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March 5th, 2009
Congressman Grijalva Calls on President Obama for US Neutrality in El Salvador Election

Washington, D.C.— Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva and 29 other members of Congress, as well as a United States Senator, today sent a letter to President Obama calling for U.S. neutrality and non-intervention in the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador.

The letter cites the threats made by various U.S. officials during to the 2004 Salvadoran election that if Salvadoran voters elected the candidate of the Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), remittances from the United States would be cut off, Salvadoran immigrants would lose the benefits of Temporary Protected Status, and possibly be deported. Remittances are said to comprise as much as twenty percent of El Salvador’s Gross National Product.

The Representatives called the upcoming election “an invaluable, historic opportunity to make a clean break with the past and move with our neighbors into a relationship based on mutual respect.” The letter calls for President Obama’s “assurance that your administration will join us in honoring and respecting the will of the Salvadoran people when they go to the polls on March 15,” and rejects the threats made in 2004 and any attempt to exploit US immigration policy as an instrument to influence foreign elections.

Congressman Grijalva commented on the letter:

“We are all inspired by President Obama’s new vision for our relationship with the world and especially with our closest neighbors in the Americas. This letter is a call to enact that vision. Latin America provides a unique challenge for a President that hopes to turn the page on a history of US coups, interventions and disdain for elections that don’t turn out the way some in Washington might prefer. It precisely because of this tragic history that a simple statement from President Obama, that the United States will remain neutral in this election and looks forward to building good relations with the government of either party, can immediately open the door to a new era for US-Latin American relations.

“I myself am encouraged by the Obama State Department’s decision to recognize the recent election results in Bolivia and Venezuela in a proper, diplomatic fashion. We are confident that President Obama will not allow the past to repeat itself in El Salvador, and look forward to continuing to help him build respect, cooperation and friendship in the Americas.”

A list of signers follows:

Senator Bernard Sanders, Vermont
Representative Raúl Grijalva, Arizona
Representative Marcy Kaptur, Ohio
Representative Charles Rangel, New York
Representative Nydia Velázquez, New York
Representative Michael Michaud, Maine
Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., Illinois
Representative Loretta Sánchez, California
Representative Doris Matsui, California
Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Representative James Oberstar, Minnesota
Representative David Wu, Oregon
Representative Diane Watson, California
Representative Maxine Waters, California
Representative Mike Honda, California
Representative Carolyn McCarthy, New York
Representative Barbara Lee, California
Representative Dennis Kucinich, Ohio
Representative Carolyn Maloney, New York
Representative Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin
Representative Jim McDermott, Washington
Representative José Serrano, New York
Representative Danny Davis, Illinois
Representative Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania
Representative Bob Filner, California
Representative Keith Ellison, Minnesota
Representative Maurice Hinchey, New York
Representative Sam Farr, California
Representative Linda Sánchez, California
Representative Anna Eshoo, California
Representative Bart Gordon, Tennessee
Representative Bart Gordon, Tennessee
Representative Anthony Weiner, New York

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