Salvadoran politicians express sympathies over death of Chavez

The death today of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was major news today throughout all the world, but especially in Latin America including El Salvador.   In El Salvador under its first leftist government, president Funes and leaders of the FMLN, all expressed their condolences to the Venezuelan people and described their respect for the charismatic, populist leader who led the oil rich South American country.

Chavez frequently played a role in the political life of El Salvador.   Party leaders of the FMLN, like Schafik Handal and Salvador Sanchez Ceren frequently traveled to Venezuela and the FMLN leadership frequently expressed its allegiance to the Bolivarian Socialist movement which Chavez headed.  Some called it meddling when Chavez sent discounted  gasoline to municipalities in El Salvador which were headed by FMLN mayors.   In past presidential campaigns, right wing ARENA candidates frequently asserted that the FMLN's ties to Chavez would cause the US to abandon El Salvador if the FMLN ever came to power.   (It didn't happen that way).

It's too early to tell what Venezuela will look like without Chavez -- but it's probably not going to be quite so interesting.  In El Salvador, the FMLN needs to continue developing its own version of a leftist agenda, one which does not try to go lock step with a broader socialist movement based in Venezuela, Cuba or anywhere else.