Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Condoleezza Rice on El Salvador

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to reporters from Latin America in connection with the meeting of the Organization of American States this week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Here is her response to a question about US relations with El Salvador:

Well, the government of El Salvador and the people of El Salvador have been so supportive of what the Iraqi people are trying to achieve now in their march to democracy, and we're just very, very grateful for that. And if they choose to extend, and it's for El Salvador to decide -- if they choose to extend, I hope that they will because the Iraqis now have to write a constitution and then they have elections to take place at the end of the year.

But, of course, the CAFTA we are doing because we believe it is good for the region, we believe it's good for El Salvador, we believe it's good for the United States. And we couldn't work any harder than we're working to try to get CAFTA passed.

Similarly, on the immigration policies, the president has said that we do need to revise our immigration policies in the United States to take note of the fact that there is an economic side to this, that willing workers and willing employers need to have a better relationship where they can find each other. We believe strongly that people have to respect our laws, and so any changes to our policies -- for instance, a temporary worker program of the kind the president has talked about -- should not advantage people who broke our laws to get into the country. And so we don't believe in amnesty, but we do believe strongly that we need a system that is more humane. People shouldn't have to live in the shadows the way that many people do currently. And it would be good if they could go home. It would be good if people could keep some of what they have earned in our pension system.

And so these are all things that we are working on in the United States and we're going to continue to work on them, whatever happens in terms of the troop deployment. But we are in conversation with the Salvadoran government, and I've seen such strong support for the Iraqi people from the Salvadoran people that I'm confident that El Salvador will try to continue to help in whatever way that it can.

Secretary Rice did not quite have her facts straight with respect to the views of the Salvadoran people on Iraq. A CID-Gallup poll in February revealed that a solid majority of Salvadorans oppose continuing their country's armed forces in Iraq. Another survey from January showed that 73% of Salvadorans blame the high price of gasoline on the war in Iraq.

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