Leftist president in El Salvador?

This video says about itself:

[Noam] Chomsky on Oscar Romero

“Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be reality.” –Oscar Romero [Roman Catholic archbishop of El Salvador, assassinated by extreme Right supporters of US imperialism]

From Monthly Review in the USA:

Leftists Poised to Win Presidency in El Salvador: New Report Examines Implications

After 17 years since the end of El Salvador’s civil war, the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) is poised to accomplish what its guerrilla predecessors never did: take over the national government. Reliable polls unanimously project that FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes will win the March 15 presidential elections. What all this means for El Salvador — and Latin America — is the subject of the new, in-depth report, “The 2009 El Salvador Elections: Between Crisis and Change.”

A victory by Funes would break 20 years of one-party rule by the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), opening a new progressive chapter in the country’s long, violent history of war and dictatorships. “The historical importance of the FMLN taking power cannot be overstated for this small Central American country,” says Teo Ballvé, a contributor to the report and member of the North American Congress on Latin America.

If the FMLN wins, El Salvador will be joining an ever-growing group of left-leaning governments in Latin America.

See also here. And here.

6 thoughts on “Leftist president in El Salvador?

  1. Ex-rebels poised to take El Salvador presidency


    Published: Friday March 13, 2009

    El Salvador stages a presidential election on Sunday that could see former leftist rebels complete their political takeover, 17 years after the end of a civil war in the crime-plagued Central American country.

    Mauricio Funes, a 49-year-old former TV journalist, is favorite to win the vote six weeks after his radical Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) claimed victory in the country’s parliamentary elections.

    The head of European Union election observers, Luis Yanez Barnuevo, warned this week of growing tension in the highly polarized country ahead of the poll.

    And the result will likely impact relations with the United States, which backed a repressive military government during the 1980-1992 war in which more than 70,000 people died.

    Funes says El Salvador will remain a staunch US ally if he wins. But the opposition, including governing conservative party candidate 44-year-old Rodrigo Avila, claims the country would become a satellite of Venezuela and other populist leftist forces in the region.

    El Salvador last weekend welcomed its last returning soldiers from Iraq, where it once had 6,000 troops, and its economy depends heavily on the money sent home by some 2.5 million US-based Salvadorans.

    A Funes victory would put another Latin American country on the political left, joining the others from Brazil to Bolivia.

    The FMLN is the former coalition of Marxist guerrillas that battled the government during the civil war, and Funes is its first presidential candidate never to have been an armed combatant.

    Victory would also overturn 20 years of domination by the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA) of President Elias Antonio Saca Gonzalez.

    Funes had a strong lead in early polls, but the gap between him and Avila has narrowed in recent weeks.

    Tens of thousands of Salvadorans attended election rallies on both sides in the tightly-fought campaign.

    The war, poverty, and a string of natural disasters — including Hurricane Mitch in 1998 — have left their mark on one of the most violent countries in the Americas, notorious for “maras” street gangs.

    Some 35 percent of the 5.7 million population live in poverty, according to the UN Development Program, and the country has an average of 11 to 12 murders daily, according to police figures.

    The European Parliament has urged authorities to give “reliable” results on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal still needs to iron out problems in the 17-year-old vote-counting system.

    Some 2,000 local and international monitors are to observe the poll to elect a president and vice-president for five-year terms. There are 4.3 million eligible voters.


  2. Mar 14, 6:14 AM EDT

    US Salvadorans make opinion count in election

    By E.J. TAMARA
    Associated Press Writer

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Salvadorans who live in the United States cannot vote in their native country, but they could impact the results of Sunday’s presidential election because of the influence they wield over their relatives who value both their experience and the money they send.

    “Potentially, the people who send remittances have a privileged status over those who receive the remittances, who could listen to the political message that their family members want to give them,” said sociologist Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, professor of immigration and labor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It’s an interesting political exercise – an indirect influence.”

    Concepcion Guerrero of San Salvador has a son in Los Angeles who sends her about $100 a month. Although she said she makes her own decisions on how to vote, she acknowledged she listens to her son’s opinion.

    “We value what he sends to us, for the sacrifice that he made to emigrate and get work over there,” Guerrero told the AP by phone from her home.

    She said she plans on voting for the candidate of leftist party FMLN, Mauricio Funes, because she wants a change. Her son is also a staunch member of the FMLN.

    Some experts believe a huge number of other voters will be influenced by the people who send money back home. El Salvador received $3.787 billion in remittances from the United States last year, according to the Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador. That represents 17.1 percent of the Central American nation’s gross domestic product.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 474,342 Salvadorans live in the United States, with 394,107 living in Los Angeles. But Carlos Hinojosa, administrator of the Americas program at the Washington, D.C.-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems, estimates the total number of Salvadorans in the US is about 3.2 million – equivalent to about 45 percent of El Salvador’s population of 6.6 million.

    Both Funes, who polls have indicated is in the lead, and his main rival Rodrigo Avila, of the incumbent Arena party, have campaigned in the United States seeking that “boomerang vote.” Funes has visited the U.S. four times, Avila twice.

    “Salvadoran politics has moved beyond the borders of the country,” said Rivera-Salgado, who is also researcher and project director of UCLA’s Labor Center. “This is a reflection of the Salvadoran diaspora. The candidates come to say that they will govern not only for Salvadorans in their country, but also for those in the diaspora.”

    El Salvador has been a close U.S. ally and rightists say a leftist victory could affect the country’s relationship with Washington. The FMLN has tried to allay any such fear.

    “People want change in the United States and they want change in El Salvador,” said Jose Magin Parada, FMLN’s coordinator for Southern California.

    It’s noteworthy, nevertheless, that the Salvadoran diaspora includes numerous leftists who fled their country during its civil war.

    The possible influence of U.S. Salvadorans in the elections is a singular phenomenon, which probably does not occur with immigrants from any other Latin American country.

    Presidential candidates throughout the region are increasingly paying more attention to their overseas compatriots, especially those in the United States, but none has given their expatriates as much weight as Salvadorans, including Mexico, which has many more emigrants than El Salvador.

    “You can’t compare El Salvador to Mexico, which has a population of 105 million and some 12 million here (around 11 percent of the population), while El Salvador has a greater proportion,” said Rivera-Salgado. In Mexico, remittances represent approximately 2 percent of gross domestic product.

    To attract Salvadorans who send remittances, the FMLN campaign in Los Angeles held events, phone campaigns and gave away phone cards for people to call their relatives and tell them they had sent money and recommend voting for Funes.

    The Arena party in Los Angeles also carried out a phone campaign to Salvadoran immigrants, according to one of its leaders Erick Munoz.

    “Our focus is not only the people who send remittances but all Salvadorans. It would be unfair to focus just on them,” he said.

    Both parties said they carried out similar campaigns in Washington, D.C., the U.S. city with the second largest Salvadoran population – 196,747 people – after Los Angeles.

    © 2009 The Associated Press.


  3. Officer admits archbishop killing

    El Salvador: A former military officer has confessed to his involvement in the 1980 killing of Archbishop Oscar Romero, which sparked a civil war between Marxist FMLN rebels and US-backed far-right governments that lasted 12 years.

    Army Captain Alvaro Saravia, interviewed by radio journalists at an undisclosed location, admitted that he helped the actual assassin “who is still out there,” kill the priest as he said mass in front of a thousand worshippers.



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