Presidential Election in El Salvador
[Opinion] A polarized political event
Alfredo Ascanio (askain)
Published 2009-03-15 10:30 (KST)
The Republic El Salvador, located in Central America, is a very small country of just 21,041 square kilometers and a population of nearly 7 million.
On March 15, the new presidential election is very important for this country. The Electoral Tribunal has said that 461 centers are ready for the next vote.
The political campaign -- which was very polarized -- has been violent and tense. The government has available 2,000 soldiers and 17,000 other troops that could be used to monitor the voting process and avoid potential conflicts.
Some 4.2 million people, 60 percent of the population, are eligible to vote.
The two candidates in this election are Rodrigo Avila: party Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Arena), which has been in power since the year El Salvador signed its peace agreement. And then there is candidate Miguel Funes of the Farabundo Marti Front for Liberation Nacional (FMLN), a group of left and ex-guerrilleros communists, who have now given assurances to address democratic continuity, solve social and economic problems and not compromise investment.
But some analysts have said that behind this candidate might be Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, who have been considered part of a "dirty war" during the campaign.
This suspicion is based on the observation that while Hugo Chavez said during his election campaign that he would respect democratic rules and ensure private investment, once in power he violated those promises. He has been shown to introduce a political model in Venezuela similar to that of Cuba. Fidel Castro also misled the people by assuring them that their political system would not be communist.
Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover
The candidate of the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Arena), Rodrigo Avila, asked voters to preserve democracy, but the country has serious economic problems. However, the country's main problems are security and unemployment.
In El Salvador, an average of eight people are killed daily by youth gangs ("Maras") which are considered to be part of the disenfranchised and criminal elements of a suffering society.
President Elias Antonio Sacra has invited international observers to monitor and prevent violence during the election campaign.
The Electoral Tribunal wants the vote to go ahead and provide the results by at most 15 days after Sunday's election.