Thousands of union members, peasant farmers, informal vendors, and community leaders filled the National Sports Institute in San Salvador on Saturday, October 7, for the 3rd Gathering of the Popular Social Movement. These assemblies were initiated in 2010 by three broad social movement coalitions – the Popular Coalition for a Safe Country free of Hunger (CONPHAS), the Homeland for Everyone Movement (MPT), and the Popular Resistance Movement (MPR-12) – with the objective of creating a space for Salvadoran social movement organizations to unite behind shared positions and articulate joint strategy.
At this year’s gathering, social movement activists from across the country came together in support of the following points:
- That new government programs initiated under the Funes administration have brought benefits to their sectors and should be defended, continued, and expanded.
- That the government’s international relations policy should be based on respect for national sovereignty; and, while good US-El Salvador relations are important because of the nearly 3 million Salvadorans living and working in the US, the Salvadoran government should look towards other countries and regional blocs like the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our Americas (ALBA) for cooperation and support.
- That it is urgent for El Salvador to increase its tax revenue by increasing taxes and closing fiscal loopholes for big businesses and the country’s highest earners.
- That the government should continue its investment in reactivating agricultural production and building towards food sovereignty and food security.
The organizations represented at the gathering also declared their support for the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, whose presidential candidate for 2014, current Vice-President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, was a keynote speaker. Francisco García, union activist and member of CONPHAS, drew cheers from the audience when he said, “we breath, we live, and we fight for the same color as the FMLN because the FMLN is in the heart of humble and dispossessed Salvadorans.”
Sánchez Cerén congratulated the organizations on the assembly and called on them to continue to unite and strengthen themselves. After describing the FMLN’s formation from the popular social movement organizations of the 60s and 70s, he affirmed that “the FMLN and the Salvadoran people continue to need a strong and organized social movement to carry forward the process of change in this country.”