Wooing El Salvador's expatriate community
The Washington Post has a story about El Salvador's Consul General in Washington, D.C., Ana Margarita Chavez, and the government's attempts to win the loyalty of Salvadorans living abroad:
Her approach dovetails with a wider charm offensive recently launched by Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca, of the pro-business ARENA party, to cement his support among Salvadoran expatriates.
The stakes are high. The Salvadoran government estimates that more than a fourth of the country's citizens live in the United States. The expatriates have been lobbying hard for the right to vote from abroad, and it is generally considered a matter of just a few years before they will get it. Even now, they are believed to exercise enormous sway over voters back home thanks to the estimated $3 billion they send their relatives annually.
During the presidential election in 2004, Saca and his opponent campaigned personally in the Washington area. And shortly after taking office, Saca expanded the foreign ministry to include a vice ministry exclusively dedicated to overseas Salvadorans.
The 16 consulates in the United States are the vice ministry's principal vehicle of operations. The Washington area is among its most important targets. The U.S. Census estimates there are 130,000 foreign-born Salvadorans in the Washington region. The embassy estimates the size of the local Salvadoran community -- including those born here of Salvadoran parents -- at half a million.(more)