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Massive May Day march in El Salvador

by Tristan Tuesday, May. 02, 2006 at 1:36 PM

Tens of Thousands of Salvadorans take to the streets in annual march. This year the focus is immigrants in the US and Neoliberalism here.

Today thousands of Salvadorans poured into the streets to condemn an unjust world and demand respect for workers throughout the world.

The right wing national government of ARENA had tried to imtimidate would be marchers with fear. There were constant TV commercials reading out laws that would send one to prison for various years. There were laws against public disorder, blocking streets, carrying weapons, wearing masks in demonstrations, and forigners were prohibited from taking part.

In the morning over one thousand street vendors of CDs and DVDs marched. They sell copies that companies like Disney say are stolen content. Agreements like CAFTA force El Salvador to enforce US patent law. When the patent for Mickey Mouse was about to run out Disney was able to put so much pressure on the US government, that the time that US patents cover was doubled. Poor salvadorans can not put this sort of pressure on so they choose to feed thier families the best way they can.

In route, in a bus full of demonstrators, this morning from Santa Ana (The second largest city) there were five police check points to search vehicles.

People were not intimidated.

At eight o clock hundreds then thousands of people began to pour into San Salvador from all of El Salvadors fourteen departments. The streets around El Salvador del Mundo (park) were soon packed. The FMLN (leftist political party and ex guerillas) held a rally and in fact there were few people who were not wearing red FMLN shirts, the color of the party. Police were everywhere but soon mostly young men began to spray paint slogans on walls and the police did not interfere. Others wore masks or lit humungous fire crackers without incident.

By ten the march started off. The unions led, then came many members of the FMLN, womens, religious, campesino and other groups. After we had gone a mile the rear end of the march had not yet began to move.

The students led a feeder march from the University of El Salvador. They were the most militant groups and many had masks and sticks. All the walls along the march were filled with grafitti. Much of it was the names of the groups participating in the march but there were many political positions as well. The students are fighting a proposed multi million dollar loan by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB). The students believe that the government should pay for the university and that the IDB loan is the firs step to privatize the university or its functions.

The main positions of the main march were better conditions for workers and against Neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is modern capitalism where everything is sold to private corporations (almost always multi nationals), governments give up control to the market place and money becomes the only social value. There was a strong fight against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and there is still a strong fight against free trade. Water privatization is on the agenda of the right wing and it is being opposed. Also the march was in solidarity with immigrants in the US. One quarter of salvadorans live in the US. The Salvadoran economy is totaly dependant on the money that these workers send home to thier families.

The western countries and thier multinational corporations maintain their position of dominance in the world not by being nice but by looting the world. One way is through loans from the World Bank, IMF and IDB. Intrest from these loans is high and many countries have paid back the amount they borrowed several times over. Wolfowitz, head of the World Bank, is here to visit today and welcomed by the right wing president. Another way this is done is through privatization. El Salvador sold its telecomunications company in the nineties following Word Bank advice. Now foriegn companies earn profits and suck these out of El Salvador and back to the US and Europe. When a Salvadoran goes to one of these countries to try to work and get some of these profits back they are criminlized. Last year the US deported 43,000 Salvadorans.

The march wound through the capital. The sea of red clothed marchers seemed to never end. The sun was quite hoot. There was a lot of shouting at the police but no incidents. The students would squat then jump up and run full speed chanting. When we got to the plaza several effigies ( World Bank, ARENA, Free Trade) were burned and more fire crackers set off. There was an ending rally with many labor speakers. They mentioned the history of May Day in the US in 1886 and the fight for the eight hour day and the repression where several labor organizers (mostly anarchists) were eventually executed in Chicago. They also spoke of the massive protests in 2003 and 2004 that stopped the privatization of the Social Security hospital.

The fight against capitalism and for a liveable world is alive and well here.

La Luch Sigue
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