What Salvadoran Bloggers are saying -- pre-elections

National elections for mayors and deputies to the National Assembly will be held on March 12, so much of the commentary in the Salvadoran blogosphere was political in the past two weeks.

Blogs in Spanish

One theme of bloggers was a plea for voters to disregard propaganda and television advertising and to use their minds as they go to the polls. A contrary view is expressed by Soy Salvadoreño who explains that he has decided that he will not vote for any politician in this election because the campaign propaganda has disgusted him so much. The writers at the Hunnapuh blog used two separate posts to educate readers that ballots are secret, no one would know their vote, and they could vote without fear.

Blogger Oscar Miguel described his recent experience with taking a child to a hospital in the public health system, a system which he blames for not addressing preventable diseases like diarrhea, and a system which president Tony Saca would not use. His description of the experience of the public health system followed his three part series explaining the development of his leftist political views following his childhood during the country's civil war.

Rebeca Martel at Hada Luna writes about the relationship between Protestant (in Spanish "evangelico") churches and politics. Contrary to common assumptions in the country, the Protestant churches are not uniform and not necessarily either apathetic or linked to the ARENA government. She describes an interview with a prominent Protestant pastor Mario Vega who spoke of a Christian message for the poor and all but declared himself for the FMLN.

A new blog in the Salvadoran universe is El Visitador. This blog critiques the ARENA government like many other blogs, but this critique comes from the conservative side of the political spectrum. In one recent post, the blog argues for privatization of the national zoo. Pointing to statistics on the deaths of animals and zoo employees and other problems with running the zoo, El Visitador pointedly asks how privatization could possibly be worse than the record of the government ministry currently running the zoo. El Visitador may lambast the ARENA government, but believes the FMLN would be far worse.

March 1 was the effective date for El Salvador of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The FMLN seeks to repeal the treaty while ARENA trumpets the treaty as one of its great achievements. El Visitador picks up the ARENA line and celebrates the treaty as a step forward and points to, among other things, potential development of a liquefied natural gas facility and power plant on El Salvador's Pacific coast. The bloggers at Hunnapuh, however, critique the discussion of CAFTA by both major political parties as overblown. In their view, CAFTA's effects will be modest and will be neither the salvation of El Salvador, nor its destruction.

Blogs in English

Tim's El Salvador Blog polled many of the Salvadoran bloggers mentioned in this article for their predictions concerning the upcoming election results. Salvadoran bloggers expect success for the FMLN in legislative elections and the mayorship of San Salvador, while Matt Shugart predicts in Fruits and Votes that there will not be any major shifts in El Salvador during these elections.

Some of the English language blogging in El Salvador comes from religious missionaries. Mark Trew is a Christian preacher in EL Salvador. In his blog he comments on politicking Salvadoran-style from a North American point of view and finds it sometimes bizarre, especially when the campaign slogan is "a vote for ARENA is a vote for Tony Saca."

Amy Zuniga is a newly ordained Episcopal priest. In a previous post in her blog, she describes her participation in one of the funeral services for deceased FMLN leader Schafik Handal. Amy Zuniga would appear to be one of those Protestant pastors to which Rebeca Martel was referring.

Also posted to Global Voices Online.


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