16 Mar 2009

Left triumphant in El Salvador election

The FMLN fought a brave war against appalling deathsquad right wingers, Arena, funded by Ronald Reagan and more than happy to kill priests and nuns who might be on the side of the poor.

The campesinos were under severe pressure from Washington backed right wing regimes, the FMLN are far less radical than much of the Latin American left but this is a superb victory for the poor, the indigenous and for the hombre in the street.

Not expecting ecosocialism and still worried about forests and people in El Salvador but hey I am still celebrating. Great report from the Morning Star, a newspaper I am proud to work for (ok they don't pay me!)

SALVADOREAN leftwinger Mauricio Funes vowed to crack down on tax-evading corporate chiefs on Monday after he won presidential elections.

The country's election commission released figures on Sunday which showed that Mr Funes of the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) garnered 51.27 per cent of the vote against 48.73 per cent for Rodrigo Avila of the ruling Arena party, ending two decades of right-wing rule in El Salvador.

Jubilant, red-clad FMLN supporters poured into the streets of San Salvador on Monday, singing, clapping, blowing whistles and waving large party flags as fireworks lit up the night sky.

Addressing the rally, Mr Funes said that "the time has come for the excluded, the opportunity has arrived for genuine democrats, for men and women who believe in social justice and solidarity."

He vowed to boost public spending on education, health and poverty alleviation.

And Mr Funes gave notice to big-business bosses who exploit government complacency to evade taxes, pledging to bring the full force of law to bear on them.

The former freelance television reporter harnessed a wave of discontent with two decades of Arena party rule that have brought economic growth at the cost of growing social inequality.

Fuel and food prices have soared, while powerful gangs extort businesses and fight for drug-dealing turf, resulting in one of Latin America's highest murder rates.

Mr Avila, a former police chief, had warned that an FMLN victory would send El Salvador "down the communist path" and threaten the country's warm relations with the United States.

On Sunday, he vowed to lead "a vigilant opposition that would ensure that the country does not lose its liberties."

The FMLN was formed in 1980 as an umbrella group to unite progressive guerilla groups struggling against the US-backed military regime and its notorious death squads.

After signing the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992 which ended the bloody civil war, it became a legal political party.

In January's legislative elections, the FMLN won 42.6 per cent of the vote and 35 seats, making it the largest party in parliament, though it does not have a governing majority.

In Washington, the Obama administration has assured Salvadoreans that it will work with Mr Funes - a marked departure from the approach of former president George W Bush who indicated that an FMLN victory would hurt ties.

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