Local governments and reintegration: the success of Zacatecoluca

 

In the efficient management of return processes, the Salvadoran municipality of Zacatecoluca has shown that, with a focused strategy, local governments can promote an integral reintegration of returnees and address the multiple causes of migration.

In 2015, this community of some 75 million inhabitants was the fourth most violent municipality in El Salvador. The violence and the difficulties faced by the population promoted a life project that favored irregular migration and negatively impacted the development indexes.

In 2018, Zacatecoluca occupies the tenth position among the municipalities with the highest number of returnees to El Salvador from the United States and Mexico, according to the statistics of the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration.

Despite a complex panorama, the municipality reports an improvement in the local competitiveness index and a reduction in violence by 60% according to the information registered by the Municipal Observatory for the Prevention of Violence, fed with data from the Police National Civil (PNC). This change has substantially improved the climate of citizen security and the quality of life of its residents.

How was this transformation achieved?

Zacatecoluca has launched a series of coordinated actions to improve performance in social and economic indicators, as well as a national and local strategy to improve the attention of the migrant and returnee population. This strategy consists of four elements:

  1. Preventive approach. The community has assumed the structural prevention of violence through the generation of a framework of protection, the creation of opportunities and the recovery of spaces. Some of the initiatives under this line of action include the creation of workshop schools, the promotion of projects for entrepreneurs, reintegration into the education system through flexible education modalities, the opening of youth employment offices focused on the population at risk and the promotion of artistic and cultural practices. Similarly, Zacatecoluca created a local office for victims of violence, which provides psychological services, legal advice and recreation to people who have survived sexual abuse, gender violence and domestic violence, among others.
  2. Increase in competitiveness. Zacatecoluca has also promoted an improvement in its municipal competitiveness indexes. This has been possible thanks to the development of innovative proposals that have attracted investment and improved mobility. The authorities have sought the inclusion of the rural sector and have applied the use of technologies to add value to the products of the area, but above all they have incorporated a gender and youth approach to reach the most vulnerable populations.
  3. Specific interventions for insertion of the returnee population. With the participation and cooperation of the IOM and the technical advice of the National Council for the Protection and Development of the Migrant Person and their Family (CONMIGRANTES), the creation of the first municipal office at a national level to care for the migrant and their families was initiated. The office provides services and advice on the prevention of irregular migration, assistance to returnees and links with Salvadorans abroad.
  4. Establishment of multisector alliances. The national government, international agencies, cooperation agencies, academia, the private sector and civil society organizations have provided support to the municipal office to achieve goals such as return, readmission and dignified and sustainable reintegration; capacity development and recognition of qualifications and competences; linking returnees with job opportunities and enabling spaces for coexistence.

The progress of Zacatecoluca shows the importance of local governments having a greater role in the policies of prevention and management of migration. Undoubtedly, their close relationship with people offers multiple opportunities to improve their quality of life and offer them greater protection.

 

 

Francisco Salvador Hirezi Morataya  has a PhD in General Medicine from the University of El Salvador and a postgraduate degree at the Civil Hospital of Strasbourg, in Digestive and Endocrine Surgery. In 2009 he was elected Municipal Mayor of Zacatecoluca and currently holds his fourth term as mayor of this city. He is also a member of the Association of Municipalities of Los Nonualcos. Since 2015, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation of Municipalities of the Republic of El Salvador (COMURES), currently serving as Director of Legal Affairs.

 


Solutions to address the labor exploitation of migrant populations in Central America

Solutions to address the labor exploitation of migrant populations in Central America
Categoria: Labour Migration
Autor: Guest Contributor

Migrants face different challenges when they settle in their destination countries, including their entry into the labor force. Studies such as CEPAL (link in Spanish) indicate that irregular migrants are more likely to experience poor working conditions and be employed in low-skilled jobs. Including those who obtain a regular status, in some countries, migrants receive salaries below the average of nationals.

To better understand the labor conditions of migrants in Central America, the Central American Integration System (SICA), in conjunction with IOM and UNHCR, developed a baseline study on migration and displacement in the SICA region (link in Spanish), where they are addressed, among other issues, labor discrimination. The study indicates as a relevant finding that labor exploitation is often not conceptualized as a violation of human rights, but only as an administrative offense, which circumvents the corresponding penalty and facilitates the perpetuation of the issue.

According to the study, another consequence of the precarious work for most migrants in the region is the lack of access to social security. One the one hand, this is due to the economic cost involved, as they first need to obtain a regular immigration status which entails certain expenses. On the other hand, the more ‘informal’ that their employment is, the less likely it is to be connect to social security benefits.

The legislation and working conditions of people vary from country to country. To address the challenges of labor migration, the study by SICA, IOM and UNHCR (link in Spanish) proposes several courses of action so that states can collaboratively and comprehensively address the integration of this type of migratory flow including irregular migration, labor discrimination, social security and regional integration. Some of the actions recommended by the study are:

To discourage irregular labor migration

• Support countries in ratifying the ILO Migration for Employment Convention (No. 97) and the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143), as well as adopting the ILO Migration Statistics Recommendations (No. 19).

• Analyze national labor markets to identify areas with deficits or surpluses of trained personnel.

• Strengthen the collection and exchange of information on the needs of labor markets, with approved regional variables.

 

To address labor discrimination

• Implement policies against discrimination and xenophobia.

• Strengthen instruments to ensure the protection of the rights of migrant workers.

• Promote mechanisms of social, labor, and cultural integration of migrants in destination countries.

 

To facilitate access to social security and the protection of migrants

• Support countries in the ratification of the Multilateral Social Security Agreement (link in Spanish).

• Promote internal legislation that protects migrants’ rights to social security.

• Design social security schemes that respond to the specific needs of migrants and their families.

 

To facilitate regional integration of labor migration

• Facilitate the exchange of labor migration information between countries in the region.

• Promote mechanisms (or include spaces in existing mobility agreements) that allow intra-regional labor mobility.

 

In addition to these key actions, the study includes contributions to address labor discrimination specifically with indigenous migrants and LGBTI + populations, who may experience a greater precariousness in their working conditions. This information can be accessed via this link (in Spanish).