The Boston Globe ran a recent story about Merlin Pena, a Salvadoran who has been living in the Boston area since she fled El Salvador in 1980 at the beginning of the civil war. She has been selected to be the the vice presidential candidate for the Christian Democratic Party. Carlos Rivas Zamora, the former mayor of San Salvador, is the party's candidate for president.
The choice of Mena is another sign of the importance of the Salvadoran diaspora to what happens back in El Salvador. Although Salvadorans living abroad cannot vote unless they return to El Salvador to cast their ballots, their economic impact through remittances is immense. A video with Mena on the front page of the PDC website has her talking about the importance of the Salvadorans living outside of the country.
From the Globe story:
Merlin Pena is a resource specialist at the Massachusetts General Hospital clinic in Chelsea. Next year, she could be vice president of El Salvador. Pena, 51, is known ... for her community activism and advocacy for immigrants' rights. But she is also a low-key semi-celebrity, recognized by a worldwide network of Salvadorans for her ambassador-type work between Salvadoran political leaders and the emigrants who support much of that country's economy...
As the first president of Salvadorans in the World, a group she no longer belongs to, Pena continued to build political connections and advocated to improve relations between El Salvador and its emigrants. For years, one of her main goals has been to have her country extend voting and social rights to Salvadorans living outside El Salvador and to see them as more than "just remittance." The presidential election in El Salvador is scheduled to take place March 15.
Mena is not the first Salvadoran resident of the US to run for political office in El Salvador. In 2006, Hugo Salinas from Virgnia lost in his race to become mayor of Intipuca. In the current elections, Salvador Gomez Gochez, who has dual US and Salvadoran citizenship, is running for mayor of the town of Atiquizaya.