In the midst of important stories coming out of El Salvador, like the flooding and the deployment of troops on the streets, I postponed commenting about an editorial by Mary Anastasio O'Grady in the Noveber 8, 2009 Wall Street Journal. Her editorial, titled Chavez's Next Target: El Salvador continues her history of right-wing diatribes involving the country. After praising the de facto government in Honduras which deposed democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya, she goes on to write:
Speculation about such political machinations increased last month when 12 Arena congressmen announced a break from their party. Calling themselves "independents," they proceeded to vote with the FMLN against an investigation Arena wanted into abuses of agricultural subsidies.
What prompted the defection? [Former president Alfredo] Cristiani told me that a high-ranking member of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) has told him that at least one PDC congressman has been offered $700,000 to vote with the FMLN. Separately, the secretary general of the PDC, Rodolfo Parker, has publicly warned of multiple offers from a middleman of between $300,000 and $500,000.
Mr. Saca denies any involvement in the vote-buying scheme, and surely Mr. Merino has enough motivations to act on his own. But rumors are swirling in the Salvadoran press about links between individuals close to Mr. Saca and alleged middlemen acting on behalf of Mr. Merino.
The Arena defection is no ordinary betrayal of the electorate. In Salvador voters choose a party ticket. Congressmen are named according to how many votes the party gets. These congressmen were not elected as individuals but rather as representatives of the elected party. With their votes the FMLN is now only one or two votes short of a two-thirds majority. If it gets that majority, the party can tell the moderate Mr. Funes what to do. Then Chávez acolytes will be well on their way to winning what their bedfellows could not in Honduras.
You might have thought that this fear-mongering about El Salvador becoming a puppet state of Venezuela would have ended with the shut down of ARENA's propaganda machine after the March elections, but not so for O'Grady. She consciously decides not to mention Funes 84% approval rating, the decidedly moderate measures taken by the government in the past 5 months, and the repeated statements by the FMLN leadership that they support Funes and have no difference in opinion with him. Sometimes when I see someone spouting such nonsense, I can't resist responding.