Salvadorans, FMLN Supporters in Minnesota Celebrate Election Victory
St. Paul, MN – The Salvadoran community and supporters gathered here on the evening of March 15 to watch election results and celebrate a historic victory for the left in El Salvador. On March 15, Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez-Ceren were elected president and vice-president of the small Central American country. Funes and Sanchez-Ceren are from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), the leftist political party that led an armed liberation struggle in the 1980s, and became an electoral political party after the Peace Accords ended El Salvador's civil war in 1992.
The FMLN election victory ends decades of military dictatorship and 20 years of rule by the extreme right-wing ARENA party that was founded by Roberto D'Aubuisson, the mastermind of the right wing death squads during El Salvador's civil war. The FMLN victory brought an unprecedented wave of elation and celebration into the streets of El Salvador and to Salvadoran communities in the U.S. and around the world.
In Minnesota, more than 150 people gathered at First Lutheran Church in Saint Paul at a celebration sponsored by the FMLN Committee of Minnesota. The gathering was mostly Salvadorans but also included activists who have worked in solidarity with the FMLN and the revolutionary movement in El Salvador since the 1980s.
At the event there were live television and internet broadcasts from El Salvador to hear election results as they came in, then there was music by Juanito Figueroa, Revolucion Guanaka and DJ Mastervision.
The Minnesota FMLN Committee organized for the past two years to support the FMLN campaign in El Salvador, including educational events, parties and many fundraisers. The election night celebration brought out a large number of Salvadorans to share this historic victory.
The Salvadoran right wing tried to win the election with crude anti-communist propaganda, outright threats – backed up by menacing statements against the FMLN from Republican congress people in the U.S. – and by trying to tarnish the image of Mauricio Funes. But Funes is a well-known, respected journalist in El Salvador. Despite a blistering non-stop propaganda campaign against Funes and the FMLN, the right wing was not able to win with these scare tactics this time around, as they have been able to in past elections.
Cherrene Horazuk, former national director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) who has been involved in solidarity work with the FMLN since the 1980s, spoke at the Minnesota FMLN event about the importance of international solidarity in counteracting the right wing fear campaign. Horazuk emphasized that CISPES has always fought against U.S. intervention in El Salvador so that the Salvadoran people can decide their own fate without fear of U.S. war or manipulation. She said, “We had a significant victory the week before the election when CISPES helped force the U.S. State Department to officially declare their neutrality in the election, to counteract threats made by Republican congressmen who were trying to scare Salvadorans into voting for the right-wing ARENA party again. Defeating this fear campaign was a real contribution to Salvadoran self-determination. When the Salvadoran people were allowed to choose with less fear of U.S. intervention, they chose the FMLN.”
The election of the FMLN in El Salvador continues a shift to the left throughout Latin America and removes the far right wing ARENA party, one of the former Bush administration’s closest allies in the region, from power.