Posts Tagged ‘Labor Rights’

New Legislation Bans Chemicals, Aims to Prevent Kidney Failure

February 21, 2014

What do you do if one out of every four men in your town suffered from mysterious kidney failure?

This is a question that rural communities from San Vicente, El Salvador, to Sandamalgama, Sri Lanka, to Uddanamm, India have been asking since an epidemic started in the early 1990s. 

Massive floods, like 12-E in October 2011, contribute to the contamination of ground water.

Massive floods, like 12-E in October 2011, contribute to the contamination of ground water.

What do the victims of Chronic Kidney Failure in these far reaching countries have in common? They have little formal education, work back-breaking agricultural jobs in sweltering temperatures, handle pesticides and fertilizers, and drink ground water from areas near where these pesticides and fertilizers were applied.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has increased threefold in El Salvador since 1990, rising 25% in just the past 5 years, and is now the leading cause of hospitalized deaths in El Salvador. CKD has disproportionately affected young men who live in rural communities and work long hours harvesting sugar cane. Between 2005 and 2012, 1,500 men under the age of 19 were hospitalized for CKD (out of a total 40,000 hospitalized patients of all ages during the same period). In a national sample 95% of CKD patients worked as agricultural laborers where they were required to spray pesticides and fertilizers.

On September 5, 2013, forty-five Salvadoran legislators voted for and successfully passed the Law to Control the use of Pesticides and Fertilizers that was championed by SHARE’s partnering organization, CONFRAS. This legislation originally banned the use of 53 of the most toxic chemicals commonly found in fertilizers and pesticides in El Salvador and many believe are the main contributing factor of CKD. After the legislation was approved by the Salvadoran legislators, President Funes revised the law to only include 42 of these chemicals.

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Institutional Crisis: Road Paved to Fraud

October 23, 2013

Only one month remains until elections in Honduras, and the crisis in Honduran public institutions has only deepened. The Honduran people have faced a multitude of deep-rooted systemic injustices for decades, which have only been aggravated further by the coup. Impunity ranges from human rights violations in the 1980s, to dozens of murders in the context of the coup, to the current homicide rate, the highest in the world in 2012.  

Last month, Guillermo Lopez Luna, a Honduran magistrate spoke at a forum on impunity in Central America, sponsored by FESPAD, the IDHUCA, and the International Commission of Jurists. Lopez stated that Honduras faces “a complete collapse of the System of Justice,” with the Honduran police, judiciary, and the Public Prosecutor’s office characterized by corruption and inefficiency.

Additionally, the Honduran Congress has taken several actions to consolidate influence and control over the judicial system. As far back as 2003, the International Commission of Jurists noted the intervention of political parties in the Honduran Justice System. In the last year, the Honduran Congress has enacted at least three unconstitutional interventions in the judicial system:

  •  Removal of four Supreme Court Magistrates
  • Replacement of the Attorney General and Adjunct Attorney General for a longer term than outlined in the constitution

  • Election of Judiciary Council members limited to an organization of Judges aligned with the Honduran oligarchy

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Norman Quijano: From Mayor to President?

October 14, 2013

Norman QuijanoThis is the second post in a three-part series introducing the three main candidates for presidency, representing UNIDAD (a coalition of the GANA, CD and PCN parties), ARENA, and the FMLN. Six months remain until Election Day on February 2nd, when a team of elections observers will join SHARE to ensure a free and just electoral process for El Salvador in 2014.

On August 15th, Norman Quijano took leave from his position as the mayor of San Salvador to focus on his official presidential campaign for the ARENA party. Although the elections polls show too many discrepancies to predict a winner, Quijano is a strong candidate because of his popularity as mayor of San Salvador, having won a second term in 2012 by a landslide.

Norman Noel Quijano Gonzalez was born on November 2nd, 1946 in Santa Ana to a middle class family. He graduated from the University of El Salvador in 1977 with a Bachelor’s degree in Odontology. He continued his studies for oral surgery in Argentina, Cuba, Colombia and the United States. Quijano was first introduced to politics under the reign of then ARENA mayor Dr. Armando Calderón Sol, when he served as the Manager for Social Action of San Salvador from 1989 to 1994 . He then held the position of Board Secretary of the Legislative Assembly from 2006 to 2009.

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P3 law passes: What does this mean?

May 28, 2013

The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly passed the Public-Private Partnerships Law Thursday, May 23rd, with 83 of 84 votes. As one assembly member was absent for the vote, the law passed by consensus, meaning no parties opposed the passing of the law. Despite some resistance from the Salvadoran left and social movements, especially unions, the current public services that this law will open to contracts for management by private companies include ports, the airport, highways, and municipal services. Before agreeing to pass the bill, left-wing political party FMLN negotiated to ensure that some major public services are excluded from privatization, including water, education (particularly the national university), healthcare, the health insurance system for Salvadorans with formal jobs, and public security. While these exclusions are an important silver lining, Salvadoran social movements have reacted with outrage.“Public-Private partnerships continue the neo-liberal economic model where, once again, the state turns over public goods to private enterprise.”
– Isabel Hernandez, SHARE El Salvador

The United States was keen on this law passing in order to facilitate contracts for U.S. based corporations’ future business development and other international corporations’ investment to be carried out without facing any obstacles. U.S.-El Salvador ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte, even threatened not to approve the next Millennium Challenge Corporation project funding, had the law not been passed. The fund focuses on coordinating public-private partnerships to enact mega tourism and development projects primarily along the coast in the Lower Lempa region. Read More »

“Partnership for Growth” or Destruction?

February 1, 2013

When El Salvador privatized electric energy in 1999, electricity rates rose an average 47.2% for the lowest-level consumers and 24.3% for the highest users, hitting the poorest sectors of society the hardest and illuminating problems associated with privatization. During the past two decades, privatization has trampled through El Salvador’s economy. In 2007 the government attempted to privatize water under the thinly-veiled “decentralization” effort, but a passionate social movement response halted the potentially devastating law. With the newly proposed P3 law, an even stronger offensive is needed to block the menacing attempt at privatization.   

Salvadorans protest the bill that would destroy progress with labor rights.Photo credit: Eric Draitser

Salvadorans protest the bill that would destroy progress with labor rights.

With the Public-Private Partnership (P3) law, the government is again attempting privatization; this time the P3 law threatens to destroy labor conditions, including unions and wages, and disempower Salvadoran institutions and workers. 

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Women’s Rights in the Workplace

April 5, 2011

Salvadoran women working in a factory

On March 30th, the International Labor Organization presented their report on Legislation Regarding Women’s Work Rights in Central America and the Dominican Republic. The report revealed that the most common types of labor violations in the workplace for women are in regards to maternity and sexual harrasment.

International Labor Organization Representative, Maria Jose Chamorro, presented the report to the audience. Some interesting facts about El Salvador labor laws:

  • El Salvador ratified the International Agreement on Work Dicrimination in 1995, and the International Agreement on Equal Pay in 2000, while the rest of the Central American countries had ratified those agreements in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Read More »

Workers’ Party begins process of becoming official political party

May 22, 2009

Yesterday, Diario CoLatino reported that members of the new Partido de los Trabajadores (Workers’ Party) picked up 50,000 ballots from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) for citizens to sign in order for the new party to be registered as an official political party. If the Workers’ Party, which was founded in 2002, is able to collect 50,000 signatures, the party will be able to participate in the next election. The party members stated that all wage earners can join their party. including those who work in the informal sector of the economy.

According to the Secretary of the Workers’ Party, Abel Quijano (pictured above at the TSE), the new party will represent the “true interests of the working class, which are not currently being represented anywhere else.” This statement may surprise some people in El Salvador, where the FMLN, the party farthest to the left, recently celebrated their first presidential victory. However, Pedro Zaldívar, another leader of the Workers’ Party, indicated the party’s interest in working with the FMLN. “I am a leftist, we are from the left, the FMLN defines itself as part of the left so hopefully we can work together.”

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

Immigrant Roots – Immigrant Rights!

May 4, 2009

Below are a few pictures from NCIC’s May Day rally for immigrants’ rights. To see more pictures from the march, click here.

*Photos taken by Jake Cunningham.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

“The people who love their freedom will one day achieve it.” – Simón Bolívar

Below are photos taken during the 2009 May Day march in San Salvador last Friday:

To see a slideshow of photos from the march, click here.

*Photos from El Faro.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

Put aside the may pole – march for immigrants’ rights!

May 1, 2009

As I prepare to participate in tomorrow’s May Day March for Immigrant Rights, I try to recall memories of May Day celebrations during my childhood. I remember a class project on the May Pole and extra recess time, but I cannot recall any memory of a lesson, unit, or class speaker that touched on the history of May Day. It was not until I was eighteen years-old that I learned about the true importance of May Day. In my history classes in college, I learned about the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886, when a bomb was thrown in a rally to demand the eight-hour work day and police fired into the crowd. Eight anarchist activists were tried for murder and four were executed with little evidence and a biased jury. As a result, workers and labor unions around the world took to celebrating what became known as International Workers’ Day with parades, marches, and civil disobedience. For many countries, May Day is a holiday from work. However, the U.S. Government has refused to join the global festivities around May Day. For example, in 1884, Congress passed an act making the first Monday of every September Labor Day in an effort to disassociate labor activism from the radical left. Moreover, in 1957 then President Dwight Eisenhower co-opted May Day and renamed it “Law Day” to celebrate the importance of the rule of law in society. Learning about May Day made me put aside the May Pole and join my brothers and sisters around the world to mobilize for justice….

To read the rest of the article, click here.

– Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

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