US Embassy Declares Salvadoran Anti-Privatization Work “Dangerous” to US Public
Written by CISPES
Friday, 21 September 2007
On Thursday 20, the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador denied Salvadoran union leader Maria de los Angeles Pleitez Carcamo a visa to come on a speaking tour of the U.S. Pleitez is scheduled to participate in CISPES’s “We Are Not Terrorists, Organizing is Our Right!” tour from Oct 16-31. During the tour Pleitez will talk about her union’s work to stop the privatization of the public health care system and the increasing repression that social movement and union leaders are suffering from the Salvadoran government.
On the morning of September 20, Pleitez went to the U.S. Consulate in San Salvador and presented all of her documents, including proof of work, family ties, and over a dozen letters of invitation from Congressional Representatives and other community groups. In the visa interview, the U.S. consular representative questioned Pleitez about her ties to CISPES and her union work. The official rejection letter cited lack of “economic and social ties” to El Salvador, but the interviewing officer made it clear that the rejection was a political decision when he concluded the interview, saying “this is very delicate situation…you cannot travel because we need to protect U.S. security.”
Pleitez believes she was denied the visa because the U.S. government does not want people in the United States to know about repression against the social movement and union leaders in El Salvador. Pleitez is a national leader in the Salvadoran General Hospitals Union (SIGEESAL), and SIGEESAL has recently been targeted for its work to stop privatization. On September 4, eight SIGEESAL members were illegally arrested for participating in a demonstration against the privatization of the national health care system. A number of other organizations have also been attacked for their activism recently. In July, 14 people were arrested in Suchitoto for participating in a peaceful protest against the privatization of water. Those protesters are being charged with “terrorist acts” and face up to 60 years of prison. The SIGEESAL activists are being charged with public disorder and could also face years in prison.
The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador is contributing to the repression of the social movement and union organizing by denying this visa and not allowing Ms. Pleitez to tell their stories in the United States As long as the U.S. government is supporting this repression in El Salvador it is critical that communities in the U.S. be allowed to meet with people like Pleitez to share experiences and build common strategies. The only “danger” we face is allowing the government to keep us uninformed! Take action to demand that the U.S. Consulate grant Ms. Pleitez a visa immediately.
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