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“The right wing in El Salvador is a synonym for the strengthening of the destruction of our territory. In our country, it is clear that we should say NO to that”, said Chair of Friends of the Earth El Salvador, Ricardo Navarro.
All seems to indicate that the left-wing candidate will win the elections, he added, and then “we will work hard to try to convince them that a country cannot be developed if environmental sustainability is not taken into account”. Neither of the two political currents seems to show environmental awareness -something very concerning for Navarro, but he established some differences between them.
The national presidential elections will take place this Sunday in El Salvador and Ana Maria Vazquez of CESTA interviewed the environmental leader on behalf of Real World Radio.
Navarro explained that the right wing in the country is represented by the ARENA Party (Nationalist Republican Alliance) now in the opposition and with businessman Norman Quijano as candidate, and the left wing of Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) Party in office with candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, former “guerrillero”. “The other parties have no chance”, said Navarro.
In his opinion, the global economic/political system is not sustainable and is bringing humanity to destruction. What does this mean for El Salvador? We should be establishing survival strategies, i.e., how we will ensure water, food, medicine, a local market in a few decades. This is not contemplated by any party”, he regretted.
“For us, the right wing means a strengthening of the current economic/political system, which is causing the destruction of our civilization”, stated Navarro and he added that in El Salvador “this has meant a concentration of resources in a few hands, including practices outside the law”, during former ARENA Party administrations. The goal has been “to increase profit for corporations”. “This is what the current ARENA Party means. We need to say NO to the ARENA party”.
Moreover, Navarro said that the FMLN Party also has problems, because it isn´t aware of the environmental conditions that need to be taken into account in a government plan.
CESTA´s Chair and former Chair of Friends of the Earth International, an environmental federation with grassroots organizations in about 80 countries, said that he would like Sanchez Ceren to be elected President on Sunday. “But I think that from June 1st (when he will step into office) we need to pressure him, because we can´t trust the FMLN, we need to pressure him so that he does things as they should be done, especially on environmental issues”, he added.
Navarro also made reference to several environmental aspects that are concerning for CESTA. One is the intensive use of agrotoxics in agriculture, something that he linked with the increase of kidney diseases in the country. ARENA has already expressed its support to the use of agrotoxics, while the FMNL said it would vote to ban them, but they didn´t, said Navarro. “One of the challenges is to turn agriculture into a sustainable agriculture, to stop poisoning the people”.
On mining, the Salvadoran environmental activist highlighted that the left wing has always said it is not in favor of mining “but the problem is that it is not taking decisive measures such as banning metal mining”. “This is way we need to exert as much pressure as possible”, to ban this activity.
Navarro also made reference to Fomilenio, a work program of El Salvador´s government that is financed by the US government. Fomilenio promotes itself in its official website as a mechanism to reduce “poverty in the Northern area through economic growth”.
Nevertheless, CESTA´s leader explained that the US government is pressuring and linking the granting of funds to the amendment of the public-private partnership act, since they want water corporations to dominate the sector. “Resources such as water cannot be left in the hands of corporations. They want to get involved in education, health, and even security”, he said. “I believe the left-wing should stay strong and avoid the passing of more amendments. If it were up to me, we should repeal this law. And if the US government does not want to support the Salvadoran government in these conditions, I think we just have to say thank you”. “(…) The sovereignty of our countries should be protected”, he concluded.
Navarro believes it is important that El Salvador offers a local market. “We have a problem, which is that our economy is dollarized. We should make changes to have our own currency. We should build relationships with the economies of the South”, he said, while he defended the creation of a Latin American currency for trade exchanges.
In this way, he considered it is important to strengthen the relationship between El Salvador and Latin America. “Central America and South America could perfectly exchange goods. Sometimes resources, sometimes finished goods, even services”, he added.
At the end of the interview, the activist once again expressed a strong rejection to the ARENA Party. “We need to express a clear NO to the right wing”. However, he said he does not understand how the left wing “has not taken charge of the environmental situation” and considered that this political sector “holds a debt to the population”. He specifically made reference to climate change, the destruction of diversity and the acidity of oceans “that are really alarming”. “(…) I am surprised and a little sad to see that the left wing is not considering these issues”, he concluded.
La oposición a la minería debe entenderse como la lucha por los derechos que esa actividad no respeta, pues “cada derecho que se le otorga a una empresa, es un derecho que se le resta a una comunidad”, asegura el coordinador del Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), César Padilla.
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