Governing El Salvador

For weeks and weeks, the 2005 budget in El Salvador has been stalled. Approval of the budget and of the bonds to finance the budget requires a super-majority vote of the Salvadoran National Assembly. Although the FMLN's 30 seats are not a majority, they are sufficent to prevent ARENA and its allies in the center parties from passing the budget. There has been a battle of words with Schafik Handal of the FMLN accusing president Tony Saca of waging a dirty smear campaign, and Saca alleging that the FMLN is being obstructionist.

Now comes the news that two FMLN deputies in the National Assembly will give their votes to approve the budget. According to La Prensa , the FMLN leadership has reacted forcefully, denouncing the defecting deputies as "traitors" and asserting the deputies had sold their votes to ARENA. There is apparently no room for compromise, dissent or independent thinking apart from the leadership of the FMLN.

A recent issue of Proceso, the publication of the University of Central America, lamented the approaches of both major political parties in the country. Looking back at 2004, the commentary sadly proclaimed:

Thanks to ARENA, El Salvador -its assets and its public resources- have slowly become the patrimony of a group of businessmen whose voracity, today as in the past, does not have any limits at all. Although the term seems anachronistic, a new oligarchy controls the country; they do as they please with the legal, the environmental, and the economic matters... The present State apparatus allows them to do so. In the case of the FMLN, things are not better. It is not attached to powerful economic groups, like ARENA; but it is closely connected to its ideological beliefs, to their undemocratic practices, and their old leaderships. As a result of it, the FMLN has failed in its assignment to come up with a proposal for a viable, a realistic, and a credible administration. Both the FMLN and ARENA have betrayed the society.


David said…
I'm glad you posted on this. I'm going to read all of the local press I can get my hand on.

It's true that the FMLN branded these people as "traitors." In fact, they said there's no need to even think about expelling them from the party, because their very vote means they're out of the party. There is less and less room for any kind of dissent in the party, to be sure.

It's also possible, but there's no evidence so far, that there were in fact economic incentives for the two deputies who left. (Despite their denials, ARENA has been known to buy off deputies, from the PCN or once from the CDU, the center-left party.)

But you know, it speaks poorly of the FMLN that they didn't even bother to find out before accusing them of this.