I was struck by how Mauricio Funes and the FMLN are reaching out to business as demonstrated in a recent press release on the FMLN web site:
On his arrival in Los Angeles Funes ... will meet with senior representatives of a well known business with a presence in all Latin America. The agenda of the presidential candidate includes on Thursday a meeting in the Biltmore Hotel with more than a hundred leaders of the Salvadoran community in the United States, businessmen, professionals and some Latin American diplomats....In recent months the presidential candidate has had numerous meetings with small medium and large businesses, to whom he has transmitted his message of certainty. Many of them have already expressed their support.
That's a far cry from the rhetoric of the orthodox old guard who ran the presidential campaign of Schafik Handal in 2004.
The Los Angeles Times added to recent attention being paid to Funes by the US press as it covered Funes visit to the California city which is home to hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans:
Funes has tread cautiously to avoid being tagged a hard-line leftist in a country still deeply polarized since the war, which claimed 75,000 lives before ending with a peace accord in 1992.
He says it would be financially "irresponsible" to dump the dollar and asserts that the time is not right to seek any changes in the regional free-trade agreement with the United States.
"El Salvador needs a democratic, realistic and responsible left," Funes said during an interview in San Salvador, the capital.
Funes is more likely to hold up as a model Brazil's president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, than Old Guard members of the FMLN or the bombastic Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, who has antagonized U.S. policymakers. Funes' wife, Vanda Pignato, who is Brazilian, is a founding member of Lula's Workers' Party.
Funes has met with American officials during trips to the United States in recent months to make clear that he would retain close bilateral relations, particularly on issues such as regional drug trafficking and organized crime.(more)
That's a different kind of FMLN -- or at least a different kind of FMLN presidential candidate -- and a far cry from the party which regularly decried such relations with the "empire" to the north.