Marta Harnecker is an intellectual of the Latin American socialist movement in Latin America. An interview Harnecker gave regarding the new presidency of Salvador Sánchez Cerén in El Salvador was recently translated to English and published on the website of Links Internal Journal of Socialist Renewal under the title El Salvador, a new progressive hope in Latin America . Among other topics, she discusses where she sees El Salvador within the context of other countries in the region:
The political project of the FMLN ties in with the South American experiences of Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador. What is your opinion regarding the peculiarity of El Salvador?
I see differences. You cannot compare Venezuela, a big country with enormous oil wealth – this is the revolutionary process that has been able to count on more resources than any other in the world – with El Salvador, a very small country, without much natural wealth, in a geographical situation that continues to be very complicated, with the continued presence of a strong fascist right.
On the other hand, the big advantage that El Salvador has, in my opinion, is precisely its history, its tradition of struggle, the level of popular organisation that has been achieved and a the presence of a very solid political organisation, things that Venezuela did not have. It did not have strong social organisation, it did not have strong leftist parties, the party was created to run in elections.
The Salvadorian process, as opposed to the other processes that have occurred in South America, has experienced more radical, more heroic struggles, which have cost a lot of blood, but have also helped forge an important organisation, both before and after the war. This represents a historic memory and a learning process that no one can erase.
No doubt the challenges are enormous: the problem of the “maras” [gangs] that control part of the territory, and more generally the issue of crime, the precarious economic situation the country finds itself in and the urgent need to overcome the problem of unemployment, without which there will be no solution for the youth. These are important national problems that need to be confronted.
But we also have to take into consideration that El Salvador today finds itself within a very different global situation to a few years ago. There is a new correlation of forces in the region and at the global level. Just look at the recent agreements between China and Russia. A Russia-China pole has been built, which is very important for a multi-polar world. This is the global context in which El Salvador has a new government; above all because China and Russia are both willing to support Latin America. They have invested in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. What this means for each of our governments is that there exists the opportunity to have economic relations with different countries, thereby avoiding the need to depend on just one like in the past.You can read the rest of the interview, including her discussion of how the political project of the FMLN should be advanced, here.