(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.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Tue, 03/17/2009 - 11:24


INTERVIEW: Salvadoran leftist Funes: Closer to Lula than Chavez
*Deutsche Presse-Agentur*. March 16, 2009

San Salvador, El Salvador - Mauricio Funes, the leftist winner of Sunday's
presidential election in El Salvador, knows he will be facing the 'myths and
fears' about leftist governments in the war-torn Central American country.

According to preliminary reports issued by the Central American country's
Supreme Electoral Tribunal based on the count of over 90 per cent of the
ballots, Funes got 51.27 per cent of the vote, to the 48.73 per cent
obtained by former police chief Rodrigo Avila, of ARENA.

If confirmed by official results, the leftist triumph would be historic and
would put an end to a 20-year rule by the right-wing party ARENA.

In an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa before the vote, Funes, 49,
a former television journalist, insisted that he is politically closer to
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva than to firebrand Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez.

'(Lula) has managed to destroy the myths and fears of businessmen towards
the left, and he is turning Brazil into one of the most dynamic and
competitive economies on the continent, and he is substantially reducing
poverty and the social gap,' Funes said.

Likewise, Funes ruled out confrontation with Washington - a centrepiece of
Chavez's foreign policies - and instead advocated a 'policy of mutual
understanding and of alliances' with new US President Barack Obama, himself
a centre-left politician.

'I have to be sensible and realistic. The United States is of crucial
importance for the fate of El Salvador,' Funes said. 'It would be foolish on
my part to think that I am going to have a policy against President Obama.'

The United States buys 60 per cent of El Salvador's exports. Some 2.3
million Salvadorans - nearly 27 per cent of the population of El Salvador -
live in the US, many working illegally and in constant jeopardy of

Funes plans to ask Obama to guarantee 'the stability of migrants,' because
El Salvador is not in a position to give work to those who are deported.

'We cannot receive them from one day to the next,' Funes said.

At home, the candidate of the former guerrilla Frente Farabundo Marti para
la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) says he seeks no revolution.

'I am not advocating an interventionist state but a regulating state that
ensures competition in the country, respect for institutions, respect for
private property, guarantees for legal security and above all physical
safety' he said.

'Foreign investors do not have to fear confiscations of assets or a reversal
of privatization processes or an end to dollarization or to the trade
agreements that have been signed so far. We have to send out a message of

The former CNN correspondent was the first FMLN presidential candidate
without a past in the guerrilla forces that fought in the 1980-92 civil war,
which claimed 75,000 lives.

'Whoever keeps saying that the FMLN is a party of the extreme left does not
know the historic evolution it has undergone,' Funes said.

Change is vital for the country's future, too, he said, calling a leftist
government 'a historic need' in El Salvador.

'If a right-wing government persists, the country is heading for disaster,'
Funes said.

'Nothing bad is going to happen. A sensible government team is going to
arrive and is going to start doing what the right has not done over the
course of these 20 years.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Tue, 03/17/2009 - 22:03


Patrick Craven, COSATU National Spokesperson, 16 March 2009

The Congress of South African Trade Unions congratulates the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) on its victory in El Salvador’s elections.

Another left-wing government has been democratically elected in Latin America. The FMLN’s Presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes, won 51.3% of the vote against his conservative rival, Rodriga Avila, who got 48.3%

Salvador has also been severely affected by the world economic meltdown, with remittances from Salvadorians living abroad falling dramatically. It also has one of the world's highest murder rates.

The country was involved in a protracted civil war, which ended in a UN-sponsored peace accord in 1991, after the loss of some 70,000 lives over less than two decades of intense fighting. The FMLN was founded by Marxist guerrilla fighters from the civil war.

Latin America is continuing to inspire the world’s poor and struggling masses. El Salvador is following Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, which have all recently elected left-of centre popular governments which are searching for genuine left alternatives to the deepening crisis of global capitalism, epitomised by the global meltdown.

We know that imperialism is searching for ways to destroy and defeat these advances, for they threaten the foundations of the global system of organised parasitism and legalised plunder called capitalism.

The lesson provided by Cuba’s 50 years of popular resilience, the fundamental social changes it has made and the provision of decent health and education for its people, is that the world’s problems will not be solved with more capitalism, more neoliberalism or more markets!

We must learn the lesson from across the Atlantic -– that Africa will not be able to extricate itself from the extreme levels of underdevelopment, grinding poverty and massive inequalities with more failed neoliberal class projects, but through a democratic developmental state.

COSATU will be seeking to strengthen its relations with our comrades in Latin America, to draw mutual lessons in building the momentum towards a new world economic order free from the prison walls of the Washington neoliberal consensus and its terrible record on our continent and beyond.

The importance of combining democracy and economic power for the working class and the poor is critical to any sustainable advance to lasting solutions. We need to roll back the market and its failures through a decisive state-driven programme and development agenda.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 03/18/2009 - 19:03


Democratic Socialist Perspective

PO Box 515, Broadway

NSW   Australia 2007

Phone: +612 9690 1230

Email: dsp@dsp.org.au

Web: www.dsp.org.au  and  www.greenleft.org.au


March 18, 2009

To: Central Committee

Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front

El Salvador

c/- FMLN Australia


Dear Comrades,

The Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly in Australia send our  heartfelt congratulations to the FMLN and the Salvadoran people, who on March 15 triumphed over corruption, intimidation and brutal repression to open a new chapter in the history of El Salvador.

The victory of the FMLN’s presidential team of Mauricio Funes and Sanchez Ceren is historic and decisive. DSP members serving as international observers for the election have informed us that the FMLN victory was achieved despite extensive electoral fraud by ARENA, indicating that had the election been truly free and fair, the FMLN would have won with an overwhelming majority.


After more than two decades of valiant struggle against the ARENA dictatorship - a struggle that cost tens of thousands of lives - the power of the people has now opened the way for reconstruction and fundamental social change in El Salvador, to build a society in which there is “a preferential option for the poor", as Mauricio Funes put it.


As long-term activists in solidarity with liberation struggles throughout Latin America, we also welcome and acknowledge the importance of the FMLN’s victory for strengthening the pro-democracy, pro-poor and anti-imperialist wave that is sweeping the region and giving hope to millions of people fighting for self-determination and justice everywhere.


As capitalism spirals deeper into a global crisis, we are delighted that the people of El Salvador have been able to overcome such adversity to join the growing ranks of Latin Americans proving that another world is not only possible, it is in formation!


In celebrating this victory with you, we also salute the many courageous men and women of El Salvador who gave their lives to the struggle for freedom and justice. Far too many have died, but not in vain.


We pledge our ongoing solidarity to the people of El Salvador as they continue the struggle - to resist imperialism and build a genuinely independent and progressive society.


Viva FMLN!

Viva socialism!


In solidarity,


Lisa Macdonald

for the Democratic Socialist Perspective National Executive

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/11/2009 - 23:46


I am very encouraged to read of the new direction that the Salvadorean people have taken in their election of Mauricio Funes, candidate of the FMLN.
His platform of addressing poverty and closing the extreme gap between rich and poor in his country is badly needed. We in the US who supported the change platform of President Obama need to see this as another positive shift that will benefit the majority of working and poor families.
For too long US policy in Central America has supported gross levels of inequality of income, a military and para military state to suppress social protest. Now we have the opportunity to support a new direction and work together to improve the lives of the people of both countries.
We should be extending a hand to help Funes and his new government turn their government and country in a progressive direction.
We could start with exploring common interests in economic development, sustainability issues and a humane treatment of immigrant workers.

Submitted by Araba (not verified) on Sun, 07/12/2009 - 00:01


A struggle that cost tens of thousands of lives - the power of the people has now opened the way for reconstruction and fundamental social change in El Salvador, to build a society in which there is “a preferential option for the poor", as Mauricio Funes put it.

As long-term activists in solidarity with liberation struggles throughout Latin America, we also welcome and acknowledge the importance of the FMLN’s victory for strengthening the pro-democracy, pro-poor and anti-imperialist wave that is sweeping the region and giving hope to millions of people fighting for self-determination and justice everywhere.

As capitalism spirals deeper into a global crisis, we are delighted that the people of El Salvador have been able to overcome such adversity to join the growing ranks of Latin Americans proving that another world is not only possible, it is in formation!