April 5, 2000
Editorial The necessity and importance of the truth
Economy Are we moving towards the reactivation of the agricultural and livestock sector?
Politics A plan for state espionage?
Politics Will there be a national settlement?
Society New factors in the search for a solution to the conflict
in the Salvadoran Institute for Social Security (ISSS)
THE NECESSITY AND IMPORTANCE OF THE TRUTH
At least in theory, no one in his right mind would reject the importance and the necessity for truth. There is no one who openly holds that the truth is not useful or that it is of no interest. Rather, the contrary occurs: everyone is fully in favor of the truth. Nevertheless, when words are compared with behavior and specific attitudes, the situation is very different: There are many who place obstacles in the way of truth, above all when their own interests might be affected. This is particularly evident when serious violations of human rights have occurred, about which those responsible weave a thousand sophistries in an effort to make public opinion believe that there is no reason that we should want to know what actually happened when certain violent acts occurred; they insist, rather, in that “political stability” and the opening of old wounds would be counter-productive.
Obviously, one understands that those responsible for atrocious crimes resist the deeper examination of those cases in such a way that the truth about the mechanisms used to carry them out might be discovered and laid bare. For example, it should surprise no one that General René Emilio Ponce should make bald-faced declarations to the effect that the efforts of the UCA to get to the bottom of the situation surrounding the Jesuit case are "orchestrated by the left as a whole" and that "what is being sought, even beyond vengeance, is revenge and all of this could lead to confrontation". And, in response to the question of whether it is healthy for a democracy to judge past acts, General Ponce responds in the following way: "I think not. Instead of strengthening democracy, this leads us to more confrontation and polarization" (La Prensa Gráfica, Monday, April 3, 2000, p. 14). In General Ponce's view of things, it would be more convenient —for those such as himself who appear to be involved in the assassination of the Jesuits of the UCA— to abjure knowledge of those past acts in all of their weight and force; what would be most convenient is to think that, parting from the premise of forgetting, impunity and lies, democracy could be strengthened. One must be very honorable and honest with oneself to recognize the contrary; at the same time, one must be willing to assume the penal consequences for one's criminal responsibility. And this will occur only with difficulty, which should not surprise us at all.
What does surprise us is that such resistance to learning and knowing the truth of past criminal acts should find such fierce and bitter defenders among some of the personalities in the sphere of national journalism in El Salvador during the post war period who, for all the rest, will lose nothing, it may be presumed, as a result of learning and knowing that truth. Nevertheless, on several occasions they have made public —many times in a sarcastic tone— their rejection of the attempts to look back and examine the recent past and its most heinous and painful acts. They have insisted on the same eternal argument: to learn the truth of those acts will serve for nothing; worse still, this would only contribute to opening old wounds and contribute to a situation in which the reconciliation so anxiously hoped for will not be established on a firm basis. We are dealing here, evidently, with arguments not based on historic or philosophic fact: in the new mode of analysis which is awash on the pages of the national newspapers, the opinion on the subject of the most serious topics is supported only by the subjectivity of the news analyst who jumps to quick, superficial judgements not based in reality. Another premise is that these journalists of the post-war period believe that, given their future visions, what they say has strength and weight. But well-founded arguments exist which contradict the opinion which they make known on the pages that are reserved to them in the newspapers.
So it is that starting from the premises of philosophy weighty arguments can be distinguished and these arguments uphold the importance and necessity for a truthful human life. Xavier Zubiri, in his book entitled MAN AND TRUTH, puts it this way: I think that truth is an essential ingredient of man and that every attempt —be it theoretical or practical— to destroy truth would be, at bottom, and attempt —be it theoretical or practical— to destroy mankind. These attempts constitute the commission of homicide, which in the long or short run take the life of mankind itself". This is a profound reflection, not spoken lightly, but based on long study of the material, formulated by a man who dedicated his whole life to analyzing fundamental human problems in a serious way. From this point of view, those who insist on skipping lightly over the crimes of the recent past committed in El Salvador, of destroying the truth that those crimes embody, are making attempts against the life and dignity of those who currently live in the country following that epoch of barbarity. Ignacio Ellacuría ends his summary of the book by Zubiri cited above, with the following words: "the man possessed of truth demonstrates how essentially truth belongs to man and how, with the death of truth, man also dies".
Ignacio Ellacuría and his Jesuit brothers were brutally assassinated. His death, as well as the deaths of many Salvadorans, was surrounded by what is characterized by attempts of politically and economically powerful groups who attempted to murder truth. They never fully succeeded at that point in time, forasmuch as they used everything at their disposal to come out on top. At the present time, they persist in their efforts to murder truth and in this they are armed with the complicity of the newspapers and journalists whose commitment to democracy is more than questionable. One of the battles which must be fought if a firmly established democratic order is to be constructed on a firm basis, is the battle for the truth of the recent past in El Salvador. As the Spanish-Mexican philosopher Eduardo Nicol states, "the past makes demands as much as the present and when we deny the living presence of that demand, we cause the existential and cultural disintegration which produces historic discontinuity...the canceling of the past, nullifying tradition". Nicol presents the challenge of recovering, with the truth of the past, the historic memory because the absence of it ends up making men slaves of "destiny": "the past becomes the program or 'predestination' which, issues orders from the vantage point of the indefinite preterit concerning future actions and passions".
ARE WE MOVING
TOWARDS THE REACTIVATION
OF THE AGRICULTURAL AND LIVESTOCK SECTOR?
For the last five years, the government and business associations have been suggesting diverse solutions to the crisis of the agricultural and livestock sector. Two official plans and innumerable proposals presented by the representatives of the business sector which are aimed at achieving recovery of the agricultural and livestock sector have been made public. In these proposals there exist repeated themes which have, however, never been implemented, such as the creation of special credit programs, the raising of tariff barriers for agricultural and livestock products and the elimination of exemption of the Value Added Tax on those products. The most recent data on the exemption from the Value Added Tax applied to these products have been offered by the government, as when it announces that next May 4 it will declare the beginning of a new strategy for the reactivation of agriculture, which responds to the presentations that the President of the Republic, Francisco Flores, made in his inaugural address more than 10 months ago. Fundamentally, the agricultural and livestock program presented by the government proposes the adoption of measures tending towards increasing state intervention in the areas of financing and diversification of agricultural and livestock production in addition to the adoption of ad hoc measures for the creation of the macroeconomic environment favorable to agricultural activities.
Should the government actually implement its offers in this regard, it would be moving towards the reactivation of the agricultural and livestock sector, while focussing on the reactivation of the production of the big-business engaged in agriculture and livestock, while paying less attention to the problematical peasant economy which constitutes the principal refuge of the poorest sectors of the country's population. On the other hand, it is important to consider that the effectiveness of the plan does not only depend on its design and satisfactory implementation but also on external factors determined by the ups and downs of the international market for agricultural and livestock products. Such factors could become dominant factors.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Salvador Urrutia, writing in the document "Agricultural and Livestock Policy and National Agrarian Administration for the Period 1999-2004" what is sought is the implementation of a plan which makes agriculture profitable again and seeks, as well, to establish a macroeconomic policy which is "pro-agriculture", a flexible tariff policy and other kinds of safeguards for protecting the sector. Along general lines, the components of the aforementioned policy can be summarized in the following four points: a new alliance for national agricultural development; stable, sustainable, profitable and competitive agriculture; the re-engineering of business agriculture; and public rural investment.
The new alliance proposes the implementation of a macro-economic policy which is "pro-agriculture" with fiscal, monetary, financial and commercial components. By the same token, it presupposes the participation of the public and private sector. "Stable, sustainable, profitable and competitive" agriculture is to be sought through assured and stable juridical security in landholding, diversification of production, genetic handling of seeds and plants, sustainable handling and administration of the natural resources and promotion of food security; the re-engineering of businesses dedicated to agriculture presupposes promotion of the creation of productive associations, agricultural-business chains, quality control and technological innovation; finally, public rural investment demands the development of productive physical infrastructure, research and transference of technology, among other items.
This proposal arises in the context of a marked deterioration of the agricultural and livestock sector made evident in its fall from grace and importance as a category of the Gross National Product, as well as among the social dynamics such as the repeated demands by representatives of agricultural businessmen's associations for sectorial policies and the announcement of procedures for applying embargo against agricultural cooperatives benefiting from the Agrarian Reform.
The problems being experienced by agriculture find their causes in specific conditions obtaining on the international market and in national economic policies. On the first score, the plummeting of international prices for principal export products has had enormous weight in that, for example, the price of coffee fell substantially during the decade of the 1990's while, at present, the prices for sugar are also threatened with new reduction in income for the agricultural and livestock sector. On the question of the basic grains sector, the most important restriction arises from the possibility for importing agricultural products at very low prices, which is possible because of subsidy policies which the United States, members of the European Union and other industrialized countries offer their respective agricultural producers.
It should also be pointed out that public domestic policies have, for their part, given privileges to urban consumers over and above the interests of the farmers, principally because the objective of economic policy has been to avoid excessive increases in the prices for food, either by means of reduction —and even elimination— of tariffs applied to basic grains in periods of scarcity, the commercialization and distribution of food donations and other practices which, on many occasions, have included price controls. Although it is not a question of denying that this policy has benefited the consumers who buy foodstuffs, and especially the urban population, one cannot ignore that the other side of the coin has been low prices to the producer, reduced profits and deepening of the poverty suffered by small farmers engaged in the production of basic grains.
This scenario justifies the necessity for reform of the economic policy governing the agricultural and livestock sector, but not only from the point of view of the reactivation of traditional crops or the creation of a business climate favorable principally to big producers joined together in business associations. Although it may be true that in order to reduce poverty it is necessary as well to produce significant increases in the growth rates, it is equally true that economic growth in and of itself does not guarantee the reduction of poverty. In the case of Salvadoran agriculture, it is enough to review the experience of coffee, sugar and cotton: these products suffered surprising increases in the area of cultivation, production, productivity and income, factors which were —and are—accompanied by the permanence of rural salaries so low that they cause misery, seasonal employment and a scandalous proliferation of poverty. In fact, this was the principal detonator of the civil war which raged between 1979 and 1992.
The most recent government offer contemplates support for small farmers by means of the assignment of 440 million colones offered through the Banco de Fomento Agropecuario in the form of rural micro-credits and a trust fund in the amount of 36 million colones for alleviating rural poverty. Unfortunately, it must be said that these measures will have only a slight influence on the small farmer sector which is made up of some 500,000 people. As things go, the "pro-agricultural" policy will principally benefit those who are engaged in exporting, who have access to credit in the private banks and, in general who are able to join and influence governmental programs.
The interests of the peasant sectors are still not adequately represented in the governmental agricultural and livestock proposal. Not even within these sectors themselves does there exist any clarity on the policies which might be needed in order to improve their income. Given the foregoing, it might be recommended that, in addition to creating a favorable macro-economic context, the inclusion of strategies for extending benefits to any agricultural and livestock program towards the majority of producers might be promoted. Evidently this still requires design, discussion and consensus-building towards the creation of a democratic agricultural policy which takes up the challenge for the reduction of rural poverty as its principal objective.
A PLAN FOR STATE ESPIONAGE?
Last March 17 the National Civilian Police (PNC) made public its "Plan for Combating Organized Crime in El Salvador", with which it aims to take on the serious problem of violence. Basically, the plan maintains the inveterate practice of recent Salvadoran governmental administrations of confusing cause with effect when designing and implementing public policies. Specifically, the objective is to attack the problem of violence by combating crime instead of preventing crime and, by the bye, it also aims to implement police investigative strategies which run contrary to constitutional principles and the respect for human rights.
One of the main problems of this plan is that it does not begin from the premises provided by a diagnosis of the causes of violence before it proposes strategies for its reduction. A previously proposed plan for public security presented by the National Council for Public Security which based itself on a more fully developed diagnostic contemplated insertion programs for adolescent youths by involving them in productive activities and sports which —as will be examined below— is in stark contrast with the Draconian measures proposed by the present executive leadership of the PNC.
According to information emanating from the PNC, the principal objectives of the new plan would be institutional empowerment, inter-institutional coordination, international alliances and constitutional reforms. As part of these last provisions, the separation of the PNC from the Ministry for Public Security would be contemplated in order to make it a dependency directly responsible to the Presidency of the Republic, the intervention (wiretapping) of telephone conversations, the provision of a set of rules and regulations governing undercover agents and an official set of procedures to be followed in kidnapping cases.
The proposal immediately called forth an avalanche of criticism from diverse social sectors and leaders, lawyers' guilds, members of government and representatives of opposition political party representatives. These last see in the PNC proposals the startup of the revival of governmental espionage practices directed against members of the political opposition. But beyond this, the basic concern and questioning of these proposals is focused on their potentially negative effects on respect for human rights.
Considering the background of the current PNC Director, who was previously the Director of the State Intelligence Agency, it should not come as a surprise that the new proposal for public security is more similar in some of its components to a plan for state "espionage" or state intelligence, more than to a program for public security which would attack the problem of violence at its roots.
The starting point for promoting programs for the prevention of violence is to accept the fact that violence does not arise simply because there are people —social actors— who are born with a species of "criminal pathology", but rather because objective social conditions exist which cause violence, such as low levels of education, low income, low employment, the lack of satisfaction of basic necessities, deficient basic social services such as health and education, and the presence of local environments which reproduce criminal schema —especially those related to "gangs".
Faced with this reality it is absolutely necessary that any plan which aims to root out violence in a permanent way and, above all, without having recourse to more violence, must focus upon the establishment of social conditions which promote the insertion of high-risk groups into a more favorable situation in society. Inevitably, this implies taking action which takes seriously into account the environment of activity of a police force or even of a ministry of public security because what is required is the articulation of a system for the prevention of violence which involves institutions which fulfill a specific function in this terrain, such as the ministries of education, health, labor and house, to give a few examples. By the same token, local governments are called upon to enact an important role in the promotion of development and, consequently, also for the prevention of social violence which is borne of a lack of satisfaction of basic necessities.
The PNC plan responds to the necessity for combating the immediate effects of violence and, although it may offer some positive findings, it runs the risk of institutionalizing practices which do not respect human rights and which, in the final analysis, will contribute nothing to preventing the frequency and intensity of violent acts in the future.
WILL THERE BE A NATIONAL SETTLEMENT?
In the context of the last elections a very unusual phenomenon has taken place in the national political environment. Eight years after the signing of the peace accords there is talk of the necessity for a settlement in order to define a national agenda on the most crucial topics of the life of the country. After the November Offensive of 1989, pressing reality obliged the right-wing to recognize that it could not win the war. Today, after the relative defeat of the government party, the topic of consensus-building is being taken up again. Could it be that the much debated "lessons of the election" are going to require a profound reflection, or is it only a question of a passing phrase to once again deceive the most credulous?
President Flores' message, after he learned of the election results, seems to invite us to take seriously the topic of consensus-building. In an address to the nation he recognizes that it is imperative "to begin to work together for all Salvadorans". It is a tacit recognition of what up to now there has not been any work for all Salvadorans. He states that he is obliged to do this by the fact that the voters in the last elections demand "an encounter to deal with the needs of the people".
But how can one confide in someone who only a few weeks ago showed himself intransigent and even said that he would not dialogue with people who were "anti-system", in reference to the fact that he was called upon to engage in dialogue with the Social Security strikers. Could it be that a profound change really took place once the message of the voters was correctly "interpreted"? Basically it can be assumed that this is a sincere call which, in spite of the result of a conjunctural calculation, can be taken advantage of in order to seriously propose a solution to the most crucial problems which the majority of Salvadorans complain of.
The left, conscious of the electoral decline of ARENA has taken up the banner of dialogue. In recent declarations, open letters to the president and even a visit to the headquarters of the COENA by the General Coordinator of the FMLN, Fabio Castillo, has reiterated the FMLN's willingness to reach a settlement and define a national agenda on the principal problems facing the nation. The other political parties have also signed on to the efforts at dialogue. They speak of a necessity to empower institutions and of the governability of the country. The left as well as the right recognize the need to enter into dialogue and build consensus around the actions to be taken in order to launch the country on a new course. It is a question, then, of a scenario that, at first glance, might be a hopeful one for the interests of the majority of the Salvadoran people in the measure that there is an offer to put politics at the service of the interests of the nation —at least if one listens to speeches and declarations. Perhaps at this conjuncture, consensus-building can be made to operate to effectuate the hoped for change in the economic policies pushed forward by ARENA and to design an integral plan to rescue the most depressed sectors of the society. It would be the moment to take up the topics of "the reactivation of the economy, decentralization, access for the population to basic services" and, finally, to promote growth with social equality and economic justice.
All in all, in spite of the hopes that these proposals might awaken, one must ask oneself if there is any real willingness to reach a consensus from the premise of being convinced of the necessity for a change of course. Should the contrary be the case, it could be that the diverse actors and protagonists are using the same word but with different meanings. For the left, consensus-building seems to be the road to take in order to make their campaign proposals concrete in nature. Upon learning of the results of the elections, the re-elected mayor of San Salvador, Hector Silva, proposed "a pact for governability with the capital city residents, private enterprise and Francisco Flores" in order to face the big problems facing the capital city. In good measure, many of the projects being contemplated in Silva's government plan need certain support from private enterprise and from the central government. On a broader scale, at the national level, the FMLN which will govern a good part of the population from the mayors' offices, cannot do much without the necessary resources. It is not by chance, therefore, that a point of discussion already on the horizon is the topic of decentralization, especially the famous 12% for the mayors' offices. But what is the right-wing's posture —beyond its merely conjunctural declarations, that is?
In his reaction to the new correlation of forces in the Legislative Assembly, the president of ANEP, Ricardo Simán, exhorts the FMLN to respect the rules of the game, "avoid uncertainty, judicial insecurity and not to chase off national and international investment". Simán called upon the left to use "common sense". This is a very interesting reaction. How can there be talk of engaging in an encounter concerning the needs of the Salvadoran people as a whole when there is no willingness even to revise the rules of the game? It is no secret to anyone that the situation of the country is owing, in great measure, to the rules of the game imposed by big business represented by the leadership body of ANEP.
On the other hand, ex-president Alfredo Cristiani is clear that what the country needs is that there should be "agreements to work and not obstruct and to permit the government to develop its plans". In other words, the consensus-building will not come to question the plans of the government and even less redefine the rules of the game. To achieve this, one should not be surprised if, up to now, the government sector has not presented any concrete proposal on the topics to deal with in consensus-building, even though President Flores stated that the nation agenda will be a product of consensus-building. His party and the party of ex - President Cristiani do not seem to share the same opinion. The reason for this is very obvious: to define a national agenda in a round of consensus-building would imply touching the interests of big business, that same big business which currently holds the national economy at ransom. Measures must be taken to modify "judicial security" which has favored enrichment of the few to the detriment of the greater majority of the Salvadoran people.
In this sense, if a consensus is reached which is effectively a consensus —that is, one which goes beyond discussing pork barrel politics and the dividing up of power quotas in the institutions beyond the electoral agenda of each party— what will be under discussion are the interests and privileges established with an iron hand. If the message of the elections are to be taken seriously —such as was interpreted by President Francisco Flores, to "go out and meet the needs of the people"— it must be said that the topic of the concentration of economic wealth in the hands of a minority social sector must be taken up. This must be discussed seriously and the profundity of the topic of decentralization, as well as the topic of resources for the municipalities must be discussed. A really national agenda must be proposed which will have as its fundamental objective the implementation of a model of development with social and economic justice. If the correct direction is not taken, if there is no understanding in order to pose the real problems of the nation, the majority of Salvadorans, who have been, up until now, absent when it comes to taking the big decisions of government, will have to make their voice be heard in such a way that will perhaps not be so agreeable to the interests of the country's political parties.
IN THE SEARCH FOR A SOLUTION
TO THE CONFLICT
IN THE SALVADORAN INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY (ISSS)
When the doctors, trade unionists and authorities of the ISSS agreed to sign a document which would end four months of labor stoppages, hopes were placed on the possibility that the solution to the conflict would finally come about as a result of some level of consensus-building. Taking as the root cause of the situation, the lack of compliance with some of the agreements that the Francisco Flores administration did not consider binding, the necessity for both parts to decide to participate fully in a process for reaching a solution under the commonly established terms became vital for the stability of the social security and public health systems. At first glance the appearance, and thanks to the treatment that the national news media gave to the events, a greater willingness to cooperate between the government and the trade unionists would have prevailed. The presence of a group of "facilitators" not familiar with the problem had served only to bring the postures and positions of those involved in the conflict closer together and to initiate an inevitable dialogue. Finally, four discussion tables were established in which the bases would be set for negotiating the basic points of the transformations of the health system, to wit: open the Roma and Amatepec Hospitals, comply with the agreements signed during the Armando CalderÓn Sol administration and review the process of reform being encouraged by Flores a year ago, among other topics.
Nevertheless, progress along the road to the negotiating table has, for more than three weeks ago shown no signs of any real advances. What was at first seen as an opportune invitation to dialogue has only given the government time to maintain containment of the growing pressures being applied by the medical workers' union, willing to go the final consequences in order to win its demands. Facing the media, the exhausted facilitators —ex-presidents of the Medical Guild and former public functionaries who offered their services to bring the two parties together— seem not to have been able to reach a formula for ironing out difficulties in the negotiations.
Under the agreements signed last March 10, the government as well as the doctors and unionized workers of the ISSS (with whom the doctors of the national hospital network had joined) committed themselves to remove from the agenda all discussion of the possible reinstatement of the 221 Social Security employees fired during the strike. That topic was to be resolved by the Supreme Court which would make a decision on the question. The government in particular, committed itself to re-negotiate compliance with the 1998 accords, eliminate any kind of reprisals against the strikers and, once again, reject all possibility for privatizing health services at a national level.
Continuation of the process of contracting out the services, previously supported by the Tripartite Commission, would be determined by the conclusions which might be reached by means of engaging in a new round of dialogue. "Neither winners nor losers" crowed the editorial writers. Although the affirmation appears to be the fruit of rhetoric characteristic of the national news media, the very nature of the agreements that were signed and the conditions which they had reached because of the extremism of the parts involved did not make more of them than the conclusion to the conjunctural situation, in which the roots of the problem were not taken seriously. The terms under which the commitment between the government and the trade unions was signed did not presuppose a definitive solution to the causes of the crisis in the national health system. Given this, with all, the doors could only be opened for a real process of arriving at a solution could only be opened with the perspective of engaging in a real solution to a problem which has undergone sensitive modifications wince agreements were originally made during the Calderón Sol administration.
These modifications have been proposed, principally as a result of the posture adopted by Flores and his cabinet when dealing with the medical guild's petition. On the eve of the consummation of the new accords, neither the president nor the ISSS authorities left out of their discourse the need to pursue "reform" of the system that they had begun behind the back of the work accomplished by the Commission to Reform the Health Sector. The Ministers of Health and Labor, under the jealous custody of the Director of the ISSS, disdained the threats by doctors to turn the hospitals over if the government did not agree to negotiate. On few occasions has a government given such an enormous demonstration of its lack of capability to analyze objectively the benefits and disadvantages of its posture when faced with a critical situation not only for the state administration, but also —and principally— for the people of the country. Likewise, in spite of the fact that the Plan of Action for Health is hugely deficient, state authorities began to offer a laurel branch in order to incline public opinion in favor of measures alternative to a strike.
Definitively speaking, these and other attitudes on the part of the Flores administration helped to build a different scenario from that which the health sector confronted on previous occasions. The most noteworthy aspect of this scenario is the absolute lack of willingness on the part of the government to recognize their quota of responsibility in the problem the proportions of which had arisen in good measure as a result of governmental indifference. For this reason, reaching a "solution" such as was reached a few days before the elections continues to be a solution of a limited nature. Even today, the ISSS authorities have stood firm not only on the necessity of the opening of the Roma and Amatepec Hospitals under the system of contracting out the work which was proposed to begin during the most serious moments of the strike. They also propose as an objective that the rulings of the Supreme Court and the Comptrollers' Office —with reference to the firings and discounts and holding back in salaries which were effectuated during the crisis— become banners to be held up in their own cause, detrimental to the organization of the medical guild and, therefore, detrimental to its demands.
In this sense, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is, precisely, government indifference to the problems of the ISSS. This is even more the case when indifference gives way to censure and closed-mindedness. To efforts designed not to leave to the discretion of the ISSS authorities the process of reforming the health sector, are added, as well, efforts to combat the posture of the president who, wishing to put forth the position in the presence of his work team, closes off all possibilities for listening to what he considers "anti-system opposition". His strategy, in this sense, develops along two mutually exclusive environments: that in which there is a place for the opposition which does not aim for any change in that "system" which Flores speaks of —a petulant euphemism for referring to his own work in the Executive Office— and that which is solely dedicated to preventing the actions of those who are anti-system from degenerating into delinquency or terrorism. So it is that the doors to violent repression, or by means of punishments with the evident intent of making examples, stay open as long as President Flores maintains this posture.
The rhythm at which the negotiations begun on March 10 are proceeding does not allow for much hope for the achievement of an agreement in which the participation of both parties is assured and defined within the limits that are the province of each: to the doctors, their quota in the redefinition of the process of modernizing the health system; to the workers, labor stability; to the population, clear definition of the rules which would regulate any radical transformation of public health, in which their rights and the obligation of the state and all public servants are safeguarded. For the moment, what predominates at the negotiating table is the lack of capacity to come to terms which, by common agreement, might contribute to unblocking the negotiation process. Evidently, the trade union sector did its part in acceding to the acceptance of Supreme Court decisions and rulings on the question of the ISSS employees who were fired. There must now be a period during which one must wait for the government to show some real signs of flexibility and curing which the government administration could proceed once again towards proposing modernization policies which would provide for that participation and consensus-building of which there is so much talk.
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