This morning, US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Salvador Sánchez Cerén for his election as president of El Salvador [full text after the jump]. The international solidarity community celebrates this important recognition of the decision made by Salvadoran voters at the polls on March 9th in elections the Organization of American States and the United Nations have applauded as highly transparent and fair. The US Embassy in El Salvador reiterated Kerry’s congratulations in a statement published on Twitter.
As the right-wing ARENA party, which lost by 6,364 votes, has fought to delegitmize the FMLN’s win through unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud, Secretary Kerry’s statements leave the party increasingly isolated. The governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Russia, and China congratulated President-elect Sánchez Cerén soon after El Salvador’s electoral authority announced the results of the final count on March 16th. The US government made their official announcement following the electoral authority’s announcement that all appeals processes had been exhausted and the electoral process was officially over.
International solidarity activists have been instrumental in ensuring US respect for El Salvador’s sovereign democratic institutions; they organized last summer to pressure the US government to maintain a neutral position throughout the electoral process and rallied again in the weeks following the elections to call on their congressional representatives to demand the US State Department recognize the results. Last Friday, six congressional representatives sent a letter to Secretary Kerry asking him to officially recognize Sánchez Cerén’s election.
Though this recognition constitutes a major victory for democracy and sovereignty in El Salvador, Secretary Kerry’s inclusion of the bilateral Partnership for Growth in his statement speaks to the US government’s resolve to continue pushing its pro-corporate economic agenda in El Salvador. The Public-Private Partnership law – privatization legislation drafted by US and Salvadoran neoliberal technocrats – has been one of the most controversial results of the Partnership for Growth. This week, the Salvadoran legislature will re-initiate debate regarding a new set of reforms to the law that the US Embassy has insisted must be passed in order to release development funding to El Salvador.
It’s clear that Washington is willing to respect El Salvador’s national sovereignty, but only to a point; and beyond that the US-based solidarity movement must remain vigilant and ready to push back against US policies in the name of self-determination.
Full text of statement by John Kerry, US Secretary of State:
We congratulate Salvador Sanchez Ceren on his election as president, and we particularly congratulate the Salvadoran people for their participation in a process that the OAS election observer mission called calm and orderly.
We recognize that there are pending legal matters, and we urge continued respect for the legal processes and institutions of El Salvador.
El Salvador is a country and a people that I first got to know well as a freshman Senator, and it is a relationship that remains just as important to me as Secretary of State. The United States looks forward to working with President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and to continuing joint efforts to promote security and economic development through the Partnership for Growth. Our longstanding partnership and commitment to El Salvador and the Salvadoran people continues.