The Wall Street Journal's simplistic view of El Salvador

When it comes to El Salvador, Mary Anastasio O'Grady for the Wall Street Journal only knows a one note song. For the third time this year, she has written an editorial focusing on the treatment of the Canadian gold mining company Pacific Rim by the ARENA government. This time she does it in the context of trying to explain the FMLN's lead in the race for president:
Wishes for peace on Earth are on the lips of the faithful throughout Latin America this week. But in El Salvador, these hopeful sentiments mask trepidation about what 2009 will bring.

The fears stem from the fact that the former guerrilla group Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation -- aka the FMLN -- is now leading in the opinion polls for the March 15 presidential elections. FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes is widely considered a moderate leftist. But other party honchos -- including vice-presidential candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén -- are of the more traditional (i.e., militant) FMLN variety. Many Salvadorans are worried that if the party comes to power, its radicalized elements will overwhelm the likes of Mr. Funes and pull the country hard to the left.

This would be tragic for the tiny, market-oriented Central American nation, which suffered so much in the 1980s at the hands of the Soviet-backed FMLN. Yet if the FMLN wins the election, don't blame Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro or neighboring Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who still fly the revolution's tattered banner.

Instead, look to Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca of the center-right Arena Party. Mr. Saca was in Washington last week promising President Bush Salvadoran help in fighting the U.S. "war on drugs" and trying to pass himself off as a champion of traditional American economic values. But back home in El Salvador, his actions have earned him a reputation for undermining democratic capitalism through the abrogation of contracts.
She goes on to argue that the treatment of Pacific Rim and the treatment of Italian power consortium Enel are the activities which have led Salvadorans to reject ARENA.

While I agree that one reason Salvadorans want a change from the ARENA government is the want to get rid of government operated for the benefit of the powerful friends of Tony Saca, there seem to be many other influences at play. Salvadorans are struggling economically, the gap between rich and poor is widening, people don't feel safe and no one sees progress in these areas despite countless ARENA promises. Certainly Salvadorans do not seem to be saying that they plan to vote for Mauricio Funes so that Pacific Rim can get its mining license.

O'Grady's distaste for the FMLN is blatant. It is particularly evident in the video below which accompanied the online version of her editorial. The video starts with her assertion that vice presidential candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren will actually direct the country if Mauricio Funes wins and ends with her statement, "If they take a chance on the FMLN it will be a very sad day for El Salvador."

See O'Grady's other editorials about Pacific Rim here and here.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for this. I just stopped Christmas-packing-and-wrapping to write her an email. Merry Christmas!
Anonymous said…
The history of the deal with the mine is complicated. What is clear, though, is that there is the typical Salvadoran ruling class bullshit going on: unles they can figure out an angle where they or their friends can profit, they squash the deal.

It's the same reason that the Millenium Challenge Funds are not being spent: the rich bastards in charge of it can't figure out how to bypass the accounting rules laid out by the Millenium Fund so they can profit from it.

Although I do fear that Ms. OGrady could be in the right direction with the idea that Sanchez Ceren may have more currency within the FMLN than Mauricio Funes, her article was total bullshit. What about the fact that.........oops........ARENA has been in power during and since the civil war and the country is hell in a handbasket?
Basta de Casaca said…
How dare this lady talk bullshit?

I am salvadoran, and this unhappy woman DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME, neither for the more than 70% of people who believe that the country is going in the wrong direction with ARENA in power and who want change.

When FMLN wins (note that I didn't use "if"), It will be one of the happiest days in decades for MOST of salvadorans, that's for sure!

Change is coming to El Salvador!

I'm sorry for the "areneros", but ARENA is on its way to extinction.
Unknown said…
Simplistic views yes, and also, lopsided in favor of the mining company. There is a clear agenda here.

It seems a concerted move by WSJ and the mining company to pressure Saca's Government to concede the permits that have been denied already.

The claims of rigging by the salvadoran government of conditions, so that stocks of that mining company fall are ludicrous. They seem to give too much credit to our bureaucrats. They simply are not that clever. They could not rig suspenders on themselves, but they are able to rig international stock markets which are crashing down all around during the biggest crisis ever.

And incidently, the whole international economic debacle has no influence in the worthlessness of the mining's company stock.

Salvi_Alchemist said…
(This would be tragic for the tiny, market-oriented Central American nation, which suffered so much in the 1980s at the hands of the Soviet-backed FMLN. Yet if the FMLN wins the election, don't blame Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro or neighboring Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who still fly the revolution's tattered banner.

Instead, look to Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca of the center-right Arena Party.)

The country suffered only at the hands of the left? ARENA is center right? Those paragraphs there should let you know all you need to know about the author.
Hodad said…
Tim, I am back!! this is what i tried to post to WSJ, but I was blocked, go figure, just moi

she is bought off, by her advertisers, how obvious
her ignorant uninformed rants are,
and she has not done her research,she should read the reports

what low class folks uneducated this WSJ employs, it seems lately
reporters that do not read, or study the truth before they open their mouths, and post such absurdities?
right wing rags such as this are losing readership,duh? wonder why, their credibility is going down the drain or should i say (you)tube [brasscheck TV, now that is some site!]

she probably has never even been to El Salvador and her salary and justification for her ignorant rants are the WSJ paid advertisers, who else?

Pacific Rim is leaving,
they have been warned{they also threatened me, but I have no hard feelings, happens a bit, I am nice guy, I offered to take them all fishing, for free}

I will say, not a threat from me of course, just a promise.... that any one involved, w/ PR including whatever lawyers, I mean crab bait, should desist, go home now as their street addresses, will be given to those in the USA with families in El Salvador,
who would be poisoned, , given cancer and have farms, water ruined,and more you kn ow who I am speaking of

ask WOLA, COHA, Amnesty and others of my calls, and MY rants,
you think 6000 fishermen once informed and organized in regards to how these activities trickle down to the coast and estuaries will basically worsen the fishing and the future for their families and heirs?
do you really think they would ever let this happen, neither the police nor any military in ES with familes that would be affected in this small country, with the biggest heart, nope, don;t think they will help at all

look at what golf and development has done to the Carolina coasts and the Chesapeake bay, guess what? no more spots this year, nor blue crabs, nor flounder not oysters, not much anywa

I know the people in ES and all over Centroamerica since 1983,Mexico since 1977, surfer boy I am
and the USA military industrial crap will soon also end in March,
basta ya. adios pendejos, todos
either help positively, or get the f... out

so, hey you know how Guanacos are? they act, and they brought the USA sponsored ARENAZI to Oslo in 1992...
and half the police and military are former FMLN, {yes I know Farabundi is dead, red is a horrible choice for banners and they really should change their name, in my opinion,]anyway
again this arrogant,greedy heinous business of mining is being stopped an all Central American countries
and about time,

this reporter should go be a farmer, or street cleaner,
both are more valuable and righteous professions than what she has attempted to elevate herself to, just another idiot writing for WSJ,
I do not know this fool, but I bet she is full of herself, or has STOCKS! in gold mining companies, you should sell them, a suggestion

at least McClatchy folks do their homework as far as being a more balanced and informing news rag for the cafe in the morning

you should retire from this, O'Grady you have only made a fool of yourself
but as the previous poster said, that is normal for WSJ,
and now even 9th graders in most third world countries are aware, unlike the majority of kids in USA, that as seniors cannot do the math that 8th graders in Thailand can, or probably even Bogota

A bunch of suits that do not surf,dive or fish,
maybe just same ole one ball game chasers, on TV or golf, beating the bosses head and doing their gambling and sad jokes

money does not buy happiness, at least undeserved gains or gotten by ill gains and Bad Karma Actions
so typical of the couch potato male in the big cities, these watchers are your readership, and your wanna be's, well, still.... wanna be's

\\like my rant?, more on Senor Pescado blog, mostly just information
jaaaaaaaaaaa and as Bubba say's "eat mo' fish"
Anonymous said…
"look at what golf and development has done to the Carolina coasts and the Chesapeake bay, guess what? no more spots this year, nor blue crabs, nor flounder not oysters, not much anyway"

Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.
Anonymous said…
The oysters in Chesapeake bay are not gone because of pollution.*%3AIE-Address&rlz=1I7DKUS&q=destruction+of+fishing+in+chesapeake+bay

Senor Pescado please stop spreading lies.
Anonymous said…
Senior Pescado,

What about the nitrogen from farmlands that enters the Chesapeake Bay watershed? You failed to mention that. That is a major problem for Chesapeake Bay. Isn't that also a problem for your fisherman in El Salvador? They don't use pesticides and nitrogen based fertilizers on the farms along the rivers in El Salvador?
Anonymous said…
Senor Pescado,

I hold a supervisory pesticide license in the US and work on a golfcourse. Do you know that the government has very strict laws in place governing the use of these materials? I have state inspectors working for the department of pesticide control showing up at my work and making sure that I use these materials in a way the presents minimal risk to the environment. I can be punished by jailtime for misusing these chemicals. Do you know that the American Bald Eagle has made a miraculous comeback? No more DDT. Do they spray DDT in El Salvador or Chlordane? Do they have a department of pesticide control in El Salvador? Is pesticide use regulated in El Salvador? Do the farmers in El Salvador practice IPM methods?
El-Visitador said…

The disgraceful treatment of foreign investors is at the very base of all that is wrong with ES.

By law, MARN should have approved this thing in 90 days. It did not. Everybody knows it. Here you have the written law being purposefully ignored by the President, by the Attorney General, by the Assembly, by the local media itself.

It ain't "simplistic." The bottom line is that this is a clear cut case of politics overriding the law and no-one caring about it in El Salvador.

Sure, this might be a case you don't like, but this is a crystal clear litmus test for the rule of law in ES.

And ES fails. This is ultimately why ES is a miserably poor country.
Tim said…
You and I agree about the importance of the rule of law and that a country where the rule of law is not respected will be challenged economically. El Salvador's weak judicial system, its corruption, and its inefficient bureaucracy impose real costs on the country and on the ability of small businesses to start, established businesses to expand, and foreign investors to invest.

But it is simplistic to think that the current level of support for ARENA comes from a clamor for respect of the rule of law.
Hodad said…
i said crabs are gone in Chesapeake
there are some oyster reintroduction programs going on and in the carolinas,
but basically ALL 'sters served in 80% of carolina restaurants are Gulf
, not as tasty as those stump sounders
and I would not eat oysters out of there, anyway menhaden is a lot less and shad did not show up in Winyah bay this year, been no spots for 5 years

you 4 anonymous's responded to my rants however
none of you have credence, and do deserve nor will get any respect, as , well
you are all anonymous
and Tim warned of this in the past

leave your name or post a profile, or you are just more 'sheeples'
feel free to e mail me or call
I do not hide

EV, you are somewhat correct, as per your normal , but I still Love El Salvador and the poeople, it is a few that fuck it up for the rest, look at all the stupid laws to justify lawyers[i mean crab bait] existence now and all the greedy fools from law schools

and I will relate my experience as an investor there good and bad, and as having the very first corporation in ES in 94 under the new laws, E-V
well we were supposed to get some better treatment and especially going into a zona franca, El Pedregal

worst case was the bad treatment by aduanas at san Bartolo and the rampant corruption, at the time, 1994

I was on the phone each day for over a week with bless her heart, Ana Cristina Sol and Mr Leon, both excellent representatives in DC for ES, neither are/were political, just a love for El Salvador
they could do nothing
being the owner and original builder and Investor of LIPS, does not count,
I was in ES 4 years illegal, i was mojado, lol
it was a running joke for this 'el gringo'
anyway, another day

golf courses use 20 times the chemicals,per acre than the normal southern yard using roundup,
any idiot can get a pesticide license, state inspectors and also feds are corrupt
bottom line
Monsanto sell their crap at walmart
golf course worker, your facts and rant is not even considered,and quite ignorant actually, you must be a salesman for monsanto, or someone similar, so go home
I grew up wrightsville beach since the 50's
do NOT get me started on habitat destruction and bacterial levels and residual chemicals from GOLF courses, power plants and paper mills

I will eat DDT in front of you, Pal
as it is still the best solution for malaria mosquitoes, bald eagle comeback is not due to less use of DDT

and lets see,
yes, chemicals are used, in ES sad but rue, and a bit when cotton was grown more there
but less and less as the environmental movement in ES is growing, but then there is less farmimg due to YES! remitances,
for now
only organic is the future as in Cuba, bless their little hearts
and ES also needs to start growing more food, ASAP

yes, the run off is very bad, in Carolinas and VA the worst is from hog farms, good ole subsidized pork fed GM corn
but this is being worked on, slowly, as biodigesters make
' mil veces mas sentido comun'

those people were just lazy, and it is easier to dump that HI nitrogen content waste in the water, golf course boy, so much for your 'STATE and Federal inspectors' as those informed and aware of us know well those so called inspectors, [cannot make it in the real world so they become an inspector],power trip thing, and are just bought off, as are the DOE guys at the nuke plants
strip clubs and prime rib steakhouse dinners

30 years of experience with them, and you?
these same
workers, also fat and lazy in the government just waiting on those, now disappearing pensions

any other questions?

but identify yourself, or please refrain from any post,
hey even E-V, that paid CIA guy has a name
his posts make for entertaining responses,
si verdad? and
sometimes he is on his meds and responds with some sense
more than I can say for others

golf boy, you must watch a lot of TV i bet, and cannot read very well
so, i am insulting your intellect as you are just another anonimo

and your credibility and lies, and propagandized rhetoric carry no weight with the educated, compassionate and caring individuals looking at some sort of future, for all, and especially the children

and as Bubba say's "eat mo' fish"
but I would NOT suggest from the Potomac
Hodad said…
and I would like to add as far as investing this time in El Sal I will be at offices with mi socio Dr. Serpas, whose granddad was general Martinez and has lots of respect as a papai futball player and also with a phone number direct to 3 of my congressmen from the carolinas that will out a fire under the idiotic basically worthless embassy personell that aren there for this type of thing, but I also know the ropes, and I do have some unfinished business with the Fiscalia and their fucked up system, them and their 'lawyer; mentality after losing ground,credibility and respect
, as the laws are for the people the system in ES after 1992 Oslo, is based on USA's democratic system

not Napoleanic code as in 99% corrupt Mexico, bullshit 49/51% crap
and more are knowing of jury nullification, laws of bailee and more for better and swifter justice and more less afraid to testify and speak out
as any resprisals are met with instant investigation, and publicity

but basically all in Hacienda, Immigracion, the Central Bank,Diario registro, Aduanas and MAG are polite,courteous, and want any gringos with heart and soul to be in ES,

as all are finally coming together as you 'sheeples' in the USA had better do next year
'guanacos juntos, o todos perdidos'
Anonymous said…
Senor Pescado,

I have a bachelor of science in Plant and Soil Science. Do you know what the requirments are for a New York State Commecial Supervisory Pest Control license is? Are you qualified to take the test? I'll take a shot of DDT with you. Biogmagnification is a problem with the substance and it had plenty to do with the decline in eagle populations. Are you going to call me names now Senor?
Hodad said…
you are still anonymous, so, no merit no value
your words ,mean nada where is your backup

and I know what biomagnification is
like some falisfications on mercury in fish, fatty tissue build up
why gringos are sick, most are fat

Rachel Carlson was proven wrong on some issues by none other than Michael Crichton
and DDT is still a best quick deal with malaris
I hate it, but it works
but they are using a plant, in Afica to start on the eradication
golf courses want to kill most plants except grass

and golf courses are heinous polluters of the environment
you cannot argue this

any time anywhere, pal
you cannot win with me
you work for the man, and the man plays golf, a one ball game

I have 2 balls