Left victory in El Salvador

From British daily The Morning Star:

Left triumphant in El Salvador election

Monday 16 March 2009

SALVADOREAN leftwinger Mauricio Funes vowed to crack down on tax-evading corporate chiefs on Monday after he won presidential elections.

The country’s election commission released figures on Sunday which showed that Mr Funes of the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) garnered 51.27 per cent of the vote against 48.73 per cent for Rodrigo Avila of the ruling Arena party, ending two decades of right-wing rule in El Salvador.

Jubilant, red-clad FMLN supporters poured into the streets of San Salvador on Monday, singing, clapping, blowing whistles and waving large party flags as fireworks lit up the night sky.

Addressing the rally, Mr Funes said that “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.”

He vowed to boost public spending on education, health and poverty alleviation.

And Mr Funes gave notice to big-business bosses who exploit government complacency to evade taxes, pledging to bring the full force of law to bear on them.

The former freelance television reporter harnessed a wave of discontent with two decades of Arena party rule that have brought economic growth at the cost of growing social inequality.

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 murder rates.

The FMLN was formed in 1980 as an umbrella group to unite progressive guerilla groups struggling against the US-backed military regime and its notorious death squads.

After signing the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992 which ended the bloody civil war, it became a legal political party.

In January’s legislative elections, the FMLN won 42.6 per cent of the vote and 35 seats, making it the largest party in parliament, though it does not have a governing majority.

In Washington, the Obama administration has assured Salvadoreans that it will work with Mr Funes – a marked departure from the approach of former president George W Bush who indicated that an FMLN victory would hurt ties.

See also here. And here. And here.

El Salvador and arts: here.

Nohemy Coto is member of Salvadorian parliament for the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FLMN); interview here.

EL SALVADOR: Leftist Govt Clamps Down on Corruption: here.

10 thoughts on “Left victory in El Salvador

  1. CUBA: Havana was celebrating a further warming in relations with its neighbours on Thursday after the only two central American countries that don’t recognise its government announced that they will re-establish ties.

    Costa Rica, which broke off ties with the Cuba in 1961, and El Salvador, which has not recognised the island’s socialist government since 1959, said on Wednesday that they would name ambassadors soon.



  2. El Salvador: New FMLN president declares: `Change begins now!’

    Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, June 3, 2009 —
    On June 1, Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Cerén were sworn in as
    president and vice-president of El Salvador at the Feria Internacional
    Convention Center in San Salvador. It was a magical day for the
    Salvadoran people, social movement organisations, and the leftist
    Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which Funes and
    Sanchez Cerén represent.

    * Read more http://links.org.au/node/1086


  3. Murdered priests receive award

    El Salvador: The country’s president has said that the country will award its highest honour to six Jesuit priests murdered by the army in 1989.

    President Mauricio Funes said that the National Order of Jose Matias Delgado awards were a “public act of atonement” for mistakes by past governments.

    They will be presented on November 16 to mark the date 20 years ago when soldiers murdered Spanish-born university rector Ignacio Ellacuria, five other Jesuits, a housekeeper and her daughter.



  4. Salvadoreans love President Funes

    El Salvador: Six months after his inauguration, the country’s first left-wing president Mauricio Funes has a 73.4 per cent approval rating according to a Universidad Centroamericana study.

    Mr Funes was elected president with 51 per cent of the vote in elections which pitted the former guerilla FMLN Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front against parties of the country’s wealthy landowning class.



  5. Hope of justice for war victims

    El Salvador President Mauricio Funes has vowed to “settle the state’s historic debt” with the thousands of disabled and mutilated victims of the vicious US-backed war that right-wing governments waged against unions, peasants and the left opposition in the 1980s.

    Pledging to increase payments to the wounded and invest more on health, leftwinger Mr Funes insisted that those who suffered as a result of the 12-year war would “no longer be forgotten.”



  6. Salvadoran linked to revolutionary group ordered deported, denies terrorist label

    By: Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press

    6/06/2010 5:02 AM

    VANCOUVER – Even after the U.S.-backed death squads had disbanded and peace accords were signed, Jose Figueroa was getting threats on his life and dodging bullets in his native El Salvador.

    Allegiance to a revolutionary guerrilla group that fought brutal government forces put a bull’s-eye on his back and propelled his flight from the tiny Latin American country.

    Thirteen years after starting fresh in the Vancouver area with his wife and three children, Figueroa is in crosshairs again — this time the target of broad Canadian immigration policy that experts say often catches hapless victims in its wide net.

    Figueroa, 43, was ordered deported last month because of his self-admitted membership in the FLMN two decades ago, now a political party that governs El Salvador after winning democratic elections in 2009.

    The decision comes as Ottawa tries to push through a controversial refugee reform package that critics say will “politicize” the immigration system and fails to consider the human element of people’s claims.

    It has re-ignited the Langley, B.C. man’s fighting spirit as he campaigns to keep his family in Canada and to topple ignorance about the bloody civil war and help others from becoming trapped in the same situation.

    “The war in El Salvador ended for people living in El Salvador, but it didn’t end for people living abroad,” he said.

    “There’s the dignity of Salvadorans that’s at stake, and there are many Canadians that are fighting for this as well, they are fighting for the dignity of Canada.”

    Figueroa has battled through the tedious refugee process since he and wife Ivania arrived in B.C. in May 1997.

    His first claim was rejected, while another on humanitarian grounds was approved on principle.

    But lacking funds for proper legal help and bungled papers around 2004, his case went into limbo until late 2009.

    That’s when he was suddenly told his membership in the FMLN between 1985 and 1992 — which had never been raised as an issue before — was grounds for deportation.

    During a May 5 hearing, a member of the immigration division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada told Figueroa he was “inadmissible on security grounds.”

    Board member Otto Nupponen accepted Figueroa was only a member of the FMLN as a university student and “never killed, never carried weapons, didn’t direct anyone else to do that.

    “Your only purpose was to co-ordinate matters so as to open up the minds of the people to new and better political realities,” Nupponen said.

    Regardless, he hinged his decision on evidence the militant faction of the group attacked and killed several mayors.

    A United Nations’ Truth Commission reported 85 per cent of violence during the conflict was by agents of the state, with only five per cent by the FMLN — a finding Nupponen accepted. And he agreed the group isn’t on any terrorist entity list.

    But Nupponen was charged with “determining whether or not the group committed terrorist acts,” and said the “campaign of intimidation” was enough to show “the FMLN did commit some very bad acts.”

    Neither the Immigration and Refugee Board or the Canada Border Services Agency would comment, citing privacy law.

    The decision falls within legal bounds, says immigration lawyer Douglas Cannon, but its “formulaic” approach and “unstructured lack of discretion” exposes flaws in the system.

    “Effectively Canada is saying to the Salvadoran government that ‘None of you are any good for us,'” he said. “And that’s a problem politically.”

    Immigration-policy analyst Richard Kurland said the law can reach too far.

    “The goalposts stretch from continent to continent, and that’s to prevent war criminals and bad people from staying here,” he said. “The downside is the stress and tension on the people who are caught in this net.”

    Last year, the federal government apologized to a visiting Salvadoran judge after he was detained at Toronto’s Pearson airport for 24 hours because officials questioned his high-profile FMLN membership. During the civil war, he was a commander in the movement.

    “People in positions of power have avenues to protest, people without that power are subject to judicial whims and bureaucracy,” said Wesley Wark, a national security expert.

    “(Figueroa’s) is the sort of case, on the face of it, likely to strike the Salvadoran government as a kind of slap in the face.”

    Canadian minister of state Peter Kent attended the inauguration of the FMLN president last year.

    “I’m going to do whatever it takes to prove that FMLN cannot be considered a terrorist organization because I was a part of that,” Figueroa said. “I was fighting for the rights of people.”

    Karl Keller, the pastor of Walnut Grove Lutheran church, has helped the family since they arrived.

    “When you have somebody who wants to help bring peace to the country, how can you (say) this is a person certainly not eligible for Canada?” he said.

    Figueroa wasn’t beside his mother in El Salvador when she died in January.

    “I promised to her as she was passing that I was going to do whatever it takes to clarify all this,” he said of their last telephone call.

    Figueroa has sought judicial review of his case and is looking into applying for ministerial relief. Though he fears being tossed from Canada and moving away from proper care for his autistic son, he’s now devoted to raising awareness.

    “Let’s say they decided to try and get a diplomatic solution to my family’s situation,” he said. “My point is, you know what? That’s OK for my family, but the problems will still persist.”


  7. Pingback: Apologies for Salvadorean, Uruguayan dictators’ crimes | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  9. Pingback: Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Romero can become a saint, pope says | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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