Following the FMLN’s unprecedented 10-point victory over the ARENA party in El Salvador’s first round of Presidential elections on February 2nd, right wing forces have reignited their campaign in the United States of fear and misinformation against the FMLN. The renewed effort comes as El Salvador approaches a March 9th runoff election, with the leftist FMLN party poised to easily defeat the right-wing ARENA party, historically backed by the US government.
On February 13, former Republican Senator Jim DeMint, now head of the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank, published an opinion piece in the Miami Herald containing an astounding array of what the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) termed “baseless threats and accusations” about the FMLN and its presidential candidate, Salvador Sánchez Cerén. Meanwhile, on February 16, the Washington DC area Spanish-language paper Metrolatino USA reported that a group of conservative businessmen from El Salvador were visiting the US capital to spread a similar message: that an FMLN victory would threaten the nation’s economy and democracy as well as the physical safety of families in El Salvador.
Demint’s article and the Salvadoran businessmen’s Washington trip are measures unlikely to sway most voters. Indeed, DeMint tacitly accepts an impending FMLN victory, and seems more interested in dedicating his hyperbole to smearing the Obama administration for having “lost” El Salvador. As the FMLN prepares for a likely triumph at the polls on March 9th, the present right-wing efforts appear intended to lay the groundwork for pressuring the US government to attack an incoming FMLN administration. At this very moment, Venezuela is confronting the grim reality of US-backed violent destabilization efforts intent upon disrupting democratic leftist governance, and El Salvador will no doubt face similar challenges from the transnational Right that has fought for decades with countless dollars and lives to maintain its economic, military and political hold over the region.