[News] Open Letter to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning CISPES
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 28 16:21:51 EDT 2008
Open Letter to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning CISPES
Written by Latin American Solidarity Coaltion
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
The following letter is an effort by the Latin
America Solidarity Coalition (LASC) to stand by
one of the founding members, the Committee in
Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).
In January, CISPES
a letter from the Department of Justice claiming
the organization might be in violation of the
1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. CISPES is
not, of course, a foreign agent, but since we
now seem to inhabit an evidence free-zone here in
Washington D.C. it, the LASC felt it important to
take this letter seriously as an effort by the US
Government to intimidate CISPES.
We have no doubt that the Bush administration
disagrees with the work that CISPES does. CISPES
is working to close the International Law
Enforcement Academy in El Salvador, has worked
tirelessly to oppose the Bush trade agenda in the
region, and routinely speaks out against U.S.
interference in the electoral process in El
Salvador. The organization does this while
continuing to promote an alternative vision of
democracy based on the desires of the people of
El Salvador. None of this is criminal, but all
of it challenges U.S. claims to hegemony in
Central America - and that seems to be "the
crime" the U.S. government is concerned
about. The LASC and the organizations signed on
below are saying we will stand with our friends
in telling the Justice Department to "back off."
You can find more information about the LASC at
and get background and the latest information
about the Department of Justice's efforts to
intimidate CISPES at <http://www.cispes.org/>www.cispes.org.
To whom it may concern:
We write to express our frustration with the
Department of Justice's recent actions regarding
our friends at the Committee in Solidarity with
the People of El Salvador (CISPES). The
Department of Justice's effort to call into
question the legality of CISPES' relationship
with actors in El Salvador seems a thinly
disguised effort to intimidate CISPES, whose only
"crime," it would seem, is disagreeing with U.S.
foreign policy goals in El Salvador.
Though not really surprised by the Department of
Justice's action in this time of policing through
fear, we must speak out against any effort to
portray transnational relationships of friendship
as criminal. We also speak out because the
Justice Department's history of investigating
organizations for purely political reasons,
absent a legitimate criminal predicate, is well
known, and has been a practice aimed at
solidarity organizations before. Indeed, CISPES'
was the target of politically motivated
investigations throughout the 1980s that found no
evidence of criminal activity.
Our organizations work in solidarity with people
in Latin America out of a deep commitment to
principles of self-determination and popular
democracy; to the idea that people everywhere
deserve the opportunity to define for themselves
a way of life that is fulfilling and free from intimidation.
Sadly the U.S. government is not interested in
promoting such a perspective. This
administration has brazenly threatened countries
in Latin America with sanctions for electing the
"wrong people." This administration and members
of Congress have attempted to sway electoral
outcomes in El Salvador (2004) and Nicaragua
(2000, 2006) by threatening the suspension of
remittances if the people did not vote for the
choice of the U.S. government. Indeed, the
right-wing ARENA party's entire history,
including its founding by U.S. trained and
supported death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson,
has been to service the interests of the U.S.
government as well as El Salvador's tiny elite.
CISPES has the right to support alternatives put
forward by the Salvadoran people. Is it U.S.
policy that no alternative to ARENA is permitted?
And it is a criminal act to suggest
otherwise? We believe that CISPES should be
allowed to continue educating and organizing
about the negative impacts of U.S. policies like
CAFTA, while challenging U.S. Congressional
funding for faulty institutions like the
International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA.)
As solidarity organizations we speak out with the
conviction that another world is possible and
that the exercise of power can be aimed at
affirming life, not destroying it. And we do
this well within our right to question our own
government's actions in Latin America.
We stand in solidarity with our friends at CISPES
and in El Salvador by demanding that the
Department of Justice stop its effort to
intimidate CISPES, just as we demand that the
State Department stop interfering in the election
processes in El Salvador, as well as elsewhere in the region.
Alliance for Global Justice
American Friends Service Committee, Hartford, CT
Bend-Condega Friendship Project
Center for Alternative Mining Development Policy
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
The Coalition for Justice
Consumers for Peace
Eugene, OR Latin America Solidarity Committee (formerly CISCAP)
Instituto de Relaciones Económicas Internacionales en Ginebra
Marin Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
May First/People Link
Mexico Solidarity Network
National Labor Committee
The National Network of US-El Salvador Sister Cities
Office of the Americas
Portland Central America Solidarity Center (PCASC)
The Richland Center-Santa Teresa Sister City Project
SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today
Venezuela Solidarity Network
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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