El Salvador: Declaration by Popular Movements on Bicentennial of Independence

Salvadorans marched through the streets of the capital by the thousands on Wednesday, in the largest anti-government protest since Nayib Bukele took office. 

On the Bicentennial of Central America’s independence from Spain, social movements and organizations from across the political spectrum protested in rejection of Bukele’s authoritarianism, militarization, political persecution, the removal of judges, pacts with gangs, and the Bitcoin law, amid mounting discontent.

The Coordinadora Salvadoreña de Movimientos Populares is a coordination initiative of more than 100 organizations and networks of organizations that struggle against the advancement of neoliberalism and authoritarianism in El Salvador and was one of the main groupings of social movements and organizations that mobilized today.

Below is a translation of the declaration made by the bloc to mark the Bicentennial.

Declaration of the Salvadoran Coordinating Committee of Popular Movements and allied organizations on the “Bicentennial of Independence”

We are ready to resist and continue fighting for true independence!

This September 15th, we commemorate the Bicentennial of Independence to remember that 200 years ago El Salvador and the other Central American countries formally ceased to be colonies of Spain and began a new historical phase as “independent, free and sovereign” nations.

However, during these two centuries our country has not been independent. Its destiny has always been tied to the interests of foreign powers and local oligarchic families that have undermined the rights, demands and aspirations of the population. For the popular sectors, independence was not only to break away from Spain, but to put an end to injustice and oppression, which also meant ending the domination of local elites and building a republic where all people would have equal rights and their dignity would be respected.

For this reason, we want to give new meaning to this September 15th by remembering the participation of the people in the emancipatory deeds and struggles carried out over the past two hundred years. The Nonualcos Rebellion led by Anastasio Aquino in 1833; the protests against the Meléndez Quiñones dynasty (1914-1928); the indigenous-peasant insurrection of 1932; the Strike of Fallen Arms that overthrew the dictatorship of Maximiliano Hernández Martínez in 1944; the struggles for women’s political rights led by Prudencia Ayala in the 1930s and the revolutionary struggles of the 1970s and 1980s that achieved important gains in civil and political rights.

We also celebrate the struggles of social movements of feminism and sexual diversity, against the privatization of health care, against mining, against corruption and impunity, for the human right to water, for fiscal and economic justice and others that seek social changes in favor of groups oppressed by capitalism and patriarchy.

In light of this emancipatory perspective and having as a guide the constant struggle for true independence, the non-partisan popular forces declare ourselves:

  1. In favor of life and community. We believe in building a collective project that prioritizes the good living of all over the interests and privileges of a few. That is why we are against authoritarianism and neoliberalism as regimes that threaten life and community coexistence. Neither more military nor Bitcoin will solve the structural problems of working families.
  2. In favor of critical thinking and historical memory. The powerful have always tried to manipulate the masses for their convenience, but communities have always ended up waking up. The voices that bravely denounce injustice and hatred are key in this process. That is why we oppose the criminalization of social activism and critical journalism, and we reclaim our collective and ancestral memory as a source of reflection and inspiration.  
  3. In favor of a participatory and transparent State. We reject any political project that attempts to co-opt and instrumentalize state institutions in order to concentrate power in the hands of a few. The current State needs transformations, but these must be driven by the organized and conscious people.
  4. In favor of nature and hope. Despite the setbacks we are currently experiencing, we cling to hope for the construction of a better society, one where communities take care of our common home, because we are corn that has grown on this land, we want to leave a harvest for present and future generations.

Therefore, on this Bicentennial we declare ourselves on our feet to fight for true independence, to resist tyranny and to raise with more strength the flag of the just causes of our people. We will advance in articulation with all organizations, networks and popular movements, progressive and democratic sectors and all the honest and working people who aspire to a truly democratic, just, inclusive, equitable, peaceful and sustainable country.

200 years of resistance!

The more repression, the more struggle!

Long live the popular struggles!

San Salvador, September 15, 2021

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