Gordon Irlam
GRI Charitable Foundation
326 A St, Redwood City, CA 94063
Email: noreply@base.com
Phone / Fax: +1 (650) 364-6169
Andrea Rodriguez
El Salvador Desk Officer
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

November 26, 2002

Dear Ms. Rodriguez,

On April 13th, 2002, I attended a talk by Ricardo Monge regarding the situation in El Salvador. Ricardo Monge is Secretary-General of the STISSS healthcare workers' union in El Salvador, and he was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area on a speaking tour. In this talk he discussed the tense political situation that presently exists in El Salvador, and the climate of repression that prevents people from speaking out about the situation. He mentioned his own life was potentially in danger as a result of his speaking out, including his decision to come to the Bay Area to talk to people here about what was happening in El Salvador.

Last month I received an email from CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), stating Ricardo Monge and his family were receiving death threats as a result of his activities. And then, on November 20th, 2002, I received the following email from CISPES, alleging the following events took place on November 15th, 2002:

"At 1:00am on Friday morning, armed subjects raided the house of Ricardo Monge, Secretary-General of the STISSS healthcare workers' union and prominent leader of the two-month healthcare strike that has won the passage of a legislative decree outlawing the privatization of healthcare. Monge himself was not at home when five men wearing ski masks, armed with rifles and handguns, burst into the residence, but his wife and two young children were terrorized by the men who proceeded to turn over the house; they took with them a number of internal union documents and left, but not before threatening the life of Monge and his family. Monge filed a police report the next morning with the District Attorney's office in Cojutepeque, but so far, police have not begun to investigate the case, nor has the government taken any steps to guarantee the safety of Monge and his family."

I urge you to investigate this matter to its fullest, and do everything in your power to communicate to the Salvadoran Government that it must bring those responsible to trial, and protect the life of Ricardo Monge, and all others that show the courage to speak out during this time of tension. El Salvador must not be allowed to return to the ways of violence, intimidation, and death squads of the 1980's.


Gordon Irlam

Cc: Jared Weaver (Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's office)