Sunday, September 25, 2011

La vida política

I drove back to Suchitoto in the late afternoon yesterday to find a couple of policemen directing me away from my usual route to the Centro Arte para la Paz where I park the car. I turned the corner and found a few more policemen at the next corner. Several corners and several policemen later I was finally able to get to the Centro Arte by making a wide swing around the center of town, noticing on the way several FMLN buses parked. Of course I had to find out what was going on, so I walked back via the Parque Central and noticed that the street that goes past the Alcaldia (City Hall) was set up with a stage, lots and lots of FMLN flags, and a covered area for dancing. A normal enough sight in this city that for the past 24 years has been voting FMLN (this is the party of the left, formed by an alliance of five smaller political parties in 1981, in the early years of the civil war). But the event wasn't normal, and that's why the police were out in force. The FMLN 's central committee has named Pedrina Rivera as the candidate for Mayor in the elections coming in March, 2012, and many in Suchitoto were upset that they had not been consulted and that the current and very popular FMLN Mayor, Javier Martinez, would not be up for re-election. The flags and banners and stage were set up for Pedrina Rivera's opening speech in the campaign, and supporters had been bused in to make the event look festive and popular.

I didn't stay around to witness the event - it seemed like one of those fights in the family where you'd just as soon the guest didn't witness it - but I learned from the paper today that there had been protests and a scuffle, plastic bottles and pop cans had been thrown, and there was enough shouting to drown out the official words. And then, perhaps to everyone's relief, the sky broke open with thunder and lightning and torrential rains and the rally was at an end.

This morning when I walked over to church, the banners and flags were torn and tattered. It had been a hard night in Suchitoto.

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