San Salvador, El Salvador - January 28

The last leg of Cathleen Caron’s trip was to El Salvador.  She had follow-up meetings with some groups to confirm their participation in the New Defender Training scheduled for the end of February and made some new contacts as well.
Today Cathleen met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to further the discussions started in the last visit.  In June 2012, the government established a new cross-sectorial entity called ConMigrantes (in English, National Council for Migrants and their Families).  The initiative has representatives from many sectors including El Salvadorans living abroad, universities, NGOs and of course, government agencies.  It is reported that up to 25% of the Salvadoran population lives outside of El Salvador-a staggering statistic.  Doris Rivas, the Director of Migration Policy for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been named the first Executive Secretary.  Ms. Rivas has a lot energy and commitment to the issue, which will open many doors to improve conditions of migrants who work abroad.  But there is much to do done. Foreign Affairs officials did not know about El Salvador’s own labor law protections designed to protect workers in the recruitment process.  It is likely that Global Workers will consider conducting a regional training for government officials on U.S. and Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker programs. 
The meeting with the Technological University of El Salvador was quite interesting and perhaps an indicator of new strategic alliances to come.  Cathleen met with the Social Studies department where the professors teach some units on migration but did not know about the U.S. temporary foreign worker visa program or U.S. labor rights.  They were keen to learn more to incorporate into their courses.  We also discussed the idea of teaming up with the law school clinics. In most of Latin America students must do some sort of internship before they graduate.  Many choose to do this through the law schools free legal clinics for the poor.   Introducing U.S. labor rights to the list of issues the students would address would result in many more migrants having access to justice for abuses suffered abroad. The Dean asked Cathleen to return in September to be a panelist during their annual week celebration of migrants and to continue the discussions.

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