Friday, October 17, 2008
SHARE DC REACHES OUT TO SALVADORAN COMMUNITY
Following the guidance of one of our strategic goals, SHARE DC reached out to the Salvadoran community in Washington DC during Hispanic Heritage Month. The Washington DC metro area is home to the second largest Salvadoran community in the United States after Los Angeles, CA. With approximately 500,000 Salvadorans living in the area, they constitute the largest foreign-born population according to the 2005 US Census. Migration from El Salvador to Washington started in the 1970’s, increased in the 1980’s because of the civil war and continued to grow in the late 1990s and into this decade because of the harsh economic conditions back home.
a) Fiesta DC 2008
Each year, Fiesta DC, a non-profit organization sponsored in part by the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, organizes events during Hispanic Heritage Month. The largest of these events is Fiesta DC’s Latino Festival, which includes a parade of nations, a children’s festival, an arts and crafts fair, food vendors, music and dance performances, and a community-based organization information fair. This year more than 60,000 people attended the Festival on Sunday, September 28th. Therefore the Latino Festival is an excellent opportunity for non-profit organizations to reach out to the Latino community, particularly to Salvadorans. SHARE DC, with the support of the Salvadoran Allies Group (CISPES, Sister Cities, Voices on the Border and SHARE) and the Center for International Policy (CIP) had a booth at the fair to raise SHARE’s visibility among the Salvadoran community and to advocate for free and fair elections in El Salvador. To prepare for the event, the SHARE DC Grassroots Team asked and received contributions from the Salvadoran Allies Group and CIP to sponsor the table. Each organization was invited to send organizational materials and volunteers for the event. SHARE DC was in charge of coordinating the volunteers and materials, set up and take down the booth, and disseminate materials to festival visitors.
The day of the Festival, SHARE DC staffed the table from 8:00am to 6:30pm and handed out grassroots and advocacy materials to visitors. In addition SHARE DC took advantage of the opportunity to promote a petition in response to the presentation given by Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Minister, Marisol Argueta, at the American Enterprise Institute where she asked for U.S. intervention in the Salvadoran elections. SHARE’s petition, with all of the signatures, will be sent to President Saca to implore him to ensure that public employees do not use their positions to influence public opinion on who should win the elections, to ask Argueta to explain her statements, and to respect the sovereignty of the Salvadoran people. SHARE DC gathered 91 signatures for the petition at the festival, 20 people signed up for SHARE’s E-news, and 10 people took home SHARE’s 2009 Presidential Election Delegation flyer. SHARE DC also supported CIP’s campaign to promote investment in potable water in El Salvador, as well as, CISPES’ biking event. Most importantly, SHARE DC was able to speak Salvadorans living in the metro DC to show them that SHARE Foundation is walking in solidarity with their brothers and sisters back home.
b) Cutumay Camones Concert,
On Saturday October 4, SHARE DC had a table at the Cutumay Camones Concert. The band formed in May 1982 in El Salvador, taking the name of a town located in the Santa Ana Department, which was famous for a battle that took place a few days after the FMLN offensive in January 10, 1981. Currently, with most of their members living in the US, Cutumay Camones’ mission is to recover, through its music, the Salvadoran traditions and heritage.
The event was held in the Wesley United Methodist Church in Washington DC and was attended by a multitude of Salvadorans. The concert was organized by the Day Laborers National Network, Metro D.C. , Manuel Zapata Humanitarian Center and Salvadoran Cultural Association MILPA.
In just a few hours, from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. SHARE DC was able to collect 44 signatures for the petition to protest the Foreign Affairs Minister’s statements, and has since gathered a total of 400.
In addition, SHARE DC handed out grassroots and advocacy materials, promoted the electoral delegations and networked with representatives of several Salvadoran organizations.
SHARE DC will keep reaching out to the Salvadoran community at future events in order to strengthen relations with organizations in the area and get Salvadoran-Americans involved in SHARE’s work.
c) Stop the Raids and Deportations: Emergency Response Protest of the Recent Raids in California
On Friday, October 10, 2008, SHARE DC participated in an emergency protest of ICE in response to the recent raids and detainment of over 1,157 undocumented immigrants. The protest took place in front of ICE National Headquarters and was sponsored by DC Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Metro DC Interfaith Sanctuary Network, Casa de Maryland, CISPES, DC Jobs with Justice, DC Students for a Democratic Society, the National Day Labor Organizing Network, and the Washington Peace Center. Over fifty people showed up with signs and banners and marched in a circle in front of the building as ICE employees left for the day. After the march, the group held a press conference in front of the building where representatives of each sponsoring organization spoke out against the racist, xenophobic attacks. Jean Stokan, former SHARE staff member, was the final speaker at the press conference. SHARE DC brought one of the SHARE DC interns, Lars Joon Flydal, to participate in the protest. Univisión televised portions of the protest and the press conference.