Thursday, March 16, 2006

FMLN candidate Menjivar finally declared winner

San Salvador finally has a new mayor. Violeta Menjivar, the candidate of the FMLN, became the first woman mayor of the capital city after the recount was concluded. The announcement came late last night after tense situations when FMLN activists marched on the Radisson Hotel in order to put pressure on election officials conducting the recount. Menjivar's margin of victory was a slim 61 votes.

Be sure and read the comments to this post, including discussion of the confrontation between police and FMLN demonstrators and a clear description of how votes are counted in a Salvadoran election.


Anonymous said...

All I can say is thank God! I don't think tense quite describes in full the situation at the Radisson from what I've heard from people who were there. This situation was down right dangerous! I truly hope Menjivar does good on her promises!

Anonymous said...

I'd heard from a Salvadoran friend that the police had marched and fired (rubber bullets I think) on FMLN supporters outside the hotel. Does anyone know if this is true, and supply further details.


Anonymous said...

Recuerdas el correo que te envie?

No se tienen aqui muchas esperanzas.Despues de todas las irregularidades, que son denunciadas y no se hace nada.

Gracias a Dios, por lo menos, por lo menos, se tiene este, solamente este,resultado OFICIAL.

Rebeca Martell

Anonymous said...

Si, Terry, lo vimos todos por television, la policia lanzó balas de goma. Hay siete heridos.

Frank said...

I don't see how an election won by 61 votes can go unchallenged. I'm not pro-ARENA, but 61 votes out of more than 100,000 would be challenged in any country or city.

Paul said...

The margin of victory is very small, if it is final. They must have recounted several times. Anyone know of the procedures within the ballot counting? Are
impartial persons always present?
If the count has held firm after
recount, then Violetta is the

Anonymous said...

My husband was there last night - they threw tear gas and rubber bullets and were as usual pretty aggressive. There are at least 7 injured, probably more that didn't seek immediate care.

El-Visitador said...

I am shocked that policemen who where there to protect the Tribunal and public and private property are described as "aggressive."

The cops were standing behind a barrier and the mob tried to remove the barrier and attacked the riot police!

Can people seriously suggest that the mob should have been allowed to continue, and possibly destroy the election records? Can you imagine the consequences of such an event, in any country? Florida ring a bell here?

Even bloggers sympathetic to FMLN are distraught at the violence (includes pictures):

Press reports, clearly stating that the mob attacked, and only dispersed when the Head of Police negotiated with three major FMLN leaders:

La Prensa Gráfica

El Diario de Hoy

El-Visitador said...


Having once counted votes myself, I can tell you exactly how it works.

Each poll booth in a poll location is manned by a citizen's committee. Each citizen has been nominated by a party. I have never been card-carrying, but was recruited by a friend. We all show up in the morning and draw lots to see what role each will perform, from acrediting voters to monitoring the line.

At the end of the day, the committee counts each vote. Each vote is considered valid, unless a committee member claims "hanging chads" or our equivalent. We use a crayon or marker on a piece of paper, not a punch machine, by the way. In the "hanging chad"-case, a vote is taken: allow/reject. Rejects are called "impugnado". The count is signed by all, and delivered to the Tribunal reps in the building. I found the process enourmously transparent, fair, and gratifying. I must say, also, we all got paid one day's minimum wages, in cash!

Each polling place submits location results to the Tribunal. The Tribunal tallies the national vote, and this is why you can have results as early as 9pm.

There is NO recounting of votes: i.e., the signatures of thousands and thousands of committee citizens who looked at each vote are considered better than any bureaucrat recounting somewhere. Democracy at its best.

However, if there should be close to a tie, and the number of impugnado/reject votes is larger than the candidate difference, then, and only then, can the Tribunal open the ballot boxes, and they will only analyze impugnado votes to try and discern voter intent. They are not allowed to re-count/re-assess votes that the citizen committees counted as valid. This is far superior to the Palm Beach County re-count processes, if you do not mind my saying so.

I hope I did not leave anything major out. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday night I was trying to watch every chanel that was covering the protests. To me, the police were the ones that open fire at first. The protesters had reached the fences and, certainly they were shaking it, and shouting "El pueblo unido, Jamas sera vencido". That is all I recall that the "mob" did. Apparently, that was enough for the police to open fire (warning shots), it was consired as an enough "violent behavior" to disperse the multitude. Of course, after the warning shots came the gas bombs, then the mob started throwing rocks, igniting fire crackers (some that were thrown over the fence). But to be honest, I don't believe that the mob were initially trying to topple the fence. For starters, there were at least 200+ people there, enough to turn the thing easily. Especially if you later see footage of one fence that had actually been turned over. Imo, protesters where fiery but weren't exactly wrecking havoc in the first place (no trying to topple fences, etc.), not until after the shots: confrontation. At least that is my take on the whole situation.

Anonymous said...

Even though I must add something. Just like the hooligans, I don't discard that possibility that in that mob were people who like to cause ruckus(violence). And by the tension of the whole night, it wouldn't surprise me if the mob were ready to start anything if Menjivar wasn't declared the victor. Fortunately the mob did disperse and mobilized to Salvador del Mundo before the confrontation got anymore serious (serious injuries, deaths). But I still mantain that the thousand-headed beast was still "tame" at the moment of the chanting and shaking the fence.

Anonymous said...

First. The FLMN has maintained the mayorship of San Salvador for at least the past eight years. So whoever posted that this is a first time win for the FMLN is naive. Secondly, we live within one Kilometer of all the electoral stations in San Salvador, and its been very very quiet - we had to read the papers to find out that it wasn't as quiet as it actually is. Go figure. You know, a country like El Salvador has enough issues to overcome without unfactual hype - lets just celebrate the fact that an FMLN candidate won by a small margin and this was uncontested by ARENA.