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Peter Lemkin
03-16-2009, 01:25 PM
May this 'wave' wash across N. America, as well....

Left-wing party wins El Salvador elections

El Salvador's FMLN party of former Marxist guerrillas swept to power yesterday in a presidential election that split the country along old civil war fault lines.

Mauricio Funes, a former TV journalist and candidate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) claimed victory after results showed he had 51.3 per cent of the vote with over 90 per cent of returns counted.

Jubilant leftists let off fireworks, waved flags and gathered at a monument in the capital to celebrate.

Rodrigo Avila of the conservative Arena party, which has ruled El Salvador since 1989, trailed with 48.7 per cent support and he conceded defeat late on Sunday night.

It was a historic victory after a bitter campaign that split the small Central American nation, where memories of the 1980-92 civil war that killed 75,000 people are still strong.

"My party, the FMLN, has shown to the whole world it is ready for a new government," Funes said in a victory speech. He called for reconciliation with the Arena, whose founder was linked to right-wing death squads during the war.

The victory boosts a growing group of left-wingers in Latin America, led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The United States spent billions of dollars in supporting a string of right-wing governments in the fight against the FMLN during the civil war, although Mr Funes insists he will look for good relations with Washington.

Arena has held office since 1989 and kept the coffee-exporting Central American country firmly in the pro-Washington camp, even sending troops to help U.S. forces in Iraq.

But stubborn poverty and street crime have helped the FMLN, which laid down its weapons under a 1992 peace deal and set up a political party to seek power at the ballot box.

Reuters

More on this soon....

Magda Hassan
03-16-2009, 01:36 PM
More good news from Latin America. :beer:

There is currently underway a media campaign demonising the players. Warning that babies will be eaten for breakfast and advising everyone to lock up your daughters. After a period of undercover destabilisation and sabotage there will be a coup attempt, the president will be kidnapped and he will sign a note of resignation.

I just have a hunch.

Peter Lemkin
03-16-2009, 06:01 PM
from today's www.democracynow.org

AMY GOODMAN: In El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, of the former rebel FMLN party, has won the country’s presidential election, ending two decades of conservative rule. Funes won 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Rodrigo Avila of the ruling right-wing ARENA party. He conceded defeat late on Sunday.

ARENA had won every presidential election since the end of El Salvador’s brutal civil war eighteen years ago. The FMLN was a coalition of rebel guerrillas who fought the US-backed military government during almost two decades in which more than 70,000 people died. Tens of thousands, the majority of those people, died at the hands of the Salvadoran military or paramilitary forces.

Funes is a former television journalist who reported on the years of the conflict and is the first FMLN presidential candidate who is not a former combatant. In his victory speech, he stressed his moderate policies during his campaign and says he intends to maintain good relations with the United States.

PRESIDENT-ELECT MAURICIO FUNES: [translated] To strengthen international relations and implement an independent exterior policy based on protection and the boosting the national interest, the integration of Central America and the strengthening of relations with the United States will be aspects of priority on our foreign policy agenda.


AMY GOODMAN: The Obama government has assured Salvadorans it would work with any leader elected, a departure from the Bush administration, which in 2004 threatened to cut off aid to El Salvador if the FMLN won.

Close US ties saw El Salvador keep troops in Iraq longer than any other Latin American country, with the last of its 6,000 soldiers returning last week. El Salvador had also become a hub of regional cooperation with Washington in the so-called drug war. The country’s economy depends on billions of dollars sent home by 2.5 million Salvadorans who live in the United States.

We go now to San Salvador to speak with Roberto Lovato. He is a contributing associate editor with New America Media and a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine. He blogs at ofamerica.wordpress.com. He met with the President-elect, Mauricio Funes, last night and interviewed him. Roberto Lovato joins us now via Democracy Now! video stream.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Roberto. Can you tell us the climate now in San Salvador?

ROBERTO LOVATO: I would just say—I’ll just quote a song that says, “Y que venga la alegria a lavar el sufrimiento”—“Let the joy come and wash away the suffering.” It’s something on an order I’ve never seen in my life. As a child of Salvadoran immigrants and as someone who’s spent time here and as someone who saw the Obama experience, I really can’t tell you what this is like, when you’re talking about ending not just the ARENA party’s rule, but you’re talking about 130 years of oligarchy and military dictatorship, by and large, that’s just ended last night. You’re talking about $6 billion that the United States used to defeat the FMLN, as you mentioned earlier. You’re talking about one of the most formidable—a formerly political military, now political forces, in the hemisphere, showing the utter failure of not just the ARENA party but of somebody in particular, too, who has a special place in many of our hearts: Ronald Reagan. This is the defeat of Ronald Reagan, nothing less.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean.

ROBERTO LOVATO: Ronald Reagan—well, you mentioned those 70,000 dead. If there’s a single person responsible for the death squad apparatus that pursued many of our family members, that pursued some of us, that killed—according to the United Nations, 95 percent of all the 70,000 to 80,000 people killed were killed by their own government. Ronald Reagan really, really started us along the road to the—what’s even called in Iraq now “the Salvador Option.” And so, $6 billion—it cost Ronald Reagan and the US $6 billion to try to destroy the FMLN.

And now the streets are red, not with the FMLN’s blood, but with young children, boys, girls, elderly people, families dressed in red, joyously celebrating, singing revolutionary songs commemorating a victory that they’ve never known in their lives, coming out of a silence that this country has always known its whole life. And so, I mean, there were tears and not blood in the streets of San Salvador this morning and even now. It’s about 6:00 a.m. You guys got me up a little early, but it’s just something I’ve never seen in my life, and I’m so moved. I wish I had the words to tell you how moved many of us are here right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us who Mauricio Funes is? Tell us his background.

ROBERTO LOVATO: Mauricio Funes is, I would say, one of the great symbols of the aspects of democracy brought to El Salvador, thanks to the FMLN bringing the United States and El Salvador to the negotiating table. Freedom of expression was not a possibility under a military dictatorship. And so, the peace accords brought a modicum of political space, in the media, in particular. And so, Mauricio Funes was like a talk-show host who became the biggest media star in El Salvador, one who happened to lean left, who lost a brother during the war, and who is extremely smart, extremely smart.

He has—you know, I interviewed him for about twenty-five minutes last night, and I find him to be a very, you know, smart guy, in terms of foreign, domestic policies, and speaks with great details and not the usual inanities and simplistic nonsense that most Salvadoran politicians I’ve spoken of—about for most of Salvadoran life. And so, he came as a breath of fresh air, to the point where even 46 percent of the evangelical vote in El Salvador—an extremely conservative evangelical vote, I might add—voted for him.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain, finally, Roberto Lovato, speaking to us from San Salvador, the significance of this election of Mauricio Funes, of the FMLN party, for Latin America.

ROBERTO LOVATO: Well, this is a continuation of the red and pink tide that’s taken hold in the hemisphere. The big difference is that it brings us even closer to the north. It brings us even closer to the border wall. Remember, there are more Salvadorans here than there are most—in the United States than there are any other South American country. So the Salvadoran population was here in force, as were many North Americans. People that—like, I’m sure many in your audience, Amy, have supported the people of El Salvador since the 1980s, doing solidarity work, doing sanctuary work. So all of those people’s hearts were moved last night. I’m sure a lot of people in the United States cried with joy. I’m sure a lot of people in United States know and are going to be committed to El Salvador. And so, you bring a tiny Latin American country with one of the most powerful solidarity movements in the United States right now. So, this is major.

This is major also because the Summit of the Americas is coming up, and now Barack Obama is going to have to deal with another Latin American country that has turned away from the United States agenda and that he’s going to have to try to woo somehow, to back into some conversation and not confrontation with the US. And [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: Roberto Lovato, we’re going to leave it there, though we will continue to cover these developments. Again, the FMLN presidential candidate of El Salvador has won. Mauricio Funes is his name. Roberto Lovato, our guest, contributing associate editor with New America Media, frequent contributor to The Nation magazine, blogs at ofamerica.wordpress.com, in San Salvador covering the elections.