The FMLN, Funes and 21st Century Socialism
During his presidential campaign, Mauricio Funes always dressed in a white shirt, while his running mate for vice president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén always wore the red of the FMLN. The message was clear -- Funes was distancing himself from the traditional hard-line FMLN of Sánchez Cerén. As president, Funes is finding he still needs to draw those distinctions.
Sánchez Cerén was in Venezuela at the end of November for the First International Gathering of Parties of the Left, and the Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. In a speech to the assembled socialist partisans, Sánchez Cerén strongly supported the program of Hugo Chavez to create a Fifth Socialist International and spoke against the "imperialist" designs of the United States. El Salvador's vice president stated:
The peoples of Latin America must unite because the Empire has a desperate attitude of wanting to return to rescue its presence on the continent, but the aspiration of peoples is to want to change towards a different route.
These public pronouncements of Sánchez Cerén led Mauricio Funes to publicly differ with him, stating that the government of El Salvador neither shares nor supports the views of the FMLN pronounced in Caracas. In response, Sánchez Cerén told the press that he had been speaking only in his role as a senior official of the FMLN, and not in his role as the vice president. He acknowledged that only the president could set the course of the foreign policy of El Salvador.
For its part, there is no doubt that the official policy of the FMLN is to support the creation of a Fifth Socialist International, as described in a recent statement on the party's website, where the party committed itself to advance principles of democratic socialism.