A Day of Immigrants and Workers

Thousands of workers and protesters marched through the streets of San Salvador today on International Workers Day. Marchers demonstrated for workers rights, against globalization, against CAFTA and against increased criminalization of those who sell pirated DVDs and CDs.

El Diario de Hoy features the peaceful marches in San Salvador's streets in its photo gallery. La Prensa has a photo gallery which seems more designed to link the FMLN with hooligans than to show the peaceful marchers.

At the same time, people in El Salvador were paying attention to the marches and boycotts in the US dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants." Here are the words of some Salvadorans in the US from today's demonstrations:

Nelson Hernandez was just a teenager when he fled El Salvador's civil war two decades ago with his family and settled on Long Island as an undocumented immigrant....

"I was in the same position millions of them are in right now," said Hernandez, 35, who is now a U.S. citizen. He hopes that the worker strike and consumer boycott scheduled for today across the country "will show lawmakers we have economic power." Long Island NewsDay

Jose Cruz, 23, from El Salvador, said he took off the day from his construction job to attend the rally.

"If I lose my job, it's worth it," said Cruz, who has a temporary work permit that is granted to many Central Americans. "It's worth losing several jobs to get my papers." AP

Many of the demonstrators were like Juana Teresa Kouyoumdjian, 35, who by 5 p.m. had spent eight hours marching with her brother, Enrique Orellana, 36, and still faced a long trek back downtown to their car.

Quitting wasn't an option "because I want to fight to the very end," said Kouyoumdjian, who is now legal after illegally coming to the United States from El Salvador 16 years ago. AP

One of the marchers, Maritza Escobar, 29, from El Salvador, said she moved to the United States eight years ago and became a citizen. She said she has participated in all of the immigrant rallies and marches in Denver in the last few weeks, because too many employers exploit undocumented workers.

"I want the employers to treat our people better — pay them better, support them," she said. "Most of the people don't know they have rights, vacation pay or sick time and that's because employers are taking advantage of them." New York Times

Harry Martinez, an immigrant from El Salvador, said he chose to stay home on the first day of a new construction job in an effort to convince lawmakers that cracking down on those who enter the U.S. illegally could derail key American businesses.

"The Latino community is a basic part of the economy, that's the point," he said. AP