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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 12:13:11 CST
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <>
Subject: Weekly Update on the Americas #261 1/29/95

ISSUE #261, JANUARY 29, 1995

339 LAFAYETTE ST., NEW YORK, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499

Salvadoran Workers Fight Planned Privatizations

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue no.261, 29 January 1995

The takeovers by demobilized soldiers took press and public attention away from a series of protests by workers against the government's privatization plans. Social organizations began protests against the privatizations on Jan. 24 [Fundacion Flor de Izote Daily Chronology 1/24/95 from TV2], and on Jan. 25 some 6,000 Public Works Ministry (MOP) employees marched in San Salvador to reject the plans, which they say involve 7,000 layoffs. The protesters demanded to meet with President Armando Calderon Sol, but he was called away to an emergency meeting to discuss the situation of the former soliders. [El Diario-La Prensa 1/26/95 from AP]

The Salvadoran Association of Telecommunications Workers (ASTTEL) issued a statement on Jan. 26 criticizing the government's plan to privatize the national telephone company (ANTEL). In the statement, the union charges that far from being a burden on the state, ANTEL is the country's second-biggest source of hard-currency because of the high number of international calls made. According to ASTTEL, the phone company earned $250 million in net profits during 1994. Not only does this high level of profits subsidize domestic telephone service, says ASTTEL, it also subsidizes a significant portion of the government's other expenses. If ANTEL is privatized, warns the union, these government expenses will have to be covered through higher value-added taxes (IVA). In addition, the union cautions, phone rates will be increased, employees will be laid off, and unprofitable telephone offices will be closed, shutting off the phone access for poor communities which is currently provided as a public service. [ASTTEL Communique 1/26/95 from NY Transfer News]

President Calderon announced his economic plan for 1995 during the week of Jan. 9. The plan includes a fixed dollar exchange rate for the Salvadoran currency (the colon), an increase in the value added tax and a reduction in tariffs--all measures suggested by international financial organizations. "They want to impose a new model on us, to convert us into a nation which simply offers a cheap workforce and a marketplace open to foreign influence..." said Ruben Zamora, leader of the center-left Democratic Convergence. [Inter Press Service 1/11/95]