Positive Reactions from the US Government Regarding the Salvadoran Presidential Election

SHARE’s e-newsletter about the US’s response to the Salvadoran elections and the Funes victory is now online. Click here to read it!

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Mauricio Funes wins presidential election with 51.32%

El Salvador ElectionsMauricio Funes, the FMLN candidate, won the presidential elections on March 15, 2009 with 51.32% of the vote, over the rival candidate from ARENA, Rodrigo Avila. The results from the election are below:

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March 2009 Election Results

To see the results from each department, click here.

To see the results from each municipality, click here.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Salvadorans denounce political violence and defamation from the election campaigns

La Prensa Grafica released the findings from a poll on Salvadoran opinions of the electoral campaign. Surprisingly, most Salvadorans felt good about the electoral campaign, with two principle complaints: violence between different party activists and the public defamation messages. People associate violence in the street more with the FMLN and defamation – the dirty campaign – with ARENA.

When asked if there was a positive or negative attitude in the campaign, 40.9% reported positive attitudes, and 39.3% said negative. They noted that the campaigns became more negative as election day neared.

The most positive thing from the campaign was the proposals for government. For ARENA, people remembered most the promise for “more and better jobs” and to build houses for those in need. The FMLN is associated with good proposals and help to the poor, but also acts of violence against the activists of the opposing parties.

Regardless of which party won, Salvadorans hoped that the new government would continue FOSALUD, which placed a tax on arms licenses, alcohol and cigarettes. The money raised has been used to buy ambulances and to offer 24 hour medical service in the majority of health care units.

Salvadorans also wish to continue the Red Solidaria, a program that gives subsidies to families in extreme poverty that send and keep their kids in school.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Interview with President-Elect Mauricio Funes

New America Media recently posted the interview below with President-elect Mauricio Funes after his win on March 15, 2009. In the interview Funes discusses immigration, US-El Salvador relations, and why he believes CAFTA should not Presidnent-Elect Funesbe repealed.

Immigration has become one of the defining issues of the United States-El Salvador relationship. How will your administration’s immigration policies differ from those of the outgoing administration?

The fact that we’re going to rebuild the democratic institutions–enforce the constitution and make El Salvador a democratic state that respects the rule of law–is the best guarantee to the United States that we will significantly reduce the flows of out-migration.

Salvadorans who leave to the United States do so because of the institutional abandon, the lack of employment and dignified salaries to make a living. This forces them to leave in search of new possibilities in the United States.

It’s not the same for us to ask the U.S. government to renew TPS [temporary legalization] without a Salvadoran effort to avoid further migration flows, then to do so from a position in which we have undertaken efforts to reduce the migration flows.

What’s the first message you’d like to send to President Obama?

The message that I would like to send to President Obama is that I will not seek alliances or accords with other heads of state from the southern part of the continent that will jeopardize my relationship with the government of the United States.

Opinion polls in El Salvador indicate that large majorities of its citizens reject key policies that define, in many ways, the relationship between El Salvador and the United States, specifically CAFTA, dollarization and the Iraq war.

We can’t get mixed up in repealing CAFTA…nor can we reverse dollarization because that would send a negative message to foreign investors, and then we’d be facing serious problems because we wouldn’t have enough investment to stimulate the national economy.

What do you think the United States government should be concerned about with regards to El Salvador at this time?

The degree to which we do our part, which is to rebuild our productive capacity and to create a coherent social policy that improves the quality of life, there will be fewer reasons to leave for the United States, and we’ll reduce migration flows. And that should be a concern for the United States.

Where will the effects of the transition in power be felt most immediately?

We’re going to change the way we make policy. And one of the most significant changes is that we will no longer have a government at the service of a privileged few. And we will no longer have a government that creates an economy of privileges for the privileged. Now, we need a government like the one envisioned by Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who in his prophetic message said that the church should have a preferential option for the poor.

Paraphrasing Mons. Romero, I would say that this government should have a preferential option for the poor, for those who need a robust government to get ahead and to be able to compete in this world of disequilibrium under fair conditions.

This government implies a break from traditional policy making. Now, what we’re going to do is put the government and the structure of the state at the service of the Salvadoran people––the totality of the Salvadoran people – but, fundamentally, to that great majority who are oppressed and excluded from the country’s social and economic development. Not just the last 20 years, but for the last 200 years or more, have not had the possibility of participating in the formation of public policies.

A government like the one I’m going to create will give them the protagonist’s role, which until now they have not had.

Posted by Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

PCN ex-candidates support Funes; party leaders still support Ávila

Tomás Chévez, ex-presidential candidate of the PCN, andFunes and Chévez his vice presidential candidate, González Garciaguirre, endorsed Mauricio Funes and the FMLN on Thursday, March 7 for the upcoming presidential elections.

In February, the PCN dropped out of the race in support of ARENA presidential candidate Rodrigo Ávila. Disagreeing with the party’s decision, Chévez initially intended to stay in the race without the PCN, but withdrew because Salvadoran selection law requires a candidate to be part of a legitimate political party.

In this historic event, the former candidates from the PCN asked its supporters to back the FMLN in the elections, in spite of what party officials are saying. With little time left before the election, Chévez and Garciaguirre committed to garnering public support for Funes in the elections.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

Call your Congressman to get support for free and fair elections in El Salvador!

A “Dear Colleague” letter is circulating in Congress requesting that President Barack Obama and the US government not intervene in the elections as well as respect the election results. Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) are co-authors of the letter, which Members of Congress have until March 3rd to sign

In the 2004 Presidential elections, statements made by the Undersecretary of State and a Colorado Congressman had significant effects on the outcomes. Undersecretary of State Roger Noriega endorsed ARENA and publicly satiated that US relations would deteriorate under an FMLN government. Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) threatened a week before the elections that remittances to El Salvador would be stopped if the FMLN won.

Threats from and fear induced by US officials can have decisive consequences in El Salvador. Similar attempts to sway the results are happening during this election cycle. ARENA campaign ads have altered statements of US officials to convey a message to their advantage and are reusing old threats to intimidate voters to support their party. To call your congressman to ask him/her to sign the Dear Colleague letter, follow the instructions here.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroot Education and Advocacy Intern

Wall Street Journalist accuses FMLN of following in Chavez’s footsteps; Funes says Venezuela will “not meddle” in El Salvador

Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about the supposed threat of an FMLN-win in El Salvador to another “Chávez satellite” in Latin America. There is a claim that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez sent Salvadoran President Antonio Saca a message after Guatemala inaugurated leftist President Alvaro Colom. The message allegedly said, “Now I’ve got you surrounded.”

O’Grady says that ARENA presidential candidate Rodrigo Ávila, though behind in the polls, has a good chance of winning since many Salvadorans fear an “importation of the chavista agenda.” She further highlights the “difficulties” Ávila is facing because of the previous president’s record. President Saca has caused trouble for the country in numerous ways, particularly through economic underperformance, which has adverse affects on Ávila’s chances for winning. She says that despite Funes’ moderate stance, he could be overpowered by the more traditional leftist beliefs of the FMLN party.

Responding to claims of a leftist government  and of Venezuela interference in El Salvador, Funes said before the Council of Professional Associations in El Salvador, “In the same way that I will not meddle in Venezuelan politics, the Venezuelan government will not meddle in our internal affairs.

Posted by Leslie O’Bray, SHARE Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern