El Salvador Day 08 – Meet the US State Department, Meet Bishop Gomez, and Say ‘Goodbye’

Update: The photos are here!

Today was our final fully day in El Salvador. Early tomorrow morning, and by “early tomorrow” I mean two hours after I type and post this, it’s time to wake up and head out to the airport. So here I am, keeping you informed and as briefly as I can, if you don’t mind. Oh, and still photos aren’t uploading, I’m sorry. I will do my best to add photos to the last few posts over the weekend. Also, don’t forget the contest that runs through midnight on Friday!

Our final full day in El Salvador….

‘Meet the New Boss…’

After meeting with Salvadorians and private US citizens living and working El Salvador, we finally met with officials at the US consulate, Lawrence Ruby, an educational growth officer for USAID, and Mitch Ferguson, economic counselor for the US State Department. They explained how economic growth and fair trade has been helping El Salvador, giving facts and figures based on US data of the situation. They commented on how jobs have been created, small and medium-sized businesses are receiving better aid, the GDP is rising, and that free elections are working because power is exchanging hands without war erupting again.

People from both our group and the St. Thomas group asked many tough questions, specifically about mining practices and the impending Pacific Rim court case opening on May 31 and the effects of CAFTA on real people beyond what things look like on paper. Both men gave answers which were passionate from their perspective. When it came to the workforce changing (i.e. farmers can no longer compete with corn prices from Monsanto, for example), Mitch likened it to how buggy whip makers were still skilled artisans but simply weren’t needed at the advent of the automobile. The metaphor felt apt to me though there’s a big piece of the puzzle missing for me, too. And not just me, it seemed, but our whole group.

This presentation was so different than any experience we’d had so far and it left many of us feeling conflicted. Lawrence proclaimed that, “Our mandate is to help El Salvador better be self-efficient.” And from their perspective they feel they are. And I personally believe in many ways they are. HOWEVER,

Read more