Earlier this summer, a delegation from the Madison Arcatao Sister City Project (MASCP) traveled to El Salvador to meet with community groups and support the political and social organizing happening there. On today’s episode, Allen is joined by three delegates from this recent trip—Barbara Mergen Alvarado, Fabiola Hamdan, and Jonathan Solari—to discuss what they learned on-the-ground in El Salvador. They talk about the violence and upheaval of the Salvadoran Civil War in the 1980s and the ongoing struggles faced by El Salvadorans. They also take up the political consequences of the Trump administration’s revocation of temporary protected status, which may send up to 200,000 immigrants and asylum-seekers back to El Salvador. Throughout the conversation, the delegates emphasize the importance of local organizing, both there and here.
Barbara Mergen Alvarado currently serves as the volunteer board president of the Madison Arcatao Sister City Project and has led numerous delegations to El Salvador. She is an honorary fellow at UW–Madison’s Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program researching migration, human rights, and cross-border organizing in Latin America.
Fabiola Hamdan is the Immigration Affairs Specialist at the Dane County Department of Human Services. For eighteen years, she has facilitated the Darbo / Worthington Joining Forces for Families (JFF) team working to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents.
Jonathan Solari is the philanthropy officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. He has a long history of directing social change theater, including works about water rights, over-development in Istanbul, and free speech in Minsk. He has worked with Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) to promote economic justice in Latin America and is the at-large member of Madison’s Sister City Collaboration Committee.