Parque Cuscatlán Reopening
Ambassador Ronald Johnson
Monday, October 5, 2020, 2020, 10:00 A.M. Parque Cuscatlán
Remarks by Ambassador Ronald Johnson at the Reopening of Parque Cuscatlán
* This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish language text should be considered authoritative.
October 5th, 2020
A little over a year ago, I was here at the Inauguration of the Cuscatlán Park. I remember very clearly the tour we took back then and how impressed I was by this place. Now a year later, many things have happened.
This year has been a year of challenges for El Salvador, but also for the world. We have faced a situation that we never imagined that we would ever have to face during our lifetimes. The pandemic has changed our lives, but it has also left us with valuable lessons. We have learned to be resilient, to value the things we have taken for granted and to adapt to this new reality.
I think this park, a place with so much history, is a symbol of how Salvadorans overcome these challenges. This is not the first time that El Salvador is facing a huge challenge, but I also know that despite everything, this country has kept moving forward.
Just a few years ago, El Salvador was known as the murder capital of the world. That is no longer the case. Murder and violent crime rates have remained at an all-time low. The homicide rate has fallen more than 66% in the last year, femicide is down by 61%. This is the result of years of effort on behalf of the Government of El Salvador, of the “Control Territorial” Plan and of our joint initiatives in security, comprehensive programs and projects that are committed to long-term progress and that make use of our best skills and qualities.
In the past year, there has been unprecedented cooperation between law enforcement agencies in the United States, with our Salvadoran counterparts in the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office. This teamwork has resulted in very successful operations that have led to multiple arrests of gang members both in the United States and here in El Salvador.
With the coronavirus pandemic, we had to learn to adapt. We mobilize our Embassy to focus our resources on what the country needs most. Since March, we have made more than 22 million donations of hygiene kits, food, water, disinfection equipment, personal protective equipment, and much more. In addition to the donation of 600 portable ventilators that President Trump had promised to President Bukele. All this with the goal of strengthening the Salvadoran health system, which is essential to guarantee the well-being of a population. It has been an honor for my government to support Salvadorans in this mission. We have all come together to support them in their fight. From donations made by the United States Government, those made by NGOs, companies and even individuals.
This year we have also seen a 60% reduction in illegal immigration to the United States. We know that the causes of migration are deeply rooted, among other factors, in the lack of opportunities, and there are criminals who take advantage of people’s despair. Coyotes say that getting asylum is easy, that going to the United States is easy, and that it is widely granted to Salvadorans. But it is not the truth. The reality is that they will put their lives in danger, they risk becoming gang members and criminals. We must do everything possible to prevent these already vulnerable people, especially minors, from being put at risk.
We know that, if there is an alternative, people prefer to seek legal and legitimate opportunities to improve their future here in El Salvador. As friends we assume our responsibility to help our allies in their time of need, with real solutions that are sustainable in the long term.
The work is not done yet. El Salvador has made many strides and it is important, perhaps now more than ever, that we take the time to celebrate them, to look back and see the fruit of our efforts. And may we take courage from these same successes to continue on the path.
It is time to start looking towards the future and focus on El Salvador’s economic recovery. The main challenge now is to reactivate the Salvadoran economy. Although El Salvador has important achievements in the area of security, ensuring that these advances are not lost implies that the vicious cycle of crime and poverty must be broken, and this means that economic prosperity must be promoted.
We have always thought of El Salvador as a partner, as an ally with whom we share goals, values and objectives, and our focus has always been to promote sustainable development in El Salvador. We share a vision of a prosperous and secure future for all Salvadorans. We know this is a challenge but we have already achieved great results.
I want to finish my words, remembering that Cuscatlán means “place of precious things.” I believe that now more than ever it is important that we remember that there is much that is worth fighting for, and we continue building a safer, more prosperous El Salvador.
God bless salvadorans, God bless El Salvador and God bless the United States of America.