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(Updated, March 21) El Salvador: FMLN president-elect promises `to benefit the poor'; Chavez congratulates Funes

March 19, 2009: Real News Network report of the FMLN's presidential election win.

March 15, 2009 -- Telesur -- The president-elect of El Salvador Mauricio Funes, together with his supporters, celebrated the victory in the elections held today in this Central American country, giving a speech in which he said that with their vote the people had signed "a new accord on peace and reconciliation".

Shortly after the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) issued its second bulletin that officially confirmed the FMLN's lead, Funes addressed the nation, congratulating all the citizens who participated in the elections.

"I want to thank all who voted for me, all who defeated fear, all who chose the path of hope", he said.

Funes added: "Today, the public who believed in hope and defeated fear have triumphed. This is a victory for all the Salvadoran people."

Funes made a phone call to congratulate the rival party for their work, emphasising that "ARENA (Nationalist Republican Alliance) will become the opposition from now on, and in that capacity, rest assured that the party will be respected and heard".

He invited various social and political groups to build a new welfare state for the people.

"I want to appeal to the other political forces to work toward unity", Funes said, as he promised to carry out "preferential actions" to benefit the poor rather than the rich, in order to solidify an efficient and competitive economy and a broad business base.

Funes said that, beginning with his inauguration, he will work to make El Salvador "the most dynamic economy in Central America".

"I want to be the president of social change and reconstruction. It's time to move forward to the future and leave behind the revenges of the past", he added.

Funes also said that he will collaborate with former president Elías Saca in the last days of his administration.

With the victory of the Salvadoran left, the country breaks with 20 years of the rule of the ARENA party, which in these elections depended on a victory of its candidate Rodrigo Ávila.

According to the TSE's report, 8654 certified election results containing 90.68% of the votes were scrutinised. The victory of the FMLN was confirmed by 51.27% of the votes that it won, more than the 48.73% that went to the conservative ARENA party.

[The original article "Funes: 'Hemos firmado un nuevo acuerdo de paz y reconciliación'" was published by TeleSur on March 15, 2009.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi, editor of MRZine, where this translation first appeared.]

Sounds of a Salvadoran election -- March 15, Red Sunday

Latin Radical -- An eyewitness account of election day in San Salvador. As an accredited international observer Warwick Fry spent 15 hours at a voting centre recording his impressions, then followed the massive six-hour street party that erupted as the results were announced, declaring a convincing FMLN victory.

27.1 Mb. 128kbps stereo 30 mins.

President Chavez congratulates President-elect Funes on his victory

Caracas, March 15, 2009 -- ABN -- The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez Frias, through a statement released by the Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs, congratulated the President-elect of the Republic of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, who obtained more than 51 per cent of the votes thanks to the massive participation of the Salvadoran people.

Following the full statement:

The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, on behalf of the people of Bolivar, welcomes the unquestionable and resounding victory of brave journalist Mauricio Funes and the Farabando Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in presidential elections that took place in El Salvador on Sunday, March 15, 2009.

This victory strengthens the historic wave that, in this first decade of the 21st century, has arisen in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, and opens its doors to other sibling peoples in the challenges they will face.

Today, the Salvadorian people did not waver; they stepped forward and displayed their clarity and courage, defeating a campaign of lies, trash and manipulations unleashed against the Bolivarian Republic and against progressive and dignified leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean. These disgraceful campaigns fomented by the international right wing in our continent were destroyed today by the consciousness of the majority of the Salvadorian people.

President Hugo Chávez congratulates President-elect Mauricio Funes, reminding him that the unity of our peoples is the only path to overcome the crisis unleashed from the heart of capitalism in the North. In this crucial moment, the children of Bolivar offer our hands in solidarity to President Mauricio Funes, so that together we may advance in the strengthening of this new era we are living through, together overcoming underdevelopment and poverty.

Today we Venezuelans are happy, and in this hour of happiness we recognise the leader of peace, Shafik Handal, and the many men and women who gave their lives for the rebirth of the Salvadorian people. We recognise them with a song by Ali Primera: “Go Salvadorians, for there are no small birds that stop flying after taking off.”

Let us fly together, El Salvador and Venezuela, towards our great homeland of the Americas in the time of the people.

El Salvador May Join ALBA

ZoomHavana, March 18 (Prensa Latina) -- he newly-elected government of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador is interested in strengthening ties with ALBA countries, FMLN representative in Cuba Alfredo Elias said.

According to Elias, El Salvador has already been benefitting from the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) by getting oil, fertilisers and medical aid Venezuela and Cuba, ALBA's two main pillars.

``We should establish relations with all nations'', Elias said on Cuba´s national television. He also said reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba should be a priority for the future government.

"For us, Cubans are blood brothers", said the FMLN representative, who recalled Cuba's solidarity to El Salvador. ``In the past, Cuban hospitals were open to our war victims, while right now, many Salvadorans are having free eye surgery here, or are studying at Cuban universities'', Elias said.

According to Elias, the FMLN will inherit a complex social panorama in El Salvador, characterised by extreme violence and emigration to the United States, as well as a free trade agreement with the US government that resulted in layoffs, a devastated agriculture, increased tariffs and the dollarisation of the economy of one of the poorest countries in the region.

``Based on that, we asked all social organisations and the people for support to design an action program that will prioritise the reactivation of agriculture'', he explained.

Sunday FMLN's victory in El Salvador put an end to 20 years of administration by the rightwing National Republican Alliance (ARENA). The new government will be sworn in on June 1.

ALBA is made up of Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia, Dominica and Venezuela.


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