Maria Elena Salinas, the journalist co-anchor on Univision, recently interviewed Mauricio Funes, and wrote about what challenges face Funes in her synidcated column:
Either way, this historical election begs the question of whose lead Funes will follow. Will he be a pragmatic leftist, such as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or a radical leader, such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez?
Funes says neither one: "You never know — instead of an axis led by Lula or one by Chavez, maybe there will be a new Central American axis led by Funes that will be pragmatic but at the same time radical in facing the problems it will have to confront."
And Funes will be inheriting some pretty serious problems: A country marred by extreme poverty and a high unemployment rate. One of the highest crime rates in the world. The expansion of dangerous youth gangs. An increase in deportations of Salvadorans from the U.S. and a reduction in remittances.
As if that isn't enough, Funes will have to deal with the still-fresh scars from the bloody civil war that killed almost 75,000 people. Even though Funes lost his oldest brother in the armed conflict, he does not believe it is necessary to annul the amnesty law that was signed along with the peace agreement.
"I know exactly who ordered my brother's death," he claims. "With time, I have learned to forgive."
According to Funes, the families of the victims have a right to know the circumstances of their loved ones' deaths. To that end, he would consider opening new investigations. If he does, however, he could find himself in a bind. His vice president, a former rebel leader during the armed conflict, has been accused of war crimes himself.
During his inaugural address, the new president said his government is not allowed to make mistakes, and he is right. There is much at stake. With a new government that has never held power, a weak economy and a fragile democracy, there is very little room for error. The celebrity journalist-turned-president will soon know what it's like to be on the side of those he so often criticized.