The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, met today with a group of eleven Salvadoran mayors from the "Violence Free Municipalities" program who have worked together to develop security and mediation plans to reverse the crime rates affecting El Salvador.
During the meeting with the OAS leader, the municipal leaders explained that their main objective is to obtain resources to maintain their projects to reduce substantially the violence in the country. In this regard, they expressed their appreciation to Secretary General Insulza for the support of the OAS for the peace process that has allowed gangs to agree to put an end their violent actions. In addition, the local representatives delivered a letter to the senior OAS official and asked him, specifically, to "accompany as an observer and guarantor, the territorial efforts moving ahead which are intended to overcome the levels of violence affecting the country."
The Secretary General welcomed the Violence Free Municipalities initiative and said it is key to the process of reducing and eliminating violence in El Salvador, because the peacekeeping work takes place in the territories where the most excluded sectors of society live. "This is where there has been a marked decline in homicide rates in the last fifteen months," said Insulza.
In reference to the role of community leaders, he said that "strengthening the process requires the action of those who have more access and responsibilities and enjoy greater trust in the community," because they lend trustworthiness to the process, a key factor in mediation. "The support work achieved by the facilitators is elementary, and this takes place at the municipal level," Insulza said, and for that reason "our Organization, which has supported from the beginning the reduction of violence since the truce became known, will continue to support unequivocally the work of Violence Free Municipalities," he added.
Along the same line, Insulza said that "we will do everything possible to strengthen political support and to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the mayors involved." He also highlighted the fact that "the mayors participating in the program are of different political affiliations and represent nearly one million citizens," indicating that the goal of peace cuts across all political divisions.
Prior to this meeting, the leader of the hemispheric Organization met with the Technical Coordinating Committee of the Violence Reduction Process in El Salvador, composed of Defense Minister David Munguía; leaders of several humanitarian foundations; mediators Raul Mijango and Monsignor Fabio Colindres; and the Secretary for Multidimensional Security of the OAS, Adam Blackwell.
The Secretary General praised the results of the mediation work of this group, which has achieved a marked decrease in violence and has given form to a peace process that has saved many lives.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.