El Salvador and the United States signed the Partnership for Growth development agreement on November 3. The Partnership for Growth is a foreign policy initiative of the Obama administration which aims at poverty reduction through economic development. The action items in the countries' agreement followed the completion of a "constraints analysis" which identified reducing crime and insecurity and increasing productivity of the tradables goods and services sector as priorities for unlocking economic growth. The partnership has a five year plan, and you can read the Joint Country Action Plan at this link. If everything in this plan can be accomplished, it would be a good step forward for El Salvador where economic growth is lagging all of Latin America and crime takes a toll on all Salvadoran families.
There is also a good post about the Partnership for Growth from our friends on Voices on the Border at this link.
But US foreign policy is viewed with suspicion and cynicism in some sectors. On Thanksgiving Day, a group of protesters from the US and El Salvador took up positions outside the US Embassy. Linking themselves to the Occupy Movement in the US and the Indignados movement in Spain and elsewhere, the small group protested policies which they believe are designed to benefit multinational corporations or the 1% and ignore the 99%. They issued a statement over the internet which declared:
We specifically demand an end to the following transnational policies in Central America:There's an album of photos from the protest here.
- The Free Trade Model that destroys local economies , victimizes workers and the poor, and protects corporate interests over national sovereignty. For example, in El Salvador, Pacific Rim, a Canadian mining company, is using a World Bank tribunal to sue the the Salvadoran government for protecting their own environment and communities.
- Regional Militarization Strategies that criminalize social protest, subject national security systems to intervention and supervision by the U.S. government and facilitate violent repression of activities that jeopardize the interests of global capital, exemplified by the collusion between U.S. and Honduran political-military forces in the 2009 ousting of President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. Since the coup in Honduras, farmers, women, youth, the LGBTQ community and activists have been the victims of increasing state repression and human rights violations.
We stand together today, citizens of the Americas and beyond, united with the global Occupy movement to promote alternatives to this inherently flawed system like economies of solidarity, fair trade, food sovereignty, fair tax systems, participatory democracy: a global system that puts people and the environment before profits. We are here to liberate our governments and our planet from corporate occupation and to take them back for the people.
- Environmental Destruction and Climate Change that has largely been caused by greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S. and other highly industrialized countries. Central America recently suffered Tropical Depression 12 `E, whose devastating intensity is widely considered to have been a result of climate change. In El Salvador, this storm caused 34 deaths, the evacuation of 50,000 people from their homes and losses in infrastructure and agriculture estimated at 850 million dollars. Meanwhile the U.S. continues to increase its emissions and block meaningful national and international action on global warming.