Monday, June 1, 2009

Inauguration Day

What's the connection between cycling and the inauguaration of the first elected Salvadoran President from the left?

Trust me, I can find the connection between bicycling and just about anything that's good for the masses.

It's so easy because the bicycle is such a fundamentally democratizing machine.

In this case the connection was provided serendipitously by a chance encounter in a local bicycle shop. I overheard a conversation yesterday between a woman with a taco-ed rear wheel (from her second auto-avoidance maneuver) and the mechanic. A "tacoed" wheel means the wheel is in the shape of a taco shell--irrevocably damaged usually. Upshot was that her wheel was a 27" wheel, and the array of choices was getting expensive given nobody makes or sells 27" wheels much anymore. As they bantered I remembered that I had a 27" wheelset sitting in my basement shop that I had been planning to donate to BikeWorks. I offered Rachel the wheels and she offered me chocolate. Not satisfied I bargained hard, and true to my shameless self-promotion I told her she could have the wheelset and keep the chocolate if she'd just look at this blog and pass it along to her friends. Deal was struck. Or so I thought.
In accepting the deal via email, she "hinted" about a ride she is planning to participate in. So now here I am promoting HER agenda AND giving her the wheelset AND she's keeping the chocolate! Tough bargainer, Rachel!

Actually, I say the meeting was serendipity because she sent me the link to the CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) website and the Solidarty Cycle 2009 ride to raise money for CISPES. I was familiar with CISPES back in the day, but hadn't been tracking lately. The serendipity is that President Mauricio Funes was sworn in today! How wonderful. Even Hilary Clinton is attending. Talk about a shift in U.S. policy!

Truly, the only serendipity is in my learning about all this. Funes' election is the culmination of years of struggle by many selfless and committed folk in El Salvador and of course here by the CISPES folks. Here is a little background about this historic day:
Funes' March 15 election highlights the leftward political shift witnessed throughout Latin America in recent years, and marks the rise of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) to win executive power in El Salvador for the first time. The former guerrilla group became an official political party after signing a peace treaty with the U.S.-backed Salvadoran government in 1992, ending 12 years of civil war. The historic nature of Funes' election is adding to the international attention being afforded his inauguration. CISPES representatives will join heads of state and other international dignitaries in witnessing the first peaceful transfer of power between two distinct political tendencies in Salvadoran history. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to attend the event. She and President Barack Obama previously met with President-elect Funes at the Summit of Americas in Trinidad and Tobago in April.

Funes, a former television journalist who campaigned on a platform of change, hope and support for El Salvador's poor and disenfranchised majority, will inherit a nation seeking a break from 20 years of far-right government under the ARENA party, a staunch Bush administration ally. The new president will be challenged with an economy hit particularly hard by the current economic crisis, due in part to its reliance upon trade, migration, and investment ties with the United States. In recent months, under the current ARENA administration, key ministries have been unable to carry out their basic functions due to budget shortfalls.
So please check out the CISPES Solidarity Ride website to find out more about joining or supporting the ride and about the work of CISPES.

And please don't tell the people I work with that I'm such a poor bargainer; I work for a labor union after all!

Keep it curious,


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