When it comes to El Salvador, Mary Anastasio O'Grady for the Wall Street Journal only knows a one note song. For the third time this year, she has written an editorial focusing on the treatment of the Canadian gold mining company Pacific Rim by the ARENA government. This time she does it in the context of trying to explain the FMLN's lead in the race for president:
Wishes for peace on Earth are on the lips of the faithful throughout Latin America this week. But in El Salvador, these hopeful sentiments mask trepidation about what 2009 will bring.She goes on to argue that the treatment of Pacific Rim and the treatment of Italian power consortium Enel are the activities which have led Salvadorans to reject ARENA.
The fears stem from the fact that the former guerrilla group Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation -- aka the FMLN -- is now leading in the opinion polls for the March 15 presidential elections. FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes is widely considered a moderate leftist. But other party honchos -- including vice-presidential candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén -- are of the more traditional (i.e., militant) FMLN variety. Many Salvadorans are worried that if the party comes to power, its radicalized elements will overwhelm the likes of Mr. Funes and pull the country hard to the left.
This would be tragic for the tiny, market-oriented Central American nation, which suffered so much in the 1980s at the hands of the Soviet-backed FMLN. Yet if the FMLN wins the election, don't blame Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro or neighboring Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who still fly the revolution's tattered banner.
Instead, look to Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca of the center-right Arena Party. Mr. Saca was in Washington last week promising President Bush Salvadoran help in fighting the U.S. "war on drugs" and trying to pass himself off as a champion of traditional American economic values. But back home in El Salvador, his actions have earned him a reputation for undermining democratic capitalism through the abrogation of contracts.
While I agree that one reason Salvadorans want a change from the ARENA government is the want to get rid of government operated for the benefit of the powerful friends of Tony Saca, there seem to be many other influences at play. Salvadorans are struggling economically, the gap between rich and poor is widening, people don't feel safe and no one sees progress in these areas despite countless ARENA promises. Certainly Salvadorans do not seem to be saying that they plan to vote for Mauricio Funes so that Pacific Rim can get its mining license.
O'Grady's distaste for the FMLN is blatant. It is particularly evident in the video below which accompanied the online version of her editorial. The video starts with her assertion that vice presidential candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren will actually direct the country if Mauricio Funes wins and ends with her statement, "If they take a chance on the FMLN it will be a very sad day for El Salvador."
See O'Grady's other editorials about Pacific Rim here and here.