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From papadop@peak.org Mon Feb 14 12:51:56 2000
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2000 12:33:30 -0600 (CST)
From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org>
Subject: Salvadoran Banks Trying to Thwart Land Reform Efforts
Article: 88860
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
X-UIDL: 2f33dbe627430993efb176d016f3e6ae

Salvadoran Banks Trying to Thwart Land Reform Efforts; PC (USA)-aided agricultural cooperative is threatened

A missionary letter from Julie and Robert Dinsmore, Mission co-workers in El Salvador, 11 February 2000

SAN SALVADOR - The Salvadoran oligarchy, perhaps now more firmly in control of El Salvador than ever, under the banner of globalization, blocked the Colima mill - a PC(USA)-aided agricultural cooperative - from milling organic sugar cane even as preparations were under way at the mill.

Owning the most powerful banks, it has systematically repossessed the land parceled out to cooperatives during the land reform.

According to government figures 97% of the land reform cooperatives have gone under and fallen into the hands of these powerful few. As these banks are the financial machine that controls the nations primary export, sugar, our project was victimized.

We are trying to recover from the disappointment, trying to keep the coops from burning their organic cane and going back to the less expensive chemical management, trying to explore possibilities of milling the next harvest for organic sugar and strategizing how to keep the co-ops afloat as the government increases pressure on them to pay off the cost of their land at highly inflated values which benefitted the original owners, the ancestors of the present bank owners.

It all seems so hopeless without the understanding that in the Creator's economy subtraction can result in gain, defeat in victory. The weak are chosen to confound the strong, the meek to inherit the Earth. So we keep struggling and asking for your prayers.

And we keep dreaming ... big!

Last week the Colima co-op and Alfalit had an important meeting. We were all still stunned by the hard reality of the many jobs lost at the mill, amidst rumors the banks were going after the mill owner's home and ranch, with reports from fishermen that the fishing was difficult with the reservoir still so full, with crop lands still flooded and with the unavailability of agricultural credit.

At this meeting the Colima co-op and Alfalit decided to work more closely together to try to increase income from the land, the teak plantation, the forest reserve and ecotourism, the hacienda and its swimming pool. Three projects are underway this week. The coop will receive administrative training and share bookkeeping with Alfalit. Alfalit will also seek low interest loans and will explore the possibility of obtaining a grant or loan that would make possible the organic sugar cane growers union eventual purchase of the Colima mill for their own use.

We have received the green light to take as much sugar cane waste fiber as needed from the Colima mill for cooking fuel production. The fuel log machine turned out some nice logs today. We expect to move into daily production, now that the Presbyterian Hunger Program has granted us funds to purchase a hammermill that will make it possible for us to utilize 100% of the raw material available.

We are busy with restoration work in three of the hacienda's rooms, in preparation for at least eight delegations coming here this year. Bunkbeds are being built, ceramic tile and new pipes are being installed in the interior bathroom, the public restrooms for the swimming pool are well underway, electrical work is underway, a dormitory is being painted, and we are starting to look for financial help to get the colonial kitchen remodeled.

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