Viewing cable 06SANSALVADOR318
Title: EL SALVADOR: POST'S VIEWS ON DISASTER

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06SANSALVADOR3182006-02-07 21:51:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Salvador
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SAN SALVADOR 000318 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR PRM/PRP AND WHA/CEN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/2016 
TAGS: ES PGOV PHUM PREF PREL SMIG
SUBJECT: EL SALVADOR:  POST'S VIEWS ON DISASTER 
RECONSTRUCTION STATUS, COUNTRY CONDITIONS, AND TPS EXTENSION 
 
REF: A. 2005 SAN SALVADOR 3507 
 
     ¶B. STATE 15163 
 
Classified By: Ambassador H. Douglas Barclay, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
¶1. (C)  SUMMARY:  Temporary Protected Status status should be 
extended for El Salvadoran beneficiaries currently residing 
and working in the United States.  El Salvador's ongoing 
recovery from the 2001 earthquakes and the 2005 eruption of 
the Santa Ana volcano is incomplete.  Current conditions 
prevent the safe return of Salvadoran nationals to a country 
still ill-prepared to absorb them.  END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2. (SBU)  The earthquakes of January and February 2001 
claimed 1,159 lives, damaged or destroyed 276,000 homes, 
destroyed major hospitals and community infrastructure 
(schools, health centers, water and sanitation systems, 
public marketplaces and municipal centers, etc.), and left 
unserviceable 1,400 miles of roadways.  This major disruption 
to the economy and social fabric of the country has yet to be 
overcome. The resulting damage to the economy persists, and 
economic growth and job creation still suffers.  Poverty 
rates have also increased, especially in rural areas. 
 
¶3. (SBU)  The GOES remains engaged in high-priority 
earthquake reconstruction activities with USAID assistance. 
Despite USAID's USD 170 million disaster reconstruction 
program, reconstruction activities remain incomplete.  We 
estimate that the programs will not be completed in less than 
24 months.  This translates into a continued deficit in 
low-cost housing, and a lack of access to hospital-based 
healthcare services for many communities. 
 
¶4. (SBU)  Reftel A outlined the effects of the October 1, 
2005 eruption of Santa Ana Volcano, which was immediately 
followed by flooding and mudslides from Hurricane Stan. 
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin 
America and the Caribbean (UN/ECLAC), October's natural 
disasters caused 69 deaths and USD 355.6 million in damage 
and losses (2.2 percent of GDP) to housing, infrastructure 
(water and sanitation, electrical distribution, schools, 
health facilities, roads), and to the economy, particularly 
the agricultural sector.  The impact of these latest 
disasters, in addition to yet-unfinished earthquake 
reconstruction work, significantly hampers the GOES's ability 
to address El Salvador's key social and economic challenges. 
The Government must again redirect public investment (to 
which end, they are now negotiating changes to several 
international loans), and they are also requesting additional 
international donor assistance. 
 
¶5. (SBU)  Partly as a result of low investment, recent growth 
in El Salvador's economy has been lackluster, averaging only 
approximately two percent during the last five years.  The 
natural disasters and resulting economic downturns have 
contributed to this trend.  Although unemployment now stands 
at approximately 7 percent, underemployment in 2004 equaled 
35 percent, and El Salvador's overall poverty rate remains 35 
percent (but ranges as high as 50 percent in some rural 
areas).  Remittances from Salvadorans living abroad, 
including TPS beneficiaries, was estimated at USD 2.8 billion 
last year, and equals 16.6 percent percent of GDP.  At 
present, there are insufficient economic opportunities to 
ensure a secure reintegration of returnees, and inadequate 
social-services capacity to attend them.  Any influx of 
Salvadorans to low-growth/highly-impoverished regions would 
heighten social tensions and represent an immediate negative 
shock to the economy, and could even precipitate a negative 
growth trend.  Under these circumstances, Post believes that 
the security of returnees, a key concern of TPS, could be at 
risk resulting from economic and social tensions that 
themselves are a result of underemployment. 
 
¶6. (C)  In addition to the clear statutory rationale behind 
continuing TPS for Salvadorans, there is also a political 
imperative for extending TPS.  Several important U.S.-El 
Salvador bilateral interests stand at sensitive crossroads. 
President Saca on January 24 announced the deployment of a 
sixth contingent of troops to Iraq in support of coalition 
forces.  Salvadoran engagement in Iraq represents one of the 
Saca administration's few political vulnerabilities, as poll 
after poll show that it is unpopular with a majority of 
Salvadorans.  Nonetheless, Saca and his party see their 
support in Iraq as a way to express gratitude for U.S. 
support during El Salvador's own armed struggle.  Terminating 
TPS would undercut Saca's support of U.S. positions in the 
hemisphere and globally. Lastly, in nationwide elections 
scheduled for March 12, all 84 Legislative Assembly seats and 
all 262 mayoralities will be contested, and the opposition 
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is casting 
about for any issue it hopes might achieve greater resonance 
among voters.  For these reasons, on top of Salvador,s 
inability to take back its citizens safely, post strongly 
advocates the extension of Temporary Protected Status for TPS 
beneficiaries from this country. 
Barclay