Thursday, October 13, 2005

Turning aid into political propaganda

Observers of the Salvadoran political scene will be saddened, but not surprised, by this report from the Hunnapuh - Commentarios blog:

All the mayorships, independently of the party that governs them, had done excellent work in the first days of the floods and the volcanic eruption. They demonstrated much efficiency in the attention to the victims, and for that reason they obtained the recognition of very many citizens.

But it seemed that later, orders arrived from the leaders of the parties, to the effect that the mayors would need to take account of the political benefits of what they were doing. Then they began to distribute t-shirts with the photos of the candidates. They appeared with little aid and many TV cameras, and the political show began. Thus appears, in an official party television commercial, mayoral candidates carrying aid.

If we observed carefully the aid given out in that ad, we will realize that what was invested in aid was not even half of what is costs to televise this ad on all the TV channels. But this ad has been shown many times. Therefore they spend a dollar in aid and $99 in publicity. (Any errors in translation are mine).

Mayoral and national assembly elections are coming in the spring, and both main political parties are trying to take advantage of their response to the disasters to gain political advantage. Whether it is the ARENA political commercials where a grateful victim must accept a hand-out of aid with the TV cameras running, or the FMLN handing out T-shirts to refugees in shelters with the photos of FMLN candidates, it is a disgrace.

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