Two representatives from a popular community organization spoke to Cabrini College to explain the issues of their country in El Salvador on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Representatives Bernado Belloso and Jose Heriberto Orellana Franco met with members of Cabrini’s community in the Widener Lecture Hall. In El Salvador, citizens will elect a new president for their country in winter 2009. The human rights of people in El Salvador are at stake. Belloso and Heriberto spoke to students with the help of a translator representing the National Directive Council Member of Rural Communities for the Development and Directive Council Member of Carasque.
Belloso and Franco are traveling around the United States with Emily Carpenter, National Director of U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities network and translator Jan Morill, USESSC El Salvador Co-Coordinator. The tour will end in Washington D.C.
Forty percent of the population in El Salvador is living in poverty and the country is one of the most violent countries in the world. CRIPDES was formed after the civil war that occurred in the ’80s and lasted until 1992. Human rights were being violated during the war.
“This is a way to share the situations we are living in our country,” Belloso said. “The people that are being affected by the problems that are occurring in El Salvador are the poor.”
Factories employ women who make only $167 per month. Families live on a $1 a day in El Salvador.
Some families in the country have eight or nine children to support.
“The people need minimum conditions meant for everyone, especially children,” Belloso said.
The salaries have not helped the people of El Salvador since the rise in gas prices, as well as their most valuable food products, corn and beans. El Salvador has signed free trade agreements affiliated with the United States and other countries. The free trade agreement has made it easier
for other countries to export and import goods to El Salvador and make products more expensive.
“Free trade violates our constitution. Free trade does not favor the majority of our country,” Belloso said. “We don’t care what the government says about us. We are just trying to build our communities.”
Franco comes from a town called Carasque. Carasque is CRIPDES’ strongest organized community in the department of Chalatenango.
“CRIPDES started 19 years ago in my town. There are different committees on health and education and they are made up from those who live in the area,” Franco said.
Immigration is a major issue in El Salvador. They said that 740 people a day emigrate from El Salvador to the U.S. The Salvadorans who do not make it to America put themselves in more debt than they were already in because they pay $7,000 to be taken to the United States and if they don’t make it, they repeatedly try to come.
Franco said that immigration could cause problems between families because there are times when parents leave their children with grandparents back in El Salvador.
It is a struggle for parents who do immigrate over to the United States because they do not know the language or the culture of the U.S. posing problems with attaining a job and being able to live a stable life.
If there is one thing that both the countries have in common, it is the upcoming elections that are happening in both the United States and El Salvador. Change is about to happen in each country with a new president. Voting was mentioned as being really important to change. “If we don’t take responsibility and don’t vote we won’t be able to change,” Belloso said.
Belloso and Franco stressed the fact that the youth, who have the strongest views, are extremely important in the upcoming election.
“The youth need to have a clear position as what they want. Don’t let others influence the youth in their vote,” Belloso said. “Youth are our future of our country.”