Report by Delegation to El Salvador Challenges US Government’s Role in Human Rights Abuses and Political Intervention

October 8, 2009

Download report at www.cispes.org/2008delegationreport (Spanish version coming soon)

A recently returned delegation to El Salvador has published a report on human rights abuses, the potential for fraud and intervention in the 2009 Salvadoran elections, and the role that the US government has played in the cited injustices.  The delegation was organized by the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and was made up of 17 US citizens and residents.  The introduction to the report explains its intended purpose of “offer[ing] elected officials, the media, and concerned citizens a description of the deterioration of human rights in El Salvador…[and] the potential impediments to true democracy faced by the Salvadoran people as they approach a crucial election period in their country.” Continue reading

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How to Read the ARENA’s Electoral Campaign

Elaine Freedman’s July 2008 article “How to Read the ARENA’s Electoral Campaign” discusses the governing party’s extensive efforts to maintain control of the executive and legislative branches.  With the FMLN presidential candidate Mauricio Funes polling 20 or more points ahead of the ARENA candidate Rodrigo Avila, ARENA leadership has changed the election laws, solicited assistance from allies in the U.S. government, employed campaigns of fear and misinformation, and made claims that they are the only chance of democracy for El Salvador.  But still, Mauricio Funes maintains a steady lead over his ARENA rival.

Ms. Freedman offers a number of explanations for the FMLN’s early success.  Mauricio Funes, she points out, was never a militant and did not fight in the FMLN guerrilla army during the 1980’s, as did many of the party’s previous candidates. And though the Tony Saca claimed an open, grassroots process for choosing the ARENA candidate, the relatively drawn out and public process revealed many of the rifts that exist within the ruling party.  Ms. Freedman also discusses the ARENA’s claim that they are the party to fight the violence and crime that plagues the country, pointing out that the murder rate has increased over the past few years and that the government has failed to investigate murders believed to be politically motivated.  At different points this year, Tony Saca has made the case that the FMLN is supported by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and FARC guerrillas in Colombia – neither argument has gained much traction with the Salvadoran electorate.

Overall, this article is a great guide for understanding the ARENA as a campaign machine, and what to look for over the next few months as we approach the January and March elections.

(Click here to read the entire article).

El Salvador: A Deeply Divided Country

Dr. Frank J. Kendrick, a Senior Research Fellow at the Council of Hemispheric Affairs, recently published an article that details the deep political, economic and ideological divisions that still exist in El Salvador. Despite El Salvador’s significant development since the FMLN and Salvadoran Government signed the Peace Accords over sixteen years ago, the country still lacks the political and social cohesion necessary for continued growth.

In the article,Dr. Kendrick discusses how these divisions play out in the Legislative Assembly where partisan conflicts have erupted over socio-economic issues, such as CAFTA. He also highlights how political divisions are apparent in approaches towards El Salvador’s high rates of murder and crime.  The article also examines the presidential candidates for the ARENA and FMLN parties, and their very different approaches to the campaign.

The divisions that Dr. Kendrick has identified existed long before civil war broke out in 1980, and unfortunately the Peace Accords failed to address them.  If all goes well, the next President of El Salvador will be able to unite all Salvadorans around a common cause of peace, and social and economic prosperity.

(Click here to read the entire article).