Monday, March 16, 2009

Mauricio Funes: The Next President of El Salvador

from U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities Staff

March 16, 2009 8:00 am

The wait is over. After almost 20 years of an ARENA government and the FMLN being the opposition, things have changed.

Yesterday the Salvadoran people went to the polls in impressive numbers to elect Mauricio Funes as the next president of El Salvador. With the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) reporting 99.4% of the votes counted, Funes has won with 51.3% (1,349,142 votes) and his contender, Rodrigo Avila, received 48.7% (1,280,995 votes).

In his victory speech at 9:07pm last night Funes said “We have signed a new peace and reconciliation accord for the country itself. I invite, from this moment on, the different social and political powers to build national unity together.”

As the results came in streets throughout the country began to fill with people. Thousands of people rushed to the Plaza Masferrer in San Salvador to celebrate. In Arcatao the street in front of the mayor’s office was full of people dancing. In Las Anonas the celebration was in the community center. All over El Salvador people came together to rejoice in the victory they had waited so long to celebrate.

The news that came from our observers was generally positive. In Tecoluca, Arcatao, and La Libertad the entire process went smoothly. In Tecoluca the FMLN won 6,106 votes and ARENA won 3,482. In Arcatao the FMLN won 849 votes and ARENA 304. We still don’t have the exact numbers for La Libertad but our observers reported wining both voting centers.

However in the community of Cinquera, which has been the host to so much tension and violence over the last couple months, also saw violence on elections night. Once the 419 votes were counted for the FMLN and the 304 were counted for ARENA, the community went to the park to wait for the national the results. Unfortunately, things became violent and an ARDM organizer was beaten by ARENA sympathizers. When a youth from the radio station tried to video what was happening, he was threatened and chased by ARENA supporters, who fired 3 shots in the air. The ARDM called the attorney general for an investigation and waited at the police station for them to arrive. The rest of the community celebrated the victory in their houses. Our observers are all safe. This reminds us, as Sister Cities, that while we are excited and relieved with the FMLN win on a national level, we still have an important role accompanying the organized communities in El Salvador, especially those whose local government are ARENA.

We would like to end by thanking everyone in the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities network for all your hard work, dedication, faith, and support. We, as staff, feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with all of you during this exciting time, and equally grateful to have the opportunity to continue working with you. We would like to especially thank the volunteers we have had on the ground here in January and March: Jenny, Karen, Leigh, Vanessa, Annie, Sean, and Ian. With out your help and support we would have never been able to accomplish what we have.

We will send out more information throughout the week as well as our official observation report so stay tuned.

Sí se pudo!

U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities Staff

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