Blog

San Salvador, El Salvador May 6, 2006

While in El Salvador, Global Workers met with various entities to learn about the transnational access to justice challenges in El Salvador and to lay the groundwork for alliance work in that country.

Cathleen Caron, Executive Director, met with Margarita Escobar, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs for El Salvadorians in the Exterior (a ministry created two years ago to support El Salvadorians abroad). According to the Ministry, approximately 2.8 million of the almost 7 million El Salvadorians live abroad. The Vice-Minister expressed interest to learn more about Global Workers and explore possible collaboration. To that end, Cathleen met with several officials in her office. They discussed special concern with the approximately 8,000 annual deportations from the USA to El Salvador. Many of the deportees never received their final pay checks, among other problems. Conversations will continue about coordinating work between Global Workers and the Ministry. Consular trainings on labor rights was one of the issues discussed.

Cathleen also met with Catholic Relief Services in El Salvador. CRS is well aware of the transnational justice issues and was willing to collaborate with the alliance network. This would be a key partnership since CRS has presence in most of the regions in El Salvador.

Another meeting was held with several members the University of Central America, the Jesuit university in El Salvador. The university officials were eager to learn more about migrant labor problems in the United States, especially since they already receive complaints from migrants through the IDHUCA, the Human Rights Institute at the University. Discussions are now under way about training programs for the university. Members of IDHUCA invited Cathleen to speak about migrant labor rights on its human rights program on the University’s radio station.

Finally, Cathleen met with officials at the Ministry of Labor. It was unfortunate to learn that the US companies recruiting workers through the H-2B visa program (guestworker program) in El Salvador are failing to comply with the Law of Organization and Functions of the Labor and Social Provisions, Article 74 which establishes the conditions under which workers may be contracted to work outside of El Salvador. In 2004, just under 200 workers were recruited by US companies to work in the USA, according to USCIS data (unfortunately more recent statistics are not available).

Next stop: Guatemala

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