The ARENA political party, which had governed El Salvador for 20 years from 1989-2009, today voted to expel from its ranks former president Tony Saca, who left office just 6 months ago. Former president Alfredo Cristiani announced that Saca was expelled for betraying the principles of the party, including instigating the recent defection of 12 ARENA deputies in the legislature. The party blames Saca for hand-picking Rodrigo Avila as its 2009 presidential candidate, and then losing to Mauricio Funes in the March presidential election.
Meanwhile, the conservative El Diario de Hoy, has published an investigative report revealing that Saca's presidential office spent $219 million more than was budgeted by the National Assembly. The spending by the presidency was out of proportion to all other sectors of the Salvadoran government -- Saca's spending on goods and services was greater than the spending of the ministries of health and education combined. While the ministry of health was running out of money for medicines in the hospitals, Saca spent $83 million on publicity for his presidency.