempa region of Jiquilisco released a statement this afternoon in response to the passage of the Public-Private Partnership Law that passed through the Legislative Assembly last week. Their statement comes as the Salvadoran government announced that it is forming a commission to start organizing the first round of partnership agreements.

The Inter-Institutional group is comprised of several local and national development organizations working in the Bajo Lempa and Bay of Jiquilisco – they include organizations like ACUDESBAL (The United Communities of the Bajo Lempa), ADIBAL (Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral del Bajo Lempa), CESTA (Center for the Application of Sustainable Technology), ASPS (Salvadoran Association of Public Health), the Pastoral Team of the Lower Lempa, the Emergency Fund, and Voices on the Border. It also includes communities such as Amando Lopez, Comunidad Octavio Ortiz, La Tirana, Nueva Esperanza, and others.

Here is the Inter-Institutional Group’s statement, first an English translation and then the original Spanish.



The Inter-Institutional group of civil society organziations of the Lower Lempa and communities in the municipality of Jaquilisco express our strong opposition to the Public-Private Partnerships Law, passed by the Legislative Assembly on Thursday May 23.

Neoliberal measures implemented in El Salvador have failed in every way. Privatization, dollarization and CAFTA-DR were supposed to create jobs and economic growth, but it never happened. Instead poverty, violence, environmental degradatoin and corruption increased significantly during the 4 ARENA governments that oversaw the implementation of these neoliberal policies. We deeply regret that our country continues to embrace the neoliberal agenda dictated by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the United States government, the principal “advisors” and promoters of the Public-Private Partnerships Law.

We recognize that the FMLN introduced important changes to the original bill, but at the same time it infuriates us that the party that once led a fierce opposition to the neoliberal agenda is now endorcing this type of law that provides state resources to transnational corporations whose only purpose is economic profit not the wellfare of the Salvadoran population, which has been marginalized throughout its history.

State resources such as the Comalapa International Airport, seaports, hydroelectric dams, highways and others are the property of all Salvadorans are likely to be endlessly exploited by private companies. Even worse is what can happen to the beaches, mangrove forests and nature reserves.

The Public Private Partnership law also paves the way for the second FOMILENIO, a megaproject that constitutes a series of threats to coastal ecosystems and their populations. Like the proposed gold mining projects and the construction of dams, the second FOMILENIO fund will provide large national and transnational corporations with economic benefit while providing the communities with economic and environmental problems.

Taking into account that all political parties lost credibility with the approval of the Law on Public Partnership Law and no longer represent the interests of the people, and we the below signed organizations and communities of the Lower Lempa once again reiterate our determination to defend our lives and territory until the ultimate consequences.





La Interinstitucional del Bajo Lempa (INTERBAL), integrada por organizaciones sociales y comunidades del municipio de Jiquilisco, expresamos nuestro más enérgico rechazo a la Ley de Asocios Público Privados aprobada por la Asamblea Legislativa, el jueves 23 de mayo.

Las medidas neoliberales aplicadas en El Salvador fracasaron en todo sentido, las promesas de empleo y de crecimiento económico que acompañaron las privatizaciones, la dolarización y la firma del CAFTA-DR, jamás se cumplieron y en su lugar la pobreza, la violencia, el deterioro del medio ambiente y la corrupción se incrementaron grandemente durante los 4 gobiernos de ARENA. Lamentamos profundamente que el país continúe asumiendo la “receta” neoliberal dictada por el Banco Mundial, El Fondo Monetario Internacional y el gobierno de Los Estados Unidos, principales “asesores” y promotores de esta Ley.

Tenemos conocimiento que el FMLN introdujo importantes modificaciones al proyecto de ley original, pero a la vez  nos provoca indignación que el partido que fue  férreo opositor a la doctrina neoliberal   ahora avale este tipo de leyes que ofrecen recursos del Estado a empresas trasnacionales cuyo único fin es el  lucro económico y no el bienestar de la población históricamente excluida.

Bienes como el aeropuerto, los puertos, presas hidroeléctricas, carreteras y otros que actualmente son propiedad de todos los salvadoreños y salvadoreñas serán susceptibles de ser explotados hasta la saciedad por empresas privadas; pero más grave aún es lo que puede pasar con las playas, los bosques de manglar  y las reservas naturales.

Esta ley también abre el camino para el  segundo FOMILENIO, megaproyecto que constituye una seria amenaza a los ecosistemas costeros del país y a la población. Al igual que los proyectos mineros y de construcción de represas, de concretarse el segundo FOMILENIO,  grandes empresas, nacionales y trasnacionales saquearan los recursos de la zona, se quedaran con los beneficios económicos y las comunidades que habitan los territorios costeromarinos, serán desplazadas y abandonadas con muchos problemas.

Teniendo en cuenta que con la aprobación de la Ley de Asocios Público Privados todos los partidos políticos han perdido credibilidad y han dejado de representar los intereses de la población salvadoreña, las organizaciones  y comunidades del Bajo Lempa reiteramos una vez más nuestra determinación a defender la vida y el territorio hasta las últimas consecuencias.



Advocacy, News Highlights, Voices Developments

Voices’ Partner Community Updates

Voices recently published a spring 2009 newsletter. Below are excerpts of the community updates.  To view the full newsletter click here.

Comunidad Segundo Montes

Julie (Voices volunteer) and the folks in Comunidad Segundo Montes have been working hard. ALGES (the Association of War Wounded) recently rented out a second space next to their office. The new store sells beverages and snacks, and offers photocopying services–a hit with the kids coming from and going to school. Last year ALGES built and rented out space for a small eatery that has become a favorite spot for locals.picture21

These efforts are significant. First, ALGES is taking steps to fund its own activities by engaging in a business venture. The money they earn ensures their independence and sustainability, and allows them to better serve the community. The project is also significant in its promotion of small business. El Salvador is facing a grim economic reality in the face of the global crisis, and small businesses such as these keep money circulating in the economy and provide people with jobs. Thank you to the congregation at St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte, NC for their ongoing support of Voices, ALGES and other partners in CSM.

During the recent elections, Radio Segundo Montes hired 30 interns to help them cover the voting in CSM. On election days in January and March, Radio Segundo Montes provided the youth with a press t-shirt and a $5 calling card, and drove them to different polling stations in the area. The youth called in to the radio several times while the polls were open, reporting on the number of voters and any instances of fraud or conflict. In addition to providing valuable information to the radio station, the project got youth involved in the political process, and hopefully sparked an interest in civic participation that will last long beyond Election

Salinas del Portrero

Representatives from many of the 14 cooperatives in Salinas del Portrero met on March 26th to call for a reorganization of the directiva (community council) and a re-evaluation of several initiatives with nonprofit aide groups. Calling themselves the Committee for Community Development, the group identified several issues they want to address, including security, transportation, education, roads, and health. Before this meeting, the group had already led a successful campaign to lower the fare that pick-up trucks charge to travel from Salinas to Tierra Blanca. They are now working with the local police to address the rise in crime, which has recently included car jacking, attempted rape, and aggressive drunkards. The group will soon petition the Ministry of Education to increase the grade level of their school from 6th to 9th. Currently, 40 students travel to Tierra Blanca to attend 7th-12th grades.picture6

The local health committee remains active, and is supporting Rubidia (the ASPS health promoter) in her monthly home visits to check in on patients with diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as provide prenatal care for the community’s women. Rubidia and the health committee just completed a coordinated community mapping project in which they identified each home and family, and the shrim farms in 11 local areas. They use the maps to help track their patients.comite-de-salud-salinas

Ciudad Romero

Following the elections, the Ciudad Romero directiva turned its attention to two important celebration–the commemoration of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and the anniversary of the founding of their community. The directiva is also busy renovating the community park. The new design includes a new stage, a mural, a garden, a jungle gym, a new basketball court, and a plaza commemorating the nation’s history with bust of Monsenor Romero and Farabundo Marti.picture5

Marina (the ASPS health promoter) continues to address the public health issues in Ciudad Romero, providing family planning services, teaching families how to maintain their compostable toilets, and giving talks at schools on hygiene and other topics. According to Marina, the most pressing health issues in Ciudad Romero include diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, asthma and respiratory problems. Diarrhea related to water-born pathogens remains an issue, though the number of cases has decreased with the use of a new model of latrines as well as access to higher quality water piped into the community.picture10

Comunidad Octavio Ortiz (La Canoa)

Comunidad Octavio Ortiz is limiting the impacts of the current economic and food crises on their community with initiatives that will increase local food production. Local farmers will increase and diversify their agricultural production so that they are more self-sufficient and less vulnerable to skyrocketing food prices. The increased production will also stabilize the local economy.

To facilitate the transportation of crops, the Directiva is planning to improve roads within the community. They are beginning to grade and gravel the main streets as well as the side roads that lead to the farmlands that surround the residential area.

The Directiva is also planning to increase their community’s cultural life, especially among youth. To accomplish this goal, they would like to build a second level onto the Casa Comunal that will be used for music and art classes, movie viewings, and many other purposes. They will also add space for a small store to sell food and other goods produced in the community.15-filling-perol-1

Early one Saturday morning in late March, community members gathered at the local trapiche (a sugar cane mill) to bring it back life after two years of dormancy. By noon, kids were playing with taffy, while adults were wrapping blocks of unrefined sugar in dried husks. Producing artesian sugar for cooking, sweets, and molasses, which is used in making cattle feed, can be a lucrative operation that brings the community together and may even result in a small, local tourist industry.24-vites-macocho

Under Arecely’s (the ASPS health promoter) leadership, the COO health committee remains strong. Working in partnership with the local Ministry of Health clinic, Arecely and the health committee have led numerous health campaigns, fundraisers, and advocacy initiatives, and participated in several trainings.

While the community is excited about the possibility of having greater access to government ministries once the new administration takes office on June 1st, they are increasingly aware of their responsibility for their own development and sustainability.