El Salvador's president Mauricio Funes spoke with a decidedly centrist tone in a presentation yesterday at the Americas Conference sponsored by the Miami Herald. The Miami Herald summarized in English some of Funes' remarks:
Staking out a middle ground in a highly polarized region, El Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said he was not interested in U.S.-style capitalism or Venezuela-inspired socialism but policies that made his nation ``effective and efficient.''
Speaking at the opening day of the Americas Conference in Coral Gables on Tuesday, Funes brushed off the idea that his government might try to adopt the ``XXI Century Socialism'' that Venezuela has tried to export to allies such as Nicaragua and Bolivia.
``In El Salvador it's not possible to build socialism and much less 21st Century Socialism, which I really cannot define and is not clear to me,'' he said. ``I don't think [the model] is clear to many of the political actors in the region.''
While Funes said the party that brought him to power, the left-wing FMLN, has its own ideas, he described himself as the president of all El Salvadorans ``even those who didn't vote for me.''
Since taking office 15 months ago, Funes has restored ties with Cuba and was among the first presidents in the region to blast the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, a staunch ally of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.
But Funes has also pushed for Honduras to be readmitted to the Organization of American States, has maintained cordial ties with the United States and been a vocal critic of presidents who have pushed for constitutional changes to extend their terms -- a category that both Venezuela's Chávez and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe fall into.
Funes said he was only interested in political ``recipes'' that worked in El Salvador.
``Our model is clear rules, strengthening the rule of law and strengthening institutions so democracy can function in our country,'' he said.
Funes also spoke about illegal immigration, stating that the flow of migrants northward would not be stopped by xenophobic laws or drug cartel massacres until the Obama put greater emphasis on closing the gap between rich and poor and economic development in Central America.
Leftist blogs in El Salvador had criticized Funes for postponing a planned trip to Cuba in order to attend the conservative Miami Herald sponsored conference.
You can watch Funes' complete remarks in the video below (in Spanish only):