[News] Open Letter to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning CISPES

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 28 16:21:51 EDT 2008


Open Letter to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning CISPES
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1303/1/


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 
<http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1179/74/>received 
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 
<http://www.lasolidarity.org/>www.lasolidarity.org, 
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.

May 2008

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.

Signed:

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
Colombia Action/CT
Consumers for Peace
Eugene, OR Latin America Solidarity Committee (formerly CISCAP)
Instituto de Relaciones Económicas Internacionales en Ginebra
INTERCONNECT
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
Nicaragua Network
Office of the Americas
Portland Central America Solidarity Center (PCASC)
Quixote Center
The Richland Center-Santa Teresa Sister City Project
SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today
SOA Watch
Venezuela Solidarity Network
Willamette Reds




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