Accompanying Salvadorans’ struggle for social justice since 1985

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Dear Friend of El Salvador,

The end of year festivities are upon us, and we want to take this time to sincerely thank you for your continued support and accompaniment as we strive to build peace, social justice, and prosperity with the people of El Salvador.

As always, our work continues, and we would like to briefly describe some of what we will focus on in 2014.

In El Salvador, people have said yes to water and no to gold mining. A densely populated country the size of Lake Ontario, El Salvador simply cannot withstand the proliferation of large-scale gold and silver mining projects that will further stress an environment already in crisis. Large-scale mining leads to water pollution and sacrifices significant swaths of land – land on which rural Salvadorans live and work. This should matter to Canadians - most major mining projects are led by Canadian multinational mining companies. Salvadorans have already resoundingly rejected mining in their country. They are asking for Canadians to stand with them in defending their land.

In response, SalvAide is launching a major environmental-defence campaign supporting rural communities in the northern province of Chalatenango (where many gold deposits exist) as they organize in protection of their land against large-scale “precious” metal mining projects. The Chalatenango Free of Mining Project is a grassroots effort led by our sister organization, CRIPDES, to help rural communities in Chalatenango learn more about and organize against gold mining. The project will work to enable communities to pressure their municipal authorities to enact bylaws declaring their jurisdictions “zones free of mining.” In this way, from the ground up, the project will contribute to that for which Salvadorans have been clamouring: a country free of mining.

Of course, this type of work requires resources and your solidarity. We need to raise $35,000 to make it happen. We know Canadians have stepped up to the plate in the past, and we are confident that our generous supporters will answer the call once again. Remember, this is an issue in which we as Canadians are implicated. Canadian mining companies are prominent among those trying to bully the Salvadoran people into allowing polluting gold extraction in their country – whether they like it or not. Your contribution will tell Salvadorans that you condemn the coercive behaviour of these companies and that you stand with the popular will.

SalvAide will also once again accompany the Salvadoran people in their democratic expression through our 2014 Presidential Election Observer Mission in February. Among other things, the election will see either a continuation of the pro-poor reform of the current government or a return to the privatization and neoliberal policies of past regimes. The electoral contest also comes in the midst of shocking attacks against renowned human rights organizations in El Salvador, Tutela Legal and Pro-Búsqueda, harkening back to the repression and chill of the 1980s. The accompaniment by international observers will once again help bear witness to what Salvadorans hope will be free, fair, and safe elections. Please visit our website for more information, and please consider making a charitable donation in support of SalvAide’s Observer Mission.

Youth leadership continues to be a major area of focus for SalvAide. Through the generous support of the Loretto Sisters, among others, we have supported a Youth Leadership & Peacebuilding project helping youth develop the skills to be positive social agents in their communities and to advocate for their rights. Young Salvadorans face stark challenges with gang proliferation, unemployment, and the allure of migration to the North. SalvAide and our partners believe that providing young people with skills and opportunities to develop their potential in El Salvador is of fundamental importance to achieving what we all want – a just and prosperous El Salvador.

We will also be supporting a project in partnership with likeminded organizations in Spain through our partner, CORDES, helping to organize seniors in the Lower Lempa region of El Salvador. Little attention is paid to the plight of seniors in El Salvador, this despite a practically nonexistent social safety net for Salvadorans who reach the age of retirement. The vast majority of Salvadorans 65 and older have no pension and rely on the ability and will of relatives to support them. The Lower Lempa Seniors Advocacy Project will bring older Salvadorans together to help them advocate on their own behalf and press for policy changes that give them an opportunity for a decent life. The initiative will also help fund a community health post geared specifically to seniors’ needs.

This is just a small sample of the ongoing work at SalvAide. It is precisely because of your steadfast support that our small grassroots organization can continue to accompany the work of our partners on the ground. Through your generosity, you are a catalyst for change.

Please consider a gift of $50, $100, $500, or even $1,500 to help us continue our work in El Salvador. Any amount you are able to contribute is most welcome. Please click here to donate easily on-line.

On behalf of the entire SalvAide family and, most importantly, the communities that your solidarity benefits, thank you humbly for your continued support, and remember to please stay in touch!

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