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Privatization=Death 5,000 march in San Salvador

unions and community march on legislature in san salvador
5,000 people, led by the SIMETRISSS and STISSS took to the streets yesterday in the largest march yet of the current health care crisis. Chanting and singing their rejection of President Francisco Flores's plans to privatize the ISSS social security health care system, marchers tied up traffic in downtown San Salvador for four hours as they wound their way among the striking hospitals. At the end, marchers quickly doubled back to the Legislative Assembly, leaving police scrambling to catch up, and nearly managed to enter the installations before police managed to close the gate. "Today we have shown the government that we have the support of the nation," declared STISSS Secretary-General Ricardo Monge. "They have declared us illegal, but they will never stop our struggle, for we have justice on our side." Present at the march were delegations from the FESTRASPES public-sector union federation, the ANDES teachers' association, the Mélida Anaya Montes women's movement, students from the University of El Salvador, and a large contingent of women informal-sector vendors. One elderly woman in a wheelchair, holding high a sign that read "PRIVATIZATION = DEATH," explained that she represented the cancer patients at the striking Oncological hospital, who support the unions unconditionally. "I pray that Flores stops playing games and puts an end to this crisis soon," testified her daughter, "because my mother's life is hanging in the balance."

After the march, Monge and other union representatives, together with FMLN legislators, presented to the Legislative Commission on Health and the Environment their response to Flores's veto of the legislative decree outlawing concession of public services: an even stronger decree. Called the "State Guarantee of Health and Social Security," the bill would prohibit the privatization, concession, subcontract, licitation, or transfer of any health care or support service to private companies. The bill would also establish as dominant legal principle the state's obligation to provide accessible quality health care to every Salvadoran near their home, regardless of ability to pay. ARENA legislators showed their disrespect for the Salvadoran people by failing to attend the hearing. The full Assembly is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday, October 17; until then, in the words of Monge, "we will keep up the pressure and escalate the strike." Yesterday, doctors at the San Miguel hospital, the largest hospital in eastern El Salvador, went out on strike, shutting down their hospital entirely; today, doctors at the Ahuachapán medical center will do the same.

The FMLN has accompanied the struggle against privatization of health care since the beginning. Yesterday, the party once again called on the Salvadoran people to organize in support of the strike. FMLN deputy Roberto Lorenzana, returning from an FMLN delegation to Cuba studying their model of free health care for all, called for "active resistance."

This weekend, thousands of Salvadorans and peoples throughout Central America will take to the streets as part of a regional day of resistance to the CAFTA free trade agreement and the Plan Puebla Panama.

homepage: homepage: http://www.cispes.org

El Salvador Slide show October 23 12.Oct.2002 19:57

Meredith ILWU Local 5

Wednesday October 23, 7:30 pm at 616 E. Burnside CBLOC/PCASC
El Salvador Slide show October 23
El Salvador Slide show October 23