Stand Up for El Salvador

3-13-09, 12:31 pm

Urgent action is needed to ensure US neutrality in the presidential elections in El Salvador.

On Sunday, March 15 there is a presidential election in the Central American country of El Salvador. Up until a short while ago, the candidate of the left, Mauricio Funes of the FMLN, had a considerable lead over his right-wing opponent, Rodrigo Avila of the ARENA Party, which has been ruling El Salvador for quite a while.

However, the right wing has been using scare tactics, and now the candidates are almost neck and neck in public opinion polls. There are also credible reports of impending election fraud involving non-Salvadorans being given fake IDs so that they can vote for Avila.

Now comes a new scam intended to frighten FMLN supporters away from the polls. Thursday March 11, two conservative Republican U.S. Congressmen, Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Dan Burton (R-IN) made public statements calling for the US to punish Salvadoran immigrants in the US if Funes wins by a) removing the 'temporary protected status' that allows otherwise undocumented Salvadoran immigrants to stay and work in the United States and b) somehow blocking the remittances of cash which Salvadoran immigrants send back to their relatives in El Salvador.

Previously Congressman Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) made a similar threat. To hold Salvadoran immigrants and their relatives hostage to the 'good behavior' of their home country’s government is not new. There are reports that ARENA activists have been telling voters that if they vote for Funes the US will cut off the remittances. Under the Bush administration, the US embassy in the capitol, San Salvador, engaged in threats ad interventions, which influenced the previous Salvadoran presidential election. Recent statements by the Obama administration and the State Department make it clear that the views of these GOP legislators do not reflect the thinking of President Obama or the US government as a whole.

The official statement posted on the US Embassy webpage states. “The Government of the United States reiterates its official position that it does not support either candidate in the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador on Sunday, March 15… The US Government will respect the will of the Salvadoran people and will seek to work constructively with whoever wins that election.'

Nevertheless, it is certain that the right wing in El Salvador will aggressively use Frank and Burton’s comments via the right-wing media in the final days of the election campaign.

We join with others who call on the US Embassy in El Salvador to publicly disassociate itself from the threats against Salvadoran immigrants and reassure the Salvadoran people that the US government will respect the outcome of the elections, and will not retaliate against Salvadoran people living in the US in any way. Take action with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).