About 20 supporters of Langley resident José Figueroa and his fight against deportation staged a quiet rally outside the offices of Langley MP Mark Warawa Wednesday afternoon.
Figueroa attended the candlelight vigil and obtained an impromptu meeting with Warawa, who promised he will hand a letter from José and his wife Ivania to Public Safety minister Vic Toews in Ottawa.
“I will hand-deliver this to the minister on the 28th,” Warawa told Figueroa outside his office entrance.
“Your children are Canadian and I will advocate for your family to stay in Canada.”
Warawa also said he would investigate the status of the appeal for ministerial relief from the deportation order that was filed by the family two years ago.
“That’s a gesture that we truly appreciate,” Figueroa said.
The letter appeals to the minister to overturn an immigration appeal board decision to send Figueroa, a married father of three Canadian-born children, back to El Salvador.
“We are appealing to your sense of justice to bring this issue to an end so that we can resume our normal lives,” the Figueroas wrote.
“You and the minister of immigration have in your hands a solution to our ordeal.”
Figueroa was ordered deported for belonging to the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a group linked to violent acts against the regime that ruled the country during the civil war from 1980 to 1992.
Even though the FMLN went on to win a nonviolent and democratic election to become the government of El Salvador and even though the government of Canada has formally recognized the FMLN, the immigration laws still consider it a terrorist group.
Vigils were held in other BC communities and across Canada and in New Zealand to mark the two-year anniversary of the “We Are Jose” campaign launched by Figueroa supporters seeking to overturn the deportation order.
They were timed to coincide with the Jan. 16 anniversary of the end of the civil war in El Salvador.
On Wednesday, the Figueroas confirmed that they were recently granted health care coverage after 15 years in Canada, a decision that will allow Ivania Figueroa to finally have some long-postponed surgeries.
“That was a big battle,” José Figueroa said.
Terrorist Organization Profile:
Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front
Mothertongue Name: Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN)
Aliases: Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional-Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FMLN-FDR)
Bases of Operation: El Salvador
Date Formed: November 1979
Strength: Group is inactive
Financial Sources: Formerly received support from Cuba and the Sandinistas of Nicaragua
Founding Philosophy: The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) was a Marxist-Leninist insurgency movement operationally active in El Salvador from 1980 to 1992. The goal of the FMLN was to overthrow the military dictatorship that had ruled El Salvador since 1930 and replace it with a Communist government. The group was named after Farabundo Marti, a Salvadoran Communist revolutionary that led an unsuccessful and brutally-repressed revolt in 1932, during the height of El Salvador’s economic and social depression.
In 1980, the FMLN was formed as an umbrella group representing the common interests of the five main leftist organizations of El Salvador: the Central American Workers’ Revolutionary Party (PRTC), the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), the Farabundo Marti Popular Liberation Forces (FPL), the Armed Forces of National Resistance (FARN), and the Communist Party of the Armed Forces of Liberation (FAL). The FMLN served to pool the limited resources of these groups and coordinate the strategies and tactics of the Communist insurgency in El Salvador.
The FMLN was organized into a political wing responsible for propaganda and public diplomacy and a military wing responsible for armed operations. Initially, the FMLN developed a three-pronged strategy. First, they sought to secure their rural support base. Second, they conducted raids against government forces and economic infrastructure to de-legitimize the regime. Finally, they waged a propaganda war in urban areas with the aim of inciting a popular uprising against the government.
Politically-inspired by Communists the world over and financially-supported by the Communist regimes of Castro and the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, the FMLN conducted two relatively-conventional offensives in 1982 that were unsuccessful due to limited resources, an easily-disrupted supply chain exacerbated by communication difficulties, and internal disputes over command authority and strategy. After resolving some of these issues with a new influx of communications equipment and American-made weapons purchased on the black market and supplied by Nicaragua, the FMLN reached the height of its strength in 1983, numbering up to 12,000 members at one point. The FMLN embarked on what was to be its final conventional offensive in September 1983, escalating the scale and intensity of warfare in comparison to previous engagements. Still, the FMLN was not able to win decisively.
After the US provided military aid to the government of El Salvador, the FMLN was forced to shift strategies and wage fully-asymmetrical warfare. The whole movement trimmed its size, reorganized into smaller units more conducive to guerrilla warfare, and moved into urban areas, especially San Salvador. In the last half of the 1980s, the FMLN employed terrorist tactics such as kidnappings, arson, and bombings to destabilize the regime. Due to the substantial influence that American financial support had on strengthening El Salvador’s counterinsurgency prowess, US assets in El Salvador also became targets during this time. Notably, four US Marine security guards were massacred at a roadside café in June 1985.
Current Goals: Thought it exhibited a great deal of organizational flexibility, the FMLN was dealt a death blow when the US decided to support the Salvadoran government. Still, politically-inspired violence, no longer in the form of direct engagement, continued until 1989. On December 31, 1991, the FMLN reached a peace settlement with the Salvadoran government that allowed the FMLN to participate in political affairs. In exchange, the government cracked down on the notorious right-wing “death squads” that were responsible for a majority of the human rights violations that occurred during El Salvador’s civil war. Today, the FMLN is one of the two main political parties in El Salvador and can no longer be considered a terrorist organization.
“That’s a gesture that we truly appreciate,” Figueroa said.