Mauricio Funes in Washington D.C.

FMLN presidential candidate Mauricio Funes has been in Washington, D.C. as part of his campaign to win the presidency of El Salvador in 2009. His trip includes visits both to the sizable Salvadoran population in that part of the US, but also visits with US government officials. The Washington Post reports:
Fifteen months in advance of El Salvador's March 2009 presidential election, opposition party candidate Mauricio Funes has flown to Washington to woo the region's sizable Salvadoran community.

Funes, of the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front, or FMLN, said the early start is intended to head off a repeat of the 2004 elections. That year, the governing party, the pro-business National Republican Alliance, or ARENA, launched a media blitz asserting that a victory by the FMLN, a former Marxist guerrilla group, would destroy relations with the United States. Television ads and newspaper articles said Salvadoran immigrants would be deported en masse, depriving their relatives of the estimated $3.5 billion the immigrants send home annually.

"This campaign of fear was mainly directed at Salvadorans who live here in the United States. Because, even though they don't have the right to vote [from overseas], they have enormous influence over their families back home," Funes said. "So we want to reach those people to remove their fear and gain their trust."

Funes, a political commentator and talk show host, represents a break from the former guerrilla commanders who previously headed the FMLN. While in the United States, he intends to meet with State Department officials and several members of Congress, as well as members of the Salvadoran community.

The U.S. Census estimates that more than 1 million Salvadoran natives live in the United States, including 133,000 in the Washington region, where they are the area's largest immigrant group. The Salvadoran Embassy says that when U.S.-born children of Salvadoran citizens are counted, about 1.7 million Salvadorans, or 20 percent of that nation's population, live in the United States, with about 500,000 in the Washington region.

Although there is talk of giving Salvadorans the ability to vote from the United States, expatriates currently can cast a ballot only by traveling to El Salvador. This is an almost insurmountable barrier for the many who are in the country illegally or who have temporary work permits that prohibit visits home.

Nonetheless, the expatriates' ability to sway relatives in the homeland has made campaign swings through the United States a regular feature of Salvadoran politics since 1992 peace accords ended a 12-year civil war and ushered in the current democratic era.


Anonymous said…
so far funes is making the right moves and saying the right things. it is very smart of him to talk to US congresspeople as part of his campaign instead of hugo chavez and evo morales. i guess the only weak point arena has to use in negative propaganda against him is that they will accuse him of contradicting himself with the fmln's party guidelines. in fact there already was an article in el diario de hoy ( which we all know how biased it is when it covers politics) of how funes and el frente were already contradicting one another. however, we have to be aware that that is the campaign strategy they will use to lessen the hype and momentum which funes unquestionably has right now. i'm still giving my vote to funes; and arena, if they want to have a good chance come 2009 better not put rene figueroa, i would be ambarrassed just by having that moron even become a candidate.
Anonymous said…
Tim, do you have any substantial information about the hip-hop subculture of El Salvador to do a post about it? I have listened to groups like Pescozada, Real Akademia and Santos and I think they have alot of talent. I don't really know how well known they are, but it should be an interesting, perhaps positive outlook about the cultural development of El Salvador, since we mostly discuss the war, politics and the socio-economic issues of the country on this blog.
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