Saturday, April 30, 2005

Coming and going

There were some contrasting images at El Salvador's airports on Friday. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice arrived for a visit on the final leg of her Latin American tour. Secretary Rice met with President Tony Saca before her return to Washington. Among the topics she spoke on in El Salvador:

  • The Bush administration will push for immigration reform, a topic of great interest in this country which depends on the remittances sent by Salvadorans living in the United State
  • The Bush administration is grateful for the support of El Salvador with its troops in Iraq; El Salvador is the only country in the western hemisphere with troops still in Iraq
  • The Bush administration will work to get CAFTA ratified in the US Congress
  • There will be ongoing cooperation between the countries in fighting gangs
  • The countries will support Chile's interior minister Jose Miguel Insulza becoming the next head of the OAS.

Earlier in the day, there was a confrontation at the airport as Salvadoran authorities expelled Ecuadorean doctor Pedro Banchón. Banchón was expelled for engaging in political activities in El Salvador. He had lived in El Salvador since 1997 and is married to a Salvadoran doctor. His apparent crime was violation of a law prohibiting foreign nationals from engaging in political activities within the country. The doctor was active in supporting the labor union for health care workers. When migration authorities came to detain him and put him on a plane, there was a confrontation with pushing and shoving including members of the medical union, certain FMLN deputies, and other supporters of Banchón. President Saca acknowledged that he had ordered the deportation. An ARENA official called the doctor a "professional agitator."

The FMLN denounced the expulsion as did the nation's Human Rights Ombudsman.

The events of the day show that the voices of some foreigners are more welcome in the country than others.

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