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      FMLN Wins Close Battle in El Salvador

      Presidential candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén with Vice presidential candidate Oscar Ortíz, left, during the runoff election on Sunday. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images, March 2014)Salvador Sanchez Ceren, a famed guerilla commander during El Salvador's civil war, has been officially confirmed as the presidential winner by the slender margin of 50.1-49.8 over the candidate of the right-wing ARENA party.

      It was a historic victory for Sanchez Ceren, who survived fierce sectarian strife, led a historic military offensive, pushed for a compromise peace settlement, and distinguished himself on education and social issues as the country's vice-president under outgoing Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes.

      Sanchez Ceren's lead in surveys narrowed dramatically after his winning 49 percent of the vote in the first round against ARENA and a third right-wing party on February 2. Polls showed Sanchez Ceren ahead by 5-10 points three weeks before this week's runoff, but that lead collapsed while Salvadoran voters were bombarded with television ads warning that their country would become, "another Venezuela."

      A decisive issue in the election was the gang truce, which began in 2012 with a cease-fire among imprisoned leaders of rival gangs, and which so far has resulted in a significant reduction of violence and homicides. The truce is supported by many activists in the LA immigrant community. However, hatred of gang members is so widespread in El Salvador that political leaders fear any association. The FMLN generally avoided the issue, following the line of President Funes who promoted the truce indirectly through the Archdiocese. ARENA on the other hand raged against the truce and called for a resumption of the violent police suppression tactics known as "mano dura." The election outcome allows the truce organizing to go on, averting a return to "war on gangs" model of the past. 

      North American solidarity activists played a significant role in pressuring the US Congress and Obama administration not to take sides in any way as the election unfolded. In previous Salvadoran elections, the US was accused of tilting towards its historic ally, the ARENA party, in spite of that party's long connections with death squads and oligarchs.

      ARENA immediately denounced the Salvadoran electoral outcome as fraudulent, suggesting that they will challenge the FMLN government as illegitimate and follow the path of the anti-Maduro protestors in Venezuela.

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      Reader Comments (2)

      Here we go again. I hope that President Obama stays out of it and lets the political process in El Salvador move forward without US interference. The people of El Salvador have suffered enough from the disastrous right-wing tilt by our government; thousands tortured and killed in a useless and unnecessary war to prevent liberal policies that would reverse the historic undernourishment of the Salvadoran people and other nations of Central America.

      March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike Havenar

      Perhaps the US is using the unwieldy, unresponsive longevity of Presidencies as a trojan horse left behind for US use as a channel of intervention. Your comments point out the frightening possibility that El Salvador could get the treatment. Empires of Yesteryear, British and French certainly left behind unsustainable borders to encourage collapse on demand of irritating political developments in these gerrymandered "nations.".
      The army in Egypt rode back into power through a clumsy, incompetent Presidency. Turkey invites an uprising with its obdurate turncoat President. Ukraine of course a prime example of a Presidential impatience creator. . Venezuela is a US attempt that may fall but is Chavez creation of a powerful Presidency with years to serve.
      On the bright side, these uprisings show traces of American good influence in their Occupy rhetoric and the Gene Sharpe school of nonviolent noncooperation. This may be significant. These modern Revolutions reflect massive participation by people who see the need for personal intervention. Millions in the street can become the the regular intervention of participatory democracy outside the suites. Rather than numbers on an election board we can look to who puts the sneakers in the streets. Chile was a prototype of a neoliberal street campaign setting things up as might be happening soon in El Salvador as in Venezuela. ???

      March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Encimer
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