Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

September 11, 2009

Salvadoran Funes Government Kicks Off Free Uniform and Free Meal Programs for Students,, Sept 11, 2009

On August 24, Vice-President and Minister of Education Salvador Sanchez Cerén officially opened the bidding process for some 7 million yards of fabric for the production of school uniforms, as the first step towards implementation of President Mauricio Funes’ plan to distribute two school uniforms, one pair of shoes, and a set of school supplies to every public school student in the country. The program will not only benefit 1,360,000 students, but will also create jobs for small- and medium-sized Salvadoran businesses. Fabric will be purchased from Salvadoran businesses and production will be carried out at a local level, with each municipality contracting local businesses and collectives to make the uniforms for their students.

Sanchez Cerén also inaugurated the expansion of the school meal program at a public school in the town of Soyapango this past August. The previous school meal program was limited to rural areas with high incidences of poverty, whereas the newly extended program includes students in impoverished urban areas as well. An additional 452,856 students in kindergarten through ninth grade in 764 schools will benefit from the expansion, raising the total students participating on a national level to 1,310,286 at 4,931 schools. The school meal program provides a daily serving of rice, beans, oil, sugar, milk, and a fortified drink to students.

Meanwhile, on July 31, Funes distributed property titles for small farming lots to over 900 families living throughout the department of La Paz at a ceremony in the Zacatecoluca municipality. Funes attended a second ceremony in Izalco, Sonsonate on August 14 and presented titles to 489 additional families. The families have been living on and cultivating State-owned lands, many for decades, without official property titles to their lots. One of Funes’ campaign promises was the presentation of these titles, which then allows these families to be eligible for loans, technical assistance, and government projects and programs. These ceremonial presentations represent the first steps in Funes’ promise to deliver 3,500 property titles in his first 100 days as president.

ARENA destabilization tactics: conditional votes and fake popular actions

In the coming months, the Legislative Assembly will begin to discuss and vote on $1.5 billion in international loans negotiated by the Funes administration, designed to fund a variety of projects. The votes of both primary parties—ARENA and the FMLN—are necessary for the 56 votes required to approve the loans and next year’s national budget. However, ARENA’s legislative fraction announced on August 20 that it will not vote in favor of the loans unless the FMLN agrees to provide State financial support for San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano’s Metrobus project, turn over three national movie theaters to ARENA mayors, and end the firing of federal employees. In response, FMLN legislative deputy Norma Guevara told the Salvadoran press that her party is not “susceptible to extortion,” reminding ARENA of its promise to be a constructive opposition.

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