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El Salvador: President Bukele responds to COFOA demands to improve new land reform legislation

On July 2, eight hundred COFOA leaders delivered personal letters to President Bukele. On July 27, COFOA received a letter from the President acknowledging the flaws in land rights legislation passed unanimously by the legislature and arranged for a meeting with the Minister of Housing to find ways to help the 350,000 families who have not been able to receive title to the properties they have already paid for.

COFOA is now organizing in 9 of 14 departments in El Salvador, with a staff of 17 people, and will likely have organizing teams in every department by the end of 2022. How did COFOA become a national organization with a national footprint and agenda? Several ingredients are contributing to COFOA’s remarkable growth:

  • COFOA has built a reputation for disciplined and effective local organizing in La Paz over ten years with the support by Bp. Bolanos that led to invitations by the Archdiocese of San Salvador and a growing number of bishops across the country.
  • COFOA launched the RENACER land-title campaign that began with two local communities and has been a magnet for new communities wanting to work with COFOA. Today, more than 60 developments across the country are organizing to win national reforms that would regularize land titles for 350,000 families (one in five Salvadoran households), worth $1 billion.
  • John A. Sobrato’s contribution of $500,000 in early 2020, along with other generous donations provided COFOA the resources to respond to requests from communities across the country, with consulting and practical support from Faith in Action International throughout COFOA’s organizing history.

While COFOA leaders expect to meet with Michele Sol, Minister of Housing later this month to discuss the problems with the new national land title law, they are organizing meetings with local mayors to press for clean water, road repair and new schools identified through community outreach and prioritized through community assemblies.

COFOA is also continuing to work with faith partners from Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the US. to shape the Biden/Harris Administration’s $4 billion plan to address the root causes of migration from Central America, most recently winning the inclusion of clean water as a priority in the Administration’s plan.

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