SAN SALVADOR – Hundreds of public employees and veterans of El Salvador’s 1980-1992 civil war marched on Friday to protest cuts in telephone and electricity subsidies that critics say were imposed at the behest of the International Monetary Fund.
President Salvador Sanchez Ceren “doesn’t listen to the working class,” healthcare workers union leader Silvia Navarrete told EFE.
“We demand of the president that he not implement additional measures that hurt the economy of the Salvadoran population,” she said.
The government is also failing to comply with a law meant to ensure access to education, healthcare, and land for those who fought on either side of the civil war, Navarrete said.
The move to reduce utility subsidies was made under pressure from the IMF and the World Bank, the head of the teachers union, Francisco Zelada, said during the protest.
Elimination of subsidies and benefits for workers is not something that should happen under a “government that is said to be of the left,” police union secretary Marvin Reyes told EFE.
Sanchez Ceren is a member of the FMLN, the political successor to the leftist guerrilla army that battled the security forces in the civil war.
The executive order reducing utility subsidies for low-income households followed a visit to Washington by a government delegation for discussions with the IMF.
El Salvador’s public finances are in rough shape and the country came close last year to defaulting on its short-term sovereign debt.