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El Salvador: Blogger Thoughts Before the Elections

Editor's Note: The following is a translation of a portion of an article written by the blogger Hunnapuh and reprinted with permission.

For the first time in history in El Salvador, bloggers and blogs have had an active participation and influence in the media coverage of the elections for mayors and legislators on January 18, 2009. And now, on the election for president taking place on March 15. It is quite impressive the effect that it is having on the Salvadoran population with internet access, above all in the urban areas of the country where many young people have access through hundreds of cybercafes operating in a private and informal manner throughout the country.

From well-known businesspeople to disabled persons, the range of bloggers writing about the elections is rich and varied. Some are marked by confrontation and others have more conciliatory tone, but the majority are waiting for the results of this year's election.

Don Neto Rivas of the blog Conversaciones con Neto Rivas [es] on the Saturday before the elections published a reflection on the two candidates Mauricio Funes of the FMLN party and Rodrigo Ávila of the ARENA party. He emphasized the dangerous level of polarization that both parties have taken the country:

El Salvador era un país polarizado antes de iniciar la campaña, pero a estas alturas la polarización se ha exacerbado a grado altamente peligroso. Peligroso porque hoy más que nunca, el país necesita de un consenso político que le permita enfrentar la crisis económica como un pueblo unido. De no hacerlo, es muy improbable que podamos salir indemnes de los difíciles meses que tenemos por delante.

El Salvador was a polarized country before the start of campaign, but now the polarization has reached a very dangerous level. Dangerous because now more than ever, the country needs a political consensus that allows it to face the economic crisis as a united country. If not, it is improbable that we can emerge unhurt by the difficult months to come.

The blog El Trompudo [es] has been providing ample coverage of the complaints regarding the elections and has been insinuating that the Association of Scouts of El Salvador are being used to induce the vote in favor of the ARENA party. The Scouts have been participating in the election by helping disabled citizens to be able to vote without difficulties. It is also making complaints about the use of sporting facilities for shelters for persons belonging to other municipalities like the case of Villa Olímpica where the people made a human wall and called the authorities during the night. There are other similar cases in Sonsonate and San Miguel.

The blog also has a live Xat Box, which is a chat application that is permanently connected where various people can inform and provide their opinions on the elections.

Gatos Frentudos [es] publishes photographs of the Cuscatlán Stadium and of Villa Olímpica of Ayutuxtepeque where there are large groups of people including many foreigners reportedly ready to vote.

The blog Association of Salvadorans in the World [es] publishes an essay about the candidate Funes titled: Mauricio Funes: From the Age of Innocence to Political Animal, where it details the conversion process where Funes has become an authentic star in Salvadoran politics:

Al final, aquel inocente niño, de mirada suave y ojos amables, llevaba dentro de sí a un gran monstruo político, que decidiría, en última instancia, tirarse a la peligrosa arena de los grandes felinos y luchar cuerpo a cuerpo contra ellos para conseguir hacer su sueño realidad: llegar a ser presidente de su país. Si lo consigue, será el reto más grande de su vida.

In the end, that innocent child, with a smooth look and kind eyes, carried a grand political monster inside of him, who decided at the last moment, to throw himself into the dangerous arena of the large cats and fight face to face against them in order to make his dream come true: become president of his country. If he makes it, it will be the biggest challenge of his life.

The blog El Narizón [es], which is favoring the ARENA candidate, publishes a plan from the FMLN to intimidate the ARENA voters on election day:

Un grupo de amigos me cuenta que para el día de las elecciones los miembros del FMLN pretenden andar con sus camisas rojas con la bandera de su partido a fin dejarse ver y celebrar anticipadamente su victoria 2009.

La cosa es que estos señores buscan crear una mancha roja para que los votantes areneros se sientan intimidados ante tanta gente vestida de rojo, y tratar de infundir miedo como lo han hecho durante toda la campaña como precisamente escuche hace poco y que dicen que el FMLN está manteniendo las actitudes de violencia.

A group of friend told me that on the day of the elections members of the FMLN will try to walk around with their red shirts and the flag of the party so that they can be seen and celebrate their anticipated victory in 2009.

What these people are tying to do is create a red wave so that the ARENA voters will feel intimidated by seeing so many people dressed in red and try to arouse fear like they have done during the entire campaign like I heard a little while ago and they say that the FMLN is maintaining their violent attitudes.

The blog Comicios 2009 [es] asks the people to vote using the wisdom provided by God to free men and women, without expressing directly for whom to vote. The blog also publishes a post accusing Funes of dark ties with Orlando Zepeda, member of the military group “Tandona” during the country's armed conflict.

This has been one constant during the last few days, trying to divide FMLN against Funes by accusing him of being part of the bourgeois, who has sold out to the millionaires and a traitor to the “sacred revolutionary principles.” In the blog No Al Socialismo [es] (No to Socialism), it publishes information about the financing of Funes using vulgar language.

Two interviews with the two candidates by journalist Jorge Ramos was published in the blog Hora Cero de Solavá [es] which were “hidden” by local television which caused more problems than benefit especially for Ávila:

Nunca se realizó un debate entre los dos candidatos (…) pero las dos entrevistas de Jorge Ramos Ávalos a los candidatos permite una comparación justa porque se realizaron por la misma persona, en la misma semana y en los mismos términos.

There was never a presidential debate between the two candidates (…) but the two interviews by Jorge Ramos Ávalos with the two candidates permits a fair comparison because they were done by the same person, in the same week, on the same terms.

Many bloggers are also participating with live coverage using Twitter and Cover-It-Live.

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