El Salvador election March 15

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture
El Salvador election March 15

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture

El Salvador may be the next "domino" to fall to the left in Latin America. This Sunday, Salvadorans will vote for a new president, and the leftish FMLN may be on the verge of an historic victory.


Facing a serious electoral debacle in advance of Sunday's presidential election, and recognizing that it cannot win the election based on practical ideas, the right-wing ARENA (or Nationalist Republican Alliance) party has launched an ugly campaign to link leftist FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) candidate [b]Mauricio Funes[/b] with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

There are many similarities between ARENA's position and the Republican Party prior to the November, 2008 election. Like the GOP, ARENA has now been entrenched in power for a long time. To many Salvadorans, ARENA seems like a colossal dinosaur mired in the past. [b]Founded by right wing death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, held to be one of the instigators of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980, ARENA is still fervently anti-Communist. ARENA, whose colors are red, white and blue, models itself on the U.S. Republican party but is even more explicitly nationalist. The hymn of the party touts El Salvador as the tomb where "the Reds will die."[/b]

While such heated rhetoric may have appealed to some in the midst of the country's bloody civil war between the right and left in the 1980s, ARENA now looks increasingly bereft. Salvadorans want practical solutions to the country's intractable social problems and are hardly in the mood for more of the same anachronistic Cold War rhetoric.

Even if ARENA were to run a novel and innovative campaign however, the party would still face a huge uphill battle. [b]ARENA has been in power now for twenty years. During this time the small Central American nation has descended into violent lawlessness with robbery and homicide rates flying off the charts.[/b] ARENA candidate [b]Rodrigo Ávila[/b], the country's former head of national police, has pledged to combat violent crime. Only Funes however has said he would purge elements of the police force linked to organized crime.

Adding to Ávila's worries, ARENA has mismanaged the economy. In recent years, the party has eagerly followed Washington's dictates by privatizing social services and public utilities. The outgoing administration of Antonio Saca signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States, but the deal has not led to social harmony. The country is still plagued by extreme inequality while 37 per cent of Salvadorans live in poverty and can't pay high food prices. This fuels the crime wave which has proven so worrying to poor Salvadorans.

[b]Funes is hardly what one might call a fire breathing leftist. A former media commentator, he seeks to remake the FMLN into a pragmatic political party.[/b] At rallies, he doesn't sing the party's anthem or wear its traditional red colors, preferring to campaign in a crisp white guayabera shirt. It's a symbolic move designed to contrast himself with many in the party who still wear fatigues and brandish pictures of Che Guevara and Soviet flags at campaign rallies.

[url=http://www.counterpunch.org/kozloff03112009.html][color=mediumblue][u]Ni... Kozloff[/u][/color][/url]


ARENA has been trying to portray FLMN as being funded by Chavez according to CBC radio this morning.


[u][url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7944899.stm]BBC: Cliff-hanger vote in El Salvador[/url][/u]


I'll be surprised if elections there arent tainted by violence, or even rigged outright.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Anyone know when the polls close in El Salvador?

From the reports, it looks like it'll be tight with the edge given to the FMLN.

It irks me to no end when the mainstream media refers to the ARENA as a "conservative" party.   It's an out and out fascist party created by CIA-trained fascist death squad leader Roberto D'Aubisson.

The mainstream media has always been "soft on fascism".

This was posted on the London Times site an hour or so ago:




Meanwhile, the MSM is quick to label anyone even slightly to the left of Attila The Hun a "socialist".

radiorahim radiorahim's picture



[url=http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Herman%20/Afghan_ESal_Iraq_Elections.h... Afghan, El Salvador, and Iraq Elections[/u][/b][/color][/url] U.S. managed elections, with the threat of violence,
are called "democratic"

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Polls closed at 23:00 GMT, so that's 7 pm EDT...results are expected at 1:30 GMT Monday...so that's 9:30 PM EDT.


I was in El Salvador in 1986...one of the leaders of the FENASTRAS trade union federation that I met while there was later killed when the FENASTRAS headquarters in San Salvador was firebombed by the death squads.


M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://colectivovictorjara.blogspot.com/2009/03/avance-el-salvador-exit-... blogger is reporting[/u][/color][/url] the exit polls as showing 54.4% for the FMLN.


radiorahim radiorahim's picture


This is the website of El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Commission (in Spanish only...but should be easy to figure out).   I just see the results of the legislative and municipal elections held in January.


radiorahim radiorahim's picture

"La Prensa Grafica", one of the "mainstream" newspapers in El Salvador is showing a narrower lead for the FMLN 51.3% to 48.7% for ARENA. 


M. Spector M. Spector's picture
radiorahim radiorahim's picture

With 72.2% of the vote counted, the FMLN is ahead 51.6% to 48.4% for the ARENA candidate.

BTW, the ARENA candidate, Rodrigo Avila is an ex-cop...which in El Salvador means that he's a fascist thug.

ceti ceti's picture

The results will be narrower than the exit polls as the ARENA is expert in voter fraud, including bussing in nationals from other countries to vote. the Republican intimidation tactics don't hurt either.

If and when the FMLN are declared the winners, it really will be a celebration. They deserve all our support, especially, for all the victims of the oligarchy and US imperialism that have endeavoured to crucify El Salvador all these many years.


M. Spector M. Spector's picture


If the trend holds, the FMLN will have broken 20 years of ARENA majority control. The latter party has won the last four presidential elections, dating back to 1989.

The FMLN won 35 seats in nationwide legislative elections held in January, giving it a plurality but not a majority in the unicameral legislature. The FMLN also won 95 mayoralties in the Jan. 18 elections.

The FMLN, an umbrella group for left-wing guerilla factions in the 1980s, became a legal political party in 1992, after the signing of the Chapultepec Peace agreement at the end of the country's civil war, which lasted from 1980 to 1992.

[url=http://www.ticotimes.net/dailyarchive/2009_03/0316091.htm][color=mediumb... Times[/u][/color][/url]


radiorahim wrote:

Polls closed at 23:00 GMT, so that's 7 pm EDT...results are expected at 1:30 GMT Monday...so that's 9:30 PM EDT.


I was in El Salvador in 1986...one of the leaders of the FENASTRAS trade union federation that I met while there was later killed when the FENASTRAS headquarters in San Salvador was firebombed by the death squads

It sounds like El Salvador has a history of being a very undemocratic country, radiorahim.


ARENA has conceded. So that's that!


radiorahim radiorahim's picture

El Salvador has joined the "axis of good" :) :)  ...the wave of reformist and revolutionary governments coming to power in Latin America.

It's a very positive development!

M. Spector M. Spector's picture


A leftist television journalist made history by bringing a party of former guerrillas to power for the first time since the end of a bloody civil war and promised Monday to unite the country after a bitter presidential campaign.

Mauricio Funes, a moderate plucked from outside the ranks of the rebel-group-turned-political-party Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, ended two decades of conservative rule in El Salvador in Sunday's election - and became the latest leftist to rise to power in Latin America at a time of uncertainty over how President Barack Obama will approach the region.

"This is not the time for revenge. This is time for political understanding," he told a rally of roaring supporters early Monday. "The time has come for the excluded, the opportunity has arrived for genuine democrats, for men and women who believe in social justice and solidarity."

Funes, 49, rode a wave of discontent with two decades of Arena party rule that have brought economic growth but done little to redress social inequalities. Fuel and food prices have soared, while powerful gangs extort businesses and fight for drug-dealing turf, resulting in one of Latin America's highest homicides rates.

Funes reported on the 12-year war that killed 75,000 people and later hosted a popular interview show.

He has promised to crack down on big businesses that he says exploit government complacency to evade taxes. After winning, he also vowed to promote investor confidence and respect private property.

"There is no time to lose. That's why tomorrow we will start to make decisions necessary for confronting the negative effects of the crisis," he said.

With 90 percent of the vote counted late Sunday, Funes had 51 percent compared to 49 percent for Rodrigo Avila of the ruling conservative Arena party, said Walter Araujo, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Avila, accompanied by current President Tony Saca, conceded defeat and wished Funes luck.

Jubilant, red-clad Funes supporters poured into the streets of San Salvador, whooping, clapping, blowing whistles and waving large party flags. Colorful fireworks shot up into the night sky.

Avila, 44, a former police chief, had warned that an FMLN victory would send El Salvador down a communist path and threaten the country's warm relations with the United States. He vowed Sunday to lead "a vigilant opposition that would ensure that the country does not lose its liberties."

Close U.S. ties saw El Salvador keep troops in Iraq longer than any other Latin American country and become a hub of regional cooperation with Washington against drug trafficking. The country's economy depends on billions of dollars sent home by 2.5 million Salvadorans who live in the U.S.

The Obama government has assured Salvadorans it would work with any leader elected - a marked departure from the administration of former President George W. Bush, which in 2004 suggested that an FMLN victory would hurt ties.

But U.S relations with some leftist leaders remain tense, including Venezuela's fiery Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who lashed out last week at the United States for holding back aid over an election dispute.

Funes hopes to start off relations fresh with the Obama administration and promises to respect a free trade agreement with the United States and keep the dollar as El Salvador's currency.

"Integration with Central America and strengthening relations with the United States will be the priority of our foreign policy," Funes said.

During the campaign, television broadcasts were flooded with campaign ads warning that a Funes victory would turn El Salvador into a Venezuelan satellite and emphasizing long-standing ties between the FMLN and Chavez. That stoked fears among many Salvadorans with bitter memories of the 1980-1992 leftist insurgency.

"We don't want communists in this country," said Jose Daniel Avila, a 65-year-old retired pilot of no relation to the candidate. "Look what has happened in Nicaragua and Venezuela. Those are not examples to follow."

Chavez said earlier Sunday that his government was not taking sides in the election, adding that Venezuela wants to broaden its relations with whoever won.



Excellent result

''El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

I scored a paper FMLN flag today from some Salvadorean ex-patriates...who no doubt were celebrating last night!

Taped the flag up on my office wall!