Civil society organizations which are critical of the presidency of Tony Saca have released a critique of his first two years. The following statement of the coalition MPR-12 was republished on the website of US-El Salvador Sister Cities:
Two years of Mr. Saca: A Failure to Solve the Social and Economic Problems of the Salvadoran People
1. After two years of Mr. SacaÂs Presidency we consider that the current administration has not had the capacity to move the country toward economic growth, social equality or a stronger democracy. On the contrary, the economy has stalled, the concentration of wealth has grown, and there are worrisome signs of reversal in the democratic spaces negotiated through the peace accords.
2. During the last two years, the economy of the country has had minimal economic growth rates, 1.8% in 2004 and 2.8% in 2005Â This stalled out economy is the result of the faithful application of neoliberal economic policy that favored the concentration of wealth and income, deepened inequalities, social exclusion and poverty, and limited the spaces for social participation. The national economy is on a path toward a macro-financial crisis with grave consequences.
3. The Saca administration has been trying to publicize a reactivation of the agricultural sector through the publication of the Economic Activity Volume Index (IVAE) figures that show an 8.5% rise in the first 2 months of the year. This is a misleading figure, given that in these months, January and February, there is very little agricultural production in El Salvador, and the figure corresponds to a rise in international prices, (mostly coffee). The IVAE shows a 7.74% rise in construction, but that must be put in context as a slight recuperation against a 17.8% drop from the year before.
4. During the last half of 2004, there was a 5.3% increase in prices, and a further 4.3% increase in the course of 2005, on top of a 3.8% increase in the first 4 months of 2006. This all means that in the first 2 years of SacaÂs administration, there has been an accumulated 13.4% decrease in the buying power of most Salvadorans. Salaries have been frozen for the last 3 years, and the population has seen its quality of life go down.
5. The United Nations Development Program places El Salvador in the 104th spot on the Human Development Index for 2005, a drop from the previous year. 31.1% of Salvadorans under the poverty line live with 1 dollar a day. 58% live with 2 dollars a day. The national poverty rate is of 48.3%
6. The economic situation in the country is pushing the Salvadoran people out, and migration presents itself as the alternative that many people choose for survival. Remittances sent back continue to be the primary pillar of the economy.
7. The government has announced an increase of at least 20% in electric energy costs, and the population faces the possibility of a rise in the cost of public transportation, as the State will phase out its subsidy to that sector, despite rising fuel costs. FUSADES, [the right wing economic think thank that dictates much of the government policy] has proposed the elimination of the subsidy on propane gas. All of these changes will severely reduce the buying power of many poor Salvadorans, and deal a harsh blow to the small business sector through rising production costs.
8. The current administration is creating a deep economic, social and political crisis, evidenced by the current Salvadoran reality. For these reasons the government has moved toward more authoritarian measures to maintain power despite a failure of its economic and social model.
To confront this situation, the MPR-12 proposes a Minimum Platform to Resolve the Urgent Problems of the Salvadoran People:
1. Annulment of laws that penalize the sale of brand name products in the informal market.
2. A raise in minimum wage related to the cost of living, for private sector and public employees, including members of the National Civilian Police force. Ratification of articles 87 and 98 of the ILO that guarantee free right to unions. Respect for workersÂ rights and better working conditions for women and men in the textile factory sector, permanent and impartial inspections by the Ministry of Labor and compliance with the law against closure of textile companies. Payment of owed severance pay and other benefits to workers affected by factory closure.
3. No passage of the proposed Land Rental and Land Recuperation laws. Legalization of lands and granting of deeds by the Salvadoran Institute for Agrarian Transformation, ISTA. Total debt forgiveness for the small producers and community cooperatives for the reactivation of the agricultural sector.
4. Annulment of decree 347 that raises the retirement age. A raise of the lowest pensions up to minimum wage, and a significant increase in other pensions.
5. No privatization of water (under the hidden mechanism of ÂdecentralizationÂ), of health services and education, of the generation and distribution of electric energy, ports, airports, and other public services. The creation of an integral reform to health services that guarantees universal health care, free education, and access to technical schools and university study. A greater budget for the public University of El Salvador.
6. Establishment of controls and regulations on oil company profits obtained as a result of rising gas prices.
7. Suspension of mining activities and construction of hydroelectric dams, as well as other ÂmegaprojectsÂ that threaten the environment and generate more risk and vulnerability. Strengthen legislation for risk prevention and disaster mitigation.
8. Suspension of the implementation of CAFTA
9. Revision and passage of a youth law that strengthens the rights of Salvadoran young people and promotes their development and participation in the public sphere. Strengthen legislation that guarantees ther rights of women, gender equality and non-discrimination
10. Establishment of a citizen security policy that prevents delinquency, controls and regulates the sale of arms, and the actions of private security companies.
11. Effective transformation and de-politization of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Control and revision of the National Census and modification of the electoral laws to guarantee clean and transparent elections. Guarantee the real independence of the Legislative and Judicial branches.
12. Strengthening of the Attorney General for Human RightsÂ office, and passage of a law that attacks impunity and corruption.
13. Respect for the rule of law and democratic institutionalism. Foster citizen participation and a culture of democracy.
14. Ratification of the national budget in accordance with the social and economic priorities to benefit the whole population. No ratification of loans and international debt that will affect the development of current and future generations.