ElectionSV2021

¿QUE SIGUE, LUEGO DE LAS ELECCIONES EN EL SALVADOR?

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Con los Acuerdos de Paz, en 1992, se pone fin a la guerra civil y se inicia una nueva etapa en la vida política de El Salvador, caracterizada por la desmilitarización de la sociedad, el surgimiento de nuevas instituciones y el ejercicio de elecciones democráticas.

El sistema democrático salvadoreño adolece de debilidad institucional y persisten comportamientos antidemocráticos en la mayoría actores políticos, pero se ha logrado institucionalizar elecciones de manera periódica. Desde 1992 se han llevado a cabo 13 eventos electorales. 6 para elección de presidente y 7 para elección de diputados y concejos municipales.

En una sociedad democrática, la celebración de elecciones justas, libres, transparentes y competitivas son esenciales para el sano ejercicio del poder y sobre todo para que la decisión de la población, expresada en su voto, se traduzca en servidores públicos electos por mayoría, quienes, durante un periodo de tiempo, efectivamente deberían estar al servicio de la población.

Si bien, las 13 elecciones realizadas han sido en el marco de la legalidad, la celebrada el pasado 28 de febrero tuvo ciertas particularidades; en primer lugar, una desproporcionada campaña electoral, en la cual el partido Nuevas Ideas (partido del presidente Nayib Bukele) concentró más del 70% del gasto en publicidad.

Otra característica fue una exacerbada violencia electoral; al grado que, a pocas semanas de la elección, un grupo de militantes del FMLN fue atacado a balazos luego de participar en un acto partidario en San Salvador, como consecuencia dos activistas murieron y tres resultaron heridos. El ataque fue condenado por varios representantes diplomáticos, entre ellos el encargado de negocios de la embajada de Estados Unidos en El Salvador, Brendan O’Brien. Sin embargo, no fue condenado por el propio presidente, quien en cambio culpó al partido FMLN por llevar a cabo un autoataque.

Adicionalmente, hubo una constante violación a la legislación electoral, especialmente por parte de funcionarios del más alto nivel del gobierno y del mismo presidente de la república, así como la utilización de abundantes recursos públicos para fines electorales.

Estos factores representaron ventajas antidemocráticas para Nuevas Ideas; quienes, como era de esperar, ganaron las elecciones, y no solo porque llevaron a cabo una campaña bien planificada que no temía romper las reglas, sino también por una acumulación de instituciones desacreditadas, promesas incumplidas, deficiencia de liderazgo y la corrupción generalizada de los partidos políticos tradicionales.

De confirmarse los resultados preliminares, “el partido del presidente” obtendría 56 de 84 diputados y 145 de 262 alcaldías y concejos municipales. Para tener una apreciación de lo que esto significa, hay que decir que nunca un partido había logrado tantos diputados. La cifra más alta la logró Arena en 1994, al sumar 39 parlamentarios.

Con estos números a su favor, el presidente Bukele no necesitará de ningún otro partido para tomar decisiones como la elección del Fiscal General; elección de Magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia; del Procurador General de los Derechos Humanos y de Magistrados de la Corte de Cuentas de la República; aprobación de nuevos préstamos, otorgar concesiones estatales al sector privado, entre otras leyes. Con lo cual tendría un poder político, casi absoluto.

Otra preocupación tiene que ver con la reforma constitucional, que ya está en marcha, y la cuestión de si el presidente Bukele buscará o no reformar la constitución para permitirle ser elegido para otro mandato, considerando que el actual mandato presidencial es por 5 años, sin oportunidad de reelección.

No obstante, la concentración de poder político en la figura del presidente, incluida la posibilidad de su reelección, no parece ser asunto de mucha transcendencia para la mayoría de la población. En 2018 una encuesta del Latinobarómetro reveló que El Salvador era el país de América que menos importancia le daba a la democracia, solo el 28%, la consideraba importante, mientras que el 54% reportó que le daba lo mismo vivir en una democracia que en una dictadura.

Afortunadamente, la democracia no se reduce al ejercicio del poder institucionalizado, la democracia también se encuentra en la organización y participación de sociedades marginadas movilizadas, que trabajan incansablemente para exigir el respeto de los derechos humanos de sus comunidades.

Nada le haría más daño a la precaria democracia salvadoreña que un rol pasivo de la sociedad civil. Hoy más que nunca, la academia, la prensa independiente, la iglesia progresista y el movimiento social en general deben asumir un rol de contrapeso frente a las estructuras de poder gubernamental que actúan en contra de las necesidades tangibles del pueblo, y hacerlos responsables, sin importar el color de su partido.


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WHAT’S NEXT, AFTER THE ELECTIONS IN EL SALVADOR

With the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992, the civil war ended and a new political era began in El Salvador. This era was characterized by the demilitarization of the society, the emergence of new institutions and the free exercise of democratic elections. Despite all this, the Salvadoran democratic system has continued to suffer from institutional weakness and undemocratic behaviors from the majority of it’s politicians, still, it has been possible to hold elections on a regular basis. Since 1992, 13 national elections have been held, six for the president and seven for the National Assembly and municipal councils.

In a democratic society, the holding of fair, free, transparent and competitive elections are essential for the healthy exercise of power, and above all so that the decision of the people, expressed in their vote, is translated into public servants who, for a period of time, must actually be at the service of the population.

Although the 13 elections held have been within the framework of legality, the one held on February 28, 2021 had certain peculiarities; such as a very expensive electoral campaign, ran by Nuevas Ideas (President Bukele’s party), which concentrated more than 70% of it’s party’s budget on advertising.

Another unfortunate issue was exacerbated electoral violence; which a few before the elections, led to a group of FMLN party supporters being shot at after participating in a party rally in San Salvador. Two activists died in that attack and and three others were injured. The attack was condemned by numerous diplomatic representatives, including Brendan O’Brien, the charge d’affaires of the United States embassy in El Salvador. It was not however, not condemned by the President himself, who instead placed the blame on the FMLN party for carrying out a self attack.

Additionally, there was the constant violation of electoral laws, especially by officials from the highest level of the government and the President of the Republic himself, as well as the abundant use of state resources for electoral purposes.

These factors represented antidemocratic advantages for Nuevas Ideas; who unsurprisingly won the election across the board, not just because they ran a well-strategized campaign that wasn’t afraid to break rules, but also because of an accumulation of discredited institucions, broken promises, leadership deficiency and the overall corruption of the traditional political parties.

If the preliminary results are confirmed, “the president’s party” would secure 56 out of 84 parliamentarians and 145 out of the 262 mayorships and municipal councils. These are historical numbers for El Salvador, before this, the highest figure achieved was by a single party was the ARENA party in 1994, who secured 39 parliamentarians.

With these numbers in his favor, President Bukele will not need any other party to make decisions such as the election of the Attorney General; Human Rights Ombudsman, Supreme Court Magistrates; Magistrates of the Court of Accounts of the Republic; approval of new loans, granting state concessions to the private sector, among other laws. With this level of influence, he would have almost absolute political power.

Another concern has to do with constitutional reform, which is already under way, and the question of whether or not President Bukele will seek to amend the constitution to allow himself to be elected for another term, considering that the current Presidential term is for 5 years, with no oppurtunity for re-election.

However, the concentration of political power in the figure of the president, including the possibility of his re-election, does not seem to be a matter of great importance for the majority of the population. In 2018, a Latinobarometer survey revealed that El Salvador was the country in America that gave the least importance to democracy, only 28% considered it important, while 54% reported that living in a democratic state was the same as living in a dictatorship.

Fortunately, democracy is not reduced to the exercise of institutionalized power, democracy is also found in the organization and participation of mobilized marginalized societies, who all work tirelessly to demand respect for the human rights of thier communities.

Ultimately, nothing would do more harm to El Salvador’s precarious democracy than a passive civil society. Today more than ever, academics, the independent press, the progressive church and the social movement in general must assume a counterweight role against the governmental power structures, that act against the tangible needs of the people, and hold them accountable, regardless of party lines.

Politics

The Swearing In of El Salvador’s New President

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iOn June 1, Nayib Bukele was sworn in as the new President of El Salvador. Bukele dabbled in political life in 2012, under the banner of the FMLN party when he won the mayorship of Nuevo Cuscatlán and three years later, in 2015, when he became governor of San Salvador, the capital. His differences with the left-wing party caused his expulsion from it on October 10, 2017. He won the presidency under the Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA), a right-wing party founded by former members of ARENA.

His first speech as president lasted 24 minutes in which he spoke in generalities, without referring to his outlook for the country, or to what his priorities will be. Generally, in their inaugural address, elected presidents reflect on their vision of the country they receive, and what their strategies will be during the five years of their administration.

For his part, Nayib Bukele called for national unity and asked Salvadorans to work hard to move the country forward; but most of his speech was dedicated to exalt his followers, who were present in Plaza Barrios. He also reminisced about his father in an extensive anecdote; thanked his wife; criticized previous governments for unfulfilled promises and reiterated that he will do what he promised in his campaign… making difficult decisions.

As expected, the FMLN harshly criticized the content of his speech, calling it “superficial” through a statement via their official Twitter account. The party argued that the speech did not express commitments or proposals to the important problems facing the Salvadoran people, such as the privatization of water, pension reform and citizen security.

ARENA issued a press release in which it “extends its hand to President Bukele so that he can make a correct government in accordance with the law and institutions; and strive to meet the urgent needs of the people who demand more opportunities that improve their quality of life.”

Both parties agree that the new government faces a country with complex problems. A recent article by the news agency BBC Mundo states that Nayib faces five major challenges as the President of the most violent and poorest country in Latin America.

The main one is the violence. Bukele will face a complex and entrenched issue that is considered a real national security problem, and which has translated into the omnipresence of gangs in the lives of Salvadorans; gangs that sometimes control entire lives. Homicides, extortions, drug trafficking and human trafficking are common crimes associated with gangs.

Poverty is another of the chronic problems. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), El Salvador was ranked the third poorest country in Latin American between 2015 and 2017. However, 37.8 % Salvadorans still live in poverty.

Corruption, scarce investment to generate sustainable sources of employment and an opposing Legislative Assembly are other obstacles that the new government will face. How will they do? This is still a question that remains unanswered.

The most structured response the incoming government has put forth is their campaign platform, called Plan Cuscatlán, however, it is unknown if this will be adopted as a government plan or if it will undergo substantial modifications. Plan Cuscatlán is an extensive document consisting of 1,075 pages, which identifies parts of the economic model to be implemented, for example, a commitment to mega infrastructure projects such as an airport in the eastern part of the country and train service along the Salvadoran coast.

According to the economist Julia Evelyn Martínez, there are enough signs to conclude that the new government will adopt a neoliberal economic model strongly committed to the interests of the United States. “I have analyzed Plan Cuscatlán and as a result of that analysis I have concluded that what it offers for the next five years is more neoliberalism than there has been in the last 30 years,” Martinez stated during a television interview.

In fact, a few hours after Bukele’s inauguration, President Donald Trump said: “The United States is ready to work with Nayib Bukele to promote prosperity in El Salvador and the hemisphere. Congratulations President Bukele on your inauguration.” With this type of support it can be intuited that the political and economic influence of the United States in El Salvador will increase over the next five years.

What does constitute a positive signal is that the President’s first executive order was directed to the armed force to “remove the name of Colonel Domingo Monterrosa from the barracks of the Third Infantry Brigade.” This is a controversial order because for the Armed Forces, Monterrosa is to this day considered a hero; however, he has been identified as responsible for the El Mozote massacre, so demystifying his name is good for the country’s wellbeing.

Despite both positive and negative signals, it is important to wish the new President all the best, especially since June 1st he became the captain of the ship in which all Salvadorans travel, although it is worrisome when the captain doesn’t point clearly where the ship is heading.

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NUEVO PRESIDENTE EN EL SALVADOR

El pasado uno de junio Nayib Bukele fue juramentado como el nuevo Presidente de El Salvador. Bukele incursionó en la vida política en el 2012, bajo la bandera del FMLN cuando ganó la alcaldía de Nuevo Cuscatlán y tres años más tarde, en el 2015, se convirtió en el alcalde de la capital, San Salvador, pero sus diferencias con el partido de izquierda lo llevaron a su expulsión el 10 de octubre de 2017. La presidencia la ganó con el partido Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional, GANA. Un instituto de derecha fundado por exmiembros de ARENA.

Su primer discurso como Presidente tuvo una duración de 24 minutos en los cuales habló generalidades, sin referirse a la visión que tiene del país, ni cuales serán sus prioridades. Generalmente en su discurso inagural los presidentes electos suelen reflejar su visión del país que reciben, y cuáles serán sus estrategias durante los cinco años que durará su gestión.

Por su parte Nayib Bukele hizo un llamado a la unidad nacional y pidió a los salvadoreños trabajar fuerte para sacar adelante al país; pero la mayor parte de su intervención la dedicó a exaltar a sus seguidores, presentes en la plaza pública donde se celebraba el evento; recordó a su padre en una extensa anécdota; agradeció a su esposa; criticó a los gobiernos anteriores por las promesas incumplidas y reiteró que hará las obras que prometió en su campaña, lo cual implicará tomar decisiones difíciles.

Como era de esperar, El FMLN criticó duramente el contenido de su discurso, a través de un comunicado en su cuenta de Twitter, calificándolo como “superficial”. El partido de izquierda sostuvo que en el discurso no expresó compromisos, ni propuestas ante los grandes problemas que enfrenta el pueblo salvadoreño, tales como la privatización del agua, la reforma de pensiones y la seguridad ciudadana.

De igual manera, el partido ARENA emitió un comunicado de prensa en el que “le extiende la mano al Presidente Bukele para que pueda hacer un gobierno correcto apegado a nuestras leyes e institucionalidad; y se empeñe en atender las necesidades apremiantes de nuestro pueblo que clama más oportunidades para mejorar su calidad de vida”, expresa el texto.

Ambos partidos coinciden en que al nuevo gobierno le tocará hacer frente a un país con problemas complejos. Un artículo reciente de la agencia BBC Mundo expone que al nuevo Presidente le tocará enfrentar 5 desafios en el país más violento y pobre de América Latina

El principal es la violencia, Bukele se enfrentará a una compleja y enquistada cuestión, considerada un auténtico problema de seguridad nacional, que se traduce en la omnipresencia en la vida de los salvadoreños de las pandillas, quienes en ocasiones controlan barrios y colonias casi en exclusividad. Los homicidios, extorciones, el narcotráfico y la trata de personas son delitos comunes asociados al accionar de las pandillas.

La pobreza es otro de los problemas crónicos, el referido artículo señala que según la Comisión Económica para América Latina, CEPAL El Salvador se destacó como el tercer país de América Latina que más redujo porcentualmente su pobreza entre 2015 y 2017. Sin embargo, el 37.8% de salvadoreños y salvadoreñas sigue viviendo en la pobreza.

La corrupción, la escasa inversión para generar fuentes de empleo sostenibles y una Asamblea Legislativa contraria a sus intereses son otros de los obstáculos que deberá enfrentar el nuevo gobierno. ¿Cómo lo hará? Aún es una pregunta sin respuesta.

Al respecto la referencia más estructurada que se tiene es su plataforma de campaña, denominada Plan Cuscatlán. Se desconoce si este será adoptado como Plan de Gobierno o si sufrirá modificiaciones sustanciales, el Plan Cuscatlán consiste en un extenso documento de 1,075 páginas, en el que se identifican pistas del modelo económico a implementar, por ejemplo hay una apuesta a la implementación de mega proyectos de infraestructura; un aeropuerto en el oriente del país y un tren que va a recorer la costa salvadoreña, son de los proyectos más emblemáticos.

Según la economista Julia Evelyn Martínez hay señales suficientes para entender que el nuevo gobierno adoptará un modelo económico de corte neoliberal y que estará fuertemente comprometido con los intereses de Los Estados Unidos. “He analizado el Plan Cuscatlán y como resultado de ese análisis he concluido que lo que ofrece para los próximos cinco años es más neoliberalismo del que ha habido en los últimos 30 años”, manifestó Martínez en una entrevista de televisión.

De hecho, unas horas despues de su juramentación el Presidente Donal Trump expresó: “Estados Unidos está listo para trabajar con Nayib Bukele para promover la prosperidad en El Salvador y el hemisferio. Felicidades Presidente Bukele en su toma de posesión”. Con este tipo de respaldo puede intuirse que la influencia política y económica de los Estados Unidos en El Salvador se incrementará en el próximo quinquenio.

Lo que si constituye una señal positiva del nuevo Presidente es que su primer orden ejecutiva fue dirigida a la fuerza armada: Quitar el nombre del coronel Domingo Monterrosa del cuartel de la Tercera Brigada de Infantería. Esta es una orden polémica porque para la Fuerza Armada Monterrosa es considerado un héroe; sin embargo, ha sido señalado como el responsable de la masacre El Mozote, por lo que desmitificar su nombre es bueno para el país.

No obstante las señales positivas y negativas, es importante desearle lo mejor al nuevo Presidente, sobre todo porque a partir del uno de junio se convierte en el capitán del barco en el que viajan todos los salvadoreños y salvadoreñas, aunque preocupa que el capitán no diga con claridad hacia donde se dirige la nave.

2014 Elections, El Salvador Government, Organized Crime

Crime Continues to Rise in El Salvador

Yesterday, Salvador Sanchez Cerén took office as the new president of El Salvador, becoming the first former FMLN militant from El Salvador’s Civil War to ascend to the presidency.

DSCF0265President Sanchez Cerén’s political victory has not been the glorious triumph many wanted for the former guerrilla leader. The runoff election against the ARENA’s Norman Quijano was surprisingly close, as Sanchez Cerén squeaked out a victory with only 50.2% of the vote. Quijano’s late surge seemed to stem from Salvadorans’ discontent with the lack of security and the failing truce between the country’s two rival gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18.

The FMLN and the country’s mood have only soured since the election. In May, the police reported 396 homicides, 170 more than the same month last year, and fingers are being pointing in all directions. Now former President Mauricio Funes recently said recently that political interests “want to give the impression that there is a failed state incapable of facing crime,” meaning that foes of the FMLN want to make the leftist government seem unable to address crime.

Indeed, the State appears helpless in stopping the violence. The gangs have taken steps over the past few years by signing a truce but the government was unable or unwilling to support their efforts. And past administrations and political leaders continually fail to address economic and social equalities, or provide youth with good alternatives. Until they do so, gangs will continue to fill in the gaps left by the stagnant economy and broken families.

President Sanchez Cerén said yesterday during his first speech as President that he would lead a System of Citizen Security. He also said, “improving the security of citizens will require that we work together against organized crime, traffickers, extortion, and all expressions of violence. We will fight delinquency in all its forms, with all legal instruments and tools of the State.”

President’s and politicians have made so many speeches over the years but taken little action. If President Sanchez Cerén is going to promote security and end the country’s violence he will have be willing to take bold and creative measures that set aside politics. Language like fighting delinquency in all its forms and using all legal instruments seems to indicate more of the same Mano-Duro or heavy hand kind of law enforcement, which has never been successful.

Unfortunately, President Sanchez Cerén also seems to be embracing the same neoliberal economic policies that the U.S. government has been promoting since the end of the civil war – creating an export economy and attracting foreign investment. These policies have failed to address the social and economic inequalities that have allowed the gangs to flourish, and in fact made divisions even wider.

Most Salvadorans seem to have pretty low expectations for their new President and his administration, and he has given them little reason to have hope for something new. Salvadoran communities and Diaspora seem willing to support the new administration, but President Sanchez Cerén and his team will have to show a level of creativity and boldness that we haven’t seen yet.