Friday, March 13, 2009

El Salvador Elections March 15th 2009 Open Thread

On Sunday, March 15, there will be presidential electionsin El Salvador. An indication of the balance of forces can be seen in the size of the end of campaign rallies. The left wing FMLN gathered 250,000 people, one of the largest mobilisations in the country’s history. The mood was one of enthusiasm, hope and militancy, even though the bureaucracy did its best to turn the rally into a carnival. The right wing could not even fill the Cuscatlán stadium, and as it is always the case in these events, paid people to attend, forced civil servants to attend, as well as bringing popular music groups. Even with all this, the meeting was only about 50,000 strong. However the mood was very different. It was a very political meeting appealing to prevent the victory of “communism”, to defend “democracy and freedom”.

The right wing is seriously considering electoral fraud in order to “win” these elections, and there is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen on March 15 and the following days. The right wing parties are very discredited, but the ruling class is not sure that its interests will be safe with a FMLN government, even though the FMLN candidate and the leadership of the party have made repeated statements saying they will respect private property and will not move towards socialism. Neither the leadership of the FMLN nor Funes have prepared seriously to fight electoral fraud and have even signed an statement saying they will respect the electoral results. But the patience of the masses is running short and it is unlikely that the leadership will be able to contain the protests of the workers which are likely to be very militant and might acquire a revolutionary character.




Foxessa said...

It's more important than ever to pay attention to events such as this upcoming election.

Love, C.

Larry Gambone said...

Funes is another moderate, but what is important is the mass mobilization around this election. And in spite of the FMLN's moderation, El Salvador will be one more country in Latin America that will no longer automatically be a stooge of the Gringos.

Frank Partisan said...

Foxessa: It will be really important because Mexico is moving left.

Larry G: A youth group in the FMLN joined the IMT.

Desert Mystery said...

Hopefully after the election, El Salvador will remove the few token troops it has in Iraq. Making it the only (other then US ofcourse) state from the Americas to actively participate in Iraqs occupation.

SecondComingOfBast said...

For crying out loud, how many troops does El Salvador have in Iraq, ten? It's probably an excuse to funnel money to whatever worthless regime is down there. In the meantime the marijuana and heroin regulatory agency known as the DEA kindly hold up to their end of the protection racket known as the "War On Drugs"(tm). Isn't that where one of the most vicious drug gangs originate from? M1-15 or something like that?

Whoever wins this election, I doubt that it will change things substantially. Sure, there might be a withdrawal of Salvadoran troops from Iraq if the left wins, but other than that, nothing's going to change from our end, other than if the left wins, the current administration and congress will support their government, whereas if the right wins, they won't support theirs, which means there will probably be another round of civil war.

Whoever wins, by the way, is wholly dependent on who can come up with the most money necessary to bribe the international observers to turn the other way when the time-honored democratic tradition of harassment and intimidation takes place.

Desert Mystery said...

My info was a little outdated, the last Salvadoran troops left Iraq on 22 January, 2009. The 380Salvadoran troops were involved in guarding convoys.

The name of the gang you are referring to is Mara Salvatrucha XIII (MS-13) for short, and it has some of its roots to the thousands of Salvadoreans refugees who picked up gangland tactics from the hoods of Los Angeles while their country was being torn appart during the 80's courtesy of Ronald Reagan.

Vast numbers of Salvadoreans were subsiquently repatriated courtesy of the Immigration Reform Act of 1996 and brought with them what they had picked up in the US to central America.

Now their associated "groups" are in every major city across the Southwest, providing 'candy' to good ol' Joe six pack. So, you see, its all a giant circle.

What happens in Salvador or half way across the world has a direct impact on you whether you like it or not. That is why it is so important that FMLN wins.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Actually, though in a sense I agree with you, Desert Mystery, you do kind of have it just a little backwards. Yes, it has an effect on us as to who is in power, but who is in power here is the key to how well or badly any given regime will do in El Salvador (or anywhere else in Latin America). Like I said, if the left wins, the current US government will support them. If the right wins, they won't, so there will likely be some degree of civil unrest, possibly in fairly quick order descending into civil war.

Of course, if the "conservatives" were in power here, it would be the same situation, only reversed. They would support the right, not the left. So yes, it is a vicious circle.

For example, the "liberals" here in America object to the "Free Trade Agreement" with Columbia, because-and only because-Columbia is ruled by the right. If Columbia was ruled by the left, their objections would disappear, as in fact it should regardless of who runs the country, as this is one example of bi-lateral trade if it were enacted.

It's just the same old song-and-dance, over and over and over again.

Frank Partisan said...

Pagan and Mysteryman: I just returned from a big event in St. Paul organized by FMLN supporters in Minnesota. It included watching El Salvadoran TV election coverage on a big screen, free food, FMLN t-shirts, music and dance.

The TV coverage was wild. The TV crew went to polling places, and people's votes on paper, were shown to the camera. You saw the actual count. You vote by party, and the paper has party avatars.

People were wild in the streets.

It seemed early in the coverage that FMLN was creaming ARENA. The coverage changed to close to call, than Funes claimed victory. Spain and Reuters claimed Funes won, leading to Funes giving his victory speech.

Earlier this week, the mainstream press, devoted pages to attacking my group there. If fraud was claimed, my group would be looked to lead the opposition.

Funes is no Chavez. The FMLN is atleast a formation, with a mass base, that a socialist can work inside.

Tonight in Venezuela, Chavez told the country to buy Alan Woods's book about Venezuela Reformism or Revolution.

This is the first time the left won an election in El Salvador.

Final tally 51-48%.

The Mexican druglords, I'm sure put El salvador's to shame. I'm no expert.

Larry Gambone said...

According to the Apporea Web site Funes won 51.27% to 48.13. This is at 10;14 PM PST.

Now just Colombia, Mexico and Peru to go!

Desert Mystery said...

Congrats to El Salvador and to its people. Seriously, ho many more elections before the whole hemisphere tilts to the left?

Frank Partisan said...

Desert Mystery: See Larry's comment. His list isn't complete, but it lists what matters.

I would be very surprised if Obrador doesn't become the next Mexican leader.

With all the fighting in the Middle East and South Asia, its Latin America that leads world revolution.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Well done El Salvador and well done Ren on a lovely new header image!

tony said...

It will be interesting to see (or ,rather, not see) what Omama's reaction to this will be......
I just found your blog via Daniel (above).
"hello" !

SecondComingOfBast said...

I'll withhold judgment for now, until I see the long-term results. I'll say this much, this was fairly close election result, and if the left acts too heavy-handed with such a relatively small mandate, they are asking for trouble. 48 percent of the people is a minority, but its still a lot of people.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Tony's getting around!

And Pagan, I would say that most modern elections are won on relatively narrow margins, it is rare for it to be a sweeping victory and to behave as if you don't have a mandate when you've won an election can make you hamstrung from the off.

For all his faults, Bush didn't act like a man who sneaked into power, he had won so he was going to govern.

Foxessa said...

[ "With all the fighting in the Middle East and South Asia, its Latin America that leads world revolution." ]

Ren -- I read that to Vaquero just now and his response was, "It's true!"

I also forwarded you what Vaquero sent out to his list this AM concerning the election in El Salvador.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

As for Obrador becoming Mexico's next leader, he would be right now if the last election hadn't been stolen.

Love, C.

Nevin said...

I am happy for the shift towards the left in South America. Even though I will always remain a skeptic when it comes to "governments" in general, whether it is on the right or the left. However, let's face it, Mr. Mauricio Funes is elected by the people of El Salvador. That alone is a reason to celebrate....

troutsky said...

To Pagan Temples opinion that liberals object to Colombia FTA because Uribe admin. is right wing, again he is ill informed. It has to do with regulatory safeguards,human rights abuses, sovereignty issues and others. I'm no liberal, but it is important to differentiate between economic liberalism and a social liberal.

Congrats to El Salvador, the only good thing about US focus on Middle East is it has allowed popular movements to flourish in the South.

SecondComingOfBast said...


I'm not sure you get what I'm saying. I'm not implying that the Salvadoran left should govern from the right, or for that matter, even from "the center". I'm just saying that if they try to treat 48% of the Salvadoran electorate that make up the right like a conquered, subjugated people, they will very likely come to regret it.


Both American "liberal" and "conservative" politicians and apparatchiks are highly selective when it comes to such matters as "regulatory safeguards, human rights abuses, sovereignty issues, and others". That's just the problem. There's no real consistency on either side, they just have their pet regimes. Since the left won this election, they probably avoided civil war. If the Republicans were in power here, there would likely be one. It's just that simple.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

No Pagan, you didn't get what I said, which was in modern democracies you rarely get large margins and you can't rule as if you've sneaked in, you must rule as if you've won, which they have.

Simple as that.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Oh, okay then. Which, that's fine, that's the way they should govern (a word I much prefer to "rule", for what that's worth). Since they are in charge now, its up to them to make the case for their policies and positions, and implement them in a way that will benefit the country. If they are successful, they will keep their support, and maybe even build on it substantially. If not, they won't. I just hope they don't degenerate into a typical regime that will do anything by hook or crook to retain power, come what may, regardless of whether they damage the country or people individually. I am not a big fan of political parties, whether right or left. I have shall we say a healthy skepticism of both, to put it lightly.

Larry Gambone said...

I don't expect a great deal from the FMLN as it is, but any improvement in the lives of the people is to be supported. Even if one life is saved that would otherwise be lost under the right wing, that to me is a plus.

Then again, Funes is backed by a mass movement and this may radicalize things in the way that Chavez and Morales are pushed from below by the mass movements that put him in power.

Larry Gambone said...

That should read "put THEM in power".

As for Pagan's concern with the 48% who did not vote for Funes, to have such a total means a lot of these voters were campesinos and workers. An intelligent movement will now work to split as many of those people off from the right on class-uniting issues. This is not a far-fetched tactic as Chavez, Morales and Allende before them all managed to increase their support while in office by winning dome of the ideologically confused working people over to their side.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I think it is WAY too early for any worries on how they will turn out.

Best to wait and see, speculation at this juncture is worthless.

sonia said...

I've been to Salvador. Socially, it's the most polarized country in Latin America, with half the population as poor as the Cubans and the other half as rich as the Americans. It has awful shantytowns right next to typical North American suburban neighborhoods. All Salvadoran elections were close, with FMLN always getting well over 40% of the vote, but El Salvador is VERY dependent on the US (most of its economy are money transfers from Salvadorans living in the US, and US dollar is the currency), they never dared to vote for an anti-American candidate. But with Barack Obama in the White House, they obviously felt less scared.

Anyway, Funes is very moderate. He wants to keep US dollar and the free trade agreement with the US. Ideologically, he is much closer to Bachelet and Lula than to Chavez...

Interestingly, unlike with many previous elections in Latin America, Chavez didn't interfere in this particular election, claiming that he was ready to work with whoever would win...

I think it slowly dawns on Chavez that he has much more troubles with moderate leftist leaders like Zapatero or Lula than with openly right-wing governments (like that of Mexico, for example)...

Frank Partisan said...

The tone of this discussion shows Fumes is not Chavez.

At sites like this, you can watch international TV, and see events as El Salvadoran elections.

Foxessa: Thank you for sending me Vaquero's statement.

Calderon was used an advisor to ARENA.

Pagan: Just like at one time the PPP in Pakistan, was a socialist party, the FMLN is contradictory. Lately they have moved far to the right, ignoring struggles as against El Salvador's draconian antiterrorist law. They are totally focused on winning elections. My group is the left of the FMLN. We were attacked savagely last week in the mainstream press.

The FMLN is actually a typical social democratic party.

Nevin: It's a step forward, not a revolution.

Daniel H-G: Fumes is a moderate, social democratic politician. The question is how he responds to his base.

Troutsky: Iraq kept Chavez in power.

Tony: welcome to this blog. Bush's immediate recognition of the 2002 coup against Chavez, hurt the US throughout Latin America. I can't find Obama's statement yet.

Larry G: I agree Fumes could split off rightist voters.

Sonia: Fumes's base will force him to be allied with the Bolivarians. He wouldn't attack Chavez. Lula plays both sides.

I think it was a vote against ARENA's pro-Bush policy.

I agree Fumes is moderate. The FMLN is not the FMLN of Reagan's time. People were jubilant last night. Even in Minnesota, the whole El Salvadoran community went to the election night event.

I wish I listened to Chavez's speech Sunday. I'm sure the FMLN was talked about.

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