El Salvador election 2009: High hopes for FMLN

[Stop press, March 15, 2009: El Salvador: Victorious FMLN candidate promises `to benefit the poor rather than the rich']

By the National Committee of the War Veterans' Sector of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)

El Salvador has entered a governance crisis the signs of which include the bare participation by the general public in the life of the nation. There is no attempt by the government to achieve consensus, or a will to reach agreement on public policy; and there is no tolerance of even a minimal participation by the citizenry in public affairs. Disillusion and scepticism are the predominant feelings amongst the general public. The country's institutional structures are weak and poorly developed. This impacts even upon political parties, which neither express nor channel popular demands and lack the capacity to play an intermediary role in the conflicts caused by the demands of different sectors of society.

Separation of powers exists only on paper -- the centralism of the executive power predominates. There are no oversight bodies, accountability systems or freedom of information, which has led to high levels of corruption. This has produced, in consequence, an erosion of the country's institutional structures and of democracy.

Poverty and inequality

The governance crisis is also founded in a lack of equality, which finds its expression in increased poverty, caused by economic and political imbalances. Rural life has collapsed. There is accelerated urbanisation, pressure on public services, employment and public safety; accelerated emigration. In the urban setting, employment opportunities are mostly absorbed by the informal sector, with the risks this entails for workers. Men predominate in regular employment and women in the informal sector and in maquiladora assembly plants, which means they are less protected. Schooling is low level and poorly funded, which does not favour the technological development required for an increase in productivity. Crime has worsened as a result of these inequalities. Law and order is a recurring public concern. A range of studies on the matter have produced recommendations for the development of public policies aimed at preventing, containing and addressing the situation, but the government has not shown much political will and its approach to the issue has been counterproductive and increased the problem to some degree.

Authoritarianism

As there has been no plan aimed at bringing about a lessening of social divisions, there has not been any democratisation of society and the state, but rather a greater concentration of power and greater authoritarianism. Inequality and authoritarianism have damaged the legitimacy of democracy and the political system. As socioeconomic conditions have worsened, people's demands upon the government have grown and governments usually resort to repressive measures to maintain the status quo, which is easy to do in an authoritarian society.

The country's viability requires the wealthy, the government and the social forces to arrive at minimal accords to reduce inequality. Accords have been the usual practice only amongst sectors with much in common, not with adversaries. Accords have been between the senior leadership of political parties, not with the sectors affected. The alliances proposed by previous governments as a governance and transparency tool were very soon forgotten. At present we have the practice of isolation, sociopolitical conflict, imposition, confrontation and polarisation instead of accords.

Democracy

Democracy is unsustainable with such large social divisions. Governance, to be consistent, should be accompanied by viable proposals and/or should close these gaps. Democracy cannot be built with institutional structures lacking in legitimacy. Democracy also requires active social participation in the government. This does not just mean good electoral results. It is related, as well, to the channelling of social demands, social, legal and legitimate control. The democratic sustainability of the country is nourished by the preparation of pacts or accords, public discussion of problems and the prevention of conflicts.

The National Committee of the War Veterans' Sector of the FMLN, 9ª Av. Norte No. 229 entre 1ª y 3ª Calle Poniente, San Salvador, El Salvador.

Mauricio Funes, the FMLN candidate for hope

Excerpt from Amanda Shank, Upside Down World, http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1282/1/

May 13, 2008 -- Mauricio Funes steps into the hotel surrounded by his campaign staff and supporters. Earlier in the afternoon in the hot Central Plaza of San Miguel, he was greeted with cheers, chants and fireworks by 8000 supporters donning FMLN red. Amid the excitement and exhaustion of El Salvador’s presidential campaign, where the FMLN has a strong possibility of breaking the right-wing ARENA party's 19-year grip on power, Funes searches the hotel lobby for his wife. Vanda Pignato checks her watch, 10pm, and suggests that they should order dinner from Wendy's. It's the only place open this late.

“Let's do this interview before dinner, Mauricio”, Vanda advises, “but change your shirt, first”. Energised by the day's successful events, Funes stops to think and admits that he could use a couple of minutes alone. He has already appeared at three public events, and held an afternoon press conference. With a packed agenda and plans to leave next week for Germany and then Brazil, he had to back out of a radio interview and turn down an invitation from a nearby community that had organised a welcome celebration.

After a ten-minute break in his room, Funes returns with a new shirt and invites me to take a seat at a nearby table in the hotel's outdoor restaurant. When I ask the first question, he speaks quickly and clearly, an ability that he has practiced and refined throughout 21 years of professional journalism and six months on the campaign trail.

Q: From the election of Hugo Chavez to the recent election of Paraguay's Fernando Lugo we’ve seen a leftward shift in Latin American countries. Where does the FMLN and your candidacy fit within this movement?

We are often asked, ``Well, what type of left do you represent?’’, and I have said: “We represent the left of hope. We are a sensible left, a reasonable left, a left that is betting on change, a stable change. We are looking for a type of society that builds functioning institutions in El Salvador, a democracy that functions, a viable nation.

Given the current international context, we do not aspire to build socialism in El Salvador. What we hope to build is a more dynamic and competitive economy, placing ourselves in the international playing field in a highly globalised and competitive world. We hope to have a stronger and more dynamic economy than what has been built up until now. To do this we need the institutions that work, and for democracy to become a symbol that also exists in our country.

We do not need to be close to Chavez, close to Lula or close to Bush in order for our institutions and democracy to work. What we need is to build a model of public management that responds to the needs of Salvadorans and that will resolve Salvadoran problems.

We respect the process being followed in Venezuela, as well as we respect and closely watch the new society which Lula is building, and the one that the new President Fernando Lugo in Paraguay has promised to build.

Those processes are a response to other circumstances. What we hope to build are relationships based on cooperation and solidarity with the people represented by each one of these countries. However, we are not going to follow the same recipe or model that might have worked in other countries, but has nothing to do with our reality...

People's Government Program of Hope

1. Completely founded in human rights All public policy and government action will be built upon, and aimed at reaching, the greatest degree of effectiveness in human rights, to better meet the essential needs and aspirations of the Salvadorean people, the basis of the legitimation of democratic governance which will begin with the Social and Democratic Inclusiveness Program.

2. Informed by gender policy Despite struggles, women still suffer discrimination and exclusion from decision making. Thus, for the People's Government, the exercise of democracy begins precisely with widening the spaces which rightly belong to women as co-actors in the history, present and future of El Salvador.

3. Environmental rehabilitation The People’s Government immensely values all life forms in the Salvadorean-Middle American ecosystem.

4. Local level strengthening The inclusiveness model proposed by the new government stems from an understanding that El Salvador’s development will include local development and co-ordinated gearing-up of its municipalities and regions.

5. Independent Integration in Central America The new government is integrationist and will launch an initiative, involving all the country's social and economic forces willing to contribute to the deepening of Central American and Caribbean integration, from the standpoint of the real interests of the people of El Salvador and the country's economic strengths, as well of those of our sister peoples. This means seeking benefits for people; an increase in our domestic and regional capacities; the promotion of knowledge; scientific and technological innovation; social rights; and environmental sustainability.

FMLN War Veterans’ campaign for 2009 elections

We, FMLN war veterans, were the driving force behind the foundation of the FMLN on 10 October 1980, and in addition we were the only vanguard force in the Salvadorean left, forged in the popular struggles of our people and in urban and rural guerrilla warfare in the decade of the 1970s.

Our aim was to take political power through armed revolutionary struggle to bring about social transformation with a people's revolutionary government for the benefit of El Salvador's poor majorities. All non-violent and political roads to power had been closed off to us, roads which the Salvadorean people sought at the time, as shown in practice through the massive demonstrations of all sectors of our people which took place in the very centre of San Salvador, demanding political, economic and social changes, and which were responded to by the fascist dictatorship governments of the day, with killing and repression of students, workers, peasants and any social sector which mobilised and protested.

In 1972 and again in 1977, the political opposition of our Salvadorean people won the presidency through the ballot box and both times was shamefully robbed of victory by the right wing and the military. What we confronted was a military dictatorship under the direct political, military, economic, ideological and intelligence control of the US governments of the day. The right-wing in our own country was considered the most stubborn and murderous in Latin America. It made use of all the US was able to develop in terms of counterinsurgency warfare in order to defeat us, as they thought.

For 12 years we fought them with success, and we can therefore now say, with pride, that we, the War Veterans' Sector of the FMLN, are the moral and historic reserve stock of the FMLN Party, and as such we can and should transmit our experience to the Salvadorean people, together with all our militancy, as adapted, of course, to the current historical and political moment in El Salvador. As veterans we have every capacity to train contingents of new comrades who will join and strengthen the party, in political schools based upon revolutionary principles.

In other words, the FMLN is the party born of the people and which cost tens of thousands of deaths of heroes and martyrs of the Salvadorean people. Therefore, as war veterans we have both the duty and the right to keep on developing and strengthening it to make it capable of taking political power in 2009, which is what our dead dreamt of, those who fell in the course of our struggle in past decades.

The signing of the Peace Accords on January 16, 1992, closed off a chapter in our history as the FMLN and as the people of El Salvador. War came to an end, weapons were silenced. We and the government signed for peace, aware that peace was not only signed for on paper; the peace we signed for would have to be with dignity and social justice, that is, with benefits in education, health, housing, nutrition and other aspects for all the marginalised of our country. And above all with respect for the human rights of the people of El Salvador, a transformation of the legal system and an end to impunity in all areas of power.

We knew that we had not achieved political power, but that we had managed to dismantle the military dictatorship which had been deeply entrenched for over 100 years. We also knew that with the signing of the Peace Accords we had opened the way towards a real democracy which would have to be built together with the people, making full use of the opportunities opened up through the negotiations and that could not be gone back on.

But now practically the opposite is happening. Once peace was signed, our party the FMLN worked to transform itself into a political party which could participate legally in Salvadorean politics, since that is a requirement laid down in our constitution, in order to take part in elections. Over the past five years we have been making an effort to organise FMLN war veterans (both men and women) with the aim of continuing the struggle to change our country into a more just society with a place for everybody.

The FMLN is the best-organised and strongest left-wing force in the country. The National Committee of the War Veterans' Sector of the FMLN wish to help strengthen the party and join in the social organisation of our people, to prepare favourable conditions to win government in 2009. In order to organise the youth, our plan is to foster demand-based, economic, political and social struggle. We plan to create 12 departmental committees, one in each of the 12 departments of El Salvador (San Salvador, La Libertad, Santa Ana, Sonsonate, Cabañas, Cuscatlán, Chalatenango, San Vicente, Usulután, San Miguel, Morazán and La Unión). This work will directly mobilise 15,000 people -- FMLN war veterans and their families -- for the 2009 elections. As part of the larger effort by the Salvadorean people for the 2009 elections, we are asking our compatriots, our friends and supporters in Australia -- all who can recognise the flame of hope in Latin America today -- to give us financial support to achieve our objectives.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 09:04

Permalink

Take Action to Denounce Political Killings in El Salvador

Government Officials Fail to Investigate New Wave of Politically Motivated Assassinations

 

Just six months before the 2009 municipal and legislative elections in El Salvador, political violence is heating up. Since March 2006 when Alex Flores Montoya and Mercedes Peñate de Montoya, two well-known FMLN leaders, were found dead in the municipality of Coatepeque, at least 23 leaders of the social movement and FMLN party have been murdered (see FESPAD chart in Spanish here). 2008 is a pre-electoral year and thus has been particularly violent for organized sectors of the population.  Such political violence doesn’t contribute to the democratic electoral process that Salvadoran people desire; rather, it creates a climate of fear that threatens the upcoming elections.

On June 26, student activist Ángel Martínez Cerón, coordinator of the January 24 Revolutionary Socialist Student Bloc, was killed in the city of Santa Ana.  Then on July 2 Holman Riva, an employee of the FMLN’s municipal government in the municipality of Ilopango, was killed along with his nephew.  Most recently, 27 year-old Rafaela Hernández Delgado, whose husband is an FMLN member of the municipal government of San Pablo Tacachico, was shot dead in a bus.  San Pablo is the same town in which FMLN deputy Gerson Martinez' security guard was shot to death three months ago. 

Back in January of this year, in one of the most high-profile of such cases, the mayor of Alegría Wilber Funes was killed alongside municipal employee Zulma Rivera. The young, popular mayor had planned to run for reelection as a member of the FMLN party in 2009. Such killings could threaten support for the FMLN in the 2009 elections in several municipalities as people become afraid to campaign for the leftist party or support the social movement because of the concerns about personal security.  In reference to the several murders that have taken place this pre-electoral year, FMLN deputy Benito Lara recently stated that “here we have various cases that remain unresolved, unclear, and it is difficult for us to accept the theory that these are merely cases of common crime.”  For more information check out the recent CISPES update “Political Violence Increases in El Salvador.”

On top of this, Salvadorans also fear repercussions coming from the US government should the FMLN win. Back in 2004 – the last time there were presidential elections – several US officials made declarations denouncing the FMLN, including Rep. Tom Tancredo who threatened to introduce legislation to halt remittances sent to El Salvador if the FMLN were to win.  Already this year US officials (including deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who visited El Salvador in June) have declared that the US government won’t work with governments who have “terrorist ties”, a clear reference to the right-wing media campaign connecting the FMLN to the Colombian FARC rebels.  Like the fear caused by political violence, such declarations could affect the opinion of Salvadoran people preparing to vote in the 2009 elections.

In the context of this escalating violence and intervention, CISPES joins the Salvadoran social movement in calling for international solidarity to support an electoral process free of both US intervention and political violence.                               

 

TAKE ACTION!

 

1.      Sign onto CISPES People’s Pledge to Defend the Right to Free & Fair Elections in El Salvador and accompany the Salvadoran people by standing in solidarity with them during their struggle for REAL democracy. Go to www.cispes.org/pledge2009  

 

2. Contact Felix Garrid Safie, Attorney General of El Salvador, by fax at 011(503) 2528-6095or e-mail at fgsafie@fgr.gob.sv and tell him to respect El Salvador’s democratic process by carrying out a serious investigation of these political murders.  See below for sample letter.

 

------------------------------------

 

 SAMPLE LETTER

 

30 de Julio de 2008

 

Señor Fiscal General de la Republica Felix Garrid Safie

Fax (011 503) 2528-6095

 

Estimado Señor Fiscal General  Felix Garrid Safie,

 

Le escribo con suma preocupación por el alarmante incremento de asesinatos motivados políticamente que han ocurrido en El Salvador durante este año pre-electoral de 2008. En los últimos dos años, la represión política contra los sectores organizados ha alcanzado niveles muy altos.  En los últimos años han habido un sin numero de arrestos ilegales, desapariciones, asesinatos de activistas del movimiento social y miembros y líderes del partido FMLN.

 

El  caso mas conocido de todos estos asesinatos es el del alcalde del FMLN Wilmer Funes, en la municipalidad de Alegría, Usulután, quien fue asesinado junto a la empleada municipal Zulma Rivera. La investigación de este caso continua sin ser resulto al igual que la gran mayoría de asesinatos motivados políticamente que viene ocurriendo desde el 2006.

 

Mas recientemente, Ángel Martínez Cerón, estudiante y activista, fue asesinato el pasado Junio 26 en la ciudad de Santa Ana, de forma similar. Martínez Cerón, coordinador del Bloque Estudiantil Socialista Revolucionario 24 de Enero, fue balaceado ocho veces antes que sus asesinos le asestaran el tiro de gracia en la cabeza.

 

Este proceder es similar a las acciones paramilitares del gobierno que ocurrieron durante el conflicto armado en El Salvador, las cuales todavía se encuentran el la impunidad. Esta impunidad en que se encuentran los casos de Funes y Martínez Cerón, entre otros, no contribuye a una estabilidad democrática, ni ayudan a que el proceso electoral promueva la estabilidad democrática tan deseada por la población de El Salvador. Le hacemos un urgente llamado a que investigue estos asesinatos motivados políticamente; un contexto libre de represión y violencia es necesario para que El Salvador pueda tener un proceso electoral transparente y democrático.

 

El garantizar la libertad de expresión, y particularmente la expresión política, es esencial en cualquier democracia.  Ahora, en este año pre-electoral, es crítico que el gobierno de El Salvador demuestre su compromiso por la defensa del derecho de todas y todos los salvadoreños y su expresión política.

 

 

Atentamente,

__________________ (name)

 

__________________ (state, country)

 

 

Translation

 

Dear Attorney General Felix Garrid Safie,

 

I am writing to you extremely concerned about the high number of political motivated assassinations that have been happening in El Salvador during this pre-electoral year of 2008.  In the last couple of years there has been a high amount of political repression against Salvadoran organizers, such as illegal arrests, disappearances, and murders of leftist activists and FMLN leaders and members.

 

The most well known of these murders is the assassination of Wilber Funes, FMLN mayor of Alegria and his co-worker Zulma Rivera on January 9, 2008. This investigation is still unresolved as well as many others that have occurred since 2006.

 

More recently, student activist Ángel Martínez Cerón was killed in a similar fashion on June 26 in the city of Santa Ana. Martínez Cerón, coordinator of the January 24 Revolutionary Socialist Student Bloc, was shot eight times before his assassins delivered a final bullet to the head.

 

Such murders recall para- military practices that occurred during the armed conflict of El Salvador, which still remain in impunity. The impunity of the cases of Funes y Martínez Cerón, among others, do not contribute to the process of democratic stability desired by the population of El Salvador. We urge you to fully investigate these cases because in order to have a transparent democratic process in El Salvador, it must be free of political repression and violence.

The guarantee of free expression, and particularly political expression, is essential in a democracy.  Now, in this pre-electoral year, it is critical that the Salvadoran government demonstrate a commitment to defend the rights of all Salvadorans who seek to express themselves politically.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 08/24/2008 - 12:14

Permalink

Support CISPES in our work in countering U.S. intervention and promoting free and fair elections in El Salvador



Wednesday, 20 August 2008

In June, CISPES led a Fact-Finding Delegation to El Salvador where the delegates learned that all eyes are already on the upcoming 2009 Presidential election—including the Bush Administration’s! Click here to support CISPES NOW and help us build solidarity for the Salvadoran struggle at this crucial moment.

The delegation’s specific findings will soon be revealed in an extensive report; for now, you can go here to take the People’s Pledge for free and fair elections in El Salvador!funes_convention2.jpg

As CISPES solidarity prepares for 2009, a few things we know for certain:

El Salvador is ripe for change:

➢ the social movement and FMLN are solidly united behind the candidacy of Mauricio Funes for president and Salvador Sanchez Ceren for vice president after a triumphant recent convention (see photo of Funes at the convention on August 17.)

➢ the population as a whole is fed up with the right-wing ARENA party’s corporate-oriented economic program

➢ recent polls show the FMLN ticket ahead by anywhere from 7 to 21 points!


Meanwhile ARENA is using varied program of dirty tactics in a desperate effort to hold onto power:

➢ ARENA has refused to implement recommendations of the Organization of American States to reform the electoral process

➢ They have threatened serious restrictions on the activities of international electoral observers

➢ They have removed ballot-counting regulations that prevent ballot box stuffing

Human rights advocates have noted an alarming rise in murders of political activists

which the National Civilian Police refuse to investigate seriously


Despite the assurance of Ambassador Charles Glazer to not intervene in the elections, the U.S. is at this very moment waging a propaganda war in support of ARENA:

➢ U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and the Ambassador have both linked the FMLN to the FARC rebels of Colombia.

➢ Ambassador Glazer also publicly endorsed claims by journalists at a right wing newspaper that an FMLN victory would lead to attacks on press freedom

➢ The International Republican Institute (IRI), funded by the National Endowment for Democracy and headed by John McCain, gave President Saca its “Freedom Award” last fall .


The delegates are currently hard at work producing their fact-finding report, which will be the basis of CISPES’s Defend Real Democracy Campaign. Our campaign will counter U.S. attempts at intervening while supporting the Salvadoran people’s desire for free and fair elections in 2009. Click here to see the Delegation’s press release about statements made by the U.S. ambassador regarding past and present U.S. interference in elections.


As part of the campaign their findings have already sparked much attention in the media (click here to hear some recent radio interviews by CISPES delegates).


Join the campaign, demand that the US respect El Salvador’s political process, and help insure that the will of the Salvadoran people will be heard!

• sign the pledge to oppose US intervention at www.cispes.org/pledge2009

• sign up to receive email updates and alerts here

• Join an electoral observer delegation—click here for details


In Solidarity,


Burke Stansbury, CISPES Executive Director

Submitted by winston mendoza (not verified) on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 01:48

Permalink

There are actually 14 departments in El Salvador; you have to add to the ones you mentioned above La Paz and Ahuachapan; thanks. I love your comments and interviews, you seem to be a very profesional journalist and tell things the way they are; unfortunally we do not have journalists like you in my country El Salvador; the only one, most qualified and profesional is running for president and will win Mauricio Funes.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 09:41

Permalink

ACTION ALERT!
Say NO to U.S. Intervention in the Salvadoran Elections!

The Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marisol Argueta, is already lobbying the U.S. to intervene in the upcoming Salvadoran elections.

In her speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on September 18 in Washington, DC, she stated that "losing El Salvador (if the opposition wins) will be a lose-lose situation for the national security of both El Salvador and the United States."  She exhorted the U.S. to "do more" and to "pay close attention."

Please sign the petition asking President Saca:

  • To ensure that public employees do not use their positions to influence public opinion on who should win the elections;
  • To ask the Foreign Affairs Minister to explain her statements;
  • To respect the sovereignty of the Salvadoran people to choose their leaders freely.

To watch or listen to Minister Argueta's speech, click here and click on "Event Materials" on the left.

SHARE Foundation is collecting signatures for the petition that we will send to President Saca.  If you wish to sign SHARE Foundation's petition, please contact the SHARE Foundation and list your name, city, and state at sharedc@share-elsalvador.org or call us at 202-319-5542 by Friday, October 10, 2009.

Para la carta en español, presione aquí.


President of the Republic of El Salvador

Elias Antonio Saca

Presidential House, San Salvador

Dear President Saca:

We, the undersigned, are Salvadoran residents of the the United States and friends of the Salvadoran people who follow what happens in this country closely.  We would like to express our concern for the statements made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marisol Argueta, during her speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC on Thursday, September 18, 2008.

In her speech, the Minister expressed that the upcoming presidential elections in El Salvador will be the most contested in the history of El Salvador, and she implored the U.S. government to "do more" and requested that the U.S. "must pay close attention to what is happening in El Salvador, and to the resulting geopolitical and national security consequences."  Argueta expressed that "losing El Salvador [understood to mean if the opposition party were to win the elections] will be a lose-lose situation for the security and national interests of both El Salvador and the United States.  It will generate freedom cutting measures, it will produce instability in El Salvador and the United States, and it will have the potential of making El Salvador go back 30 years in history when Central America was in turmoil."  The Minister also cited the late President Ronald Reagan when he said, "Tonight, the security of the United States is at stake in El Salvador," in an attempt to establish similarities between the current political situation and that of the 1980s.  She asserted that during her visit to Washington, she would meet with representatives in the U.S. Congress and the Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleeza Rice, in order to express to them the same message.

We consider these declarations inappropriate when pronounced by a government agent on official business financed by the Salvadoran government.  It concerns us that Salvadoran government officials plead to the United States for intervention in the democratic process without respecting the commitment already expressed by U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Charles Glazer, that the United States will not intervene in the Salvadoran elections and that the United States will respect the decisions of the Salvadoran people.  It is imperative to honor Article 83 of the Salvadoran Constitution, which establishes that "El Salvador is a sovereign nation.  Sovereignty resides in the people, who exercise it in a prescribed manner and within the limits of this Constitution."  People exercise their sovereignty by selecting their own governors and representatives, and as such, the act of calling on a foreign country and inviting officials of that country to violate this sovereignty is an insult to the Salvadoran people.

For the above mentioned reasons, we ask that your government officials do not take advantage of their positions as public figures in order to influence national and international public opinion about who should win the elections.  We ask the Legislative Assembly to require the Minister of Foreign Affairs to explain the rationale of her statements while she was on official duty.  Salvadorans have the right to elect their representatives freely, by means of the vote, set in the framework of the Rule of Law.  It is for these reasons that it is El Salvador's duty to assure that the upcoming elections are carried out in a free, fair, and transparent manner.

Sincerely,

Your Name, City, State

Cc/     Marisol Argueta - Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs

          Guillermo Antonio Gallegos Navarrete - National Republican Alliance (ARENA)

          Humberto Centeno Najarro - Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)

          Luis Roberto Angulo Samayoa - National Conciliation Party (PCN)

          Coronel Carlos Rolando Herrarte - Democratic Christian Party

          Dr. Hector Miguel Antonio Dada Hirezi - Democratic Center (CD)

          Ambassador Charles Glazer - U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador

          Dr. Condoleeza Rice - Secretary of State of the United States of America

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 10/02/2008 - 09:37

Permalink

| 202 521-2510| subscribe| suscribir en español

 


ACTION ALERT
October 2008

Stand up against intervention in El Salvador
Salvadoran Foreign Minister calls for more U.S. involvement in Latin America


El Salvador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marisol Argueta, has publicly urged the U.S. government to help prevent the leftist FMLN party from winning next year’s presidential election in El Salvador. Act now to ensure that the U.S. does not repeat its electoral intervention of 2004.

Call your Congressional Representatives TODAY to insist they make a commitment to free and fair elections in El Salvador. Congress must refute the ruling ARENA party’s call for intervention by declaring its neutrality and willingness to maintain a positive relationship with any government freely elected by the Salvadoran people.

In a speech on September 18 at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank in Washington, D.C., Argueta called on the U.S. government to be more active in Latin America, lest countries such as El Salvador elect “dangerous populists” in upcoming elections. Along with her open-ended exhortation for the U.S. to “do more” to prevent an opposition government from being elected, she specifically lobbied for the U.S. to pass immigration reform legislation and to increase its funding for El Salvador’s police. For a summary of Argueta’s speech, go here: http://www.aei.org/events/filter.,eventID.1794/summary.asp

The panel discussion in which Argueta took part was moderated by Roger Noriega, who himself perpetrated electoral intervention in El Salvador while serving as Assistant Secretary of State in 2004. At the time, Noriega publicly threatened that U.S. relations with El Salvador would be ruptured in the case of an FMLN victory at the polls. Such threats led many Salvadorans to fear that their relatives in the U.S. – whose remittances make up nearly 20% of the Salvadoran economy – would be deported if the FMLN were elected.

TAKE ACTION!

1)    Call your Congressional Representative using the following number and ask to be connected to your Representative’s office: (202) 224-3121. See below for sample script.

2)    Sign the petition calling upon Salvadoran President Saca to ensure that government employees do not use their positions to influence the results of upcoming elections: http://www.share-elsalvador.org/

3)    Sign onto CISPES’ “People’s Pledge to Defend Free & Fair Elections in El Salvador” and accompany the Salvadoran people by standing in solidarity with them during their struggle for REAL democracy. Go to www.cispes.org/pledge2009

-----------------------------------

You can use the following script to talk to your Congressional Representative.  Call (202) 224-3121.

1.    I am calling to urge Representative ___________ to publicly support democracy in El Salvador by declaring that Congress will not seek to influence the results of the 2009 elections.

2.    In speech on September 18, El Salvador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs called upon the U.S. to help ensure that the opposition FMLN party does not win the country’s March 2009 presidential election.

3.    In 2004, officials from the Bush Administration and some Members of Congress publicly threatened that the election the FMLN’s presidential candidate would jeopardize the relationship between the U.S. and El Salvador. In one glaring example, Congressman Tom Tancredo threatened that the U.S. would restrict the money that Salvadoran immigrants living in the U.S. send home, but only if the FMLN’s candidate were to be elected.
 
4.    This statement, among others, caused many Salvadorans to vote out of fear of U.S. retaliation, rather than as their own convictions led them. As someone who believes in democracy, I want to make sure the U.S. does not intervene in El Salvador’s elections again in 2009.

5.    It is extremely important that Members of Congress stand up for the Salvadoran people’s right to freely elect their government, without foreign manipulation. I am calling on Representative ____________ to declare neutrality toward the 2009 Salvadoran elections, and to assert that Congress is willing to seek a positive relationship with any government freely elected by the Salvadoran people.  We are also interested in having your office co-sponsor a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice U.S. calling for neutrality in the Salvadoran elections. 

NOTE:
 
If your representative’s office agrees to make a statement or co-sponsor the letter, ask for the contact information of the person that the letter should be sent toThen contact Burke Stansbury at burke@cispes.org to pass on the contact information and Representative’s name. We will follow up with that Representative. 

More background information about past US intervention can be found here

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 11/22/2008 - 08:22

Permalink

El Salvador: FMLN Starts Out Ahead
Written by Raúl Gutiérrez   
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
 (IPS) - As the campaign gets underway, the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is the favourite in the polls for El Salvador’s March 2009 presidential elections.

A win for the FMLN would be historical in a country traditionally governed by the right, analysts point out.

Since this Central American country declared its independence from Spain in the 19th century, it has been governed by conservatives, economic liberals or military dictatorships (from 1931 to 1979).

And since 1989, it has been ruled by the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).

Christian Democratic and Social Democratic parties won the presidential elections in 1972 and 1977, but the military resorted to fraud and repression of opponents, forcing many of them into exile.

In 1980, civil war broke out, with the leftist FMLN guerrillas fighting government forces. The insurgent group became a political party after a peace agreement was signed in 1992.

Today, the party’s presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes, is leading the polls by a margin of two to 15 percentage points over his main rival, ARENA’s Rodrigo Ávila.

Although the campaign did not actually begin until Friday, Nov. 14, political scientist Napoleón Campos told IPS that the Supreme Electoral Court has allowed the parties to informally campaign for nearly two years.

Under the country’s electoral laws, campaigns can only last four months in the case of presidential elections, two months in the case of parliamentary elections, and one month for municipal elections.

For the first time ever, the FMLN -- the main opposition party -- stands a real chance of winning the presidency, after four unsuccessful attempts since 1994.

But despite the natural wear and tear suffered by ARENA after nearly 20 years in power, and the impact of the current international financial crisis, Campos said the scenario could change from here to Mar. 15.

Local media outlets have estimated that the country’s six political parties will spend a combined total of 30 million dollars in the campaign. The parties taking part in the elections, besides the FMLN and ARENA, are the Christian Democratic Party, the National Reconciliation Party, Democratic Change and the Democratic Revolutionary Front.

The FMLN is also ahead in the polls for the Jan. 18 legislative and municipal elections.

Nelson Zárate, director of the Centre for Research on Public Opinion (CIOP), whose latest poll found that Funes is 15 points ahead of Ávila, told IPS that the leftist candidate has generated "a wave of credibility that is drawing people to vote for the FMLN" at all levels, not only in the presidential elections.

Funes, a popular journalist and talk-show host, did not even actually belong to the FMLN until August, which in the view of analysts puts him in a position to draw voters who would not have cast their ballots for one of the party’s long-time leaders.

The FMLN kicked off its campaign with a caravan of hundreds of cars that set out from San Salvador on Saturday with Funes at its head. They were joined by more and more cars until thousands were driving from city to city around the country.

The aim of the caravan, said the head of the party, Medardo González, is to awaken people’s "confidence" in the change that the FMLN proposes to bring to the country.

ARENA’s campaign opened, as always, in the western city of Izalco, which is a symbol for the governing party. In 1932, an estimated 30,000 indigenous peasants were slaughtered there by the anti-communist dictatorship of General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, who took power in a January 1931 military coup.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 12/13/2008 - 13:12

Permalink

1 December 2008

We the undersigned are North American academics who study Latin
America. We wish to make known several concerns with regard to the
electoral process now underway in El Salvador and which include
legislative elections in January 2009 and presidential elections in
March 2009. In particular, as academics who have studied electoral
processes throughout the hemisphere, we believe that there are a
minimal set of norms and conditions necessary for elections to be
free, transparent, and democratic. These include the freedom to
participate in civic and political activities without fear of
violence, repression, or reprisals, and the existence of rules and
regulations that assure transparency in the voting process and that
safeguard against the possibility of electoral fraud. We wish to make
known in this regard the following four concerns:

We are against foreign interference in the electoral processes and
the internal affairs of other countries. We observe in the Salvadoran
case that the United States government has brazenly intervened in
previous elections to influence the outcome and that once again it
appears to be undertaking such intervention. Among various incidents
we draw attention to statements made by the U.S. ambassador to El
Salvador, Charles Glazer, in May 2008 on alleged and unsubstantiated
connections between the principal opposition party in El Salvador,
the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the FARC
guerrilla organization of Colombia. Ambassador Glazer stated that
“any group that collaborates or expresses friendship with the FARC is
not a friend of the United States” Also, in February 2008, the U.S.
Director of Intelligence Director J. Michael McConnell made public a
report that, without any evidence whatsoever, charged that the FMLN
was set to receive “generous financing” from Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez for its electoral campaign. In October, Ambassador Glazer
made public reference to this report.

Such statements constitute unacceptable outside interference in the
electoral process. They are a veiled threat against the Salvadoran
people that, should they elect a government not to the liking of the
United States, they will face U.S. wrath and possible reprisals. We
consider this interference to be in violation of international norms
and we call on the U.S. government to immediately desist from all
such interference. The United States government must respect the
right of the Salvadoran electorate to choose its government free from
threats of U.S. hostility or reprisals.

We are alarmed by the increase in political violence in El Salvador
over the past two years and the atmosphere of impunity with which
this violence has taken place. There has been a spate of
assassinations the circumstances surrounding which strongly suggests
that they have been political in nature. The victims of these crimes
have exclusively been leaders of trade unions, community and
religious organizations and members or supporters of the FMLN. In
2007, according to the legal department of the Archbishopric of San
Salvador, only 31 percent of the homicides which that office
investigated was attributed to maras (gang members) or to common
crime, while 69 percent, showed clear signs of “death-squad style”
and “social cleansing” crimes . The San Salvador-based Foundation for
the Study of the Application of the Law has documented 27 murders of
young social movement activists and members of the political
opposition over the past three years that appear to be death squad
slayings. In addition, the El Salvador Human Rights Commission has
denounced an increase in such death-squad slayings against opposition
leaders as the elections have approached and warned that these
assassinations are generating a climate of fear.

There have been a series of legal changes and reforms to the
electoral code that open up the possibility of fraud. Among these, we
observe that article 256 of the electoral law was partially derogated
unilaterally in December 2007 by the current government. This article
(256-D,c) stipulated that all ballots must be signed and sealed by
election officials appointed to each voting center in order to be
valid, thus safeguarding against tampering with ballots once they are
deposited by voters. In addition, the current Salvadoran government
unilaterally moved the official opening of the electoral period from
September 17, 2008 to September 1, 2008. This meant that the
electoral register will be based on the 1992 national census rather
than on the new census conducted in 2007. The electoral register at
this time lists 4,226,479 Salvadorans registered to vote, on the
basis of the 1992 census. However, the new 2007 census indicates that
there are only 3,265,021 eligible voters, 961,458 less than the
electoral register. Relying on the outdated 1992 census opens the
possibility of ballot-stuffing and related types of voter fraud by
using the names of people who are have died since 1992 or who have
migrated and are no longer residents of the country. Moreover, the
Organization of American States concluding its audit of the electoral
register at the end of 2007 and in early 2008 presented its report,
which included a list of 103 recommended measures with regard to the
electoral process, including 56 which that international organization
characterized as “obligatory,” incompliance with which would put into
jeopardy the integrity of the elections. To date, the great majority
of these recommendations have not been acted upon.

Finally, we are highly alarmed by statements issued in Washington
D.C. on September 18, 2008, by the Salvadoran foreign minister,
Marisol Argueta de Barillas, in a speech before the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI) . Ms. Argueta was personally invited by
AEI visiting fellow Roger Noriega, a U.S. assistant secretary of
state for Western Hemisphere affairs during the administration of
George W. Bush and a man who shamelessly intervened in the 2004
Salvadoran presidential elections. At that time, and while serving as
assistant secretary of state, he threatened that if the FMLN were
elected the United States would seek to block the sending of
remittances from Salvadorans in the United States to their family
members in El Salvador and to deport Salvadorans residing in the
United States. In her speech before the AEI, the Salvadoran foreign
minister openly called on the U.S. government to intervene in her
country’s electoral process.

Ms. Argueta declared: “The United States must pay close attention to
what is happening in El Salvador and the resulting national security
and geopolitical consequences, since our enemies are joining together
and becoming stronger. The upcoming municipal and legislative
elections in January of 2009 and the next presidential elections in
March 2009 will be without a doubt, the closest electoral
competitions in the history of El Salvador…The opposition party is a
remnant of the former guerrilla movement. Some members of its
leadership have been closely related to ETA or to the FARC. Losing El
Salvador will threaten the national security of both El Salvador and
the United States…It will generate instability in the country and in
neighboring countries and it will set El Salvador back 30 years, to
when Central America was in turmoil. As President Ronald Reagan said
25 years ago…the security of the United States is at stake in El
Salvador.…US foreign policy in the region must be reassessed and
there must be a review of growing anti-American sentiment and the
coming to power of increasing numbers of anti-American governments in
this backyard.”

These declarations virtually call for U.S. intervention in El
Salvador to avoid a possible electoral triumph by the FMLN, and to
undermine in this way the right of the Salvadoran people to elect the
government of their choosing free from threats, pressures, and
interference by a foreign power. Given the long and sordid history of
U.S. intervention in El Salvador and in Latin America we view these
statements with grave concern and we call on the Salvadoran
government to desist from inviting U.S. intervention.

We wish to make these concerns known to the incoming Obama
administration. We are hopeful that, with its renewed commitment to
better diplomatic relations with Latin America and its message of
political change, this new administration will not support any
intervention in the Salvadoran elections and nor will it tolerate
human rights violations and electoral fraud.

SIGNED:

William I. Robinson, University of California at Santa Barbara

Hector Perla, University of California at Santa Cruz

Charles Hale, University of Texas at Austin and past president of the Latin American
Studies Association (2006-2007)

Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University
Arturo Arias, University of Texas at Austin and past president of the Latin American
Studies Association (2001-2003)
Craig N. Murphy, Wellesley College and past president of the International Studies
Association (2000-2001)
Ramona Hernandez, City College of New York and Director of Dominican Studies Institute
Helen I. Safa, Emeritus, University of Florida and past president of the Latin American
Studies Association (1983-1985)
Carmen Diana Deere, University of Florida and past president of the Latin American
Studies Association (1992-94).
Sonia E. Alvarez, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and past president of the
Latin American Studies Association (2004-2006)
Lars Schoultz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and past president of
the Latin American Studies Association (1991-1992)
Thomas Holloway, University of California at Davis and past president of the Latin
American Studies Association (2000-2001)
John L. Hammond, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY, and former chair of the
Latin American Studies Association Task Force on Human Rights and Academic Freedom

Miguel Tinker-Salas, Pomona College
Greg Grandin, New York University
Manuel Rozental, Algoma University
Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, D.C.
Jeffrey L. Gould, University of Indiana
Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mark Sawyer, University of California at Los Angeles
Ramon Grosfoguel, University of California at Berkeley
Peter McLaren, University of California at Los Angeles
Gilberto G. Gonzales, University of California at Irvine
John Foran, University of California at Santa Barbara
Christopher Chase-Dunn, University of California at Irvine
Alfonso Gonzales, New York University
Gary Prevost, St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict
Sujatha Fernandez, Queens College, City University of New York
Howard Winant, University of California at Santa Barbara
Jon Shefner, University of Tennessee
Daniel Hellinger, Webster University
Agustin Lao-Montes, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Millie Thayer, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Jeffrey W. Rubin, Boston University
Ellen Moodie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Brandt Gustav Peterson, Michigan State University
Adam Flint, Binghamton University
Richard Stahler-Sholk, Eastern Michigan University
Richard Grossman, Northeastern Illinois University
Manel Lacorte, University of Maryland
Ana Patricia Rodríguez, University of Maryland
Beth Baker, California State University at Los Angeles
Aaron Schneider, Tulane University
Misha Kokotovic, University of California-San Diego
Marc McLeod, Seattle University
Michael Hardt, Duke University
Bruce Ergood, Ohio University
Beatrice Pita, University of California at San Diego
Rosaura Sanchez, University of California at San Diego
Nancy Plankey Videla, Texas A&M University
Kate Bronfenbrenner, Cornell University
LaDawn Haglund, Arizona State University
Judith A. Weiss, Mount Allison University, Canada
Susanne Jonas, University of California at Santa Cruz
Robert Whitney, University of New Brunswick (Saint John), Canada
Aline Helg (U.S. citizen), Université de Genève, Switzerland
Stephanie Jed, University of California at San Diego
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, California State University
James J. Brittain, Acadia University, Canada
Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology
Philip J. Williams, University of Florida
R. James Sacouman, Acadia University
Carlos Schroder, Northern Virginia Community College
Frederick B. Mills, Bowie State University
Judith Blau, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Egla Martinez, Carleton University, Canada
Walda Katz-Fishman, Howard University
Judith Wittner, Loyola University
Yajaira M. Padilla, University of Kansas
Tanya Golash-Boza, University of Kansas
Erich H. Loewy, University of California at Davis
Jonathan Fox, University of California at Santa Cruz
Steven S. Volk, Oberlin College
Marc Edelman, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
W. L. Goldfrank, University of California at Santa Cruz
Benjamin Kohl, Temple University
Lourdes Benería, Cornell University
Philip Oxhorn, McGill University
Ronald Chilcote, University of California at Riverside
Judith Adler Hellman, York University, Toronto
Barbara Chasin, Montclair State University
Matt D Childs, University of South Carolina
Sarah Hernandez, New College of Florida
Catherine LeGrand, McGill University
Nathalia E. Jaramillo, Purdue University
William Avilés, University of Nebraska, Kearney
Dana Frank, University of California at Santa Cruz
Robert Andolina, Seattle University
Sinclair Thomson, New York University
Patricia Balcom, University of Moncoton
Josée Grenier, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Manfred Bienefeld, Carleton University
Susan Spronk, University of Ottawa
May E. Bletz, Brock University
David Heap, University of Western Ontario
Dennis Beach, Saint John’s University, Minnesota
Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
William S. Stewart, California State University, Chico
Sheila Candelario, Fairfield University
Erik Ching, Furman University
Marc Zimmerman, University of Houston
Maureen Shea, Tulane University
Héctor Cruz-Feliciano, Council on International Educational Exchange
Karen Kampwirth, Knox College
Marco A. Mojica, City College of San Francisco
Nick Copeland, University of Arkansas
Silvia L. López, Carleton College
Marie-Agnès Sourieau, Fairfield University
Karina Oliva-Alvarado, University of California at Los Angeles
Erin S. Finzer, University of Kansas
Dina Franceschi, Fairfield University
Lisa Kowalchuk, University of Guelph
Amalia Pallares, University of Illinois at Chicago
B. Ruby Rich, University of California at Santa Cruz
Edward Dew, Fairfield University
Nora Hamilton, University of Southern California
Deborah Levenson, Boston College
Linda J. Craft, North Park University
Thomas W. Walker, Ohio University
Jocelyn Viterna, Harvard University
Cecilia Menjivar, Arizona State University
Ricardo Dominguez, University of California at San Diego
María Elena Díaz, University of California at Santa Cruz
Guillermo Delgado-P, University of California at Santa Cruz
Guillaume Hébert, Université du Québec à Montréal
Leisy Abrego, University of California at Irvine
Michael E. Rotkin, University of California at Santa Cruz
John Blanco, University of California at San Diego
Steven Levitsky, Harvard University
John Beverley, University of Pittsburgh
Evelyn Gonzalez, Montgomery College
Tom O'Brien, University of Houston
Pablo Rodriguez, City College of San Francisco
John Womack, Jr., Harvard University
James D. Cockcroft, State University of New York
Mark Anner, Penn State University
John Kirk, Dalhousie University
Jorge Mariscal, University of California at San Diego
Susan Kellogg, University of Houston
Susan Gzesh, University of Chicago
Luis Martin-Cabrera, University of California at San Diego
Lawrence Rich, Northern Virginia Community College
Jeff Tennant, The University of Western Ontario, Canada
Meyer Brownstone, University of Toronto and Chair emeritus, Oxfam Canada
Charmain Levy, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Canada
Liisa L. North, York University
Denis G. Rancourt, University of Ottawa, Canada
Barbara Weinstein, New York University
Kelley Ready, Brandeis University