Salvadoran living in Boston runs on national ticket in El Salvador

The Boston Globe ran a recent story about Merlin Pena, a Salvadoran who has been living in the Boston area since she fled El Salvador in 1980 at the beginning of the civil war. She has been selected to be the the vice presidential candidate for the Christian Democratic Party. Carlos Rivas Zamora, the former mayor of San Salvador, is the party's candidate for president.

The choice of Mena is another sign of the importance of the Salvadoran diaspora to what happens back in El Salvador. Although Salvadorans living abroad cannot vote unless they return to El Salvador to cast their ballots, their economic impact through remittances is immense. A video with Mena on the front page of the PDC website has her talking about the importance of the Salvadorans living outside of the country.

From the Globe story:
Merlin Pena is a resource specialist at the Massachusetts General Hospital clinic in Chelsea. Next year, she could be vice president of El Salvador. Pena, 51, is known ... for her community activism and advocacy for immigrants' rights. But she is also a low-key semi-celebrity, recognized by a worldwide network of Salvadorans for her ambassador-type work between Salvadoran political leaders and the emigrants who support much of that country's economy...

As the first president of Salvadorans in the World, a group she no longer belongs to, Pena continued to build political connections and advocated to improve relations between El Salvador and its emigrants. For years, one of her main goals has been to have her country extend voting and social rights to Salvadorans living outside El Salvador and to see them as more than "just remittance." The presidential election in El Salvador is scheduled to take place March 15.

Mena is not the first Salvadoran resident of the US to run for political office in El Salvador. In 2006, Hugo Salinas from Virgnia lost in his race to become mayor of Intipuca. In the current elections, Salvador Gomez Gochez, who has dual US and Salvadoran citizenship, is running for mayor of the town of Atiquizaya.


El-Visitador said…
«For years, one of her main goals has been to have her country extend voting and social rights to Salvadorans living outside El Salvador»

Thank goodness she has no chance of becoming VP!

Imagine that: she wants to let people who do not pay Salvadorean taxes vote in our elections, and she wants "social rights" (i.e., welfare benefits) paid by Salvadorean taxpayers to go to people who do not pay any Salvadorean tax.

Imagine a poor peasant in Atiquizaya making $1 a day and paying 13% IVA-VAT on everything she bys just so that someone in NYC can enjoy Salvadorean "Social Rights".

Anonymous said…
Her being posted as VP candidate is just another sad instrumentalization of the diaspora by local politicians.

But it will pale in comparison to what Funes would do if he becomes prsident of E.S.

Funes will try to give voting rights to the diaspora, without first counting how much does a single vote cast in the US cost in logistics and promotion.


Because the FMLN and Funes will want to perpetuate themeselves on the presidential chair, and will see the diaspora as the main source of hard core votes in their favor.

Why? because the diaspora will vote without caring much on how El Salvador fares under an fmln government, since:

1-They do not live in El Salvador but in happy ever after USA lala land....

2- They will vote for the past (thinking of the war), not for the future of El Salvador. Why? because the people who will come to vote will be thos who arrived in the US as a result of the conflict, and whose political development in what pertains to El Salvador is set in the past. No cousin of mine who was born in the US, as far back as 1969 would go to vote for a salvadoran president they neither care about nor know. If they barely go to vote for a US president........imagine what they will do for a salvadoran one.

But you will have to provide votes to all of them in the likelyhood they vote..........

And the tally of the cost of the votes, just keeps on increasing.....under the irresponsibility of ALL politicians.
Anonymous said…
As a Salvadoran living abroad, all I gotta say is that I've been carrying (with my remesas) that peasant in Atiquizaya long enough. No I don't pay taxes, I just pay everything! Am I going to vote for the past? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I'm a little removed from the situation, but maybe I'm better equipped. Maybe what the previous posters fear is an informed voter, one who is more resourceful than your "typical Salvadoran." Hmmmmmmmm.
Anonymous said…
P.S. I mean, to us "hermanos lejanos," this sounds like the perfect little racket: "you just keep sending that money brother, but you don't need to get all up in our grill about no policy or decision making." Guess what, though, we learned this great new concept called accountability. "Change is coming" even to El Salvador. We're going to get that vote, and it's going to be a new procedure for doing business from then on.
Unknown said…
I support my Salvadoran friends in Australia to be able to vote in the elections in El Salvador, just like Australians who are living overseas can vote here.

We all know under what conditions most people left El Salvador, and it wasn't because they stopped caring.

Hope is born ..
Anonymous said…
"I've been carrying (with my remesas) that peasant in Atiquizaya long enough. No I don't pay taxes, I just pay everything!"

That is an absolute fallacy.

If you have sent remittances, then you have sent them for your family. If your family is "that peasant in Atiquizaya" and you ar tired of carrying him for so long. Dont send the remittances.

You have not been paying for everything. You have been paying for your mother and sisters and sons and daughters to eat and have shelter.

When did you send money to the central government?

When did you send money to the Alcaldia?

The sending of remittances is a personal choice, which does not give you the right to recieve anything in exchange really. Or does the fact that you send your children to school gives you the right for them to support you in your old age? They'll probably just set you up in a nursing home, if you're lucky. But you wont have a right to tell them who to marry.

And then you assume that because you live in the US you are better equipped to guide our future than those of us who live in El Salvador?

You are just totally wrong on that, and it only shows the fact that you, out there, are an individual who really doesnt deserve for El Salvador to spend a good 100 USD on the logistics of your single vote.
Anonymous said…
Remesas help everyone. If I send money to my relative, that's one less indio for Saca to have to worry about in his Red Solidaria. Plus, the remesa recipients are not just stuffing the money in the markets -- it's a constant "suero" being fed into the moribund Salvadoran economy. Like I said, "change is coming." The Hmno. Lejano is like Quetzalcoatl, who goes away, but then comes back with the holy host to clean house!
Anonymous said…
Hey Ass The Oligarcas Also don't Pay their Taxes......