El Salvador Government, Mauricio Funes, Politics, U.S. Relations

President Obama Re-nominates Ambassador Aponte to El Salvador

The White House announced yesterday that President Obama has again nominated Mari Carmen Aponte to be the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. President Obama first nominated her to the post in December of 2009, but Senate Republicans led by Jim DeMint held her nomination in Committee. Sen. DeMint (R-SC) voiced concerns that Ms. Aponte had a romantic relationship in the 1990s with Roberto Tamayo, a Cuban who has alleged ties to the FBI and Fidel Castro.

President Obama used a recess appointment in August 2010 to by-pass the Senate and Ambassador Aponte was sworn in on September 22, 2010. As a recess appointment, her term will end in January 2012, giving the administration just under ten months to get her nomination approved by the Senate.

Senator DeMint and other Republicans have asked to see to her FBI files to better understand her relationship with Mr. Tamayo. In 1998, President Clinton nominated Ms. Aponte to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, but she withdrew her nomination when Senator Jessie Helms threatened to ask probing questions about the relationship.

The Salvadoran Embassy website posted the following biography for the Ambassador:

Before assuming the position of U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Mari Carmen Aponte worked as an attorney and consultant with Aponte Consulting, and served on the Board of Directors of Oriental Financial Group.  From 2001-2004, Ms. Aponte was the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration.

Prior to that, she practiced law in Washington D.C. for nearly twenty years.  Ms. Aponte has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the University of the District of Columbia.  She was a member of the Board of Rosemont College, and served as president of the Hispanic National Bar Association; the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia; and as a member of the District of Columbia Judicial Nominations Commission.  In 1979, as a White House Fellow, Ms. Aponte was Special Assistant to United States Housing and Urban Development Secretary Moon Landrieu.  Ms. Aponte has a B.A. in Political Science from Rosemont College, an M.A. in Theatre from Villanova University, and a J.D. from Temple University.

President Obama will be visiting El Salvador March 22-23 during a three-stop tour of Latin America. Last week, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said that they will be discussing the fight against poverty, which he says provides fertile ground for common crime and organized crime to flourish.

Elections 2009

Last Minute Threats from the U.S.?

Compared to the 2004 presidential elections in El Salvador –marked by threats of economic and political repercussions from the U.S. if the FMLN candidate were to win– the U.S. government and its representatives had remained refreshingly uninvolved during this election cycle. That is until recent remarks from some members of congress calling the FMLN pro-terrorist and renewing threats of revoking Temporary Protected Status and cutting off the flow of remittances to El Salvador. Click here for full article.

Elections 2009

US requests that FMLN not use Obama’s image

Yesterday, the Charge d’ Affairs for the United States Embassy, Robert Blau, requested that the FMLN stop the use of President Barack Obama’s image in their campaign advertisements.

The television ad in question features several images of President Obama, and focuses on drawing comparisons between Obama and the FMLN presidential candidate, Mauricio Funes. The advertisement asserts that both Obama and Funes have been falsely accused of connection to terrorism and extremist governments. It goes on to say that both offer a message of hope and change in a time of crisis.

This ad is seen as a part of a strategy by the FMLN to respond to suggestions by the ARENA party that a Funes presidency would endanger El Salvador’s relationship with the United States.

Blau stated that the use of Obama’s image in campaign ads may give the wrong impression that the US endorses a particular candidate. He reaffirmed the pledge of former Ambassador to El Salvador Charles Glazer that the US would not get involved in the nation’s elections, and will respect Salvadorans’ ability to elect their own leader.

Earlier in the campaign season, ARENA also ran a television advertisement congratulating Obama on his victory and displaying an image of Obama and ARENA’s party logos and flag.

Many leftists agree that the Obama has the right to request that his image not be used in the Salvadoran campaign. However, they also point out that Obama’s image was used in a tone of respect and admiration, unlike the use of images of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales in attack ads run by ARENA linking Funes with the South American leaders.

The FMLN has announced that it will re-examine the use of Obama’s image.