Sunday, March 22, 2009

Way to Go, El Salvador!

El Salvador elected Mauricio Funes of the FMLN party as president last week.
In his acceptance speech, Funes dedicated his presidency to martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero vowing to have, as Romero put it, "A preferential option for the poor".
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or FMLN, was founded as a revolutionary guerilla organization which fought to overthrow the right-wing government resonsible for the assasination of people who worked to relieve the oppression of the poor, including Archbishop Romero.

The FMLN was named for Farabundo Marti, who ,in 1932, led a worker and peasant uprising against the brutal general Maximiliano Hernandez. With naval support from the US, Hernandez crushed the revolt and slaughtered 30,000 indigenous people and political opponents. It became a legal political party in 1992 after peace agreements were signed.
Funes and the FMLN defeated ARENA, the right wing party which has been in power in El Salvador since 1989 and has been in bed with the United States since its inception in 1981. ARENA was founded by Roberto D'Auboisson who was named in a United Nations report of 1993 to have ordered the assination of Archbishop Romero. ARENA fielded the infamous death squads during the civil war in El Salvador with the aid of the United States, and they were especially championed by Ronald Reagan.
All this has changed. FMLN and Funes have come to power because the people have grown tired of the hollow promises of ARENA. Under the loving care of the right wing, gangs have become so pervasive and powerful that the murder rate in El Salvador is nine times that of the United States, roughly 3,650 deaths a year in a country of seven million. Over 30% of the people live below the poverty level with 20% living on $1.00 a day. Those are numbers from 2006, when times were relatively good world wide.
Funes, a former journalist, is a bright guy who faces huge challenges(sound like anybody we know?). But the Salvadorans are moving left and moving away from the US which has sponsored oppression in Latin America for well over one hundred years. Way to go, El Salvador!

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