Elections and Events 2000-2009


Booth 2006:  “ARENA’s losses in the 2000 elections resulted in a major reshuffling of ARENA’s executive committee, including the resignation of its director, former president Cristiani” (page 112).

Código electoral.  Elecciones 2000, 12 de marzo 2000:  Laws governing the upcoming elections.

Luciak 2001:  “Three months before the March 2000 elections, the PD reconstituted itself as the Partido Social Demócrata” (page 142).  “For the March 2000 election the newly formed PSD allied itself with Rubén Zamora’s Convergencia Democrática…and formed a coalition named Centro Democrático Unido.  This coalition competed with the FMLN for the votes of the moderate Left” (page 143).  “At the time of the 2000 election campaign, [FMLN] internal squabbles had destroyed the effective organization that women had built in 1997 to advance female candidates” (page 223).  “While the number of female candidates did not decline substantially in 2000—only two fewer female members were nominated—not a single woman obtained the top position on any of the candidate lists” (page 224).

The state of democracy:  democracy assessments in eight nations around the world 2002:  “After the 2000 assembly elections, the Electoral Tribunal (TSE) cancelled the registration of five parties, including those of the [CDU] coalition which won three Assembly seats on 5.38 per cent of the national vote” (page 30).

March 12:  congressional and municipal election

Allison 2006:  “In 2000, the FMLN rebounded from the previous year’s poor showing in presidential elections.  For the third consecutive legislative election, the FMLN increased both its vote and seat share in winning a plurality of seats with thirty-one.  The FMLN was followed closely by ARENA, which captured only twenty-nine seats despite having won a slightly higher share of the total national vote relative to the FMLN (36% to 35%).  These elections were a remarkable accomplishment, as for the first time and in only its third attempt, the FMLN became the largest party in the country’s unicameral legislature” (page 59).

Artiga-González 2000a:  “Participación en elecciones legislativas por departamento, 2000” (page 269).  “Participación en elecciones legislativas por cabeceras, 2000” (page 270).  “Participación electoral, educación e ingreso” (page 271).  “Distribución de diputados por departamento, según población y cociente electoral” (page 283).

Boletín electoral:  órgano informativo del Tribunal Supremo Electoral enero-abril 2000:  “El 12 de marzo, un millón 263 mil 229 ciudadanos acudieron a emitir el sufragio” (page 3).  “Las votaciones iniciaron a las 7 de la mañana, para ello, el Tribunal habilitó 380 centros de votación para recibir a 3 millones 19 mil 193 ciudadanos aptos para votar.  Para evitar aglomeraciones el TSE dispuso en los 262 municipios del país, 8 mil 358 JRV’s; es decir, 226 más que en las Elecciones de 1999” (page 4).  “Las personas No Videntes votaron por primera vez mediante el sistema Braille, lo cual les permitió que el voto fuera secreto según lo establece el Art. 78 de la Constitución de la República” (page 5).  “En los comicios de este 12 de marzo participaron nueve partidos políticos” (page 6).  “Algunos de estos partidos políticos desaparecieron por no alcanzar el 3% de votos válidos.  Ellos fueron:  Partido Unión Social Cristiana (USC), Partido Demócrata (PD), Partido Convergencia Democrática (CD), Partido Liberal Democrático (PLD) y Partido Popular Laborista (PPL)” (page 7).  “En estas elecciones participaron 1,848 candidatos a Diputados, entre propietarios y suplentes, tanto para la Circunscripción Nacional, como para las Departamentales.  En nuestro país existen dos tipos de elección de Diputados: veinte Diputados al Parlacen y ochenta y cuatro a la Asamblea Legislativa.  De estos últimos, veinte Propietarios y sus respectivos Suplentes corresponden a la Circunscripción Nacional.  Los otros 64 corresponden a las 14 Circunscripciones Departamentales” (page 8).  “En lo que respecta a la distribución del género en la Asamblea Legislativa, para el período 2000-2003, los resultados reflejan la poca presencia del género femenino dentro de ella.  Los únicos partidos que cuentan con la participación de mujeres Diputadas propietarias y suplentes son ARENA 7, PDC 3 y FMLN 21” (page 9).  “Resultados oficiales del Escrutinio Final” (pages 20-31).  Detailed results by municipality for each election.  Includes “Distribución por género de concejos municipales electos para el período 2000-2003” and “Distribución por género de diputados electos para el período 2000-2003.”  “Reporte de carnet electorales entregados para las elecciones de marzo 2000” (page 55). 

Booth 2006:  “The FMLN again benefited from the growing unpopularity of ARENA’s policies and became El Salvador’s largest political party following the 2000 municipal and legislative elections.  The FMLN gained four seats in the Legislative Assembly and won 77 (ten in coalition races) mayoralties.  In what was expected to be a preview of the 2004 presidential election, FMLN coalition candidate and San Salvador mayor Hector Silva soundly defeated ARENA candidate and businessman Luis Cardenal in the mayoral race in the capital…The PCN continued to take advantage of ARENA’s losses, gaining three seats in the legislature and 15 mayoralities.  Many, however, chose not to vote.  As evidence of the decreasing confidence in Salvadoran politics, voter turnout was only 38 percent—down from 45 percent in 1997” (pages 112-113).

Central America report March 17, 2000:  “The ex-guerrilla [FMLN] becomes the largest single party in the national legislature by gaining 31 of the 84 seats to the 29 won by the ruling [ARENA]…Meanwhile, the FMLN wins 30 more of the 262 mayoral seats, bringing its total to 78.  Perhaps the biggest victory was the re-election of San Salvador Mayor Hector Silva” (page 1).  “The [PDC] won five seats in the legislature, the [CDU] won 3, while the [PAN] came away with 2.  Turnout for the elections was moderate, with about 50% of the 3.2m registered voters going to the polls” (page 2).

Central America report November 28, 2003:  “In the 2000 municipal elections 22 women had won office” (page 4).

Country profile.  Guatemala, El Salvador 2000:   “In the March 2000 mid-term elections, the FMLN benefited from a protest vote against the Arena government.  The former guerrilla organisation won 31 seats in the Legislative Assembly, making it the largest party in the 84-seat unicameral Congress.  FMLN also took the municipalities in most major cities, including the capital, San Salvador” (page 45). “Election results, Mar 2000” (page 45).

Country report.  Guatemala, El Salvador May 2000:  ARENA “suffered an overwhelming defeat in legislative and municipal elections held on March 12th, losing the majority it held since 1988 in the 84-member unicameral Asamblea Nacional…The FMLN won 31 seats to Arena’s 29.  The remaining seats were divided among the smaller centre-right and centre-left parties.  Low voter turnout—less than 35% in the legislative election—pointed towards a general dissatisfaction with politicians, but a major municipal election in San Salvador saw a much higher turnout when Héctor Silva, the city’s highly respected mayor, was returned to office with more than 60% of the vote…The left-wing FMLN also won control in nearly all major municipalities—including San Salvador, the capital—extending its reach in 14 provinces…The big winner in the March 2000 elections was the PCN, which garnered votes from disgruntled Arena supporters and also benefited from the allocation of residual votes.  Although it only won 8% of the vote outright, the PCN was awarded 14 seats—equivalent to 16%—in the Legislative Assembly” (pages 31-32).  “El Salvador:  election results, Mar 2000” (page 32).

Guía de elecciones 2003:  “Alcaldes, síndicos y regidores por departamento y municipio.  Período 2000-2003” (pages 31-41).  For each department and municipio gives the composition of the concejo municipal, including the number of síndicos, regidores propietarios, and regidores suplentes.  “Escrutinio final de concejos municipales elección 12 de marzo de 2000” (pages 97-104).  “Votos válidos a nivel nacional elección de concejos municipales” (page 105).  “Votos válidos a nivel nacional elecciones 2000 elección de diputados” (page 106).  “Resultados elección de circunscripción nacional y diputados al Parlamento Centroaméricano” (page 107).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report March 28, 2000:  “The legislative elections took away Arena’s slender majority over the FMLN, and made the front the country’s biggest party, just eight years after it signed the peace accords and laid down its weapons.  The FMLN won 31 seats to Arena’s 29 in the 84-seat assembly.  While Arena’s number of seats remained unchanged, the FMLN took four more from the minority parties…The FMLN leadership said it was aware that the electorate, only a third of which bothered to vote, was telling the politicians that all tendencies should pull together to maintain democratic stability…In the local polls, the FMLN held San Salvador, where mayor Héctor Silva was re-elected, and won control of 78 of the country’s 262 town councils, including the main provincial centres.  In 1997 it won only 48.  Arena remains the party with the largest number of councils under its control, with 127, 34 less than in the last elections” (electronic edition).

Luciak 2001:  “The March 2000 elections were a great disappointment for the [Centro Democrático Unido].  It failed to obtain the 6 percent of the vote required for the partners in an electoral alliance to maintain their legal status.  The FMLN, on the other hand, became the strongest party in parliament” (page 143).  “While the FMLN increased its number of deputies from twenty-seven to thirty-one, only seven women were elected to the FMLN bench, a loss of two seats.  This outcome reduced female representation on the FMLN bench from 33.3 percent to 22.6 percent.  Women’s representation also declined in ARENA, the governing party, from four to one representative.  Although ARENA gained one seat in the elections overall, the party’s showing was considered a defeat” (page 224).

Monterrosa B. 2000:  “Las elecciones celebradas en El Salvador el 12 de marzo del año 2000, tuvieron el propósito de elegir los 262 gobiernos municipales de todo el país, los 84 diputados de la Asamblea Legislativa y la representación salvadoreña en el Parlamento Centroamericano” (page 25).  “Instituciones y procedimientos electorales” (pages 28-33).  “Partidos políticos” (pages 35-39).  “Desarrollo de las elecciones” (pages 39-43).  “Clima político electoral” (pages 43-44).  “Resultados electorales” (pages 44-47).  “Consolidado nacional de las elecciones para concejos municipales.  El Salvador, 12 de marzo del 2000” (page 48).  “Consolidado nacional de las elecciones para diputados.  El Salvador, 12 de marzo del 2000” (page 49).

Montgomery 2000:  “To almost everyone’s surprise, the FMLN came roaring back in the 2000 local elections, virtually matching ARENA’s popular vote, winning for the first time more seats in the Assembly than its political nemesis (thirty-one to twenty-nine), and increasing by thirty the number of municipalities it would control for the next three years to seventy-eight.  ARENA’s hold on municipalities continued to decline, dropping to 124” (page 482).  “After the 2000 elections, 29 of 262 mayors were women; all but three belong to ARENA.  Two are FMLN, the third a Christian Democrat.  In the Legislative Assembly, nine of eighty-four deputies are women; three each belong to the FMLN and ARENA, two to the Democratic Party, which split from the FMLN in 1994, and one is PDC” (page 486).  “The 2000 elections… suggested that the FMLN was both learning to govern and to campaign.  The seventy-eight FMLN-controlled municipalities, including eight of fourteen departmental (provincial) capitals, meant that, at the local level, the former rebels governed well over 50 percent of the Salvadorean population” (page 489).

NotiCen March 16, 2000:  “Former [FMLN] guerrilla leader Hector Silva won re-election as mayor of San Salvador, swamping conservative [ARENA] candidate Luis Cardenal in the March 12 voting.  The governing party lost its slim edge in the legislature as the two major parties split the congressional vote…Four smaller parties will now hold the balance of power in the 84-seat Legislative Assembly…ARENA won a majority of mayoral races in eight departments to four for the FMLN.  The [TSE] reported that the FMLN had added 24 municipal mayoralties to its total, taking 78 of the 262 contested races.  ARENA dominated in the overall count, winning in 124 municipalities, but the FMLN won in 12 municipal races in the all-important department of San Salvador, while ARENA took only six…(T)he FMLN did not achieve a majority in the Assembly.  The FMLN now has 31 of the 84 seats, ARENA 29, the [PCN] 14, with 10 seats going to three smaller parties…(I)nternational election observers concluded that the voting procedures were cumbersome and open to fraud and vote tampering…About 38% of eligible [voters] cast ballots” (LADB).

Resultados oficiales en las elecciones para concejos municipales y diputados, 12 de marzo de 2000 2000:  “Resultados electorales oficiales” (pages 329-360).

Revista electoral: órgano informativo del Tribunal Supremo Electoral septiembre 2000:  “(U)n millón 194 mil 523 ciudadanos votaron el pasado 12 de marzo, en el cual el voto masculino participó con 605 mil 462 sufragios y el género femenino 589 mil 061 votos” (page 5).  “Reporte de votantes en elecciones del 12 de marzo de 2000” (page 6).  “Nómina de diputados y alcaldes de la república electos el 12 de marzo de 2000” (pages 18-34). 

Wade 2003:  “The 2000 municipal and legislative elections made the FMLN the largest political party in the country and secured its presence in some of the largest municipalities, including those in the coffee growing regions of the west…While the FMLN gained four seats in the Legislative Assembly, it increased its number of mayoralties from 51 in 1997 to 77 in 2000.  As in 1997, ARENA posted significant losses in the municipal elections, down to 127 from 162 in 1997 and 207 in 1994” (page 102).  “ARENA nominated Luís Cardenal, considered by many to be a moderate among the right, as its candidate in the 2000 San Salvador mayor’s race against the FMLN coalition Mayor Héctor Silva” (page 143).  “Cardenal lost the election to Silva, 57 percent to 39 percent” (page 144).  “(T)he CDU learned the same lesson in the 2000 elections that the PD learned in 1997:  the center of Salvadoran politics is a virtual no man’s land” (page 161).

Walter 2000c:  Discusses the election (pages 637-638).

Williams 2003:  “(I)n the 2000 legislative and municipal elections, the [PDC] managed to win just 7% of the vote, giving it six seats in the Legislative Assembly and eighteen municipalities” (page 316).

March 13

Crónica del mes.  Marzo 2000:  “(E)l 13, el TSE reveló los resultados preliminares de las elecciones:  el FMLN tendría 31 diputados, dos más que ARENA.  Por su parte, el PCN se posicionaba en la tercera posición con 14 diputados, seguido por el PDC con 5…Ese mismo día, el atribulado Cristiani apoyaba la necesidad de que el partido de gobierno experimentara cambios que le procuraran una estabilidad política mejor para las próximas elecciones…(L)a dirigente arenera Gloria Salguero Gross calificó de catastróficos los resultados electorales” (page 323).

Luciak 2001:  “The day after the March 2000 Salvadoran elections, Gloria Salguero, president of the Salvadoran parliament and head of the governing ARENA party during the 1990s, met with several colleagues from the Left and proposed collaboration.  She wanted to use the waning days of the legislature to introduce a constitutional amendment modeled after the Argentine law that would require all political parties to institute a 30 percent female quota for candidates for public office…In the end the effort failed” (page 229).

March 17

Crónica del mes.  Marzo 2000:  “El 17, a la luz de la publicación de resultados cada vez más definitivos sobre las elecciones, se supo que el FMLN gobernaría aproximadamente un 40.48 por ciento de la población nacional debido a los municipios que había ganado.  En el gran San Salvador, este partido estaría a la cabeza de más del 88 por ciento de la población, frente a casi un 12 por ciento de ARENA” (page 323).


Central America report May 5, 2000:  “Following the painful results of the March 12 legislative and town elections, the ruling [ARENA] party has recognized the need for a change.  A first move was the resignation of [ex-president Alfredo] Cristiani [as party chief] on April 6” (page 5).


Central America report May 19, 2000:  “Three right-wing political parties, including [ARENA], recently joined together to keep the leftist [FMLN] party from holding the presidency of the legislature.  Historically, the majority party has held the presidency of the National Congress” (page 3).


NotiCen October 18, 2001:  “ARENA president Walter Araujo…took over after former President Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994) stepped down in June 2000” (LADB).


Central America report August 11, 2000:  “Representatives from the Legislative Commission for Electoral Reforms met in mid-July with authorities of the national registry (RNPN) and the [TSE], to discuss two principal issues:  the issuance of voter identification cards, and a residential voter program…The RNPN has already begun work on the ID program…The voter ID program, involving 28 municipalities, would begin April 2001 and take approximately two years to be fully integrated” (page 8).


Central America report October 20, 2000:  “The election of seven new members to the National Executive Committee (COENA) of the ARENA has been considered a party renaissance and a step toward better representation of constituencies, but others say there is no reason to celebrate.  The party convened on September 30 to elect the 13 officials charged with directing the party, and some analysts say the results only confirm the influence of veteran politicians…The so-called renovation resembles a publicity campaign more than a new political plan” (page 5).


Central America report December 8, 2000:  “On November 23, President Francisco Flores brought his country one step closer to being the first in the region to dollarize its economy by presenting Congress the Monetary Integration Bill…Congress passed the law on November 30” (page 1).

Country report.  Guatemala, El Salvador February 2001:  “In a series of rapid-fire moves, Mr Flores pushed a new monetary law through Congress with a 49-vote majority on November 30th that allows the use of the US dollar as legal currency from January 1st…This policy change was generally unexpected, and has been strongly opposed by the FMLN” (page 34).

Guía de elecciones 2003:  El Partido Fuerza Cristiana es “inscrito como partido político el 6 de Noviembre de 2000” (page 48).


Zamora 2003:  “(E)l cambio más radical se introduce en la XIII Convención Nacional Ordinaria del 17 de Diciembre del año 2000, cuando se aprobaron las reglas y los organismos para desarrollar elecciones primarias como forma de escoger a sus autoridades a nivel local, departamental y nacional, incluyendo al Coordinador Nacional (Secretario General), así como para los cargos de elección popular.  De esta manera el FMLN rompía con la tradición del centralismo democrático…Desgraciadamente las expectativas no se han correspondido a las realidades, pues las dos primarias que el partido ha celebrado en 2001 y 2002, más bien han profundizado las divisiones al interior del mismo” (page 82).


Booth 2006:  “Two major earthquakes in January and February 2001 compounded the effects of El Salvador’s economic slowdown” (page 113).

Central America report October 26, 2001:  “Beer baron Roberto Murray Meza’s election as president of [ARENA’s] executive council ends the party’s recent internal conflicts…Murray was unanimously elected as the ARENA party’s new leader by the party’s 1,312 council members.  His election also had support from former presidents Alfredo Cristiani and Calderón Sol and current president Francisco Flores” (page 7).

NotiCen October 18, 2001:  “El Salvador’s governing [ARENA] has installed a new executive council (Consejo Ejecutivo Nacional, COENA) dominated by business leaders.  The new council is supposed to unify and modernize the party in preparation for elections in 2003 and 2004, but some party factions, including influential party founders (fundadores), are not satisfied with the changes.  The shake-up in leadership follows a period of decline during which ARENA lost ground in the Legislative Assembly…ARENA also lost the San Salvador mayoral race to FMLN candidate Hector Silva in 2000” (LADB).


Booth 2006:  “In a highly controversial move, Flores successfully pushed through the dollarization of the economy in January 2001” (page 113).

Country profile.  El Salvador 2002:   “January 2001:  The government allows the use of US dollars at an exchange rate fixed by law (c8.75; US$1) in all transactions, and forces prices to be given in US dollars” (page 6).

Country report.  Guatemala, El Salvador February 2001:  “On January 13th an earthquake with an intensity of 7.6 on the Richter scale struck 55 km off the coast of El Salvador.  With the epicentre located at the midpoint of the country’s Pacific coast, the effects were felt across the country…More than 700 people have been confirmed dead and at least 63,000 homes have been destroyed.  The political map was altered drastically, at least in the short run, by the earthquake…The political difficulties of managing the country’s disaster response have been exacerbated because the national emergency disaster agency is administered by conservative Arena appointees” (page 33).


Country report.  Guatemala, El Salvador May 2001:  “On February 13th the central portion of the country was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale…The second earthquake, although lower on the Richter scale, caused more damage because it affected more densely populated areas…The total effect of the two earthquakes was to leave dozens of small towns virtually razed…So many buildings were destroyed or rendered unsafe that 1.3m Salvadorans (one in six people) were made homeless…Reconstruction will be a monumental task, and will have far-reaching effects on the country’s national accounts, politics, social stability and potential for growth” (page 35).


NotiCen October 18, 2001:  “In May, [ARENA] party divisions erupted when Interior Minister Mario Acosta resigned to work exclusively on party issues, announcing he wanted to head COENA—a challenge to Araujo” (LADB).


Guía de elecciones 2003:  El Partido Social Demócrata es “inscrito como partido político el 25 de junio de 2001” (page 49).


Central America report August 2, 2001:  “On July 15, [FMLN] reformist members held an assembly in which 9,000 supporters participated.  Orthodox members called the meeting illegal…Both factions are preparing for upcoming November internal elections, to be conducted for the first time by direct and secret balloting.  The voting lists were closed July 25, with a registered 75,000 voters.  Reformists have already begun campaigning, calling for transparent elections” (page 3)


Central America report August 2, 2001:  “(I)nternal differences have turned into outright battling between orthodox FMLN members and those calling for ideological party reform.  Analysts say both factions are battling over control of the party’s future, and the battleground is marked by the recently-formed National Transitory Commission (CNT), which will direct the party until internal party nominations are held on November 25.  Before the CNT, the party was governed by two bodies—the National Council (CN) and the Political Commission (CP)—both controlled by orthodox members.  When the two councils’ mandate ended on June 30 and July 31, respectively, orthodox FMLN leaders Schafick Handal and Salvador Sánchez Cerén said getting rid of them would not be so easy.  Orthodox members maintain their control of the party, via the newly-formed CNT, composed of 63 orthodox members and only 17 reformists.  However, in an act of protest, the 17 reformist members refused to accept their nominations, saying the CNT has no legal basis” (page 3).

NotiCen October 18, 2001:  “Araujo resigned under fire on Aug. 16 and was replaced not by Acosta but by beer magnate Roberto Murray Meza, who had been ARENA’s director of economic and social affairs.  Along with Araujo, all COENA members also resigned, clearing the way for a major overhaul…Mercedes Gloria Salguero Gross, a party founder and member of the Liga Areneros al Rescate (LAR), said Araujo’s departure was a good thing, giving the party time to regroup for the next elections.  Fundadores set up LAR during the Araujo presidency to push for reforms” (LADB).


Country report.  El Salvador November 2001:  “Six weeks after being appointed interim president of Arena’s executive council, Roberto Murray Meza was elected at the party’s convention on September 30th to continue in the post for a two-year term.  Mr Murray’s election was a widely hailed compromise solution to the divisions that had hurt the party during the 18 months that Walter Araujo, the current president of Congress, headed the executive council…Also elected at the convention was an entirely new executive council that includes six other high-profile businessmen known to be close to the new president…For the first time in the 20-year history of Arena, no congressmen form a part of the 13-member council…This change is intended to energise the party ahead of congressional and municipal elections in 2003 and the presidential election in 2004, helping to remove the public perception that Arena is controlled by large landowners who are united primarily by an opposition to communism” (page 11).

NotiCen October 18, 2001:  “On Sept. 30, [ARENA’s] General Ordinary Assembly confirmed Murray Meza as president and elected a new COENA.  The officers will serve a two-year term taking the party through the 2003 elections…Eight of the 13 new members, including Murray Meza, are high-powered business executives…[Gloria] Salguero Gross, who apparently wanted a place on COENA, said the election of so many officers from business had ‘privatized’ the party.  She told Prensa Grafica that she felt ‘defrauded’ by the results, in part because the rejection of her bid for a spot on COENA had diminished the representation of women at the top of the party” (LADB).

NotiCen April 24, 2003:  Gloria Salguero “left [ARENA] in 2001, saying that she no longer felt represented by COENA” (LADB).


Central America report October 26, 2001:  “On October 1, the Honor Tribunal of the [FMLN] announced the expulsion of Facundo Guardado, leader of the party’s reformist wing, former national coordinator and ex-presidential candidate…FMLN orthodox leader Shafick Handal [discusses reasons for the expulsion]…(T)he party lost its legal status after failing to obtain the minimum required votes in the election” (page 6).

Country report.  El Salvador November 2001:  “Mr Guardado had been trying to move the FMLN towards the centre of Salvadoran politics in order to position it to win the presidency in 2004.  His expulsion highlights the continued dominance of the party by its orthodox socialist faction.  Since the end of the civil war in 1992, the FMLN has generally been under the control of this faction.  Mr Guardado’s removal is an attempt by the orthodox socialists to increase the likelihood that its candidate for the party’s presidency, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, is elected at the general party convention on November 25th” (pages 12-13).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report October 30, 2001:  “El Salvador’s [FMLN] has expelled historic leader Facundo Guardado and is on the verge of a split due to clashes between the hard-line communists and social-democratic ‘renovators’ in its ranks” (electronic edition).

NotiCen October 11, 2001:  “Renovadores marched in protest to FMLN headquarters on Oct. 4 demanding reinstatement of Guardado and some 8,000 other renovadores who supposedly are being cut from the party membership rolls to give ortodoxos an edge in the November party elections…Guardado is the second major FMLN figure to be expelled from the party in recent years.  In 1996, former FMLN guerrilla commander Joaquin Villalobos left after a similar internal struggle…This FMLN crisis threatens the party’s national standing since it has only a plurality—31 of 84 seats—in the Legislative Assembly, and half of those are either renovadores or terceristas.  Furthermore, should Mayor Silva leave the FMLN, the party would be deprived of its leading presidential contender to run against ARENA’s presumed candidate…in the 2004 election” (LADB).

NotiCen October 18, 2001:  “The FMLN recently expelled former presidential candidate Facundo Guardado for taking alleged centrist and pro-government positions.  The FMLN now is dominated by orthodox leftist thinking from the party’s guerrilla past, and ARENA is controlled by orthodox neoliberal economic interests” (LADB).

Wade 2003:  “On October 1, 2001, former FMLN presidential candidate and ‘Renovadores’ faction leader, Facundo Guardado, was expelled from the FMLN for ‘sins’ against the party” (page 104).  “San Salvador Mayor Héctor Silva threatened to leave the FMLN in protest” (page 105).


Central America report December 7, 2001:  “On November 25, 2001, the ex-guerrilla [FMLN] party holds the first election in its history to choose new leaders.  The most important post under consideration is the party’s general coordinator…Candidates for general coordinator were three former combatants:  Salvador Sánchez Cerén, head of the FMLN congressional block and backed by the orthodox wing; Francisco Jovel, who represents the reformist wing; and Gerson Martínez, whose group promotes itself as the third, independent alternative…The party also elected departmental and municipal coordinators, representatives to the National Council (the party’s highest decision-making body) and departmental and municipal directors…According to the FMLN’s orthodox leaders, the elections by secret ballot put an end to a vertical process for choosing political leaders” (page 7).  Gives details.

Country report.  El Salvador February 2002:  “The FMLN’s internal elections on November 25th resulted in an overwhelming victory for the faction led by orthodox socialists” (page 11).  “The takeover of the party by the orthodox socialists is in part driven by a desire to keep the FMLN a strident opponent of government policies, but they have long alienated both moderates within the party and ordinary voters who had been hoping for an alternative to Arena” (page 12).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report October 30, 2001:  On November 25, “80,000 [FMLN] party members will have the opportunity to cast a secret ballot to elect those who will occupy more than 4,000 party posts, including the seats on the national directorate” (electronic edition).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report December 4, 2001:  “The Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) broke new ground in Salvadorean politics on 26 November when it held primary elections to select a new leadership.  The outcome confirmed the continuing dominance of the ‘orthodox’ faction, whose candidate, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, swept the board with 54% of the vote to become the party’s  new coordinator-general…He comes from leading the FMLN’s bloc in congress—the largest there.  His line is to adhere to ‘socialist principles’ and maintain party unity at all costs…[He] predicted that the FMLN’s experiment with internal democracy would ‘spell the beginning of the end for Arena’” (electronic edition).

NotiCen December 6, 2001:  “The [FMLN] elected a preponderance of orthodox officers to head the party for the next three years…In its Nov. 25 internal elections, in which nearly 80,000 members were eligible to vote, reformist candidate Francisco Jovel, Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the orthodox faction, Gerson Martinez of the neutral or tercerista faction, and independent Angel Enriquez vied for the post of national coordinator of the FMLN.  Before the elections, reformers accused orthodox leaders of preparing an electoral fraud…Sanchez Ceren, a former FMLN guerrilla commander and current leader of the FMLN Legislative Assembly delegation, won the election and will take over as national coordinator when the newly elected leadership takes office at the local and national levels for three-year terms on Dec. 16…Replacing Jovel as FMLN Assembly leader was Jorge Schafik Handal…The dual victory gave the ortodoxos complete control of the party and ensured that the FMLN would go into the next national elections with its traditional socialist orientation intact” (LADB).

NotiCen February 21, 2002:  “The FMLN held internal primary elections Nov. 25 that gave the left-wing orthodox faction (Corriente Revolucionaria Socialista, CRS) a firm grip on power” (LADB).  Discusses fraud charges.



NotiCen February 21, 2002:  “In January, reformers told a news conference that the six reform deputies had joined deputies from other minor parties in some kind of alliance…Reformers are calling their group the Movimiento Renovador” (LADB).


Country report.  El Salvador May 2002:  “Just seven months after gaining the post, Roberto Murray Meza stepped down as president of the ruling right-wing [ARENA] on March 18th…According to Arena leaders, Mr Murray’s resignation represented a natural progression in the party from modernising mode…to campaigning mode.  However, Mr Murray had been appointed in September 2001 to a two-year term, and his early resignation has led to much speculation” (page 12).

Guía de elecciones 2003:  El Partido Centro Democrático Unido es “inscrito como partido político el 14 de marzo de 2002” (page 50).

NotiCen April 18, 2002:  “The reformist (renovador) faction of the [FMLN] has announced it has established itself as a new political party and will seek a legislative alliance with one or more of the small parties in the Legislative Assembly and try to run candidates in the 2003 elections.  In early March, the renovadores made a formal break with the FMLN and declared themselves a new party to be called the Partido Movimiento Renovador (PMR) with a social-democrat orientation.  Former presidential candidate Facundo Guardado is the provisional president of the party…The PMR will have five seats in the Assembly…For legislative purposes in the Assembly, the PMR is moving toward an alliance with the [PDC], which holds four seats, and the [PSD] with one…(T)he defection of the former FMLN deputies changes the landscape in the 84-seat Assembly.  ARENA has 28 seats and the FMLN has been reduced from 31 to 26 after the expulsions” (LADB).

Wade 2003:  “The formal expulsion of five ‘Renovadores’ deputies from the FMLN in March 2002 was merely another setback for the unity of the party” (page 105).


Country profile.  El Salvador 2002:   “April 2002:  Six legislators are expelled from the [FMLN], ending the party’s status as the largest in the legislature” (page 6).  FMLN “progress in consolidating its gains since [the election] has been hindered by party infighting, and by the refusal of the dominant extreme-left faction to accept a shift in party ideology towards the centre.  This refusal led to the expulsion from the party of six relatively moderate, reformist legislators in early 2002.  The FMLN has also been uncompromising in rejecting the possibility of an opposition coalition with smaller centrist and leftist parties” (page 7).

Guía de elecciones 2003:  El Partido Movimiento Renovador es “inscrito como partido político el 25 de abril de 2002” (page 52).

Wade 2003:  “The definitive split [in the FMLN] came…in April 2002 when the ‘Renovadores’ announced they were forming their own political party, the Partido Movimiento Renovador (PMR)…The PMR, which will be a social democratic party, has expressed interest in building alliances with other parties, including the CDU, PDC and PSD, but not ARENA or PCN” (page 105).  The PMR president is Facundo Guardado (page 106).


Central America report May 24, 2002:  “The [FMLN] has established a strategy for the pre-electoral season with the hope of winning the 2004 elections.  A recent communiqué presented a series of criticisms of the current government as well as an outline of the FMLN’s policies…The release of the report, entitled ‘FMLN Strategy 2002-2004,’ calls for the creation of a ‘revolutionary government’ if the FMLN wins the 2004 presidential elections…The report mentions two major reasons for the FMLN’s relative unpopularity as a political party:  a diffuse organization and party isolation.  The document fails to mention the internal crisis the party is currently facing” (page 8).


Country report.  El Salvador November 2002:  “With the FMLN expected to lose some ground to Arena in the legislative election, much campaign attention will be centred on municipal elections, particularly in the capital city of San Salvador.  In the capital Arena is making a serious bid to unseat the popular FMLN mayor, Héctor Silva, who is running for a third term.  Municipal elections will focus more on personalities than parties, and the new Arena leadership demonstrated its political pragmatism by wooing the highly popular education minister, Evelyn Jacir de Lovo, to enter her first partisan electoral race.  In August she resigned her ministerial post to do so” (page 13).

Zamora 2003:  “Una vez liquidada la división entre Ortodoxos y Renovadores, con la salida de los principales dirigentes renovadores y su decisión de fundar un nuevo partido (Partido Movimiento Renovador), en la XV Convención Ordinaria—el 13 de Agosto del 2002—, la dirección del FMLN sometió al pleno un conjunto de reformas estatutarias” (page 83).


NotiCen September 12, 2002:  “Hector Silva, twice [FMLN] mayor of San Salvador, has decided to run for another term, but this time he insisted on running as a coalition candidate.  Putting a pluralist face on his candidacy meant that the FMLN would have to support candidates of the coalition parties in other municipalities…Facundo Guardado, president of the MR, favored the plan…But the MR hope for inclusion was not to be.  The FMLN, still smarting from the bitter dispute that resulted in the far-left faction’s breaking off from the party, closed that door permanently.  The MR was excluded from consideration…After a month of negotiation, Silva’s coalition consisted of the FMLN, AP, CDU, and Iniciativa Ciudadana” (LADB).  Describes agreement.


Guía de elecciones 2003:  Acción Popular es “inscrito como partido político el 10 de octubre de 2002, con valores basados en el Humanismo Cristiano” (page 47).  El Partido Popular Republicano “se inscribe como partido político el 10 de octubre de 2002” (page 51).


Central America report November 22, 2002:  “On November 2, [San Salvador mayor, Héctor] Silva announced that he would not be standing for re-election in the important municipal elections in 2003.  He said his decision responded to a letter from the FMLN leadership, requesting that he step down.  Silva’s resignation precipitated the withdrawal of a number of smaller parties from a coalition with the FMLN.  The center-left parties indicated that, without Silva they could not sustain their alliance…Some see Silva’s resignation as an important step to opening a third political space, in which social and Christian democrat parties will coalesce.  [CDU and AP] are two parties currently discussing this option.  Both parties have separated from the FMLN coalition since the Silva split.  CDU and AP have been approached by the Democratic Christian Party, MR and the Social Democrat Party” (pages 1-2).


Central America report April 23, 2004:  “The implementation of the Plan Mano Dura…in 2003 involved police intervention which, at the same time, triggered a process of reforms and amendments to the Criminal Code and its processes, eventually leading to the Anti Youth Gang Law.  The new law was strongly supported by the executive but much criticized by academics, human rights groups and opposition parties” (page 3).

Country report.  El Salvador February 2003:  “Demonstrating the influence of its modernising members, and its political acumen in selecting a candidate relatively untainted by party politics, Arena has nominated the popular education minister, Evelin Jacir de Lovo, as its candidate for the San Salvador mayoral contest…With Mr Silva’s exit from the race at the end of 2002, and his replacement with a relatively unknown FMLN member, Carlos Rivas Zamora, a victory for Ms Lovo seems assured” (page 13).

Guía de elecciones 2003:  “Datos generales” (pages 10-11) for the elections of March 16, 2003 include the facts that there are 14 departments; 262 municipios; 3,537,091 “inscritos en el Padrón Electoral;” the “total de Diputados a elegir” includes “84 Propietarios y 84 Suplentes;” there are 11 “partidos políticos contendientes;” the “período para propaganda de Diputados [es] 2 meses antes del día de la elección;” the “período para propaganda de Concejos Municipales [es] 1 mes antes del día de la elección;” and the “toma de posesión Diputados y Concejos Municipales [es] 1 de mayo de 2003.”  “Diputados a la Asamblea Legislativa” (page 30).  For each department gives the population as of the 1992 census, the number of “diputados propietarios,” and the number of “diputados suplentes.”  “Los candidatos inscritos a Diputados al Parlamento Centroamericano son electos por un período de cinco años…En las elecciones del 16 de marzo de 2003 no se elegirán Diputados al Parlamento Centroamericano, hasta la elección de 2006” (page 31).  “Partidos políticos inscritos para las elecciones 2003” (pages 42-52).  For each party gives the president, the address, telephone number, and leading officials.  “Candidatos para las alcaldías de las tres ciudades más importantes de El Salvador” (pages 53-54).  “Coaliciones para diputados a la Asamblea Legislativa elecciones dos mil tres” (page 54).  “Coaliciones para concejos municipales” (pages 55-61).  “Centros de votación a nivel nacional” (pages 67-93).

NotiCen November 20, 2003:  “Using a primary election system for the first time, a new figure emerged, previously untested in politics—Antonio Saca.  Saca, at age 38, is best known as a radio broadcaster and—like his adversary in the FMLN—never finished college, is of Palestinian origin, and hails from the department of Usulutan…In this campaign, the selection of vice-presidential running mates has proven almost as interesting.  Saca indicated long ago that he wanted a woman to accompany him on the ticket, but only recently did he choose Ana Vilma de Escobar, a former director of the Instituto de Seguro Social and, perhaps more importantly, a professional who worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for some ten years” (LADB).

NotiCen November 20, 2003:  “One novelty of this election has been the entrance into the race of Hector Silva, a two-time FMLN mayor of San Salvador, who has consistently polled as one of the most popular politicians in the country.  He decided to accept the nomination of the left-of-center Centro Democratico Unido (CDU) and the right-of-center PDC, reportedly after polls convinced him that he would have a shot at displacing the FMLN and making it into a runoff…Silva personally selected as his running mate Ana Cristina Sol, a businesswoman and a former ambassador…In recent years, she was one of the founders of the Movimiento Independiente pro Reforma Electoral (MIRE), which has sought to reform the electoral and party system” (LADB).

NotiCen November 20, 2003:  The PCN, “a right-wing and occasionally populist party that constitutes the third-largest block in the Asamblea Nacional, selected long-time congressman and party stalwart Rafael Machuca, less because of what he has to offer than because of a lack of viable alternatives.  For a running mate, the PCN chose Genaro Ramirez, a bus-company owner.  He will likely provide hundreds of buses for transporting PCN supporters come election day” (LADB).

NotiCen November 20, 2003:  “In addition to playing with a media stacked in its favor, ARENA recently joined forces with the PCN to defeat the implementation of the long-awaited system of residential voting.  This would have quadrupled the number of voting stations throughout the country, making it much easier for both rural and urban voters to get to the polls and quicker for them to vote once they got there.  This year Salvadorans will be voting with the newly issued single-identity card (Documento Unico de Identidad, DUI), a computer-generated photo id, which provides the basis for an electoral registry of more than 3.3. million Salvadorans.  A residential voting system would likely have increased the number of voters even beyond that of the past March elections, whose high turnout reversed a decade-long decline in voter participation.  But such a reform would have robbed ARENA and the PCN of the opportunity to engage in clientelistic practices such as bussing their supporters to the polls on election day” (LADB).

Primer informe centroamericano de gobernabilidad jurídica e institucional 2007: El Salvador 2007:  “Antes del año 2003 el procedimiento de registro en El Salvador era bastante complicado, sobre todo para los ciudadanos del área rural, quienes tenían que desplazarse a la delegación más cercana del TSE para solicitar su inscripción en el Registro Electoral y obtener, posteriormente, su carné electoral.  Las delegaciones del TSE normalmente estaban ubicadas en las alcaldías de las cabeceras departamentales.  Además, la inscripción en el Registro Electoral no era requisito suficiente para ejercer el sufragio.  El ciudadano interesado debía estar en posesión de su carné electoral, el cual no se obtenía el mismo día en que solicitaba su inscripción sino en fecha posterior” (page 130). 


Country report.  El Salvador February 2003:  “Campaigning for the municipal and legislative elections in March 2003 began in earnest in early January.  Eleven political parties have registered.  Most of these, however, are likely to have little impact” (page 12).

March 16:  congressional and municipal election

Allison 2006:  “The FMLN continued its legislative success in the most recent legislative elections of March 2003 retaining the same number of deputies (thirty-one) and increasing its lead over ARENA from two to five seats” (page 59).

Artiga-González 2003:  “Voto por concejo municipal ‘versus’ voto por diputados en elecciones 2003 (en porcentajes)” (page 230).  “Diferencias entre votos ‘municipales’ y ‘legislativos’” (page 230).  “Votos y escaños, en elecciones legislativas (2003)” (page 234).

Booth 2006:  “The FMLN maintained its 31 seats in the Legislative Assembly while ARENA lost two seats in the 2003 municipal and legislative elections.  Additionally, the FMLN retained its mayoral post in San Salvador despite losing very popular two-time mayor Hector Silva as a candidate” (page 113).

Central America report March 21, 2003:  “In contrast to the March 2000 congressional elections, the FMLN received more votes than ARENA, outpolling the ruling party 34% to 32%.  However, both of the two major parties lost votes relative to 2000 as smaller parties increased their representation…The PCN received 13% of the vote and will increase its representation in the Congress by three seats.  Analysts say the PCN has served as a close ally that allows the ARENA to obtain a majority for its programs.  Together, the ARENA and the PCN will control 43 of the Legislature’s 84 seats, the bare minimum necessary for a majority…In the showcase matchup of the municipal elections, FMLN candidate Carlos Rivas Zamora beat out ARENA candidate Evelyn Jacir de Lovo for the San Salvador’s mayor’s post.  Rivas defeated de Lovo by a 49% to 42% margin in a race that pre-election polls had declared a dead heat…Overall electoral participation has plummeted since the signing of the Peace Accords.  In 1994, 53% of registered voters participated in the presidential elections.  In the 2000 Congressional elections only 35% of eligible voters participated.  This year’s elections saw that number increase slightly to around 40%” (page 3).  “Political composition of Congress (#seats)” (page 3).  Gives by party the number of seats in the new congress, in the previous congress, and the change between them.

Central America report April 25, 2003:  “ARENA’s unexpectedly poor showing in the recent elections have left it as the second largest party in the Congress, four seats behind the FMLN, which now holds 31 seats.  It is the first time in ARENA’s 13 years of government that it has not been the largest party in the legislature…Although various factors impacted on the results of the recent elections, one important element, say analysts, was the country’s economic stagnation, reflected in a per capita economic growth rate that is very close to zero over the last three years.  Meanwhile, income coming from family remittances continues to mask domestic economic slowdown” (page 4).

Central America report November 28, 2003:  “In the legislative and municipal elections of last March only nine women were elected to the 84-member legislative assembly.  Seven were from the [FMLN] and two from ARENA.  In the town elections 17 women were chosen out of 262 municipalities.  Ten women mayors are from ARENA, five from the FMLN, two from the [PCN] and one from the coalition FMLN-CDU…In the 2000 municipal elections 22 women had won office.  The fact that this year nine of the 17 recently elected women mayors were re-elected is a clear sign that many of the women who take office are capable of maintaining voter confidence” (page 4).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 37 2003:  For the March 16, 2003 elections for the Legislative Assembly gives the structure of parliament, number of members, term of house, date of last elections, goal of elections, electoral system, background and outcome of the elections, and statistics (pages 54-57). 

(CIDAI) Centro de Información, Documentación y Apoyo a la Investigación 2003:  “El 16 de marzo de 2003 se realizaron en El Salvador las primeras elecciones municipales y legislativas del siglo XXI, cuyos resultados no dejaron de causar sorpresa, tanto entre los partidos políticos contendientes y sus dirigencias, así como también entre los analistas” (page 171).

Country profile.  El Salvador 2004:   “In the legislative election in March 2003 the FMLN gained 31 legislative seats, the same number as it obtained in 2000, while it lost control of eight municipalities, bringing its total to 77, from 84 in 2000” (page 10).

Country report.  El Salvador May 2003:  “The legislative and municipal elections of March 16th proved disappointing for the ruling right-wing party, [ARENA].  It lost two seats in the legislative poll, bringing its representation down from 29 to 27 seats in the 84-member congress, compared with 31 for the main opposition party, the leftist [FMLN].  In the municipalities, Arena won 109 mayorships, compared with 126 in 2000…Taken as a clear signal of voter dissatisfaction with the policies of the Flores administration, in office since 1999, the election results quickly spun the party into disarray” (page 12).  “Legislative election results” (page 13).  “Arena had chosen the education minister, Evelin Jacir de Lovo, whose popularity among moderate voters was borne out by pre-election polls, in its bid to take the capital city.  However Ms Lovo was unable to gain the support of old-time Arena loyalists, while the FMLN benefited from a good record of governance during Mr Silva’s term of office.  As a result, a relative unknown, Carlos Rivas, was able to win by a comfortable margin” (page 13).  “(T)he party that appears to have gained the most influence in the March poll is the PCN, El Salvador’s third largest party.  The party has benefitted from the system of residual voting, which gives third parties seats despite weaker voting strength…It appears also to have benefitted from a huge protest vote, enabling it to increase its share of the legislative vote by 70%; to increase its representation in congress by two seats, to 16; and to increase its number of mayoralties—mainly in the provincial capitals that have traditionally formed Arena’s political base—from 33 to 52.  At present, neither the FMLN nor Arena can pass legislation without the support of the PCN…Two other parties gained seats in the legislature.  The renascent Centro Democratico Unido (CDU), a centre-left party that includes former moderate FMLN members, gained five seats, up from just one in 2000…The influence of the Partido Democrata Cristiana (PDC) continues to decline from its height in the 1970s and 1980s, but it managed to win five seats.  Six other parties that took part in the election failed to receive 3% of the total vote and as a result are no longer recognised officially” (page 14).

Crónica del mes.  Marzo-abril 2003:  “Las primeras justas electorales del siglo XXI fueron, sin lugar a dudas, el hecho de mayor trascendencia en El Salvador, durante el mes de marzo.  El domingo 16, unos 3.5 millones de salvadoreños fueron llamados a emitir el sufragio para elegir a los 262 concejos municipales y a los 84 diputados que fungirán en los próximos tres años.  Nueve mil 27 urnas estaban dispuestas en 362 centros de votación, con una oferta de 11 partidos en contienda—seis de los cuales, de acuerdo a los resultados definitivos, desaparecerían del espectro político, debido al escaso caudal de votos obtenidos” (page 295).

Documento especial 2003:  “Tribunal Supremo Electoral.  Consolidado nacional de las elecciones para concejos municipales. 16 de marzo de 2003” (page 326).  At department level.  “Tribunal Supremo Electoral.  Consolidado nacional de las elecciones para concejos municipales. 16 de marzo de 2003” (pages 327-340).  At municipal level.  “Tribunal Supremo Electoral.  Consolidado nacional de las elecciones para diputados.  16 de marzo de 2003” (page 341).  At department level.  “Tribunal Supremo Electoral.  Consolidado nacional de las elecciones para diputados.  16 de marzo de 2003” (pages 342-355).  At municipal level.

Gould 2008:  “In 2003 the FMLN was swept from office in nearly all the municipalities it had won in 1997 and 2000.  Objective and structural reasons account for much of the failure of the leftist municipal governments to maintain political support.  With an extremely limited financial base and a national government in the hands of the rightist ARENA party, the municipal governments had limited means and space for an agenda of social change.  Yet equally decisive in the local failures were FMLN national politics and policies that had decidedly negative effects on local activists.  In particular, the sectarian split between the Ortodoxos (putatively leftist) and Renovadores (centrist) wreaked havoc locally” (page 277).

Keesing’s record of world events March 2003:  “In elections to the Legislative Assembly (the unicameral legislature) held on March 16, the ruling centre-right [ARENA] won 27 seats whereas the main opposition party, the leftist [FMLN] secured 31 seats…In simultaneous municipal elections, the FMLN secured control of city councils in seven of the 14 departmental capitals, including the capital, San Salvador.  Overall, ARENA secured control of 106 out of 262 municipalities, whereas the FMLN won 74” (page 45282).  Gives results of the election.

NotiCen April 24, 2003:  The Partido Popular Republicano (PPR) “failed to win any seats in the March 16 election, but [Gloria] Salguero refused to see that as its death knell” (LADB).

NotiCen November 20, 2003:  “The CDU-PDC coalition got a combined vote of 190,976 last March, compared with 446,381 for ARENA and 475,146 for the FMLN” (LADB).

Zamora 2003:  “El FMLN logró aumentar su votación en casi 50,000 sufragios para diputados y un poco más de 60,000 para Consejos Municipales, pero no pudo aumentar el número de asientos legislativos, redujo de 80 a 74 el número de Consejos Municipales ganados, y disminuyó su participación electoral en un 1%” (page 113).

March 18

Central America report March 21, 2003:  “ARENA, while insisting that it was content with the results, immediately set about rethinking its strategy for next year’s presidential elections.  After the elections, the former president of El Salvador Armando Calderón Sol who serves as ARENA’s honorary president, asked for the resignation of members on ARENA’s National Executive Council (COENA), the party apparatus that nominates candidates, and demanded its restructuring…On March 18, Archie Baldocchi, who served as COENA president, resigned his post because of the disappointing election results.  Salvadoran president Francisco Flores has proposed that de Lovo become the new head of COENA, arguing that it was important to increase the political participation of women ahead of the presidential elections” (page 3).

Central America report April 25, 2003:  “Shortly after the election, ARENA leaders announced a party restructuring that would make selection of candidates a more democratic process and might even allow for selection of the party’s presidential nominee in primary elections.  The first step in the restructuring was the removal of all COENA members, largely businesspeople who critics said held little attraction for middle and working-class voters” (page 5).


NotiCen April 24, 2003:  “The humiliating defeat that El Salvador’s ruling [ARENA] party suffered in recent countrywide elections has reportedly resulted in the most profound internal purge and reorganization in its 21-year history.  The changes represent the first time that leadership has been chosen by rank-and-file members.  The base chose to oust nearly all the party’s leadership group, the Consejo Ejecutivo Nacional (COENA), at an Extraordinary General Assembly attended by 2,275 delegates.  They named Antonio Salaverria Borja party president and replaced 12 of COENA’s 13 members…The new leader, Salaverria, is a coffee magnate and an ARENA deputy in in the Asamblea Legislativa…The purge at the top is just the beginning of a planned cleansing that will go to the roots of the party.  Within its first 60 days in command, COENA will restructure the leadership throughout the country, from sector leaders to departmental leaders to municipal leaders.  Once that is done, plans call for the development of mechanisms for the election of a presidential candidate…The COENA sweep is the first step in a comprehensive overhaul whose aim is recovering voters who have strayed over the years, and that depends in part on bringing back some party stalwarts…(T)he most important is [Gloria] Salguero, who was a founder of ARENA 21 years ago…But Gloria Salguero has moved on.  As important as she may be to the reunification of ARENA, she is also the pivotal figure in a new party she founded, the Partido Popular Republicano (PPR)” (LADB).  Gives biographical information on COENA members.


Central America report June 13, 2003:  “Calderón Sol registered on May 28 as a candidate, announcing that the party had not found anyone else who could attract votes” (page 8).


Central America report June 13, 2003:  “After its disappointing performance in the March legislative elections, ARENA announced that it would allow more openness in selecting its presidential nominee.  However, Mario Acosta Oertel, vice president of ARENA’s [COENA] told a local newspaper that the party had now ruled out open primaries, preferring to keep the process within the party apparatus.  Possible candidates include former presidents Armando Calderón Sol and Alfredo Cristiani and businessmen such as Antonio Saca, Roberto Murray Meza and Mauricio Sandoval” (page 8).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report July 22, 2003:  “Dan Fisk, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, recently signaled that the US would not be happy with a victory by the former guerrillas…(O)n 18 June, Fisk publicly expressed his distrust in the FMLN’s ‘commitment to democracy in El Salvador’…Fisk’s remarks, which were widely reported in the Salvadorean press, followed fast on the heels of those made by US Ambassador to El Salvador Rose Likins, who threatened US retaliation against the country if an FMLN president were elected, and said that US investment could pull out of the country as a result” (electronic edition).

NotiCen June 5, 2003:  “Against the preferences of their midlevel officials, and probably of the base as well, the FMLN leadership has chosen Jorge Shafik Handal as their candidate…But on July 27, the question will be thrown open to the party as a whole in a primary that will determine who will ultimately be on the ticket” (LADB).

NotiCen June 12, 2003:  “The US Embassy reacted quickly to recent polls showing that the [FMLN] was projected to be a likely winner in El Salvador’s presidential elections next year…The concerns may be rooted in the past, but they arose soon after the release of polls showing that the party of the left has a strong probability of wresting the presidency from the right-wing [ARENA] on March 21, 2004.  Both ARENA and the president it elected are sinking fast in the esteem of the electorate.  [U.S. Ambassador Rose] Likens is feeding a burgeoning fear on the political right in El Salvador at the prospect not only of an FMLN win, but a win that could bring Jorge Schafik Handal, a former communist, to the presidency…(S)he went on to say that, in the case of an FMLN victory, diplomatic relations ‘will be analyzed,’ and she restated her concern about the ‘democratic values’ of the FMLN and the future of US investments in El Salvador…Flores was making the most of the US-FMLN rift.  As he enters the last year of his term, his fortunes have sunk not only in the polls, but also within his own party.  The US State Department is currently his only visible means of support, not only in his current role, but also because he needs US support for his bid to become secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS) next year” (LADB).


Central America report June 13, 2003:  “The FMLN is planning to hold primary elections on July 27 to select its presidential candidate.  Possible nominees include Schafik Handal, leader of the party, journalist Mauricio Funes, businessman Arturo Zablah, Oscar Ortiz, current mayor of Santa Tecla, and Guillermo Mata Benfield” (page 8).

Central America report August 8, 2003:  “FMLN primaries were held on July 27, resulting in party founder Schafik Handal winning the candidacy for next year’s presidential elections…Despite not being the favorite in the polls, leftist leader Schafik Handal was elected by the party faithful as presidential candidate for 2004.  His victory was marred only by low voter turnout—only 38% of party members bothered to vote.  Of those who voted, 52.5% were in favor of Handal, with 47.5% choosing Oscar Ortiz, the only other candidate on the ballot paper” (page 1).  “In a July 23 press conference, El Salvadoran president Francisco Flores announced the beginning of a zero tolerance anticrime measure, which seeks to weaken gang structures within the country and imprison gang members…The anti-gang measure is being executed by the National Civil Police (PNC) in coordination with members of the Armed Forces” (page 8).

Central America report January 23, 2004:  “The choice of former revolutionary leader Handal as candidate…was not popular with modernizers within the FMLN, who felt he would limit the party’s mass appeal” (page 6).

Central America report July 9, 2004:  “On July 23 2003…Salvadoran president Francisco Flores launched the Plan Mano Dura...which seeks to dismantle youth gangs and imprison their members” (page 3).

Country report.  El Salvador August 2003:  “In mid-July the ruling [ARENA] chose Antonio Saca, the president of the influential Asociación Nacional de la Empresa Privada…as its candidate.  The selection process proved difficult, as it followed a series of internal disputes stemming from the party’s poor performance in the legislative election in March…Mr Saca obtained a near-unanimous (98% of votes cast) victory over [the vice-president Carlos Quintanilla] at the party convention on July 13th.  The broad acceptance of Mr Saca’s candidacy may signal an end to recent internal disputes.  Mr Saca’s emergence as Arena’s presidential candidate was sudden: the 40-year-old entrepreneur is a newcomer to party politics, and is relatively unknown to the wider public” (page 12).  “The presidential nominee of the [FMLN] will be decided at the party convention on July 26th.  There are two candidates:  the 73-year-old party leader and longtime head of the orthodox socialist faction, Schafik Hándal; and Oscar Ortíz, the mayor of Santa Tecla, who leads a group of younger FMLN members seeking to wrest control from the ageing leadership…Mr Hándal has the lowest ratings of any potential FMLN candidate in recent opinion polls.  In contrast, Mauricio Funes, a popular and well-respected journalist who had apparently considered running for president on an FMLN ticket, received the best ratings of any potential presidential candidate, from any party, in recent polls…However, Mr Funes’s candidacy was blocked by the FMLN leadership, which has insisted that the presidential candidate must be an official FMLN member” (page 13).  “In a meeting with officials of the US State Department in Washington DC on July 17th, FMLN representatives failed to win a pledge of US silence during the upcoming Salvadoran presidential campaign” (page 15).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report July 22, 2003:  ARENA “became the first political party to choose its presidential candidate in party primaries earlier this month.  Businessman Elías Antonio Saca will run on the Arena ticket having decisively beaten Vice-President Carlos Quintanilla…Saca won an unprecedented 98% of the individual votes.  Meanwhile, the leftist [FMLN], which holds a slight lead in opinion polls, revealed that it will hold its party primaries on 27 July…The FMLN’s presidential challenge has traditionally been undermined by its failure to unite behind one candidate.  The primaries will pit veteran hardliner and former Communist Party leader Schafik Handal, leader of a faction that has consistently fought off ‘renewalist’ challenges, against Oscar Ortiz, mayor of Nueva San Salvador” (electronic edition).

NotiCen November 20, 2003:  “Shafick Handal, the septuagenarian former head of the Partido Comunista, was nominated by an FMLN assembly in late July to be its presidential candidate.  He had the backing of the party’s political commission since May, which had expected an uncontested election until popular Santa Tecla mayor Oscar Ortiz threw his hat into the ring.  Some 30,000 party faithful (out of a registered 90,000 militants) voted in direct elections, but Shafick Handal beat Ortiz by only a little over 1,000 votes…Guillermo Mata, the former head of the medical association who led last year’s strike, ran unopposed for the vice-presidential nomination” (LADB).


Central America report September 19, 2003:  “On August 26, former San Salvador mayor Hector Silva announced that he would run for president in the March 2004 elections under the banner of the Centrist Coalition formed by the [CDU, PDC, IC] and other allied groups…The coalition is banking on capturing second place in the first round of elections, and, according to its leaders, winning the presidency in the second” (page 8).

Central America report February 27, 2004:  “In August 2003, the United Nations Human Rights Committee asked the Salvadoran government to reform the [1993] Amnesty Law so that it stops being a barricade that keeps those to blame for massacres at large.  However, Francisco Flores, the current Salvadoran president, has blocked all attempts to reform or revoke the law arguing that [it] is not convenient to ‘open up old wounds from the war’…The main opposition party, the [FMLN], has also done little to reform or revoke the law, possibly because ex-members of the guerrilla are also accused of involvement” (page 7).


Country report.  El Salvador November 2003:  “In October Mr Silva accepted the CDU’s presidential candidacy, in alliance with the centre-right [PDC]” (page 13).


Central America report November 28, 2003:  “In November [ARENA] selected Ana Vilma Alvarez de Escobar as its vice presidential candidate for the March 2004 elections.  The decision to include a woman on the ticket is ground breaking for the ARENA party and follows suit with ARENA’s move toward a more moderate or inclusive image.  The combination of tough measures against gangs and softening image in terms of leadership seems to be working with voters…The party earlier this year agreed that a woman would be Saca’s running mate, but they couldn’t decide who.  Alvarez was drawn from a list of six possibilities” (page 3).

Crónica del mes.  Noviembre-diciembre 2003:  “La jugada de ARENA incluyó la realización de la gira nacional de su candidato Antonio Saca, quien escogiera, el día 9 de noviembre, a su compañera de formula, la ex directora del Instituto Salvadoreño del Seguro Social (ISSS), Ana Vilma de Escobar…(L)as evidentes diferencias internas existentes en el partido de gobierno…llevaron, el día 12, a la renuncia del president del COENA, Antonio Salaverría y el director de ideología, Mario Acosta Oertel, hombre rígido en el partido” (page 1264).

NotiCen November 20, 2003:  “On Friday, Nov. 21, it may come as a surprise to many Salvadorans that the campaign to elect a new president officially kicks off.  With every utility pole in and around San Salvador painted the party colors of the governing ARENA party, and with the principal candidates appearing on posters, newspapers, television, and radio, this country has been in full campaign mode for months” (LADB).


Crónica del mes.  Noviembre-diciembre 2003:  “El Salvador cierra un año profundamente marcado por los procesos electorales, las negociaciones comerciales del tratado de libre comercio con Estados Unidos y una gama de problemas sociales irresueltos.  En esa dirección, los últimos meses del año han sido cruciales para definer, por un lado, el rumbo de la campaña electoral que llevará a los salvadoreños a elegir a su presidente el año próximo; por otro el fin del 2003 marca la finalización de las negociaciones que han realizado centroamericanos y estadounidenses para concreter un Tratado de Libre Comercio entre ambas regions” (page 1263).


Allison 2006:  “The FMLN was poised to mount a serious challenge in the March 2004 presidential elections after a strong showing in the 2003 legislative and municipal elections.  Similar to 1999 when the FMLN selected the former ‘comandante’ Facundo Guardado, the FMLN chose another former ‘comandante,’ Schafik Handal, as its candidate…As in 1999, the FMLN was criticized for selecting a candidate directly tied to its revolutionary period and not a candidate with widespread support amongst the general voting population…The campaign was a particularly intense and dirty one, dominated in the print and electronic media with images and references to Handal’s role in the violence of the 1980s and veiled threats from US functionaries as to the potential repercussions of an FMLN victory” (page 60).

Artiga-González 2008:  “A partir de 2004 se utiliza un nuevo documento único de identidad (DUI) que elimina los trámites adicionales que tenían que realizar antes los electores para inscribirse en el Registro Electoral y obtener su carné” (page 559).

Booth 2006:  “Combined with the FMLN’s momentum from the 2003 elections, it appeared that ARENA could lose the 2004 presidential elections.  To toughen its image prior to the 2004 presidential election, the Flores government pushed for harsh anti-gang measures.  Known as ‘mano dura’…, the legislation, which criminalized gang membership, was criticized by human rights advocates domestically and internationally…The FMLN, firmly in the control of the orthodoxos, was again unable to turn its electoral successes in the legislative and municipal races into a presidential win in 2004.  The selection of former commandante and Communist Party leader Shafick Handal as its presidential candidate was unpopular both at home and abroad” (page 113).

Central America report January 16, 2004:  “The four candidates taking part in the race to win El Salvador’s March 21 presidential elections are accelerating their campaigns using sweeping promises, catchy jingles and successive below the belt swipes at their opponents…Saca is using scare tactics to take [votes] from Handal.  In its party propaganda, ARENA says that if the FMLN wins, the US, never overly keen on Handal, could deport US resident Salvadorans back to El Salvador.  ARENA also says that if the FMLN wins the elections there could be a sort of ‘Cuban-style dictatorship’” (page 6).

Central America report February 20, 2004:  “The main Salvadoran media have been unwavering in their support for [ARENA] candidate Antonio Saca, who they see as a safe bet, given his background as owner of 12 radio stations…On television, the three leading channels…are unrelenting in their support for Saca, giving him space and turning minor activities in his electoral campaign into lead news items…Schafik Handal, on the other hand, is given very little space on these channels, and when he does appear the coverage is negative…Analysts in El Salvador believe that while the majority of voters have firm party preferences, the section of the population known as swing voters could well be swayed by press coverage…The media coverage and treatment received by the candidates in the last few weeks of the campaign could play an important role in helping these swing voters make up their minds” (page 3).

Central America report March 12, 2004:  “Less than two weeks before March 21 presidential elections, traditional adversaries Arena and the [FMLN] are once more battling for first place.  Arena has the advantage, and polls published at the start of the month put the rightwing party within sight of a first round victory.  The rivalry has produced violent clashes between the parties’ respective supporters, and verbal confrontation in their publicity campaigns.  A common theme has been El Salvador’s long civil war, in which members of both parties played decisive roles.  While media coverage has been clearly biased to the right, FMLN candidate Schafik Handal’s decision to accuse a television station of defamation in the midst of his campaign may turn out to be a costly mistake” (page 5).

Código electoral con sus últimas reformas.  Elección 2004 presidencial 21 de marzo 2004:  Laws governing the upcoming elections. 

Country report.  El Salvador June 2005:  “In 2004 the legislative assembly agreed to extend residential voting to the whole country by 2006” (page 13).

Crónica del mes.  Marzo-abril 2004 2004:  Discusses the campaign of misinformation directed at Schafik Handal to discredit him in the election (pages 345-346).

Primer informe centroamericano de gobernabilidad jurídica e institucional 2007: El Salvador 2007:  “Si bien la relación entre el RNPN y el TSE ha experimentado ajustes, la elaboración del Registro Electoral en 2004 puede considerarse como relativamente exitosa, particularmente en momentos difíciles de sustitución del viejo Registro Electoral basado en información obtenida directamente por el TSE, por uno nuevo basado en la información recogida por el RNPN” (page 131).


Crónica del mes.  Enero-febrero 2004 2004:  “(E)l 2004 ha iniciado con la etapa más decisiva de la campaña electoral.  Los salvadoreños cuentan desde enero con un mapa electoral suficientemente definido.  Tres partidos políticos y una coalición se disputan la presidencia de la República.  Un marcado antagonismo entre las fuerzas extremas, ARENA y el FMLN, es quizás la principal característica del sistema de partidos salvadoreño.  El [TSE] aparece como una entidad debilitada por su misma estructura interna, pero garantiza, en lo fundamental, la transparencia del proceso eleccionario” (pages 177-178).


Baker-Cristales 2008:  “In February 2004, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega admonished Salvadorans to vote for the party that shares the same values as the United States.  Later Otto Reich, the U.S. Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere, accused the FMLN of maintaining close relations with terrorist groups around the world and said, ‘I don’t think this would lead to good relationships between the United States and El Salvador if the FMLN wins’…Just days before the election, U.S. Congressman Thomas Tancredo…threatened to promote a new law that would impose controls on migrant remittances to El Salvador if the FMLN won the election.  Migrant remittances to El Salvador exceeded $2.5 billion in 2004 and were the single largest source of revenue for the country…ARENA highlighted these claims in campaign speeches and television commercials” (page 350).

Crónica del mes.  Enero-febrero 2004 2004:  “(E)l mes de febrero ha traído más de las elecciones.  La campaña sucia en contra del FMLN y su candidato se agudizó hasta llegar a niveles intolerables.  La satanización del proyecto efemelenista se asomaba desde inicios del mes…Mas este partido tampoco jugó limpio…Apropiado o no, lo anterior acarreó un coste político al candidato de izquierda, quien días después se viera marginado de una gira del secretario adjunto para asuntos hemisféricos de Estado Unidos, Roger Noriega, quien se reunió con los demás candidatos en contienda.  Noriega….recibió, el día 6 de febrero, a Antonio Saca, de ARENA; Rafael Machuca, del PCN; y Héctor Silva, de la Coalición…Horas después, Handal acusó al funcionario estadounidense de interferir en la política interna de El Salvador” (page 174).

March 7

Central America report March 12, 2004:  “During a simulated election carried out by the [TSE] on March 7, an electoral observer managed to enter the computer system and alter, in a massive way, the vote count in favor of one party.  Such a graphic demonstration of the [system’s] weaknesses has naturally raised concerns about the security of the elections…(A) major criticism of the TSE is that it includes…party figures who are in no way objective in their work.  The TSE is formed by one representative from each of three main parties and two members of the Supreme Court, raising questions about the autonomy it enjoys” (page 6).

March 21:  presidential election (Saca / ARENA)

Allison 2006:  “Though many had predicted that no candidate would receive a majority in the first round and that a runoff would be needed, Elías Antonio Saca of ARENA soundly defeated Handal in the first round with 57% to Handal’s 36% of the vote…While the FMLN vote total and share of the national vote have indeed increased since 1994, the party has been defeated by over 20% in each presidential election.  And in the most recent election, while polls indicated that a majority of the population wanted an alternative to ARENA, the FMLN could not convince the majority that they were the alternative” (pages 60-61).

Baker-Cristales 2008:  “The presidential elections of 2004 in El Salvador point to the power of migration, not simply as a discrete social process but also as a complex reimaging of national identity and the rights embodied in citizenship…Part of [Saca’s] electoral strategy was to claim that if his opponent Shafik Handal…were to win, relations between the United States and El Salvador would sour and the United States would deport Salvadorans living there.  U.S. government officials made frequent and often outlandish comments in the press that seemed to corroborate Saca’s claim…Salvadoran migrants in the United States are ineligible to vote in Salvadoran elections unless they return to that country.  The majority of Salvadorans in the United States are either undocumented or have only temporary forms of legal status that do not permit them to reenter the country once they leave, making voting an impossibility.  And for those who are citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States allowed to reenter the country after traveling abroad, the costs of traveling to El Salvador and taking time off of work are considerable…Migrants, physically absent but ever present, haunted the Salvadoran political landscape, with fears over migration-related issues shaping the outcome of the presidential election yet doing so without the actual participation of most migrants” (page 350).

Booth 2006:  “In the end, Handal’s unpopularity and U.S. interference in the elections thwarted an FMLN victory.  ARENA’s Saca easily defeated Handal in the first round of voting, 57 percent to 36 percent.  Former San Salvador mayor Hector Silva ran on the…Centro Democrático Unido—CDU…coalition ticket with the Christian Democrats, but the CDU-PDC failed to win 5 percent of the vote” (page 114).

Central America report March 26, 2004:  “Official results give Saca 58% of the votes cast, compared to the 35% obtained by Handal.  None of the smaller parties achieved the 3% of the votes required by law to secure their survival.  The election was characterized by massive voter turnout—in the end 2.2 million people went to the polls, representing 65% of all registered voters.  Higher turnout meant that both lead parties increased their total votes compared to the last elections, in the case of the FMLN by more than 200,000 votes…By fanning cold war style fears Arena achieved a major leap in overall turnout and in its vote count, and some believe that many non-Arena supporters voted Arena for fear of a Handal government…The Handal candidacy was questioned from the beginning within the FMLN, but the party’s traditional leaders pushed him forward.  Following the defeat there are already calls for a total change of leadership.  Handal and other party leaders are blaming the defeat on a dirty campaign by Arena, which also enjoyed the unconditional support of the vast majority of [the] country’s media, however questions about the wisdom of the Handal candidacy are unlikely to dissipate.  The youth wing of the party, led by Oscar Ortiz, mayor of Santa Tecla has called for the leadership of the party to step aside and allow internal elections to be brought forward from November…Handal however, remains defiant, and has closed ranks with his closest allies.  He has reacted angrily to calls for his resignation and for party elections” (page 2).

(CIDAI) Centro de Información, Documentación y Apoyo a la Investigación 2004:  “Las elecciones presidenciales de marzo dejaron como ganador al Partido ARENA, por cuarta vez consecutiva.  No se trató de una victoria pírrica, sino abrumadora.  Según el escrutinio final de votos, el partido de derecha obtuvo el 57.71 por ciento de los votos (1,314,436), seguido de lejos por el FMLN, con el 35.68 por ciento (812,519 votos).  Por su parte, los partidos coaligados CDU-PDC y el PCN obtuvieron el 3.9 y el 2.71 por ciento (88,739 y 61,781 votos), respectivamente” (page 227).  “El significado sociopolítico del proceso electoral” (pages 237-244).  Discusses the 2004 election. 

Country profile.  El Salvador 2004:   “Following a highly polarised election campaign, Arena won the March 2004 presidential election for a fourth consecutive term with its candidate, Mr Saca.  Relatively new to politics, Mr Saca won a resounding first-round victory, with 57.7% of the votes.  His nearest rival, Schafik Handal of the FMLN, obtained just 35.7% of the votes” (page 5).  “Presidential election results, Mar 2004” (page 5).

Country report.  El Salvador May 2004:  “Mr Saca gained the presidency by a margin of more than 500,000 votes (out of 2.2m cast).  A highly charged, polarised campaign attracted the largest voter turnout in history:  a turnout of 67% in March compares with an average of less than 50% in past presidential elections.  The result was a direct turnaround from the previous year’s municipal and legislative elections…It also reflected a continued pattern in which Salvadoran voters have increasingly tended to opt for the FMLN at the local and congressional level, but remain loath to give the party the reins of national government” (page 12).

Crónica del mes.  Marzo-abril 2004 2004:  “Los salvadoreños cerraron un nuevo ciclo electoral—abierto desde 2003—con la elección de los funcionarios que gobernarán el país desde las esferas central, local y legislativa.  El día 21 de marzo, poco más de tres millones de salvadoreños—3 436 898 ciudadanos inscritos en el nuevo padrón electoral—estaban convocados para elegir al presidente y vicepresidente que gestionarían la nación durante los próximos cinco años.  Con ello culminaba una intensa campaña electoral que dijo más de la capacidad de manipulación de los partidos y sus candidatos que de la discusión seria de una agenda nacional…(L)os salvadoreños retornaron a las urnas, registrando niveles inéditos de participación política.  La asistencia llegó al 67 por ciento de los ciudadanos inscritos en el padrón electoral, según el TSE” (page 343).  “El domingo 21 de marzo, un total de 385 centros de votación fueron instalados en todo el territorio nacional para que los ciudadanos ejercieran el sufragio…De acuerdo al TSE, un total de 8 mil 793 urnas esperaban a los casi 3 y medio millones de salvadoreños aptos para ir a votar” (page 346).

Grigsby Vado 2004:  Discusses the election.  “March 21, 2004:  electoral results by department” (page 30). 

Keesing’s record of world events March 2004:  “In a presidential election on March 21, Tony Saca (Antonio Elías Saca), 39, the candidate of the ruling centre-right [ARENA] secured a comfortable victory over his main rival, Schafik Jorge Hándal, 73, of the opposition leftist [FMLN].  Under the terms of the constitution, Saca’s margin of victory was sufficient to avoid a second round of voting.  The victory was ARENA’s fourth consecutive victory in presidential elections since 1989” (page 45892).  Gives results.

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report March 23, 2004:  “El Salvador’s ruling party, [ARENA], extended its 15-year monopoly of power with a resounding fourth consecutive victory in the presidential elections on 21 March.  With nearly 97% of the ballots counted, Arena’s Tony Saca took 58% of the vote.  Saca will assume the presidency on 1 June alongside Ana Vilma de Escobar, who becomes the first Salvadorean woman to be elected Vice-President…Schafik Hándal of the [FMLN] mustered a disappointing 36% of the vote.  The two minor parties—the coalition [CDU/PDC] and the [PCN]—failed to make any impression on the polls, managing a little over 6% between them…It served as a clear indication that El Salvador [remains] sharply polarised between the two main parties and that, in presidential elections, at least, third parties will continue to be squeezed out” (electronic edition).

NotiCen March 25, 2004:  Discusses the presidential campaign and election (LADB).  “More than 2.1 million of the nation’s 3.4 million eligible voters voted…(T)he CDU, PDC, and PCN will all cease to exist as a result of this election.  Parties need to get 3% of the vote to survive as parties, but in the case of coalitions, they need 3% times the number of parties…These results came as a shock to party leaders who were assured of a loss, but not of dissolution.  This is likely another consequence of a presidency-only election.  With no municipal or legislative posts at stake and their own candidates certain to lose, voting just to keep the parties alive was evidently insufficient incentive for their bases” (LADB).

Soto Gómez 2005:  “En las elecciones presidenciales del 21 de marzo de 2004, las primeras del siglo XXI, Tony Saca obtuvo la más alta cantidad de votos en la historia de El Salvador, compitiendo contra Shafick Handal del FMLN, Héctor Silva de la Coalición de los partidos PDC y CDU y de Rafael Machuca del partido PCN…Su compañera de fórmula es la licenciada Ana Vilma Albanez de Escobar, la primera mujer en la historia de El Salvador que ocupa esa alta distinción” (page 232). 

March 26

Consolidados nacional y departamental de las elecciones presidenciales 2004. 2004:  Gives final results for votes for four candidates at the national, departmental, and municipal levels, in addition to other electoral counts.

Crónica del mes.  Marzo-abril 2004 2004:  “El día 26, el TSE oficializó los resultados electorales, dando al partido ARENA el 57.71 por ciento de los votos válidos y al FMLN el 35.68 por ciento.  El resto de partidos, la Coalición CDU-PDC y el PCN no alcanzaron los porcentajes requeridos, quedándose al margen con un 3.90 por ciento y un 2.71 por ciento, en su orden.  Ese mismo día, el Tribunal declaró presidente electo a Elías Antonio Saca.  La vicepresidenta electa, Ana Vilma de Escobar, también recibió su credencial.  Según el tribunal electoral, la asistencia a las urnas llegó al 67.34 por ciento de los ciudadanos inscritos en el padrón electoral” (page 347).


Central America report April 23, 2004:  “Before the closing date for the Anti Maras Law, and before it was declared anti-constitutional by the Supreme Court of Justice, the government approved new temporary legislation to combat youth gangs…The decision to approve the new temporary law, which will last three months, was the result of a surprise agreement between [ARENA, PCN, and PDC]…Deputies of the [FMLN] refused to attend the session in Congress, stating that it would not lend its support to any hurried measures.  The [CDU] reiterated its dissatisfaction with the anti-constitutional nature of the new law” (page 3).

Central America report April 30, 2004:  “A study on women in El Salvador, released on April 16 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), confirms once again the inequalities that women face in political, social and economic life…Women currently hold only 2 of every 10 government posts, or 20%.  Only 10% of congressional deputies, 12% of cabinet ministers, 6.5% of mayors and 13% of Supreme Court justices are women” (page 6).

Central America report May 7, 2004:  “The PCN, the PDC and the CDU are all trying desperately to stay in business after failing to win the minimum number of votes required by electoral law during the March 21 presidential elections.  The PCN did not gain the 3% demanded by the law, while the PDC and the CDU, who entered as a coalition party, failed to win the required 6% of the vote…(I)n their last days of life, the parties are maneuvering desperately to avoid being disbanded.  They sought their first lifeline via a legislative decree which required the support of the FMLN and ARENA parties…The judiciary, however, has rejected the argument…Meanwhile, the Archbishop of San Salvador, Monseñor Fernando Sáenz, suggested on April 25 that the failure of parties with long histories in the country, such as the PDC and the PCN, could be due to the fact that they have abandoned their original political principles” (page 7).

Country report.  El Salvador May 2004:  “In the rest of the current Congress, all three parties [PCN, PDC, CDU] are likely to negotiate with both Arena and the FMLN to change the electoral laws to allow their continued existence.  If the parties do not manage to ensure their official survival in exchange for support in the legislature, they will be forced to change their names and re-register” (page 13).


Central America report June 18, 2004:  “The May 16 Extraordinary Convention to elect the [FMLN’s] delegate to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal marked the first test for the two groups [orthodox, reformists] following the presidential elections.  Political maneuvering by FMLN leadership prior to the convention excluded more than 100 delegates from the convention, leaving a majority of the 388 delegates present in favor of the ‘orthodox’ leadership…Hándal’s campaign manager Eugenio Chicas easily beat Julio Hernández (245 to 143).  In March, Hernández had publicly criticized Hándal’s candidacy and had been an outspoken party delegate to the Electoral Tribunal for the past five years” (pages 1-2).

Crónica del mes.  Mayo 2004 2004:  “El domingo 16 de mayo, el FMLN realizó una convención nacional bajo el asedio de la prensa.  Entre otras disposiciones, la cúpula del partido de izquierda dijo que no reconocía la victoria de Antonio Saca en las pasadas elecciones presidenciales; asimismo, ‘recomendó’ que ningún funcionario efemelenista asistiera a la toma de posesión del presidente electo” (page 479). 

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report May 25, 2004:  “Hándal continues to dictate to the moderate wing of the [FMLN], led by Oscar Ortiz.  The latest clash of wills is over the ceremony to swear-in President-elect Saca on 1 June.  Hándal continues to insist that Saca’s victory was illegitimate.  Last week, he managed to get a party convention to approve his initiative for all FMLN deputies to boycott the ceremony.  It would be the first time that the opposition had failed to turn up to the ceremony and a bitter blow to El Salvador’s fragile democracy…Ortiz told the convention that Hándal’s initiative was a serious mistake and liable to prove counterproductive, increasing support for Saca amongst a population tired of the country’s political polarisation” (electronic edition).


Country report.  El Salvador September 2004:  Hándal’s “decision to boycott Mr Saca’s [June 1] presidential inauguration was widely criticised from within the [FMLN] party’s ranks” (page 14).

NotiCen June 10, 2004:  “Tony Saca of [ARENA] assumed the presidency of El Salvador June 1, even as his adversary, Shafik Handel of the [FMLN] boycotted the ceremony, refused to congratulate the winner, and complained of irregularities in the March 21 electoral sweep that drew 70% of eligible voters and threw 57% of the votes Saca’s way.  The loser promised relentless opposition to the new regime, prompting a counterdemonstration of support from the international community” (LADB).


Crónica del mes.  Julio-agosto 2004 2004:  “En la disputa por la coordinación del partido [FMLN] se manejaban las candidaturas de Lorena Peña y Medardo González, por la llamada línea dura y de [Oscar] Ortiz y Hugo Martínez, por la vertiente ‘reformista.’  El día 5 de julio, se cerró el proceso de empadronamiento de los militantes que participarían en las internas del 7 de noviembre, resultando una cantidad de unos 87 mil inscritos en el partido.  El 7, el tribunal electoral del partido de izquierda oficializó el inicio del proceso electoral.  El 14, los máximos dirigentes históricos del partido, Salvador Sánchez Cerén y Schafik Handal, respaldaron públicamente al candidato Medardo González para las elecciones primarias” (page 814).


Central America report September 3, 2004:  “On 18 August, 32 prisoners were killed and 36 wounded during clashes between warring gangs and other inmates in El Salvador’s largest prison, La Esperanza.  According to the Deputy Minister for Public Security Rodrigo Avila, the riot was instigated by inmate members of a gang known as Mara 18…Despite similar explanations from other officials, the situation has generated fierce criticism of Antonio Saca’s government…(P)resident Tony Saca declared on 30 August that the ‘Super Mano Dura’ plan…had now come into effect…The ‘Super Mano Dura’ plan follows the ‘Mano Dura’ plan launched last year…The new plan is tougher than the first, and includes three to nine year prison sentences for gang members…The government has also announced a parallel plan, Mano Amiga” (page 7).

Country report.  El Salvador December 2004:  “El Salvador is the only remaining Latin American country to have troops in Iraq, after a third contingent of 380 soldiers was sent to the region in August.  Their mission is set to finish in February 2005, but there appears to be no firm decision as to future arrangements…The decision to continue to support the US-led alliance has not been popular at home, yet the political cost has been negligible to Mr Saca.  El Salvador remains one of the US’s staunchest allies in the region, and the Arena leadership immediately welcomed the re-election of the US president, George W Bush.  In return for his support for the Iraq war, Mr Saca will expect reciprocal support from Washington on trade and the temporary migratory status of thousands of illegal Salvadorans in the US” (page 13).

Crónica del mes.  Julio-agosto 2004 2004:  “(E)l 30 de agosto, el presidente Saca anunció la ejecución del Plan Súper mano dura, prometido durante la campaña electoral que lo llevó a la presidencia de la República…(C)omo uno de los hechos de mayor relevancia de la actual coyuntura política, destacó durante el mes de agosto la composición del [TSE] y los acuerdos alcanzados entre las fuerzas políticas para programar la necesaria reforma electoral” (page 820).


Central America report October 29, 2004:  “On September 27 President Antonio Saca announced the commencement of the ‘Friendly Hand’ plan, which will seek to rehabilitate members of juvenile gangs operating in the country.  The new initiative is a counterpart to the ‘Super Hard Hand Plan’ that aims at dismantling gangs” (page 6).

Crónica del mes.  Septiembre 2004 2004:  “En lo tocante a la actividad de los partidos políticos ha destacado, por un lado, la carrera al interior del FMLN por agenciarse el control del partido en los comicios internos de noviembre próximo. Por otro lado, en ARENA se ha marcado el inicio de la campaña nacional en la búsqueda por recuperar espacios de poder en las futuras elecciones legislativas y municipales de 2006.  Así, el FMLN siguió desgastándose debido a sus interminables disputas internas entre los llamado ortodoxos, liderados por Schafik Handal y los reformistas, cuyo máxima figura es el alcalde de Santa Tecla, Oscar Ortíz” (page 968).


Central America report October 22, 2004:  “On October 10…[the FMLN] announced its decision to abandon the ‘permanent dialogue’ set up by the ARENA government upon taking office in March…The FMLN explained that key political decisions were being made outside the political party forum, which had become a ‘propaganda’ instrument for the government of President Elías Antonio Saca.  The permanent forum included the official [ARENA] party, the FMLN, the [CDU], the [PDC], [and] the [PCN]” (page 3).


Central America report December 3, 2004:  “The internal elections of the [FMLN] on November 7 were marked by accusations of vote rigging and fraud by the two sides competing for party leadership:  the traditionalists and the reformists.  The traditionalists, led by Shafick Hándal, eventually won but the reformists are contesting the result…Just over half of the 90,720 party members voted for a new coordinator general to replace Salvador Sánchez Cerén.  Traditionalist Medardo González won with 54% of the vote, while his rival Oscar Ortiz took 46%...Hándal sympathizers now have 50 of the 55 available seats on the FMLN National Council, having won 34 of the 35 seats open to election” (page 3).

Country report.  El Salvador September 2004:  “On November 7th, the FMLN will hold their annual party Congress to [choose] the members of its governing body.  The outcome will determine the ideological direction the left-wing party will take, and its chances in the 2006 legislative and municipal elections.  Delegates to the Congress will vote to fill the 34 seats on the national council and also elect the heads of the party’s 14 provincial councils.  Once the national council is elected, it selects the members of the party’s ruling political commission, the body that ultimately decides party policy…Many members of the FMLN disagree with the uncompromising approach taken by Mr Handal and his allies in dealing with Arena…There is also frustration among many members that the party has failed to present itself as a viable election alternative to Arena…In early November, a group of former FMLN members, who had previously split from the party, announced the formation of a new centre-left party, Concertación Social Democrata” (page 14).

Country report.  El Salvador December 2004:  “Voting took place across the country and after a series of delays while controversies over alleged irregularities were resolved, Medardo González, a former guerrilla commander in the civil war and a representative of the orthodox hard-line wing of the party, was declared the winner as coordinator.  He beat Oscar Ortiz (the candidate of the reformistas, or reformists) by 53.9% to 46.1%.  Mr González will be in the post for three years, and his principal task will be to reunite the party to present a successful mid-term election campaign in March 2006…The hardliners…also strengthened their control over the national council (winning 51 of the 57 seats) which now allows them to choose a political commission with the same political views” (page 13).

Crónica del mes.  Noviembre-diciembre 2004 2004:  “El 6, en la víspera de los comicios internos, el evento electoral del FMLN se vio en vilo debido a que la tendencia ortodoxa había frenado la participación de los vigilantes del ala de Ortíz, con el pretexto de que muchos de ellos se hallaban inscritos en el extinto Movimiento Renovador…Así, el 7, el partido de izquierda realiza sus comicios y, al término de los mismos, el candidato oficial, Medardo González, se proclama ganador, aunque el Tribunal Electoral aún no daba los resultados oficiales.  El 8, el sector liderado por Ortíz pidió revisar las votaciones, en medio de denuncias por fraude; pero ese mismo día, el Tribunal Electoral declaró a González como coordinador general electo.  Días después, el 11, ese mismo organismo confirmó que la línea afín a Schafik Handal se hizo del control absoluto del órgano de dirección efemelenista, al agenciarse 34 de los 35 puestos en disputa.  Ortíz aceptó los resultados electorales, que al final se inclinaron para Medardo González, con un 53.93 por ciento del apoyo, y un 46.06 por ciento de los votos para su contendiente…Noviembre marcó el nacimiento de una nueva fuerza política, autodefinida de izquierda, pero distante del FMLN.  El día 14, los ex comandantes efemelenistas, Facundo Guardado y Salvador Samayoa, fueron las caras más conocidas en el lanzamiento oficial de un nuevo proyecto de izquierda llamado Concertación Social Demócrata” (page 1304).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report November 16, 2004:  “On 7 November, the [FMLN] held internal elections for the position of secretary general.  The upshot was that the orthodox faction saw their man, Medardo González, triumph over the reformist current, represented by Oscar Ortiz, the mayor of Santa Tecla.  Slightly over 50% of the FMLN’s 90,000 members turned out to vote…González continues the tradition of ultra-orthodox party leaders with strong links to the country’s violent past.  He took 54% of the vote as against 46% for Ortiz.  González served as campaign coordinator for Schafik Hándal in the run-up to the elections in March…An ominous warning was sent out to reformist ‘dissenters’ on 2 November when the FMLN party leadership expelled party deputy, Miguel Navarrete, for voting with Arena in congress on a fiscal-reform package” (electronic edition).

NotiCen November 11, 2004:  Discusses the FMLN internal elections (LADB).


Central America report January 7, 2005:  At “3am on December 17 2004, El Salvador ratified the Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the US, the first country in Central America to do so.  Deputies from [ARENA, PCN, and PDC] supplied the key votes in favor, which totaled 49 for versus 35 against” (page 1).  “Immediately after the ratification, President Antonio Saca expressed his satisfaction at the decision, adding that there was no place for ideological discussions regarding the treaty…The process of CAFTA’s negotiation and ratification is seen by opposition parties and various social organizations as the result of US-imposed ideas with the compliance of successive Salvadoran administrations to the detriment of the country” (page 2).

Crónica del mes.  Noviembre-diciembre 2004 2004:  “El 19, sorpresivamente, los diputados de la Asamblea Legislativa, con 49 votos, ratificaron el TLC con Estados Unidos, para que pase a ser ley de la República.  Entre gritos e insultos de los legisladores de todas las fracciones, el congreso salvadoreño fue el primero de los integrantes del tratado en ratificarlo” (page 1308).

Sonnleitner 2007:  “En el poder desde 1989, ARENA hizo de El Salvador el mejor alumno y un aliado incondicional de los Estados Unidos:  primer país en firmar y ratificar el TLC en Centroamérica (diciembre 2004), El Salvador no dudó en enviar tropas a Iraq y ha dolarizado su economía” (pages 198-199).


Central America report March 3, 2006:  “In 2005, a group of ten officials, including members of congress and mayors, left the [FMLN] and began a new left wing political party, the [FDR]” (page 2).


Central America report February 4, 2005:  “The opposition FMLN party is currently deciding what to do about its rebel deputies…who on January 19 voted in favor of ARENA’s proposed measure for financing the 2005 budget…The FMLN accuse ARENA of having ‘bought’ the deputies and of having bribed five more…The disciplinary wing of the FMLN…is currently putting together a formal complaint against the rebels, who many party members believe should now be expelled” (page 7).

Crónica del mes.  Enero-febrero 2005 2005:  “El 6, el [TSE] emitía una resolución por medio de la cual salvaba a los partidos PCN y PDC, luego que el mismo Código Electoral mandara que desaparecieran debido a que no alcanzaron el porcentaje mínimo en la pasada elección presidencial del 21 de marzo.  Los magistrados del TSE que votaron a favor de la resolución se habrían amparado en la Constitución, que garantiza el pluralismo político” (page 147).


Country report.  El Salvador June 2005:  “In March the legislative assembly voted to modify article 13 of the electoral code, in effect abolishing the system under which each party was allowed to nominate legislative candidates on a national list known as the ‘plancha nacional,’ as well as allocating seats on a departmental basis.  The parties used the list to place their most important candidates in safe seats.  With the change, all seats will be allocated on a departmental basis and consequently the number of deputies in each province has been increased proportionally to the size of the local population.   San Salvador, the most populous department has been allocated 25 seats” (page 14).


Country report.  El Salvador June 2005:  “(T)he existing fault lines in the FMLN between the radical wing (which now controls the party apparatus) and a more moderate faction will hinder the selection process for the party’s candidates.  An extraordinary party convention held in April voted to limit the eligibility to participate in internal primaries to those who have more than a year’s membership.  The meeting of 508 delegates from around the country rejected a proposal presented by some members of the party leadership to eliminate internal elections altogether” (page 13).

Crónica del mes.  Abril 2005 2005:  “(L)a dirección del FMLN—dominada por la línea ortodoxa del partido—aprobó un paquete de 26 reformas a sus estatutos, durante la celebración de la Convención Nacional” (page 415).


Crónica del mes.  Mayo-junio 2005 2005:  “(E)n el marco de los preparativos a las próximas elecciones legislativas y municipales de 2006, la cúpula del FMLN anunciaba que la candidatura oficial de ese partido para disputarse la continuidad en la alcaldía de San Salvador recaería sobre la actual diputada Violeta Menjívar, desechando el respaldo oficial al todavía alcalde, Carlos Rivas Zamora.  Este último había mostrado su descontento con la dirección del partido desde hace varios meses y se veía su marginación de las candidaturas para 2006.  El 13, el actual alcalde de San Miguel, Will Salgado, desechado por su partido para competir por el control de la municipalidad el año próximo, anunció públicamente su cambio a las filas del PCN, para buscar su reelección…Salgado, al igual que Rivas Zamora y el santaneco Orlando Mena, han sido marginados por sus respectivos partidos para colocar nuevas figuras al frente de las respectivas comunas.  Ese mismo día, el tribunal de ética del FMLN comunicaba al alcalde de Santa Ana, Orlando Mena, la suspensión del partido por dos años” (page 548).


Country profile.  El Salvador 2007:   “In June 2005 the FMLN suffered the loss of 350 party members—including two members of the Legislative Assembly and one mayor” (page 9).

Country report.  El Salvador September 2005:  “The resignations, the largest since a major split in 1994, were prompted by long-running internal disagreements between the ‘moderates’ and the current party leadership, which is under the control of a more radical ‘orthodox’ wing.  The resignations mean that the FMLN, which was previously the largest single party in Congress, now holds only 27 of the 84 seats in the legislature, down from the 31 seats it won in the 2003 elections—two other deputies were expelled last year.  Some of the dissidents have formed a new party, the [FDR], using the name of the party that formed a political alliance with the FMLN during the early part of the civil war.  The FDR is in the process of registering as a political party for the March 2006 elections, which means collecting 39,000 signatures to present to the [TSE]” (page 13).

Crónica del mes.  Mayo-junio 2005 2005:  “(E)l día 8, dos legisladores propietarios, dos alcaldes, un ex magistrado ante el [TSE] y unos 360 militantes llegaron a la sede del partido [FMLN] para interponer su renuncia del mismo…El 14…los dos diputados que días antes habían renunciado al FMLN se unieron con otros dos ex efemelenistas para dar vida al desaparecido Frente Democrático Revolucionario (FDR), instituto que fuera brazo político de la ex guerrilla del FMLN.  Los miembros dejaron las puertas abiertas a otros expulsados del partido de izquierda y declinaron de participar en las próximas elecciones, aunque aseguraron que habían iniciado los trámites para inscribirse legalmente ante el [TSE]” (page 554).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report June 2005:  “Ileana Rogel and Jorge Escobar resigned from the FMLN on 8 June citing serious differences with the party leadership, which they accused of being intolerant and authoritarian.  They joined with Miguel Angel Navarrete and Nicolás García, who were recently expelled from the party, to form a new party, the Frente Democrático Revolucionario (FDR)—named after the defunct political arm of the FMLN from the 1970s and 80s…The FDR was formed on 15 June…There has been no shortage of groups disillusioned with the orthodox party hierarchy splintering from the FMLN over the course of the last decade.  Joaquín Villalobos broke away in 1993 to form the Partido Demócrata; Facundo Guardado…was one of the founders of the Movimiento Renovador…Neither party prospered…To become a credible force the FDR will need to win over the reformist wing of the FMLN, led by the mayor of Santa Tecla, Oscar Ortiz.  This is a long shot.  Ortiz seems determined to work from the inside to dislodge Schafik Hándal’s Corriente Revolucionaria y Socialista faction from the party leadership.  Perhaps more worrying for Hándal was the decision by 300 party members…to resign along with Rogel and Escobar” (electronic edition).


Central America report July 8, 2005:  “In the last few weeks, the FMLN has lost three deputies, two mayors and over 350 local leaders…In the last few months, 500 ‘efemelenistas’ have publicly resigned, some of them abandoning the Front for other political movements with a similar ideology.  The politicians who have resigned belong to the…Fuerza de Cambio…which opposes the top ranking leaders’ orthodox methods.  The faction constitutes 40% of the party members.  The FMLN, the country’s second largest party, began Saca’s administration with a majority in the Legislature (31 seats).  The party now holds 27 seats, too few to veto projects backed by the Executive” (page 6).


Country report.  El Salvador December 2005:  “Three FMLN deputies, Celina Monterrosa, Arnoldo Bernal and Hector Cordova, resigned from the party in late September, joining four other ex-FMLN legislators in the dissident FDR.  Several leading mayors, including the incumbent in the capital, have also defected to the FDR, which claims to have as many as 30,000 ex-FMLN party followers” (page 13).

Crónica del mes.  Septiembre 2005 2005:  “Durante el mes de septiembre, la fracción legislativa efemelenista se redujo a 24 miembros, cinco por debajo de ARENA, y perdió tres alcaldes clave en el Área Metropolitana de San Salvador:  el de la capital, el de Mejicanos y el de Nejapa.  Antes había renunciado el alcalde de Santa Ana, al verse impedido a reelegirse por la cúpula de su mismo partido…(E)l primer día de septiembre, la cúpula del partido ARENA, el COENA, presentó sus candidaturas para ocupar su fracción en la legislatura que se definirá en las elecciones de marzo de 2006, guardando su puesto a la gran mayoría de actuales diputados.  La definición se hizo por el famoso ‘dedazo’” (page 868). 

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report October 2005:  “(T)he FDR has attracted hundreds of disillusioned grassroots members of the FMLN as well as high-profile figures such as the popular mayor of San Salvador, Carlos Rivas Zamora, and seven of the FMLN’s 31 legislators.  It was recognized as a political party by the supreme electoral tribunal on 20 September after presenting the requisite number of signatures” (electronic edition).


Guía de elecciones 2009 2008?:  El Plan Piloto de Voto Residencial “fue implementado en 2006 por Decreto Legislativo Número 842 aprobado el 13 de octubre de 2005” (page 17).


Country report.  El Salvador December 2005:  “Despite a last-minute rush to collect signatures, any hopes of the FDR to challenge the electoral strength of the FMLN were dashed by the [TSE], which rejected the party’s petition for registration ahead of the November deadline on the basis that it had failed to collect the required number of signatures.  Arena, the FMLN and PCN all voted down a motion presented before the legislative assembly by the FDR to authorise the party’s registration by legislative decree, thus overcoming the need to collect all the 29,000 signatures.  The FDR will join an alliance with other centre-left parties to challenge the FMLN vote in some areas of the country…In early November, with the support of the PCN and the PDC, Arena pushed through a series of administrative reforms to the electoral law” (page 14).  Gives details of changes.

Crónica del mes.  Noviembre-diciembre 2005 2005:  “(E)l día 2 de noviembre, el actual alcalde de San Salvador, Carlos Rivas Zamora, anunciaba que se postularía para reelegirse con la bandera del PDC, CD, PNL y FDR…Los alcaldes de las otras dos ciudades más importantes del país, el de Santa Ana, Orlando Mena y el de San Miguel, Will Salgado, llegaron a sus puestos con una bandera, pero buscan su reelección con otros proyectos políticos.  El día 10, el matutino ‘La Prensa Gráfica’ reveló los detalles de una entrevista realizada al presidente del Tribunal Supremo Electoral, el arenero Walter Araujo, quien anunció la imposibilidad de inscribir a tres partidos políticos que solicitaban participar en los comicios legislativos de 2006.  Dicha posición cierra la puerta a los partidos en formación [FDR]—escisión del FMLN—, Fraternidad Patriota Salvadoreña (FPS) y Partido Popular Social Cristiano (PPSC)—escisión de la Democracia Cristiana…Al día siguiente, el TSE convocó oficialmente a todos los ciudadanos inscritos en el cuerpo electoral para que acudan a las elecciones legislativas y municipales que se realizarán el 12 de marzo del 2006” (page 1209).


Artiga-González 2008:  “Sistema electoral para elecciones legislativas (2006)” (page 553).

Artiga-González 2008:  “Dos medidas administrativas…estaban en la agenda de la reforma electoral aún en 2006.  Por un lado, el paso del voto domiciliar al voto residencial y, por otro, el voto de los salvadoreños en el extranjero.  En ambos casos prevalece el cálculo partidista como criterio para la viabilidad de una reforma en cualquiera de estos sentidos…Mientras éstos tengan dudas sobre a quién pueda favorecer la adopción de tales medidas, es difícil que avance la reforma, especialmente si los partidos perciben que el favorecido pueda ser el adversario” (page 559).

Código electoral: elecciones para diputados al Parlamento Centroamericano, Asamblea Legislativa y concejos municipales.  12 de marzo 2006 2006:  Laws governing upcoming elections.

Country report.  El Salvador June 2005:  “For the first time in Salvadoran election history, residential voting will take place next year in six municipalities around the country…Between them these municipalities contain around 31,280 voters, out of a total electorate of 3.7m…Residential voting was first agreed upon by politicians (replacing a system where voting does not take place on the basis of where one lives, but rather where one was born or where one registered for an ID card at the age of 18) after the first post-war elections in 1994” (page 13).

Cultura política de la democracia en El Salvador, 2008.  El impacto de la gobernabilidad 2008:  “Después de las elecciones legislativas y municipales de marzo de 2006…, la Asamblea Legislativa aprobó un decreto por medio del cual se separan las fechas de las elecciones de 2009:  legislativas y municipales en enero, y las presidenciales en marzo” (page 4).

NotiCen June 15, 2006:  “Citizens are leaving the country in greater numbers than ever…Salvadorans left behind have become more dependent on the remittances (remesas) the successful economic refugees send home.  An estimated 2.5 million Salvadorans in the US, a third of their country’s population, sent back almost US$3 billion last year.  That amounts to 80% of the national budget, or 17% of GDP.  These figures are projected to go higher in 2006.  The Saca government and the [ARENA] governments that preceded it have cleaved, as has no other country in the region, to US policies.  First to pass [CAFTA] and last to abandon the US in its Iraq war, El Salvador has yet to see a benefit” (LADB).


Central America report March 3, 2006:  Shafik “Hándal died January 24, 2006, after suffering a stroke.  His death was followed by a massive public reaction that can only be explained by his long and prominent political career” (page 1).

Central America report June 8, 2007:  “Rodrigo Ávila [is] made chief of the National Police (PNC) in January 2006” (page 6).

Country report.  El Salvador March 2006:  “Rodrigo Avila, who served as the director of the Policia Nacional Civil…in 1994-99, returned to the post in January 2006…Mr Avila, a legislative Arena deputy and former deputy minister for public security, has pledged to introduce a much-needed witness protection scheme and to put more uniformed and plainclothes police officers on the streets.  The ‘maras’…will also be targeted…Despite several government anti-crime programmes launched since Mr Saca came to power in June 2004, violent crime rose by 33% in 2005, according to police figures” (page 14).

Crónica del mes.  Enero 2006 2006:  “El 5 de enero, el presidente de la República, Antonio Saca, oficializó el nombramiento de [Rodrigo] Ávila como nuevo director de la Policía Nacional Civil” (page 117).  “El 11, los partido políticos en contienda iniciaron la campaña para diputados, estando facultados para pedir el voto.  ARENA congregó a sus militantes en el municipio de Izalco, Sonsonate…Por su parte, el FMLN concentró a militantes y simpatizantes en San Salvador…Por otro lado, en Chalchuapa, Santa Ana, también en el occidente del país, el PCN congregó a unas dos mil personas para oficializar el inicio de la campaña para diputados…El 14, el PDC convocó a unas dos mil personas para los mismos fines” (page 120).  “El 16, coincidiendo con el decimocuarto aniversario de la firma de la paz, los partidos Cambio Democrático (CD), Popular Social Cristiano (PPSC) y la última escisión del FMLN, el Frente Democrático Revolucionario (FDR) lanzaron su plataforma legislativa…La coalición de partidos aspira a mantener una cuota de 14 diputados en la Asamblea Legislativa, para negociar con las dos fracciones mayoritarias” (page 121).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report February 2006:  “FMLN leaders claim that since Handal died…support for the FMLN has increased dramatically…Handal headed the orthodox faction of the FMLN that snuffed out any efforts to realign the party as a left-of-centre option to attract more voters.  Reformists in the party might sense an opportunity:  Handal was the main cause of division in the FMLN and many blamed the party’s crushing defeat in the presidential elections in 2004 on Handal’s insistence on standing...Sánchez Cerén, the party coordinator and Handal’s closest associate in the FMLN, was chosen as head of the legislative bloc in congress shortly after Handal’s death” (electronic edition).

NotiCen February 2, 2006:  “Handal was head of the Partido Comunista Salvadoreno (PCS) in El Salvador from 1972 until it merged in 1980 with four other leftist groups to form the FMLN, then not a political party but a revolutionary armed force that waged war against a string of right-wing military and military-influenced governments backed by US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush…Within the FMLN, the death of its standard-bearer and powerful leader left a momentary vacuum…The choice [of Sánchez Ceren] as head of the [FMLN] in Congress…snuffs reformists’ hopes of moderating the orthodox party line, at least with the elections looming.  Campaign coordinators are expecting a big boost from the voters in tribute, strengthening the orthodox faction” (LADB).


Country report.  El Salvador March 2006:  “During a visit to the White House by the Salvadoran president in late February, the Bush administration announced another 12-month extension of the programme known as Temporary Protection Status (TPS), which benefits an estimated 220,000 Salvadorans living and working in the US.  The programme…was first established following the two earthquakes in El Salvador in 2001…As the strongest US ally in the region, El Salvador is the only Latin American country still to have troops under US command in Iraq” (page 14).

Crónica del mes.  Febrero-marzo 2006 2006:  “(E)l 10 de febrero, el Tribunal Supremo Electoral dio inicio oficialmente a la campaña electoral para elegir alcaldes y sus respectivos concejos municipales, aunque, en la práctica, los diferentes partidos políticos habían arrancado desde meses antes, ante la pasividad del TSE.  Dicho comportamiento fue más evidente en el partido ARENA, que no ha dejado de utilizar su maquinaria propagandística desde que Elías Antonio Saca aspiraba a la presidencia de la República, en el año 2004” (page 328).

March 1

Central America report March 7, 2008:  “On March 1, 2006, El Salvador was the first country to step up and sign CAFTA” (page 8).

March 12:  congressional and municipal election

Artiga-González 2006:  “Distribución de escaños legislativos, según circunscripciones, 2006” (page 242).  “Distribución de escaños departamentales, por partido, en 2003 y 2006” (page 243).

Central America report March 24, 2006:  “ARENA managed to extend its territorial control by winning the largest number of municipalities.  Of the country’s 262 municipalities, ARENA triumphed in 174 (35 more than in 2003), as well as taking 34 seats in the Legislative Assembly, a gain of seven seats on the previous elections.  However, the FMLN won 60 municipalities and 32 seats in the Legislature and kept control of the center of the country by winning 12 of the 19 municipalities in San Salvador” (pages 1-2).  Gives additional results.  “Results by department.”  Gives the members of congress by party for 2000, 2003, and 2006.

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 40 2006:  For the March 12, 2006 elections for the Legislative Assembly gives the structure of parliament, number of members, term of house, date of last elections, goal of elections, electoral system, background and outcome of the elections, and statistics (pages 85-88). 

(CIDAI) Centro de Información, Documentación y Apoyo a la Investigación 2006:  “El 12 de marzo tuvo lugar, en El Salvador, la elección de los diputados y alcaldes para los mandatos de mayo de 2006 a junio de 2009” (page 196).  “Alcaldías por partido y coalición” (page 209).  “Cantidad de votos de los principales partidos en la elección de concejos municipales” (page 210).  “Número de diputados electos por partido” (page 212).  “Cantidad y porcentaje de votos por partido en la elección de diputados” (page 213).

Country profile.  El Salvador 2007:   “Elected mayor of San Salvador in March 2006, Violeta Menjivar is the first woman to hold the post and the third consecutive FMLN mayor in the capital.  A long-time political protégée of the late veteran communist leader, Schafik Handal, she represents the FMLN’s dominant radical wing” (page 8).

Country report.  El Salvador December 2005:  “On March 12th 2006 voters will elect 262 municipal councils, all 84 deputies in the unicameral legislature, and 20 members of the Parlamento Centroamericano…There are an estimated 3.5m registered voters, but participation in mid-term elections is generally low…Aside from the legislature, a key battleground will be the mayoral race in the capital, San Salvador, where the FMLN has been in control since 1997” (page 13).

Country report.  El Salvador March 2006:  “The right-wing [PCN], which had in past elections made inroads among Arena voters, has slipped from 14 to 11 seats.  The centre-left Centro Democrático Unido (CDU) lost three of its five seats, whereas the centre-right [PDC] held on to its five seats…The newly formed coalition between dissidents from the FMLN, and members of Convergencia Democrático (CD) failed in its bid to attract disillusioned left-wing voters, and did not win a single legislative seat…The FDR dissidents joined a legislative alliance known as G-14, along with deputies from the CDU and the Partido Popular Social Cristiano (PPSC, made up solely of dissidents from the PDC)” (page 13).  “Following a dispute on the results, the [TSE] decided that the FMLN’s Violeta Menjívar had beaten Arena’s Rodrigo Samayoa by a mere 44 votes” (page 14).

Country report.  El Salvador June 2006:  “In the final results of the March 12th mid-term elections, Arena regained its position as the largest party in the legislature with 34 out of 84 seats.  The FMLN won 32 seats, one more seat than three years earlier, but the largest change came among the three small parties.  The PCN lost six seats in the final count (not four as [we] reported in our March report…) and the [PDC] gained one seat.  This will give the two parties, natural allies of Arena that have co-operated at times, the power of veto…The centre-left [CD], which is the FMLN’s natural ally, has two seats.  Violeta Menjívar, the daughter of a former mayor of the northern town of Arcatao, has become the highest woman office-holder for the FMLN, and the first female mayor of San Salvador…She is a staunch member of the radical faction of the FMLN, which controls the party” (pages 12-13).

Crónica del mes.  Febrero-marzo 2006 2006:  “(E)l domingo 12 de marzo…unos 2 millones de salvadoreños celebraron su derecho ciudadano al elegir a los 262 alcaldes, 84 diputados y 20 legisladores del PARLACEN…El 16, finalmente, el TSE declaró ganadora de la alcaldía de San Salvador a Violeta Menjivar, candidata del FMLN, por una diferencia de 59 votos sobre su adversario de ARENA” (page 329).  “(E)l partido ARENA se habría quedado con 147 alcaldías; el FMLN 54; el PCN, 39; el PDC, 14; y el CD, 2.  Asimismo, la legislatura que fungirá desde el 1 de mayo próximo tendrá 34 diputados de ARENA, 32 del FMLN, 10 del PCN, 6 del PDC y 2 del CD” (page 331).

Cultura política de la democracia en El Salvador, 2008.  El impacto de la gobernabilidad 2008:  “El 16 de marzo de 2006 se realizaron elecciones para diputados a la Asamblea Legislativa y Concejos Municipales, participando 2,060,889 votantes de un total de electores registrados en el padrón de 3,801,040, lo cual nos da una tasa de participación electoral del 54.2%.  En estas elecciones participaron seis partidos políticos:  [ARENA, FMLN, PCN, PDC, CD, PNL]” (page 3).  “Resultados de las elecciones legislativas y municipales de 2006.”  Gives by party “votos válidos, % sobre votos válidos, no. de diputados electos” for “elecciones legislativas” and “votos válidos, % sobre votos válidos, no. de alcaldías obtenidas por partido” for “elecciones municipales.”

Documentación 2006:  Has tables of official results by department from the TSE for both the congressional and municipal election.

Guía de elecciones 2009 2008?:  “(S)e hizo Voto Residencial en 2006 [en siete municipios]” (page 17).  “Votos obtenidos por partidos políticos para diputados 2006” (page 37).  “Diputados ganados 2006” (page 38).  By department and party.

Keesing’s record of world events March 2006:  “Both the ruling centre-right [ARENA] and the main opposition party, the leftist [FMLN], claimed victory in legislative and municipal elections held on March 12, after each secured just over 39 per cent of the vote…In simultaneous municipal elections, ARENA won 147 municipal councils including seven departmental capitals, whilst the FMLN secured 52 municipal councils, including San Salvador, the country’s capital, and two departmental capitals…In the crucial San Salvador municipality, the FMLN candidate Violeta Menjivar was declared the winner by just 44 votes” (page 47140).  Gives results.

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report March 2006:  “The results showed that domestic politics remain polarised with the smaller parties winning slightly fewer seats in the 84-seat assembly than in 2003 and Arena and the FMLN taking 80% of the seats.  The only other party to make a mark was the rightwing [PCN], which won 11 seats.  This is crucial for Saca because it means that the combined strength of the two rightwing parties comes to 44 seats, more than a simple majority…The FMLN does not enjoy similar support from a junior leftwing party.  The centrist [PDC] and the centre-left Cambio Democrático…ran separately in the legislative elections.  The PDC took six seats (one more than in 2003) while the CD allied with the [FDR], made up of dissidents from the FMLN, made no impression.  It won just two seats (three less than in 2003); one in San Salvador and one in Sonsonate.  Both parties are fiercely independent of the FMLN…The all-important elections for mayor of San Salvador…were so close that both FMLN candidate Violeta Menjívar and Arena’s Rodrigo Samayoa claimed victory.  The incumbent mayor, Carlos Rivas Zamora, who quit the FMLN to run for the CD-FDR, took away some of Menjívar’s support” (electronic edition).  Gives additional details.

Latin American regional report.  Caribbean & Central America report April 2006:  “The closely contested elections for mayor of San Salvador went to the wire with Violeta Menjívar, the candidate for the opposition Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) beating Rodrigo Samayoa, of the ruling Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Arena), by just 44 votes.  The supreme electoral tribunal took four days to announce the final result after carrying out a recount” (electronic edition).

NotiCen March 16, 2006:  Discusses the election (LADB).

Los partidos derrotan a la institucionalidad en las elecciones 2006:  Discusses many aspects of the election. 

Sonnleitner 2007:  “Para el Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN, izquierda heredera de la antigua guerrilla del mismo nombre), debilitado por la escisión de siete de sus 31 diputados, se trataba de constituir un grupo de 43 parlamentarios, para bloquear las políticas del gobierno” (page 198).  “(E)l domingo 12 de marzo, tres horas y media después del cierre de los centros de votación, los dos candidatos más votados a la alcaldía de San Salvador proclamaron sus victorias respectivas, pese a que los conteos rápidos no permitían establecer una tendencia, y que los resultados preliminares le daban una ventaja inferior a 100 votos a Violeta Menjívar Escalante, del FMLN.  Mientras que los militantes celebran su triunfo, ésta se apresuró a denunciar un fraude, su partido retiró al magistrado que lo representaba en el Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE), y la dirección hizo un llamado público a defender la voluntad popular, si necesario ‘en la calle y por la fuerza.’  Este contexto de alta tensión desembocó en enfrentamientos violentos entre los manifestantes y la policía, con varios heridos” (page 199).

March 15?

Sonnleitner 2007:  “(L)a mediación de la misión electoral de la Organización de los Estados Americanos (OEA) se reveló crucial en la gestión del conflicto post-electoral en San Salvador.  Después de tres días de alta tensión, de manifestaciones violentas y de la amenaza de las 74 municipalidades gobernadas por el FMLN de entrar en huelga, el TSE decidió el recuento manual de los votos en la capital.  Tras haber rechazado la impugnación de 84 sufragios, los magistrados declararon la victoria de Violeta Menjívar, con 64.881 contra 64.822 votos a favor de Rodrigo Samayoa de ARENA, es decir una distancia ínfima de 59 sufragios (el 0,04% de los válidos)” (page 202). 


Crónica del mes.  Mayo-junio 2006 2006:  “(L)a legislatura entrante…se inauguró el 1o de mayo, quedando conformada de la siguiente manera:  34 diputados de ARENA, 32 del FMLN, 10 del PCN, 6 del PDC, y 2 del CD…El 1o de mayo, además, asumieron sus cargos los nuevos 262 alcaldes y concejos municipales que fungirán hasta el año 2009” (page 598).


Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report August 2006:  “El Salvador has launched its third major security plan in the last three years.  The Plan Maestro de Seguridad…was not announced with the fanfare of the previous two plans” (electronic edition).  Gives details of the plan.


Central America report September 15, 2006:  “(O)n July 11, Human Rights Ombudsman Beatrice de Carrillo stated that violence in El Salvador had risen to unprecedented levels and that the authorities were simply unable to cope with the scale of the problem” (page 7).

NotiCen August 17, 2006:  “The killing of two policemen in El Salvador has prompted the conservative ARENA government to seek new anti-terror legislation that opponents say will unleash a wave of repression and return the country to revolutionary times…On July 6, the day after the demonstration-turned-riot, ARENA introduced an anti-terrorism bill in the Congress…In the legislature, ARENA and its partner the [PCN] lined up against the FMLN and the [CD]…The anti-terrorist legislation even threatens to complicate one of El Salvador’s most sacrosanct institutions, the remittances from abroad that hold the country’s economy together” (LADB).


Country report.  El Salvador June 2007:  “(A)n extra-parliamentary commission [is] formed by all the parties in September 2006 to discuss reforms to the electoral code” (page 13).


Central America report December 8, 2006:  “At a recent Convention of Salvadorans Abroad held in San Salvador, attendants focused mainly on an issue which has emerged as increasingly important to them in previous years—namely their right to vote.  It was agreed that ex-patriots would attempt to secure the vote through every national channel available, and if this failed, appeals would be presented to the International Court of Justice…(T)here are many theories as to why participation in elections has been limited by the various governments.  A common explanation offered is that political parties fear the implications of adding 3.1 million votes to the political landscape” (page 6).


Central America report May 4, 2007:  “President Saca, who came to power in 2006 on an anti-corruption ticket, has landed in hot water as some of his top government officials find themselves mired in corruption scandals.  Two major cases have severely dented the image of Saca’s National Republican Alliance (ARENA)…According to critics, the current corruption scandals rocking the government have exposed the gulf between Saca’s pro-transparency discourse and the underhand practices of many of his top officials” (page 3).  Gives details.

Central America report September 7, 2007:  “The ruling ARENA party and the left-wing FMLN are in a state of upheaval, with prominent members from both parties resigning left, right and center.  However, they have remained focused on their ultimate goal—winning the 2009 elections.  In preparation for the elections, the FMLN and ARENA are expected to forge alliances with smaller parties, resulting in a more uniform political landscape” (page 8).

Central America report November 23, 2007:  “President Saca…has made it clear that the primaries will not be held until…next year.  In an attempt to curb dissent within the party, [ARENA] made party members with presidential ambitions sign a pact of loyalty” (page 7).

Country profile.  El Salvador 2007:   “The tensions between the long-time Arena grassroots and the new political class are likely to resurface, as the party begins its search for a candidate to compete in the presidential election in March 2009.  An early indication of internal tensions came in mid-2007, when several leading businessmen associated with Arena called for Mr Saca to relinquish his position as president of the party, in order to separate the government and the party apparatus ahead of the selection of candidates for the 2009 elections and the start of campaigning, but Mr Saca refused” (page 9).

Country report.  El Salvador June 2007:  “Some progress has…been made by an extra-parliamentary commission formed by all the parties in September 2006 to discuss reforms to the electoral code.  So far, the all-party group has agreed to allow the continued use of the citizen ID card, known as the Documento de Identidad Unica (DIU) for voting, rather than issuing a separate voting card until after the next elections in March 2009.  It has also requested a full audit of the electoral register by the [OAS].  However, one of the most important and controversial issues, that of residential voting, is unlikely to be resolved in time for the 2009 elections…(T)he reform has become victim of the general lack of consensus between the main political forces” (page 13).

Country report.  El Salvador September 2007:  “The selection process of candidates for the presidential race in 2009 is increasingly dominating in the political parties and in the press headlines…Past attempts to secure a right-wing electoral alliance have failed, partly because of the personal ambitions of the leaders of the smaller parties and their reluctance to take second place to the much larger Arena.  The PCN has also traditionally viewed its own electoral success, particularly at a legislative and municipal level, to be dependent on its ability to draw votes away from Arena…As in the past, Arena will not hold primaries with a secret ballot; instead, it will follow the selection process adopted in 2003 whereby the party leadership nominate three pre-candidates from a list of those wishing to stand.  This is followed by party congress votes, by a show of hands, for one of the three candidates” (page 12).

Country report.  El Salvador September 2007:  The main political parties have agreed “to separate voting for deputies and mayors from that for the presidential election; all elections were due to be held on the same day, coincidentally, for the first time since 1994.  A majority of the political parties represented on the [TSE], voted in favour of holding the elections for the 84 deputies and 262 mayors in January 2009, and for the president and vice-president two months later in March” (page 13).

Del dicho al hecho:  manual de buenas prácticas para la participación de mujeres en los partidos políticos latinoamericanos 2008:  “(L)as candidatas a diputaciones y concejos municipales en las elecciones 2007 del Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN),…diseñaron un interesante plan de recaudación para obtener el dinero necesario y hacer visibles sus candidaturas y propuestas de una manera transparente y con objetivos y acciones claras” (page 44).  Gives details (pages 44-45).


Central America report February 9, 2007:  “On January 16, El Salvador celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Chapultepec Accord, which marked the end of a 12 year conflict between the Salvadoran government and the [FMLN]…However, according to the FMLN, post-conflict administrations have done nothing more than pay lip service to the Peace Accords, as none of those responsible for acts of repression have been brought to trial…On the 15th anniversary of the peace accords, El Salvador still faces huge challenges of consolidating democracy and reducing the huge disparities that caused the conflict in the first place” (page 3).

Country report.  El Salvador March 2007:  “To mark the anniversary, representatives of all the main political parties—Arena; the FMLN; the [PCN]; [PDC]; [CD]; and the [FDR]—drew up the Pacto Interpartidario por la Paz…The document committed the parties to discuss, among other things, electoral reform (including the establishment of residential voting and voting rights for ex-patriots) [and] measures to bring about the decentralisation of the state…Although worded in general terms, the pact promised to be a rare show of unity across the political spectrum.  However, at the last minute Arena refused to sign…and demanded changes to the wording of the accord.  The opposition parties, including the PDC and PCN, which are allies of Arena, refused to change their position and, despite its good intentions, the document remained unsigned.  Although the document was largely symbolic, the failure to reach an agreement reflects the continuing polarisation of the main political forces” (page 12).


NotiCen February 22, 2007:  “Three members of the Central American Parliament, Parlacen, and their driver were murdered the night of Feb. 19 in Guatemala.  The deputies…were members of the [ARENA] delegation from El Salvador” (LADB).


Crónica del mes.  Marzo-abril 2007 2007:  “En materia de política nacional, los ánimos para las elecciones presidenciales comenzaron a avivarse en abril, con la declaración hecha por Medardo González, coordinador general del FMLN, sobre la posible candidatura presidencial del periodista Mauricio Funes para representar a su partido en 2009” (page 336). 


Central America report August 10, 2007:  “On May 12…a police raid on street vendors selling pirated CD’s and DVD’s sparked off a protest that was rapidly quelled by riot police” (page 1).


Crónica del mes.  Mayo-junio 2007 2007:  “En relación con las elecciones de 2009, la actividad de los diferentes partidos políticos toma más fuerza.  Así, el 13 de junio fue expulsado del PCN el alcalde de San Miguel, Wilfredo Salgado, debido a su enfrentamiento con la cúpula del partido.  Meses atrás, Salgado había hablado de la posibilidad de lanzarse como candidato presidencial del PCN, lo cual fue objetado por el secretario general y líder histórico de ese partido, Ciro Cruz Zepeda…La expulsión de Salgado refleja la intención de Cruz Zepeda por mantener a la derecha en el poder y, con ese fin, buscar una alianza con ARENA de cara a 2009…En este contexto, el resto de partidos políticos presentaron la propuesta de separar las elecciones presidenciales de las de alcaldes y diputados.  El 15 de junio, en medio de un fuerte debate en la Comisión Interpartidaria de la Asamblea Legislativa por el avance de las reformas electorales, el Tribunal Supremo Electoral acordó la separación de las elecciones de 2009.  Los comicios para elegir concejos municipales y diputados se realizarán en enero; y las elecciones presidenciales, en marzo…Además, el TSE acordó no implementar el voto residencial en todo el país, sino únicamente en 17 municipios, ignorando con esto la petición de la Comisión Interpartidaria de acercar las urnas a todos los votantes a nivel nacional” (page 484).


NotiCen July 26, 2007:  “El Salvador’s downward spiral of violence and repression took another turn on July 2, when 12 members of popular organizations and a journalist were arrested and accused of ‘acts of terrorism’ for taking part in demonstrations against the privatization of water resources…The police took prisoners under a recently passed terrorism law” (LADB).


Central America report August 24, 2007:  “The Attorney General’s Office (FGR), the National Police (PNC) and the Ministry of Citizen Security have admitted the existence of a death squad within the police force, made up of rogue police officers and former officers…Many death-squad killings have gone unreported under the tide of crime and violence that has swept El Salvador in recent years” (page 8).

Country report.  El Salvador September 2007:  “A national meeting of the members of the small centre-left Cambio Democrático (CD) party, which has two deputies in Congress, voted in August to allow its leaders to negotiate a place in the left-wing alliance.  A broader FMLN-led coalition would stand a better chance of challenging Arena’s hold on the presidency” (page 13).

Crónica del mes.  Agosto 2007 2007:  “El 19 de agosto, Cambio Democrático (CD), en el contexto de su congreso nacional, ratificó como secretario general a Héctor Dada, quien continuará en el cargo por un período de dos años más, función que ejerce desde 2005.  Dada aseguró que en el congreso se aprobó una línea política que avala la realización de alianzas electorales de cara a 2009, y enfatizó que, más allá de una posibilidad, es obligación de las autoridades de partido buscar la constitución de una gran alianza que permita la alternancia en el Gobierno” (pages 746-747).


Una campaña electoral anticipada 2007:  “En estos momentos, el país asiste a una primera puesta en escena de la campaña electoral que culminará en las elecciones generales de 2009…En este primer acto, el FMLN ha dado señales claras de su determinación de encarar las elecciones de 2009 con las mejores armas a su disposición.  Su primera jugada consistió en lanzar sin muchos preámbulos su fórmula para la Presidencia y Vicepresidencia de la República, encabezada, respectivamente, por Mauricio Funes y Salvador Sánchez Cerén.  Así, en un hecho sin precedentes al interior del FMLN, se postuló como candidato presidencial a una persona que no es un dirigente histórico del partido ni proviene de sus filas.  Esta decisión muestra que en el partido de izquierda se ha impuesto esta vez el pragmatismo sobre el dogmatismo ideológico…Con un importante apoyo interno de la militancia y de sectores sociales afines al FMLN, la fórmula presidencial fue ratificada en un acto multitudinario celebrado en el marco de la XXIII convención efemelenista” (page 871).

Central America report November 16, 2007:  “Forty-eight year old Mauricio Funes is a TV journalist…His nomination as presidential candidate for the left-wing FMLN party breaks with tradition as he is not a former guerrilla, a militant or even a party member.  His running mate, 63-year-old Salvador Sánchez-Cerén, is a former guerrilla commander, and currently leads the FMLN congressional faction” (page 8).

Central America report January 11, 2008:  Funes’ “relatively centrist stance likely cost him the FMLN presidential nomination in 2004.  He announced that he was prepared to run on the FMLN ticket that year; the party’s political committee instead opted for the former guerilla commander Shafick Handal, who subsequently lost to Antonio Saca by twenty-two points.  Funes’ current running mate Salvador Sánchez-Cerén was among those who blocked his nomination.  In the days following Handal’s death in 2004, though, Sánchez-Cerén was one of the first to break with party orthodoxy, saying that ‘the FMLN needs to essentially redefine itself’” (electronic edition).

Country report.  El Salvador October 2007:  “The general secretary of the [FMLN], Medardo González, announced in late September that the FMLN’s political commission decided to nominate the 46-year old popular TV journalist, Mauricio Funes, as its presidential candidate.  His running mate for the vice-presidency will be a former rebel commander, Salvador Sánchez Cerén.  The nomination will need to be ratified by the party’s national council, made up of representatives from across the country; but in the absence of other proposals, the choice is likely to be approved.  The FMLN dispensed with internal primaries after the last election in 2004, in part to avoid a long and fractious decision-making process” (page 8).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report October 2007:  “The transparency of the process received some criticism:  Funes was selected by the FMLN’s political commission rather than by democratic primary elections.  The party leadership argued that the commission had canvassed the opinion of the grassroots since last December.  The selection of Funes clearly rattled the ruling [ARENA], which did its best to downplay the significance of the FMLN’s decision to go with a media-savvy moderate, who does not even belong to the party yet, by claiming that the old guard would still continue to pull all the strings” (electronic edition).

NotiCen February 7, 2008:  “The Sept. 27 nominating announcement at a rally attended by more than 50,000 people was widely taken as recognition that the party is seriously considering polls and surveys indicating that a large majority of the electorate wants a change from the ARENA party that has been in power since 1984 but is reluctant to follow the dictates of a hard-line leadership still figuratively in jungle fatigues…(T)he choice of traditional FMLN member Salvador Sanchez Ceren…complicates any rapprochement with the Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) and Cambio Democratico (CD), groups that have splintered from the party.  Leaders of both groups have demanded Sanchez’s removal from the ticket” (LADB).


Country report.  El Salvador December 2007:  “Mauricio Funes, a 48-year-old journalist who used to work for a US television network, CNN, was nominated by the party leadership several months ago and approved unanimously by a convention of members in early November…The selection of Mr Funes appears partly to emulate Arena and its popular president, Antonio Saca, a former media personality new to politics, while the selection of Mr Sánchez Céren panders to the party’s radical wing which dominates the leadership…For its part, Arena appears to have been caught slightly off guard by the FMLN’s early choice of its presidential candidate.  Although Arena had been scheduled to select its candidate in May 2008, on November 15th Mr Saca announced that he would bring the party primaries forward to March 2008.  A first selection of three nominees will be made by the executive committee, while the final decision on the candidate will be made by a show of hands of party members at a national convention—the executive committee has resisted calls for a secret ballot ” (page 9).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report November 2006:  “Mauricio Funes was officially launched as the presidential candidate of the left-wing opposition, [FMLN], on 11 November…The slogan for the launch, which took place in a stadium in San Salvador, was ‘Comienza la esperanza’” (electronic edition).


Central America report October 17, 2008:  “The election process has been plagued by disputes over the validity of voting mechanisms and ballots made.  The lack of transparency of the political parties during the elections has not made the voting process any easier.  Observers are now being placed to follow up on polls and the OAS is endorsing the reliability of the process…(F)ive political parties have signed a pact of understanding and an agreement against electoral violence…Despite some of the positive steps taken to ensure the fairness of the elections, these measures do not seem to be working as planned.  All the new mechanisms put in place do not appear to be convincing the electorate.  Recent polls and surveys indicate that only 54% of the population trust the electoral process and see fraud as an almost inevitable ingredient” (page 5).

NotiCen February 14, 2008:  “El Salvador has signed up for another tour of duty as principal US ally in Latin America, and now Central America’s smallest country has consented to fight on two fronts.  Another 280 Salvadoran troops are set to become the tenth contingent to set off for Iraq.  Closer to home, El Salvador will play proxy in the US battle for hegemony against Venezuela and its president, Hugo Chavez…Saca has been beset by disagreement with his country’s being the sole Latin American participant in the US Iraq war” (LADB).

Peraza 2008:  “El tema del voto de los salvadoreños en el exterior, que, según el plan del gobierno, de ser aprobado se limitaría a las elecciones presidenciales, no ha prosperado en la Asamblea Legislativa” (page 235).  “Al menos en los últimos dos años, no se ha mencionado la posibilidad de que los salvadoreños puedan votar en el extranjero durante las elecciones presidenciales de 2009.  Esto ha sido descartado por varios dirigentes de los partidos políticos con mayor representación en la Asamblea Legislativa.  El presidente Saca, al decir que su gobierno ‘allanará el camino’ para que esto se concrete, está confirmando que el asunto se dejará, siendo optimistas, para los comicios de 2014, sino es que para 2019…El presidente Saca y otros dirigentes de su partido también aluden constantemente a la forma en la que una ley del voto en el exterior debe ‘cumplir los requisitos’ del marco jurídico salvadoreño…Ha existido un debate en torno a esto, y se han hecho visibles dos posturas:  la de los que afirman que no es necesaria una reforma constitucional para el voto extraterritorial y la de los que la encuentran indispensable.  Las visiones gubernamental y del partido Arena se inclinan por la segunda opción.  Esto representa sobre todo un problema en cuanto a los tiempos en los que se podría lograr el ejercicio del sufragio desde el extranjero, porque se han estado alargando.  Para una reforma constitucional, en El Salvador se requiere que una legislatura la apruebe y que la siguiente la ratifique.  En otras palabras, si el voto en el extranjero fuese aprobado en el período actual (2006-2009), tendría que ser ratificado por la próxima legislatura (2009-2012)” (page 236).


Country report.  El Salvador February 2008:  “Nominations [for the presidential candidacy of ARENA] opened on January 21st and within less than two days, ten names had been put forward…Only three candidates of the 18 pre-candidates that registered by the deadline will be chosen by Arena’s executive committee, to take part in the March primaries.  Mr Saca has stated that he will not support any of the candidates” (page 8).


Central America report February 8, 2008:  “On February 4, ARENA’s National Executive Committee (COENA) announced that it had narrowed a list of eighteen candidates down to five…These candidates, especially the leading ones, correspond to specific factions within the party, analysts say, and are emblematic of a breach in ARENA between economic and political interests” (electronic edition).  Gives detailed information on the alliances of the major candidates.

Central America report February 29, 2008:  “Having witnessed months of reorganization in the two leading parties,…attention has now turned to the smaller parties…(A)lliances between small conservative and leftist parties could cut into the support for ARENA and FMLN and be a decisive factor for who wins the 2009 presidential elections…(T)he center-left CD and leftist [FDR] announced last week that they will jointly nominate candidates for the presidential race and the mayoral elections in San Salvador…The CD and the FDR have been closely related since the 1980s, and have similar ideological roots.  During the 1980s both parties joined with the FMLN to form the group [CRM].  The FDR effectively disbanded, but was resurrected in 2006 by FMLN dissidents…For the 2009 presidential contest the CD and FDR have hedged their bets on forging a ‘third way’ behind the candidacy of businessman Arturo Zablah” (electronic edition).

NotiCen February 7, 2008:  “In February [ARENA] announced its shortlist for the 2009 election.  The candidate will be one of five, including Vice President Ana Escobar, former foreign minister Francisco Lainez, former police chief Rodrigo Avila, former presidential legal advisor Luis Rodriguez, and businessman Eduardo Barrientos.  These are the survivors of a process underway since Jan. 21, and further paring will reduce the list to three, who will be presented to the party for an internal vote March 15” (LADB).

NotiCen February 7, 2008:  On February 5, 2008 U.S. “Director of National Intelligence John M. McConnell before the [U.S.] Senate Select Committee on Intelligence…charged, ‘We expect [Venezuelan president] Chavez to provide generous campaign funding to the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador in its bid to secure the presidency in the 2009 election’” (LADB).

NotiCen February 14, 2008:  “The FMLN denied the suggestion of Venezuelan interference…But if the statement had no credibility, the Archbishop of San Salvador Fernando Saenz Lacalle tried to lend it some, telling the country, ‘Everybody in the country must be vigilant so the electoral process is clean, without external interferences.’  The archconservative (Opus Dei) prelate then called upon the FMLN to ‘have no binding relationship of any kind with the Venezuelan government’…Meanwhile, [ARENA] took advantage of what could be termed US interference in the country’s internal affairs to raise the prospect of Venezuelan interference to the status of a fact…(T)he FMLN’s Humberto Centeno said ARENA was using the US distortion as part of ‘a campaign of fear’ that the ruling party ‘always’ trots out prior to elections.  ‘Before it was Cuba.  El Salvador was going to be the same as Cuba if the FMLN won, and now it is to Chavezize the campaign’” (LADB).

NotiCen February 14, 2008:  “On Feb. 12 [Funes] asked the Asamblea Legislativa (AL) to approve reforms that would permit official audits of all funds handled by the campaigns.  He was actually seeking to reactivate a similar petition the FMLN made last year, and he was accompanied by a phalanx of his party’s deputies.  The move has already been made public to good effect in countering the din raised over the US accusation.  Funes has reframed the issue as an attempt by ARENA to oppose legislation aimed at electoral transparency.  Saca was put in the position of publicly defending his party’s ‘open’ finances but being unwilling to support the proposed reforms” (LADB).


Central America report April 4, 2008:  “On March 15, ARENA held elections in all of its 14 regional departments to determine the party’s presidential nominee.  The election was the conclusion of a process that began on September 27, 2007 when the country’s current vice-president, Ana Vilma de Escobar, announced she would …run for president.  Following her announcement, dozens of party members added their names to the list, although only two others received a significant amount of votes…According to ARENA’s records, 76% of the 2,800 party members with voting privileges took part in the recent elections.  Rodriguez and De Escobar received 322 and 36 votes respectively, a small percentage compared to 1,770 votes captured by Ávila.  ARENA’s voting blocs are divided by occupation and Ávila captured the majority--professionals, factory workers, farm workers, youth, agricultural producers, and party members living abroad…Armando Calderón Sol, former president and honorary ARENA president, said the primaries were not carried out fairly and that COENA was more interested in getting Ávila nominated than it was in carrying out a clean election” (page 3).  Describes additional charges of voter manipulation in the primary.

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report March 2008:  “Avila, who only entered the primary race in January at the behest of the party leadership committee, Coena, won the primary with 82% of the vote.  The decisiveness of the result was surprising.  The incumbent Vice-President, Ana Vilma de Escobar, was the clear favourite in the polls.  The fact that she garnered just 2% of the vote, behind the other challenger, Luis Mario Rodríguez, a legal adviser to the presidency, prompted her to query the transparency of the electoral process.  She specifically pointed the finger at Coena members, who she said had deliberately conspired to prevent her from winning by exerting pressure on party activists at a departmental level to back Avila” (electronic edition).

NotiCen April 24, 2008:  “After lagging behind the opposition for five months, El Salvador’s ruling party...at last chose a presidential candidate [Rodrigo Avila] on March 15…Saca’s Vice President Ana Vilma de Escobar…charged that party bosses, including Saca, had urged members ‘not to vote for a woman.’  She…complained that members of [ARENA’s] Consejo Ejecutivo Nacional (COENA)…and the party director of San Salvador department Adolfo Torrez, had conspired to draw support away from her and throw it to Avila…(I)n the voting, she came up with just 2% of the 2,093 votes of the party representatives.  Despite denials of undue influence from COENA, at least three local officials complained of arm-twisting.  Avila swept all 14 departments and eight national sectors, leaving de Escobar in third place.  In second, with 15% of the vote, was Saca’s legal advisor Luis Mario Rodriguez, who had no complaints about the process.  The party has been described as being in crisis, owing to the probability of a first-ever loss of the presidency and to the complaints, not only from de Escobar but from several other aspirants, and even from ex-presidents [Calderon Sol, Cristiani, Flores].  Amid charges of fraud and manipulation, viable candidates….were turned away, while Avila, ex-chief of the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC), was abruptly chosen late in the process.  He had not even entered the race until January 2008…While claiming to have created a ‘new right’ within ARENA, Avila counts no fewer than seven of the party’s ultra-rightist founders among his relatives” (LADB). 


Central America report April 18, 2008:  “The thought of the FMLN’s Mauricio Funes taking power in 2009 is causing party members to put aside their differences and back Ávila, even after a recent restructuring of the party’s leadership.  ARENA’s Executive Committee (COENA), has seen a shake-up in recent months.  Six out of the committee’s 13 members are newly appointed…Some party members say that the new leadership indicates a sweeping change…(T)he majority of ARENA members agree that the party’s rhetoric, at least, is taking a turn in a different direction…The country’s smaller conservative parties are…courting the larger and more powerful ARENA for the upcoming elections” (electronic edition).


Central America report June 6, 2008:  “The government recently revealed the results of a new census showing that El Salvador’s population has declined in recent years.  At the moment, the implications of this are being viewed almost exclusively with an eye to the elections.  The number of representatives that each department sends to Congress will likely have to be recalculated.  Moreover, voter registration rolls seem to be filled with the names of people that have left the country or died.  With the elections fast approaching, many observers worry whether the election board can cleanly rectify these problems in time” (page 8).

NotiCen October 16, 2008:  “In June, [U.S. Ambassador Charles] Glazer admitted to [U.S.] intervention in the 2004 election” (LADB).


Central America report August 29, 2008:  “On August 17, the former militant revolutionary group, [FMLN], celebrated the official nomination of its candidate Mauricio Funes…The entire scene dramatized the transformation of the FMLN from a revolutionary guerrilla movement to a moderately left political party” (page 6).


Cultura política de la democracia en El Salvador, 2008.  El impacto de la gobernabilidad 2008:  “En…septiembre el Tribunal Supremo Electoral va a convocar de manera oficial a los procesos electorales de enero y marzo de 2009” (page 4).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report September 2008:  “President Tony Saca went on the attack in mid September by issuing a ‘warning’ to the nation that the FMLN intended to dissolve the armed forces in the event of coming to power…Avila is holding back on announcing his running mate in the hope that it will give impetus to his campaign in the closing stages…All talk of Arena itself forming a coalition has ceased.  It had mooted forging a broad coalition with its rightwing ally, Partido de Conciliación Nacional (PCN)…However, this failed to materialise, with the PCN this month naming Tomás Chévez, an evangelical priest from the enormous ELIM Church, as its candidate” (electronic edition).

NotiCen October 16, 2008:  “In a departure from the customary complaints from the region about the US interfering in regional affairs, El Salvador’s Minister of Foreign Relations Marisol Argueta de Barillas has made a pitch for the US to get involved in Salvadoran elections, set for March 15, 2009.  The plea comes as her party, which has never lost a presidential election, finds itself struggling behind a resurgent left in the race to govern Central America’s last unequivocally pro-US country…An intervention of the kind Argueta recommended on the part of the US is unlikely in the extreme…But there are other ways the US can make its presence known in a manner relevant to Salvadoran domestic policy and the politics that drive it.  For instance, the mano dura method of dealing with gang activity in the country has been widely repudiated by experts round the world…Yet, the policy is also associated with Saca’s ARENA government and has been effective as a means of focusing blame for many of the social and economic ills that plague El Salvador.  On Oct. 14 the US signed an agreement with El Salvador to enable the continuation of these same polices, providing US$2.6 million to do it” (LADB).


Central America report October 17, 2008:  “ARENA held its 27th General Assembly, where it brought together militants from all departments of the country.  One of the biggest decisions that had to be made was the nomination of a vice-presidential candidate.  In the end, the official party elected Arturo Zablah as Ávila’s running mate” (page 5).

Country report.  El Salvador November 2008:  “Arturo Zablah is an open critic of government policy and not a party member.  However, Mr Zablah appeals to moderates and left-wing voters, and appears to have provided a boost to the Arena campaign” (page 9).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report October 2008:  ARENA “has finally appointed a candidate as running mate for Rodrigo Avila…It made a highly controversial choice:  Arturo Zablah, a wealthy businessman and former economy minister…The party leadership, Coena, almost unanimously selected Zablah’s candidacy, but it is no secret that there were serious reservations about it within the party.  A strong faction with Arena—principally right-wing stalwarts—staunchly opposed the choice…The most popular Arena politician (even more so than Avila, according to opinion polls) is Ana Vilma de Escobar, the incumbent vice-president.  Coena selected Avila instead of De Escobar for the presidential candidacy, and now Avila has snubbed De Escobar as a running mate” (electronic edition).


Central America report November 28, 2008:  “The campaign for the presidential elections in March 2009 officially began on November 15.  In reality, though, Salvadorans have been hearing campaign promises for over a year…But now these public exhortations are official, and are subject to official regulation” (page 8).

Country report.  El Salvador December 2008:  “The campaigns for the legislative and presidential elections…took a back seat during November as the opposition [FMLN] returned to the negotiating table to support the government and approve US$950m in multilateral loans.  Despite the growing acrimony in a tightly-fought election, the ruling [ARENA] party and the FMLN made an important political agreement in November, the first such accord since campaigning began more than one year ago…The FMLN’s reversal was obtained following a commitment from Arena that the US$300m in loans destined for social programmes would not be disbursed until after the March 2009 presidential election.  This guarantees that Arena would not seek an electoral advantage with the extra spending” (page 8).


Central America report January 9, 2009:  “Since 1989, the political campaigns, mandates and promises of ARENA’s successive governments have largely followed the same line:  offers of social advancement…However, the current global financial crisis is beginning to make itself felt in the region.  And in the final stages of his term, Antonio Saca is starting to see the consequences, not just of his own administration and the adverse international context, but also the cumulative results of two decades of ARENA’s policies” (electronic edition).

Central America report January 16, 2009:  “Almost 45% of the FMLN’s [congressional] candidates are new, almost half of them are women, and 25% are young candidates aged between 25 and 30” (electronic edition).

Central America report March 6, 2009:  “Recent media studies carried out by a number of electoral observers have concluded that the coverage of the general elections has been seriously unbalanced.  This reflects parties’ financial resources to pay for media adverts.  To date, Salvadoran parties have spent over US$15 million on propaganda, without anyone scrutinizing where these funds came from and how exactly they were spent.  According to political analysts, this shows the urgent need for a Law on Political Parties” (electronic edition).

Código electoral:  elecciones para diputados al Parlamento Centroamericano, Asamblea Legislativa, concejos municipales, presidente y vicepresidente.  Elecciones 2009 2009:  Electoral code governing the 2009 elections. 

Country report.  El Salvador January 2009:  “Previously the three-yearly election of deputies and mayors coincided with the five-yearly presidential vote when the year of the votes coincided.  The decision by the [TSE] to hold separate elections is designed to avoid voter confusion resulting from the multiple choices on the ballot paper.  It could also prevent any protest vote against the ruling right-wing [ARENA] party at the legislative or municipal level, from carrying over into the presidential vote” (page 8).

El Salvador 2009…en la mira, 1 y 2  2008:  “A continuación reproducimos las primeras dos ediciones del boletín digital ‘El Salvador 2009…en la mira’…El boletín es un esfuerzo académico de análisis y seguimiento de la dinámica política que conduce a las elecciones de 2009, y pretende contribuir a mejorar la calidad de la gestión electoral ofreciendo pistas para la reflexión y monitoreo del comportamiento político de diversos actores:  medios de comunicación, partidos políticos, órganos en instituciones del Estado, etc.” (page 353).

Guía de elecciones 2009 2008?:  “Tribunal Supremo Electoral Organismo Colegiado Período 2004-2009.”  Captioned photograph gives name and title of each member.  “El territorio salvadoreño tiene catorce departamentos con sus respectivas cabeceras departamentales y 262 municipios que a su vez están organizados en cantones y caseríos.  Se divide en 4 zonas geográficas:  Zona Occidental, Ahuachapán, Santa Ana y Sonsonate; Zona Central, La Libertad, Chalatenango, San Salvador y Cuscatlán; Zona Para-Central, La Paz, Cabañas y San Vicente y; Zona Oriental, Usulután, San Miguel, Morazán y La Unión” (page 1).  “Tribunal Supremo Electoral” (pages 2-10).  Gives many details on the TSE, including current members and their dates of service and additional electoral organizations with the names of their directors.  “Elecciones 2009” (pages 11-38).  Extensive detailed information on the elections of 2009, including “Reformas al código electoral para elecciones 2009” (page 12); “Electores, Centros de Votación y JRV” (page 14); “Sistema para elegir diputaciones” (page 18); “Cantidad de diputados por departamento” (page 19); “Conformación de concejos municipales – elecciones 2009” (pages 20-23); “Partidos políticos contendientes en elecciones 2009” (pages 24-26); “Coaliciones inscritas para concejos municipales” (pages 27-28); and “Consolidado padrón electoral agrupado por sexo y edad elecciones 2009” (page 36).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report January 2009:  “In the final weeks of the campaign, Arena made the unsubstantiated and sensationalist claim, endorsed by President Tony Saca, that the FMLN was in league with the country’s street gangs (the so-called maras) and other armed groups…The head of the European Union’s mission of electoral observers to El Salvador…was less than impressed with the move, clearly designed to polarize the electorate ahead of polling day.  He said the report had a ‘clear electoral slant.’ The international human rights federation (FIDH), based in France, denounced the report as ‘electoral skullduggery’” (electronic edition).

January 18:  congressional and municipal election

Central America report January 23, 2009:  “On January 18, voters elected the members of 262 town councils, 84 members of the single-chamber legislature, and 20 members of the Central American Parliament.  Under the country’s electoral laws, campaigns can only last four months in the case of presidential elections, two months in the case of parliamentary elections, and one month for municipal elections.  However, both the FMLN and ARENA began to campaign in mid-2007, in the face of lax oversight by the Supreme Electoral Court, which is controlled by the right” (electronic edition).  “Box I” gives by party for the congressional election the number of votes received, the percent this constitutes of total valid votes, and the number of seats won.  “Despite the tough reality of losing [San] Salvador, the FMLN won in three of the next four largest cities in El Salvador:  [Soyapango], Santa Tecla and Santa Ana…Overall, the FMLN won 91 municipalities, 32 more than the 59 that the party previously controlled” (electronic edition).  “Box II” lists irregularities in the electoral process, including “The movement of voters within the country to vote in municipalities other than the ones they reside in and the transport of foreigners…to vote in El Salvador’s elections.  Incidents of both of these were heavily denounced by citizens, international and national observer missions and political parties…The impunity of the [TSE] and government to the smear campaign waged against [specific FMLN candidates] and the FMLN in general on behalf of ARENA and the right…The overwhelming number of Election Day irregularities relating to DUIs (Salvadoran ID cards required to vote)…The lack of residential voting throughout the entire country” (electronic edition).

Central America report January 30, 2009:  “With ARENA [losing] two seats in Parliament and FMLN winning two new seats, the conservative [PCN], with its 11 seats in Parliament, will prove crucial in terms of tilting the balance in favor of either party.  Meanwhile, the [PDC], with five seats, and the [Cambio Democrático, CD], with one, are too marginal to be of any relevance and the left-wing [FDR], disappears from the political scene after failing to gain enough votes to sustain registration…It remains to be seen whether the PCN will remain loyal to its conservative roots or adopt a pragmatic stance and opt for an alliance with the FMLN…The PCN was the most powerful political party in the country during the 1960s and 1970s, and was closely associated with the Salvadoran military…When…the PCN [was founded] in 1961, the party defined itself as right-wing and anti-communist.  Today, it defines itself as ‘a nationalist, democrat party that stands for social justice and national conciliation’” (electronic edition).

Central America report February 6, 2009:  “The final results of the parliamentary and municipal elections published by the [TSE have] not substantially modified the preliminary figures.  The [FMLN] holds the majority in Parliament with 943,288 votes (42.5%), which translates into 35 seats, whereas the ruling [ARENA] obtained 852,458 votes (38.4%), which translates into 32 seats.  As expected, the conservative [PCN] was left with 11 seats…El Salvador’s complicated residual voting system has been criticized for giving disproportionate representation to the PCN.  The 84 members of El Salvador’s unicameral Legislative Assembly are chosen by the largest remainder method of proportional representation in fourteen multi-member constituencies—the departments of El Salvador.  However, this often works to the advantage of smaller parties such as the PCN, whereas ARENA and the FMLN tend to end up slightly under-represented in the Assembly…On a municipal level, a number of significant changes have occurred.  ARENA won 120 municipalities and the FMLN won 96, many in coalition with the [CD] and the [PDC].  The PCN won 33 municipalities, the PDC won 9 and the CD was left with two…The FMLN won 9 seats, ARENA won 8, the PCN 2 and the PDC 1[in the PARLACEN vote]” (electronic edition).

Country report.  El Salvador January 2009:  “The FMLN regained the position of dominant party in the legislature, with 35 deputies (out of a total of 84), the first time it has been in this position since 2003.  Arena won 32 deputies, down from 34.  Among the smaller parties, the centre-right [PDC] lost one of its six seats (despite maintaining its share of the vote), while the [CD], a left-wing party close to the FMLN, lost one of its two seats and saw its share of the vote drop to 2% from 3%.  At the municipal level, Arena won 122 municipalities compared with the FMLN’s 75 (or 96 when including alliances with the CD and/or the PDC)” (page 8).  “Legislative election results” (page 8).

Country report.  El Salvador February 2009:  “Despite losing ground in the legislature, Arena struck an important and symbolic blow to the FMLN by winning back the mayoralty of San Salvador…The former health minister, Norman Quijano, won a slim 6,000-vote victory over the incumbent, Violeta Menjivar…Although it offers limited power, the position of the mayor of San Salvador allows the office-holder and his party a high public profile…(D)espite winning San Salvador, the governing party lost control over 27 local authorities elsewhere across the country, reflecting negative voter sentiment after two decades of Arena presidential rule.  Meanwhile, the FMLN won 35 new mayoral seats, and moved into areas in which it had previously enjoyed less support” (page 9).

Guía de elecciones 2009 2008?:  “El Tribunal Supremo Electoral acercará las urnas a los ciudadanos de 23 municipios del país con la ampliación del Plan Piloto de Voto Residencial.  Este plan incluye los siete municipios donde se hizo Voto Residencial en 2006 y 16 del departamento de Cuscatlán.  Se pretende facilitar a la población un Centro de Votación más cercano a su residencia” (page 17).  Lists “municipios donde se hará voto residencial.”

Informe de resultados sobre la observación de las Elecciones de Diputados y Alcaldes 18 de enero de 2009  2009:  “La Tabla 1 muestra la distribución de votantes para cada departamento, la distribución oficial de JRVs a nivel nacional, así como la distribución de la muestra de 1500 JRVs diseñada por el IUDOP” (page 4).  “La Tabla 2 muestra, por departamento del país, la distribución de la muestra original, de la muestra recuperada para la mañana y la tarde/noche, así como el número de JRVs que no pudieron ser monitoreadas, para cada uno de los momentos de observación anteriormente descritos” (page 6).  Additional tables and graphs give other details.  “La Tabla 5 muestra los diversos problemas o dificultades observadas durante la jornada electoral” (page 18).  “Resultados de votos válidos en el municipio de San Salvador” (page 29). 

Keesing’s record of world events January 2009:  “In elections to the 84-member Legislative Assembly (the unicameral legislature), held on Jan. 18, the left-wing opposition [FMLN] won more seats than any other party but failed to win a majority.  Official results showed that the FMLN won 42.6 per cent of the valid votes and 35 seats, whilst the centre-right and ruling [ARENA], led by President Tony Saca, secured 38.5 per cent of the valid vote and 32 seats…In simultaneous municipal elections, the FMLN lost control of the mayoral seat in San Salvador (the capital), where Norma Quijano, the ARENA candidate, defeated the incumbent FMLN mayor Violeta Menjivar…(T)he FMLN increased the total number of municipalities under its control from 58 in 2006 to an estimated 104 in 2009” (page 48977).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report January 2009:  Gives preliminary results of the election.  “With nearly 80% of ballots counted, the [FMLN] won at least 86 municipalities (out of a total of 267), an increase of 28 on the last vote in 2006.  Arena took 108 municipalities—a loss of 40 on its previous 148 mayoralties…The process was overseen by 110 electoral observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) and 80 from the European Union (EU), the latter observing elections in El Salvador for the first time.  (V)oting was suspended in four municipalities due to irregularities” (electronic edition).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report February 2009:  “A glance at the congressional elections on 18 January shows just how powerful the leadership committees are in Salvadorean politics.  Voters do not cast their ballots for individual deputies but for the political party.  The ballot for congressional deputies is merely a series of party logos.  Leadership committees decide where deputies feature on the party’s slate of candidates for each department.  Those at the top inevitably stand a much greater chance of election and are consequently entirely beholden to the party leadership and not to the electorate” (electronic edition).

NotiCen January 22, 2009:  In-depth discussion of the election with results (electronic edition).  “Defeated candidate and out-going mayor [of San Salvador] Violeta Menjivar conceded with 68% of the vote counted…But she did not concede much, accusing ARENA of bussing in voters from outside the capital.  ‘It’s legal, but illegitimate, the intense and massive mobilization of voters who weren’t from the capital to the capital city,’ she said.  Incumbent Menjivar, whose advantage going into the contest was as high as 11% on some tallies, also blamed electoral violence and intimidation sustained by impunity for her loss…The European Union (EU) mission chief…sounded perplexed at the situation.  ‘What draws attention is the fact that legally, without any apparent justification for it, people can be brought from other municipalities, including from other departments, to participate in the [San Salvador] elections,’ he said…In absolute terms, ARENA still holds the majority of local governments.  ARENA holds 108, the FMLN holds 86.  The [PCN] lost 11 to end with 28 local governments, and the [PDC] gained four to end with nine.  In all the country, there are 262 of these jurisdictions…Another expectation for the left went unmet with the demise of the Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR)…(T)he FDR failed to gain a single congressional seat and, as a result, will cease to exist” (LADB).

January 30

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report February 2009:  “The fear of losing has forced the Arena hierarchy to close ranks behind Rodrigo Avila.  The former police chief addressed a meeting…on 30 January attended by former presidents Alfredo Cristiani, Armando Calderón Sol and Francisco Flores; President Tony Saca; the party leadership; and prominent businessmen.  All Arena’s former heads of state and party grandees are now throwing their weight behind Avila out of concern that their previous indifference to his candidacy could prompt supporters to abstain” (electronic edition).


Country report.  El Salvador March 2009:  “In early February the [PCN] was the first to announce that it would withdraw its presidential candidate, an evangelical pastor, Tomás Chévez, and instead urge its supporters to back Mr Ávila.  Although the candidate himself expressed disagreement with the decision (for which he was subsequently expelled from the party), the move was hardly surprising given the ideological closeness between the PCN and Arena…Following the PCN’s announcement, the leadership of the [PDC] said that its candidate, Carlos Rivas Zamora, would also step down to back the Arena candidate—a symbolic break with tradition for a party whose members were once persecuted at the instigation of Arena leaders…On the other side, the FMLN has gained the support of its erstwhile allies in the [CD], including centre-left veteran politicians Hector Dada and Hector Silva, a former mayor of San Salvador” (page 8).

Country report.  El Salvador April 2009:  “(A)s election day approached Mr Ávila managed to close the gap on his rival, helped by a well-funded and high-profile campaign and by his party’s victory in the mayoral race for the capital” (page 9).

Latin American regional report.  Caribbean & Central America report February 2009:  “The presidential elections on 15 March will be a straight fight between Rodrigo Avila and Mauricio Funes after two right-wing parties withdrew their candidates from the race.  Avila…is confident that the supporters of the [PCN and PDC] will transfer to him…With only two candidates left in the presidential race, there will no longer be any need for a second round.  This means that the victor will not require 50% plus one of the vote, simply ‘one more vote than his opponent,’ supreme electoral tribunal (TSE) magistrate, Eugenio Chicas, said” (electronic edition).

NotiCen February 19, 2009:  “El Salvador has a new leader at the head of its Catholic hierarchy, a leader likely to reflect a trend away from the arch-conservatism of the [ARENA] government and of the just-retired Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle.  Archbishop of San Salvador Jose Luis Escobar Alas took office Feb. 14, after waiting the obligatory two months since being named to the post in December.  Escobar has already come out for greater social justice and against the encroachments of the mining industry.  He has also come out in favor of a change of governing party…He encouraged everyone to vote, and called upon the political parties to show a higher level of maturity, working for the common good rather than for parochial interests...Departing from the dire warnings from the church of the past, the new archbishop of San Salvador said that now the church is content to leave political decisions to the people” (LADB).

March 15:   general election (Funes / FMLN)

Country report.  El Salvador April 2009:  “In a largely incident-free day of voting, Mr Funes beat a former police chief, Rodrigo Ávila, by 2 percentage points, with 51%.  A record 62% of the 4.2m registered voters turned out, quelling fears of voter apathy caused by a long and often polarised campaign, which was occasionally marred by violent confrontations between rival supporters.  It was the highest turn-out, as well as the most closely fought election since the UN-sponsored peace accord that ended the civil war.  Declaring victory late on election night, Mr Funes, who became the FMLN’s candidate despite never having been a party member, said he would govern by consensus and for all Salvadorans…Voter disillusionment with the governing party, and its failures to curb violent crime, create jobs and increase disposable income, combined with Mr Funes’s moderate message of change, helped to convince voters who had doubted the FMLN’s ability to govern, a concern that has dogged the party ever since it entered mainstream politics nearly two decades ago.  Arena’s attempts to stoke up fears over the FMLN’s violent guerrilla past and its links to Cuba and Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, also failed to sway voters.  In six of the 14 provinces of the country, the FMLN won a clear majority, and only lost by a slight margin in the rest.  In only one province, central Cabanas, did the left-wing share of the vote fall below 40%” (page 9).  “Presidential election results” (page 10).

Greene 2009:  “Mauricio Funes’ triumph is the first victory in the presidential election for a leftist party in El Salvador since the FMLN became a recognized political party after the signing of the 1992 peace agreements” (page 666).  “Electoral system” (pages 666-667).  “National Assembly campaign” (page 667).  “Presidential campaign” (page 667).  “Parliamentary election” (pages 667-668).  “Presidential election” (page 668). 

Keesing’s record of world events March 2009:  “Mauricio Funes, the candidate of the main opposition party, the leftist [FMLN], won presidential elections held on March 15 after securing 51.32 per cent of the valid vote.  Rodrigo Avila, Funes’s only rival and the candidate of the ruling centre-right [ARENA], won 48.68 per cent of the valid vote.  The FMLN’s victory ended almost two decades of political dominance by the ARENA, which had won every presidential election in El Salvador since the country’s civil war ended in 1991.  Voter turnout was 61.9 per cent” (page 49079).  Gives results.

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report March 2009:  “Funes was declared the winner and [acknowledged] by Avila as such, when the count reached 90% of the votes cast.  The final result was due to be published on 18 March.  The turnout was 61%, below the 67% registered in the 2004 contest…That the contest would ultimately come down to which ticket represented the best opportunity for ‘change’ was already suggested by the municipal elections in January…Even the FMLN’s loss of the capital, after four straight victories, was spun into a positive by the Funes camp with the argument that the vote was against an incumbent rather than the FMLN.  These claims appeared borne out by the 15 March contest in which 54.39% of the San Salvador electorate came out in favour of Funes, compared to 45.61% for Avila” (electronic edition).

NotiCen March 19, 2009:  “Seismic, historic, free, fair, and democratic were some of the congratulatory modifiers plucked from the lead sentences of international press reports trumpeting the victory of Mauricio Funes of the [FMLN] in El Salvador’s March 15 presidential election.  The election was said to be free and fair by observation—there were plenty of observers from national and international organizations—and democratic by definition…Funes’ win might…qualify as historic for the response that both his candidacy and his win brought from the US.  After years of heavy-handed interventionism and veiled threats of reprisals against migrants and remittances, the US, now under management of President Barack Obama, appears to be backing off this kind of blustering behavior” (LADB).


Central America report April 17, 2009:  “According to [panelists in a recent forum,] the reform of the political party system cannot be delayed any longer (there is currently no legislation on the public/private financing of political parties) and the electoral system continues to be composed of political party members, which hardly guarantees impartiality and fairness…Another important factor is the plurality of local government (the ruling party currently occupies most charges in the municipalities).  The vote of Salvadoran citizens abroad (especially in the US) will also pose an important challenge” (page 7).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report April 2009:  “President-elect Mauricio Funes has begun the delicate balancing act which will characterise his presidency,  Funes, who takes office on 1 June, named a six-member transition team in mid April tasked with coordinating the handover of power from the outgoing right-wing…(Arena) administration.  The team is evenly split between legislators from the left-wing [FMLN] and the ‘Amigos de Mauricio Funes,’ which numbers some of Funes’ closest advisers and has a tense relationship with the FMLN.  The Amigos de Mauricio Funes played a pivotal role in Funes’ election, generating financial support for his campaign.  It describes itself as ‘independent, pluralist and non-partisan.’  Behind these tags can be found an amalgam of left-wing and right-wing figures, including retired members of the military…Funes is totally dependent on the orthodox wing of the FMLN in congress, where it accounts for nearly all of the FMLN’s 35 (of 84) seats…The FMLN will be outnumbered in congress by the combined force of Arena, which has 32 seats, and its traditional allies, the [PCN], 11 seats, and the [PDC], five seats.  The PCN has already expelled one legislator, however, for ‘acting against the party’s interests,’ specifically objecting to the PCN’s decision to withdraw its presidential candidate, Tomás Chévez, from the 15 March race” (electronic edition).


Country report.  El Salvador May 2009:  “The recent expulsion of Orlando Arevalo for criticising the party leadership of the [PCN], the third-largest party in Congress with 11 seats, will alter the terms of governability under Mr Funes.  Mr Arevalo will take up his post in the new parliament as an independent, reducing the PCN’s number of seats to ten.  This means that, on their own, Arena and the PCN will be unable to muster enough votes to carry a simple majority (43 votes), making negotiations between all the parties even more of a necessity.  While slowing down the whole legislative process, it could also produce a more consensus-driven legislature…(On) May 1st…the new legislature will be sworn in” (page 9).

Central America report May 29, 2009:  “The right-wing political party [ARENA] is in turmoil after losing the presidential elections after 20 years in power.  Their loss on March 15 to [FMLN] candidate, Mauricio Funes has caused an internal shake-up.  The Executive Commission (the main ruling body of ARENA) was dissolved after their defeat, and the new president, Alfredo Cristiani, was not elected until 1 May.  Cristiani, who was president of the Republic from 1989-1992, is now president of the National Executive Committee (COENA) for the third time in the history of the party…Rodrigo Avila announced that, following consultations with the rank and file, Cristiani had been unanimously elected as president.  This comes despite the fact that the ex-presidents gave assurances that none of them would be re-elected.  Cristiani represents a symbol of unity and a return to ARENA’s ideological roots.  However, his election has its critics” (page 8).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report May 2009:  “Some 300 supporters of the left-wing [FMLN] burst into the legislative assembly building on 1 May after the right-wing parties forged a bloc to exclude the FMLN from the presidency of the body…The deal was masterminded by the wily new president of Arena, party grandee and former president of El Salvador, Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994).  Cristiani’s challenge is to restore unity within Arena amid concern that it could break into splinter groups as the PDC did after the 1989 electoral defeat…The fact that Arena had to turn to an old hand like Alfredo Cristiani to head the party leadership committee (Coena) is a sure sign that internal tension runs deep after the party’s first ever presidential defeat” (electronic edition).


Central America report June 12, 2009:  “On June 1, Mauricio Funes took office as El Salvador’s new president…The FMLN comes to power at a complex time in Salvadoran political history…The new government will have to rule with a National Assembly dominated by right wing parties that have come together to elect Ciro Cruz Cepeda of the [PCN] as president of the house” (page 3).

Central America report June 26, 2009:  ARENA “held its extraordinary assembly on June 14 with the purpose of ratifying the already announced changes in the party’s National Executive Council (COENA).  Alfredo Cristiani led the assembly and was consolidated as president of COENA” (page 3).  Discusses dissension in ARENA leadership. 

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report June 2009:  “Mauricio Funes was sworn in as president of El Salvador on 1 June.  He became the first left-wing president in the country’s history” (electronic edition).

NotiCen June 4, 2006:  “El Salvador ended two decades of right-wing rule June 1 with the investiture of former journalist Mauricio Funes as president…Funes let his audience know that he was aware of the uniqueness of his position between the radical elements of his own party and the extreme right edge of ARENA…Funes is so far the voice of moderation, but it is well to keep in mind that just a heartbeat away sits Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren…He has been an FMLN deputy since 2000 and succeeded the legendary hard-liner Shafik Handal as legislative leader when Handal died in 2006


Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report July 2009:  “The right-wing bloc in the legislative assembly is obstructing the election of five judges to the 15-member supreme court (CSJ), and a new attorney general, all of whose terms expired in recent weeks…(Arena), out of power for the first time in 20 years, is concerned that Funes and the ruling…(FMLN) will seek to change the current structure, which could result in Arena members being pursued for corruption.  During his inaugural speech on 12 June, Funes pointedly…called time on political patronage, cronyism and impunity, all of which he said had characterised Arena administrations.  Significantly, Funes said he would create a meritocratic government, where people are recognised for their talent and honesty and not their surnames…Arena immediately set about constructing a right-wing bloc to oppose Funes and to set limits to this change…The simple message from Arena is that it might have lost the presidency but it is determined that it will not relinquish its control over other state institutions, starting with the attorney general’s office” (electronic edition).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report August 2009:  “After weeks of deadlock, Arena and the FMLN reached an agreement on 15 July, under which the CSJ presidency went to Arena’s preferred candidate…The government is implementing a new plan, Batalla por la Paz, in order to tackle the scourge of violence and insecurity in El Salvador.  The new plan will target the 25 municipalities in which more than 72% of crimes, listed by the attorney general’s office were registered.  Under the plan, mayors will receive more powers and community policing will be introduced in an endeavour to build trust with local communities” (electronic edition).


Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report September 2009:  “President Mauricio Funes is redefining politics in El Salvador…No previous  president has managed to win so much support from across the political dividing line between the two dominant parties…It is early yet, but after reaching the symbolic 100-day milestone of his mandate, Funes enjoys a soaring approval rating of over 80%.  Significantly, a high proportion of Arena supporters approve of him.  This is complicating matters for the Arena party hierarchy, which is doing its level best to make a distinction between Funes and the FMLN” (electronic edition).


Country report.  El Salvador October 2009:  “After repeatedly failing to convince the other side of the merits of their own candidates to fill the vacant attorney-general’s post, politicians from [ARENA and FMLN] finally settled on a consensus candidate.  A final and prolonged meeting in late September between party leaders, in the presence of the president, Mauricio Funes, ended with the appointment of the former deputy attorney-general, Romeo Benjamín Barahona Meléndez…(A)s a consensus candidate he will not be beholden to political interests and will therefore probably be able to function with a degree of independence from political interference” (page 9).


Central America report October 23, 2009:  “Twelve of the 32 Congressmen that make up the ARENA faction in Congress, which is now in opposition for the first time in 20 years, said at the beginning of last week that they were in rebellion and that they would no longer follow the guidelines established by the National Executive Council (COENA), the highest decision-making organ in the party.  This means, say the 12 Congressmen, that they will now have their own legislative agenda and that they will not necessary vote in favor of the decisions taken by the party” (page 4).

Country report.  El Salvador December 2009:  “A split in the right-wing opposition party, [ARENA], has damaged the party and allowed the government of the president, Mauricio Funes, to form a working majority in the unicameral legislature…The ruling FMLN has been quick to seize upon the crisis in Arena.  As October drew to a close, the FMLN unveiled a legislative alliance with the right-wing Partido de Conciliación Nacional (PCN) and GANA…The FMLN and the PCN also agreed to take turns with the presidency of the legislature until April 2012, when a newly elected legislature will take over” (page 9).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report November 2009:  “(Arena) fractured in mid October, one day after the party’s president Alfredo Cristiani had emphasised the need for unity.  Cristiani was speaking on 11 October during the first party convention since Arena suffered its first defeat in presidential elections in March.  The decision by 12 deputies to break away from Arena and form a splinter group is potentially a huge boost for President Mauricio Funes, and the…(FMLN)…The dissidents objected to the way in which the 13 new members of Coena had been appointed…The big irony for Cristiani is that he invested so much time in constructing a right-wing tripartite coalition together with the…(PCN) and the…(PDC) to make life hard for Funes by obstructing FMLN initiatives in the legislative assembly he failed to see the divisions emerging within his own party…The 12-strong bloc formed by the dissidents is now the third most significant in the 84-seat legislative assembly after the FMLN, with 35 seats, and Arena, now with 20…The 12 dissidents have made it clear that they will vote for ‘the good of the country,’ which would extend to voting with the FMLN” (electronic edition).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report December 2009:  “The first tangible result of the Arena split was a vote by legislators at the end of October to expand the 11-seat congressional directorate by two seats in order to represent the Arena rebel bloc, known as the Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional (Gana), now the third most significant group in the 84-seat congress, with 12 legislators, after the FMLN, which has 35 and Arena, now with 20” (electronic edition).


Central America report November 6, 2009:  “The 12 members of parliament have stated their opposition to the leaders of ARENA and have separated themselves from the party and formed a third political force in the Assembly, the G-12…The G-12 has already demonstrated the power of their vote, by supporting the FMLN” (page 7).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report December 2009:  “While the Arena remains embroiled in crisis, the signs of strain between Funes and the orthodox leadership of the FMLN are also becoming increasingly pronounced.  These differences, caused broadly by the FMLN’s alignment with the radical model of leftism as espoused by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez vs. Funes’s affinity with the more moderate ideas adopted by Brazil’s President Lula da Silva, came to a head after the vice president and former FMLN guerrilla, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, travelled to Venezuela...Funes stressed that Sánchez Cerén was speaking as a member of the FMLN rather than as vice president and ultimately he, Funes, was responsible for defining El Salvador’s foreign policy…In a further barometer of the shifting political climate, Funes decorated the six Jesuit priests killed by a government death squad…with the country’s highest honour…The unprecedented acknowledgement of the State’s involvement in the crime follows the recent government announcement of plans to set up a committee to investigate another notorious case of extrajudicial killing—the 1980 assassination of the archibishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero…The case implicates the founder of Arena, the late Roberto D’Aubuisson” (electronic edition).


Country report.  El Salvador December 2009:  “Discontent within Arena ranks since it was defeated in the March 2009 elections by the ruling [FMLN], has led to the defection of 12 deputies and the formation of a new legislative bench, the Gran Alianza de Unidad Nacional (GANA), with which the government has negotiated support.  Although Arena remains the second largest party in the legislature, its presence has been reduced to 20 seats (from 32 seats out of a total of 84)…A former president, Tony Saca (2004-09), along with other long-standing party leaders, has been blamed for the party’s defeat in the March national elections.  The return since the electoral defeat of a former president, Alfredo Cristiani (1989-94), as party leader was meant to unite Arena in opposition.  Instead it appears to have worsened factional in-fighting.  Many in Arena believe Mr Cristiani is incapable of rebuilding the party in opposition—as a member of the wealthy banking elite he is considered to be out of touch with the rank and file” (page 9).  “Congressional realignment, 2009” (page 9).

Country report.  El Salvador February 2010:  “The intense infighting among the Arena leadership…could herald a major shift in right-wing politics for the first time in more than two decades.  Much of the fighting within Arena has centred on the role of Antonio Saca, the outgoing president (2004-09)…After the departure of 12 of the 32 Arena deputies to form an independent legislative bench, the GANA, Mr Saca was accused of supporting the dissidents.  In mid-December 2009 Arena’s executive committee took the unprecedented step of expelling the former leader.  Arena leaders are now also accusing Mr Saca of misuse of funds while in office as well as manipulating the primary election of Rodrigo Ávila, the party’s candidate for the March 2009 presidential election.  Mr Saca has hit back with claims that he has evidence of corruption committed during the past Arena administrations of Mr Cristiani, Armando Calderón Sol (1994-1999) and Francisco Flores (1999-2004)” (page 9).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report January 2010:  “In a further sign of the crisis afflicting Arena, its leadership committee (Coena) has expelled the former president of El Salvador, Tony Saca (2004-2009) from its ranks for ‘betraying the party’s principles.’  Another former president and Saca’s chief rival in the party, Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994), accused Saca of instigating the October defection of 12 Arena deputies and manipulating the March 2008 party primaries in order to impose his (ultimately ill-fated) choice of presidential candidate, Rodrigo Avila.  Underpinning the latter accusation is Saca’s implied responsibility for Arena’s momentous defeat in the March 2009 elections” (electronic edition).