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Fri Jan 11, 2013, 05:15 PM

The U.S. and the Privatization of El Salvador

Weekend Edition January 11-13, 2013
Neoliberal Politics in Central America

The U.S. and the Privatization of El Salvador

by ERIC DRAITSER


As much of Latin America braces itself for the possibility of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death, observers around the world would do well to note the stark contrasts that exist within the region. On the one hand, there are the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) countries, united by Chavez in their rejection of US imperialism and neoliberal capitalism. On the other hand, there are those countries which are still very much living under the hegemony of the United States. In El Salvador, this means subservience to Washington and international investors who seek nothing less than total control of that nation’s economic destiny. This attempt at economic monopolization can be summed up with one word: privatization. It is precisely this strategy with all the union-busting, wage gouging, and propaganda disinformation that it entails, that is rearing its ugly head in El Salvador.

Public-Private Partnership (P3) Law

The corporate-financier drive to privatize the Salvadoran economy has taken the form of the proposed Public-Private Partnership law which, if approved, would grant the government the right to sell off national resources, infrastructure and services to foreign multinationals. In effect, it would allow for the privatization of those sectors of the economy traditionally controlled by the state. As Gilberto Garcia of the Salvadoran Center for Labor Study and Support stated, “Essentially, they want to take a strategic service from the state in favor of a multinational.”i The ultimate goal of this legislation is not merely to cede control of state institutions to private interests, it is also to subvert and ultimately eliminate the power of organized labor and thereby reduce wages and the standard of living of working people in the country.

Public sector workers in El Salvador earn a minimum wage of $300 per month while their private sector counterparts earn anywhere between $187 and $219 per month.ii The drive to privatize is, at least in part, aimed and driving down the wages of industrial workers while maximizing profits for foreign investors. However, the law is aimed not only at lowering wages, but weakening the public sector unions on a fundamental level in order to prevent mass resistance to the implementation of the neoliberal policies that have been so destructive in other parts of Latin America and the developing world. Many of the public sector unions have mounted effective resistance to these sorts of policies in the past, therefore making them high-priority targets for corporate bosses seeking to transform the economy for their own benefit.

~snip~

The US and the “Partnership for Growth”

The Public-Private Partnership legislation is merely an outgrowth of the Obama Administration’s so-called “Partnership for Growth” bilateral agreement, signed with the Funes government in 2011. This agreement “embodies a key administration policy of seeking to elevate broad-based economic growth as a top priority of our development assistance, ensuring that our investments and policies are guided by rigorous assessments of how countries can achieve higher levels of growth,”iv according to Mark Feierstein, assistant administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite the innocuous diplomatic rhetoric, the bilateral agreement intends to create a climate conducive to foreign exploitation of the resources and services of a country that is, in many ways, entirely dependent upon the United States for its economic survival. It should be noted here that, on more than one occasion, the Obama administration ambassador to El Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte, has threatened to withhold crucial aid if the Public-Private Partnership law is not enacted.v In effect, the Partnership for Growth lays the foundation for a dependent relationship in which the United States, acting as the benefactor, controls the direction and type of development that El Salvador is allowed to have.

More:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/11/the-u-s-and-the-privatization-of-el-salvador/

4 replies, 518 views

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Reply The U.S. and the Privatization of El Salvador (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 OP
Peace Patriot Jan 2013 #1
naaman fletcher Jan 2013 #2
Bacchus4.0 Jan 2013 #3
naaman fletcher Jan 2013 #4

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 03:32 PM

1. Funes got bullied by the U.S. with the Honduran coup.

Here is the sequence of events:

Mauricio Funes of the leftist political party, FMLN--the party that had taken up arms against the Reagan-installed fascists (civil war '79-'92)--was elected president of El Salvador in 2009, and inaugurated in June 2009. The FMLN was committed to El Salvador joining ALBA (declaring independence from the U.S., pursuing social justice in trade relations). El Salvador's membership in ALBA was pending.

In June 2009, in neighboring Honduras--which also had a leftist president (Mel Zelaya) and had joined ALBA--the U.S. State Department, the U.S. military, transglobal corporations and the fascists in Honduras combined to overthrow Zelaya and install a fascist government. One of the first actions of the coup government was to withdraw Honduras from ALBA.

Funes then withdrew El Salvador's application to join ALBA.

Look at a map. El Salvador is a tiny country up on Honduras' northwest corner. Honduras was the Reagan junta's footstool for launching wars on Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and other countries in the 1980s. So the U.S. controlling Honduras once again, and busily building new military bases there, is an historical threat to El Salvador and a current threat to El Salvador. Either Funes knuckled under or he would be gone by now--flown out his country at gunpoint from a U.S. military base (as Zelaya was), or conveniently assassinated, and his country's democracy overturned.

Central America/the Caribbean is the U.S. "circle the wagons" region against the leftist democracy revolution in South America. One of the coup generals in Honduras made this very clear when he said that their coup was intended "to prevent communism from Venezuela reaching the United States" (--quoted in a report on the coup by the Zelaya government-in-exile).

To this general, "communism" = universal health care (free to the poor), universal education through college (free to the poor), good wages/benefits, strong labor unions, high employment, fair taxation, honest elections, high public participation in political/government affairs, use of a country's resources to benefit the people who live there, the elected government running the country, as opposed to transglobal corporations and the 1%, and so forth. Somebody had advised this general that Honduras must be the bulwark against notions of FAIRNESS reaching the United States.

And that it is. That it is. Everything being "privatized" in Honduras now. Labor union leaders and other advocates of the poor are routinely assassinated. Journalists also routinely assassinated. It's all being set up for Jeb to do a Reagan (another war against the Latin American Left). The U.S.--or rather the transglobal corporations and war profiteers who control the U.S.--are NOT ABOUT TO let go of Central America as their chattel for various purposes, and they WILL make war on it again (beyond the attritional "war on drugs"--i.e., war on the poor, they've been waging, lo, these many decades), if they think it's necessary to keep control of it. They've LOST control of South America, to a rather amazing leftist democracy revolution, which started in Venezuela and spread to Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries. They are determined, as the Honduran general said, to stop this revolution--which is NOT a "communist" revolution, but rather a DEMOCRATIC social justice revolution--from "reaching the United States"--i.e., from transforming Central America into a truly democratic region, and THEN THE U.S.

A word about Obama responsibility for the Honduran coup. I DON'T think that the coup was of Obama/Clinton design. It was of Bush Junta design, and was sprung on them only six months into the Obama administration (with Obama's hands quite full, dealing with two Bush Junta wars and the Bush Junta-instigated worldwide depression). But I DO think that Obama/Clinton reacted very badly to it, and acquiesced to blackmail (openly bragged about by junior Senator Jim DeMint (SC-Diebold)). It's possible that Obama/Clinton even saved Zelaya's life, by having him flown out of the country instead of murdered. But this coup was just too, too convenient for the transglobal corporations that control Obama/Clinton, for them to do anything serious or effective to reverse it, and they also had a lot of shackles on their power (mostly the result of deals they made to obtain limited power). Clinton proceeded to COVER UP for the coup by holding a State Department-run, so-called election, under martial law (with hundreds of leftists being murdered or imprisoned).

It's important to understand all this--to try to penetrate the deeper currents of U.S. policy--to grasp the full import of an action like Funes' in withdrawing from ALBA. Maybe he was smart--maybe it was the best he could do, in the circumstances (U.S.-supported fascist coup right next door). I'm NOT against someone ducking for cover, valuing his life (and that of others), thinking long term, and being smart (surviving) when a monstrous bully like the U.S., with a history of murder and mayhem in Latin America, leers over the border. However subtly or bluntly it was put to Funes, he had little choice but to withdraw El Salvador's application to ALBA, and work on social justice in other ways with that monster looking over his shoulder.

Also, the Salvadoran economy is quite dependent on remittances from Salvadoran workers in the U.S., and the U.S. intends to keep it that way. It DOESN'T WANT an independent El Salvador joining with other Central American/Caribbean countries to exercise clout over their own affairs and creating sufficient shared wealth to keep its citizens at home. I imagine that the remittances were also used to pressure Funes. ('Join ALBA and see that all dry up, Mauricio!' ''The U.S. has to protect its borders, Mauricio! Homeland Security, Mauricio!' 'We can turn small, simple banking transactions into terrorist acts anywhere in the world, for any reason we damn please, Mauricio!')

Ugly. Very ugly.

The U.S./El Salvador "Partnership for Growth" is like fundamentalist 'christian' and 'islamic' marriage, wherein the woman is treated as a sub-human with virtually no human or civil rights and is forced to do all the domestic work for nothing, and it's all propagandized as "protection." It's a protection racket all right, whether it is enforced on a personal level, in a marriage, or by transglobal corporations in national and world economies. Obama should be ashamed but he clearly isn't--and that is OUR tragedy--that we have absolutely no say in U.S. policies, at home or abroad, no matter whom we are permitted to elect.

We, the people of the U.S., are chattels, too. It's a difficult problem for a woman who is being exploited and consigned to sub-human status, to even recognize her oppression let alone assert her human and civil rights. She has many things to consider--the fate of her children, disruption of family ties, her ability to make a living on her own, her emotional ties to a husband who may be beating her or robbing her, her religious or social beliefs, and the immediate problem of where to go and what to live on if she leaves. It is even more difficult for an entire population to recognize its plight and do something about it. And there are many types of chattel-hood from outright brutality to bribery, soft words and illusory rights.

This is something that I've become more and more conscious of, as I've grown older. We are all El Salvadorans. We are all Hondurans. We are all Iraqis. We are all oppressed women. We are all slaves, of one kind or another, wherever slavery arises. But what the leftist democracy revolution in South America has shown us is that, though it may be difficult, we--collectively, as a people--can walk away from our slavery. It's not easy for an oppressed woman to do that. It's not easy for an entire country to do it. But it CAN be done!

It is no wonder that the forces of oppression here in the U.S. and launched from U.S. soil (after many subsidies) need a bulwark (fascist Honduras, bloodied Guatemala and Mexico) to prevent these notions--democracy, social justice, independence through cooperation, sharing and peacefulness--from "reaching the United States." It's NOT that old bugaboo 'communism.' It's something we had once and lost--fairness. Or, in any case, we had fairness as a goal and were working on it--with the "New Deal," with labor union organization, with civil rights activism and legislation, with anti-poverty programs, with fair taxation, with PUBLICLY counted voting (not electronic machines, run on 'TRADE SECRET' code, largely owned and controlled by one, private, far rightwing-connected corporation--I mean, jeez!).

We were working on it--fairness. Are we now?

How is it that we are being hung by our ankles over a "cliff" by treasonous Pukes, when we should be working on major rollbacks of Puke crime and major advances in fairness? (Puke = Republican, traitor, Bushwhack). How is that we are allowing that brutal husband to beat us up once again? We are El Salvador. They and we have many things to consider, it's true. We must not invite more violence; we must survive; we must forgive ourselves for that--while plotting our escape and our children's escape from oppression. In our case, we need to start with the 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines. I mean, jeez, they might as well bring back locked "chastity belts" around wives' groins. That's how absurd corporate-run 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines are. Wake up, friends! Wake up and start plotting the great escape from Corporate Rule!

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 05:11 PM

2. The US military?

 

the U.S. State Department, the U.S. military, transglobal corporations and the fascists in Honduras combined to overthrow Zelaya and install a fascist government I agree it was a coup, and largely for the reasons you stated. But, the US military participated?

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Response to naaman fletcher (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 08:42 AM

3. no, but there are those who maintain that the Honduran military base is a US base

when in fact its not. Just like the base in Manta. If it were a US base we would still be there. The US signs agreements with governments to maintain military presence there.

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Response to Bacchus4.0 (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 08:44 AM

4. Yeah I know

 

It's like me renting a hanger at JFK airport and then someone claiming that JFK airport is a naaman fletcher's airport.

the disturbing thing is the way that this has been corrected over and over yet keeps coming up again.

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