Three Portland residents traveled to El Salvador this March as international elections observers. The Portland residents were part of a mission of 36 observers from the United Status, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany. The mission traveled to El Salvador to witness the transparency in the electoral process, which is an element of the democratization as established by the 1992 Peace Accords that ended a 12-year civil war between a poor people's guerrilla army and a right-wing, U.S.-backed military government.
Since long before the day of elections, the electoral registry has been characterized by irregularities. In some municipalities the registry grew disproportionately in comparison with the population growth. There was massive migration between municipalities and documented cases of minors, deceased, and foreigners included in the registry. The institution in charge of distributing the voter identification card - the Unique Identification Document or "DUI" - is a private corporation that lacks public oversight. The mission also observed violations to the Electoral Code. The vote was not secret.
This election was especially crucial for El Salvador. The ruling, U.S.-backed ARENA party pushed through implementation of the deeply unpopular Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and is now attempting to open a School of the Americas (SOA) style U.S. managed police training academy. The fraud and irregularities observed by the delegation will be detailed in full and put in a broader political and historical context at the community report back.
The Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) is a local non-profit whose mission is to support movements for social and economic justice in Latin America and work to oppose U.S. military and economic intervention in the region.
Delegates will share their experiences from El Salvador Saturday April 1, 7 PM at the Musicians Hall (325 NE 20th Ave, Portland). The event is free and open to the public.