El Salvador elections move another nation to the Left

Mauricio Funes and his wife, Vanda Pignato, celebrate with supporters
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Mauricio Funes, a member of a political party that waged guerrilla war against the government 17 years ago, has claimed the presidency of El Salvador.

“This is the happiest night of my life,” Funes told a jubilant crowd at his election headquarters. “It’s also the night of greatest hope for El Salvador…”

Funes’ victory ended a 20-year hold on the presidency by the right-leaning ARENA.

“Now the ARENA party passes into opposition,” Funes said. “ARENA … can be assured that it will be listened to and respected.”

Although polls had indicated the race had tightened considerably in the past few weeks, most analysts had predicted that Funes would win.

The FMLN, which is the Spanish acronym for the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, was formed in late 1980 as an umbrella group for five leftist guerilla organizations fighting a U.S.-backed military dictatorship. The guerrillas and the government signed a peace pact in 1992 and the FMLN became a legitimate political party.

By some estimates, 75,000 Salvadorans died during the war.

United States foreign policy – regardless of which TweedleDeeDum party was in power – has generally opposed democratic self-determination in Latin America. The region has been a business preserve for U.S. corporations.

If the Obama administration turns away from that policy it would be as constructive and qualitative a change as ending the blank check for Israel in the Middle East.

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