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Salvadoran activists protest President Saca visit with Mayor Gavin Newsom
by Rubble
Sunday Apr 6th, 2008 6:28 PM
Local Salvadorans storm Newsom's office, lead City Hall protest/press conference, and hold protest/street theatre at Fairmont Hotel fundraiser. The events were held on Friday, April 4, conisdered a "Day of Antonio Saca" by Newsom. Activists denounce dictator Saca as unwelcome in San Francisco, and criticize Newsom for hosting him. Hear two MP3 audio from the press conference
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In the first audio, Rubble interviews CISPES coordinator Alexis Stoumbelis at the press conference. The second MP3 contains speeches at the press conference, in English and Spanish.

Local Salvadorans Protest President Saca visit with SF Mayor Gavin Newsom

A press conference and rally was held at noon on Friday, April 4 in front of San Francisco‘s City Hall. Right-wing Arena party President of El Salvador Antonio Saca, accused by Salvadorans of presiding over increasingly brutal human rights violations in that country, was here as part of a two-city tour to raise money for his 2009 re-election bid. He was also scheduled with the Mayor of Los Angeles over the weekend.

Upwards towards 100 Salvadorans and other solidarity activists spoke out at the event, making it clear that Saca is not welcome here in San Francisco. In late 2007, Saca was hosted by the Bush Administration in Washington D.C., receiving a medal of honor from the International Republican Institute for “promoting freedom and democracy” in Latin America. Protestors made it clear that Saca is not welcome here. Later in the day, protest and street theatre greeted passers-by in front of the ritzy Fairmont Hotel, where the expensive fundraising dinner was held.

While the Bush Administration is obviously on friendly terms with Saca for his work in ushering in CAFTA and other policies friendly to U.S. corporate profit, against the will of the people, what business relationship does Mayor Newsom have with this repressive dictator?

Salvadorans were outraged on hearing that Newsom had declared April 4 as the “Day of Antonio Saca”, A group stormed his office that morning to demand answers. Before being quickly ushered out by police, they were told by a spokesperson that Newsom had not made this declared “Saca Day“, but a “day of friendship” between El Salvador and San Francisco. What is the relationship?

Apparently, the work by Newsom and the Board of Supervisors to make San Francisco a sanctuary city for Salvadorans is a very humane policy for immigrants living and working here. The Salvadoran economy is so bad that the largest sector of income is Salvadorans emigrating abroad to work and send money back to their families. Hundreds are forced to leave each day to support their families. Reportedly, several hundred serve with U.S. forces in Iraq while thousands serve there as security personnel through private contractors. San Francisco’s refusal to cooperate with immigration harassment helps local Salvadorans to live and work peacefully here, helping the export-labor based Salvadoran economy.

Saca is presiding over a resurgence of death squads. Brutal police attacks on activists, street vendors, and other dissidents, including the January 2008 murder of an opposition Mayor, are on the increase. A peaceful protest against water privatization has resulted in activists facing charges of up to 60 years in jail. A police force called ILEA, assembled under a School of the Americas model, is criminalizing dissent, including use of terrorism charges - similar to those used against U.S. Activists - against peaceful protestors. Activists consider his presidency illegitimate, reporting Bush Administration threats to cut off aid and deport Salvadorans prior to the election as intimidating the people into the outcome. Saca is promoting El Salvador as a having a business-friendly environment.

Hear mp3 audio from the streets. For more information, visit the CISPES website,
§Salvadorans speak out in front of City Hall
by Rubble Sunday Apr 6th, 2008 6:28 PM
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Good pictures of Los Angeles protest^Monday Apr 7th, 2008 4:53 AM
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