El Salvador: "Health is a Right, not Merchandise"

Thousands of Salvadorians protested against government's attempt to privatize the health-care system

In this tiny Central American Republic, the people is giving another battle against the excesses of globalization. The local authorities had initiated a process, which consists of a gradual privatization of the national health system. As soon as public physicians noticed the intentions of President Francisco Flores, called for a strike that has lasted over four months.

Despite Government pressures, demonstrators set up a fighting plan to frustrate Flores intentions. The main issue here is that the impoverished population of El Salvador will not be able to afford the costs of a private system. This is the case of Robert Guzman, who is one of those who will be excluded of any kind of social protection if the government wins.

"The economic program that the US is trying to implement in Central America will impoverish the poor people even more", said Guzman. He joined the "Fifth White March" that overcrowded the wealthy areas of the city asking for a resolution to the conflict.

To the protest, assisted teachers, students, workers, priests, farmers and congressmen of the "Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional", the former main guerilla group and today's main opposition party.

The slogan of the protesters made clear their position: "Vote against privatization" and "Solution with negotiation" were the most repeated. The country goes through a pre-electoral process to renew the congress.

As part of the protest, around twenty persons gathered at the entrance of the Salvadorian consulate in New York. Protesters believe that this process is part of the negotiations that Washington is conducting towards a free trade agreements in the region.

The US tries to include in the negotiations with Central America and the Free Trade Area of the Americas a type of clause that condemns the participation of the State in any area of interest for private companies. This includes the health care system and the education.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

Photo: The battle against privatization of health started in October, but the Government systematically refused to talk with the demonstrators.

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