Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Izalco, El Salvador: Request to Rapporteur J.Anaya

Dear Mr. Anaya,

            My name is Haydee Sanchez. I live in the United States and am a citizen of this country. I am also a Nahuat Pipil of El Salvador. For more than three decades, I have been active in the struggle for human rights for all people, but especially for the peoples of Central America whether living in Central American countries such as El Salvador, or living as immigrants in the United States. I am the president and CEO of Centro Cultural Techantit (Techantit Cultural Center), a non-profit organization dedicated to the human rights and cultural upliftment of indigenous peoples throughout the world, and especially in and from Central America.  I am also the president of the Concilio Binacional Indigena Salvadoreno and under that capacity and on behalf of the original people of Nahuizalco and Izalco and as their request I am writing this e-mail.
Tata Tito Pasin con Haydee Sanchez at the UN

            I was elected this year also as the co-chair of the Eleventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. As a Salvadoran native, my activities center around human rights issues in El Salvador and radiate outward from there.
            I therefore have a special interest in the information gathering trip you will be taking to El Salvador commencing August 12, 2012. The purpose of this correspondence is to alert you to a particular concern I have. I want to ascertain to the extent that I can, that the voices of the people of El Salvador, and the indigenous peoples in particular be heard during your visit.
            As matters presently stand, it would appear that you will be hearing from governmental representatives and from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). NGOs are highly valuable bodies, having as they do the goal of improving the lot of the people they seek to assist. There is a downside to NGOs however. They have specific goals and purposes that reflect the desires of the participants and supporters of each NGO. In seeking to achieve these specific objectives, NGOs will ignore other considerations. This is a perfectly reasonable position for each NGO to take. In a sense, each NGO addresses one slice of the pie; other NGOs address other slices. Unfortunately, this leaves some slices untouched. Thus, NGOs, even all of them taken together, cannot be depended upon to address all relevant concerns. Furthermore, they cannot be said to represent the people or to speak on their behalf. That is the role of the local leaders, such as the Consejo de Pueblos Originarios Nahuat Pipil de Nahuizalco (COPONAP) and Alcaldia de Comun de Izalco.
            However, those local representatives are not receiving invitations to the discussions of policies and actions that have a direct impact on their lives, their livelihood, and the survival of their culture. Yesterday, I learned through a government official that the representatives of the people were not invited to the meeting to take place this morning at the OEA in San Salvador to discuss the agenda and your visit to the towns in El Salvador.
            This morning I was able to talk with Tata Tito Pasin, the Alcalde del Comun de Izalco and he confirmed that he did not receive any invitation to the meeting this morning. I also spoke with Tata Miguel Amaya from Cacaopera and Tata Pedro Rodriguez from Nahuizalco (Vice-President of the Nahuat Pipil Counsel) and they were not invited to the meeting either. My concern and their concern is the same, we want to be sure that you will hear the people’s issues. After their visit to the UN Permanent Forum last May, both Tata Tito Pasin and Tata Pedro Rodriguez have been having meetings with their communities and other communities in El Salvador in order to discuss and find solutions to their problems. In fact, on August the 9th peoples’ leaders from the West, East, and Central region will be having a gathering in Izalco at the alcaldia del Comun. That way they can express in one voice to you their concerns and preoccupations. 
            I am sorry for placing more work on your busy agenda but for me as a Nahuat Pipil I want to be sure that the voice of the people is heard and you will provide a small space for them in your agenda. Thank you very much for your consideration and support to the indigenous people around the world.