Today our Executive Director, Yael Falicov, met with David Barahona, the Mayor of Jiquilisco, El Salvador, during his brief tour through Northern California. The mayor dropped through town to promote the new law allowing Salvadoran immigrants in the US to vote in elections in El Salvador, and to support various local initiatives that benefit the Salvadoran community.
Many Salvadorans in the US have been asking questions about the role of the US government in the future of El Salvador’s development. EcoViva has been following current US involvement closely, and is working together with local partners in Jiquilisco to ensure that communities are at the table in the negotiations around a proposed $270 million series of investments slated for the coastal zone. This five-year initiative is funded through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government agency.
During the meeting, the Mayor of Jiquilisco thanked EcoViva for our long time support of local community projects, and expressed strong support for our current efforts. He expressed his view that it is critical for the US government to support environmentally sound projects that protect the mangrove forests and sea turtle nesting beaches of the Bay of Jiquilisco Biosphere Reserve. He also pledged to continue to participate in a coalition effort of local governments and civil society organizations organized by our local partners, the Mangrove Association, together with EcoViva, to generate a long term plan for inclusive, environmentally sound community development for the 14 municipalities of the Bay of Jiquilisco watershed.
The meeting was held at the launch ceremony for a groundbreaking municipal ID program in Oakland that will includes a debit card function for immigrants who do not qualify for bank accounts. After the ceremony, the mayor met with his local counterpart, Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, to discuss innovative ways to allow the debit card to function for various cross-border financial transactions. In addition to giving immigrants much needed local financial services, the card could allow them to send remittances to family members in their hometowns at low cost, and also to receive benefits from the Salvadoran government, such as veteran’s pensions, while living abroad. We look forward to learning more about these innovative new programs that support Salvadorans at home and abroad. EcoViva is pleased to work alongside local leaders like Mayor Barahona, and assist local government in fulfilling its role on the frontlines of rural development.