Monday, March 16, 2009

A new day for El Salvador

Yesterday the people of El Salvador went to their voting places and elected Mauricio Funes, of the FMLN, as the next President of the country. This is a historic shift, since the ARENA party has been in power for 17 years. Peaceful transfers of power through a fair and reasonably transparent election system (international observers were pleased with yesterday's process) is something new for El Salvador. The next challenge will be assuring that the transfer of power IS peaceful: it's encouraging that ARENA conceded defeat, and that the leaders of both parties pledged to work together in good faith.

It won't be an easy road for Funes: the economic downturn has hit El Salvador, of course, especially by lessening the remitances from the U.S. on which so many families depend. The legislature is divided. There's huge poverty and unemployment, especially for the young.

In his victory speech, Funes proclaimed a preferential option for the poor, echoing the call of Archbishop Romero. May his work for El Salvador be good news for the poor and for all Salvadorans!

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