Where: San Salvador, El Salvador
March 15, 2009 : Mr.Mauricio Funes of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) defeated the Arena party’s Rodrigo Avila to become the first left-wing President of El Salvador. Arena had won every presidential election in the country since 1991. The winning party won 51.3 per cent of the votes polled against Arena’s 48.7 per cent.
FMLN formed in 1980 as a band of Marxist guerrilla* fighters. Mr. Funes, a former television journalist, is the first party leader who was not a participant in the warfare. The country still bears marks of the 12-year-long civil war in which some 70,000 people died. In addition to this, Mr. Funes will have to tackle widespread crime and an economic slump.
The money remitted home by the 2.5 million Salvadorians living abroad made up 17 per cent of the national income in 2008. These funds are expected to reduce because of the global economic downturn. Mr. Funes has promised better social programs, rural health care and crime prevention. The country has one of the world’s highest murder rates in the world.
Political rivals said the new government would be ‘communist’. The newly elected President however stressed that he respects property rights, economic stability and fiscal discipline, and added that he wanted to improve ties with the USA. He asserted that now was the time for ‘genuine democrats, for men and women who believe in social justice and solidarity’.
*A guerilla group is an irregular armed force. It fights organised, stronger armies with sabotage and harassment.
Related Links – If you want to know more about El Salvador:
El Salvador: Where is it? Click here to see it on the map
El Salvador: Country profile
El Salvador: Latest news about El Salvador
El Salvador: Images from El Salvador