Leftist candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén won the presidential elections in El Salvador by a slim margin of only 6,364 votes. His victory came amid accusations of mass fraud as the losing party, ARENA, refused to accept the result of the election. ARENA candidate Norman Quijano and other members of the losing party urged their supporters to protest and demand a vote-by-vote recount.
Both national and international observers, including the UN and the OAS (Organization of American States), have called the country's electoral process fair, transparent, and efficient.
The surprising final tally revealed the following definitive results of the second electoral round: the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) with 1,495,815 votes (50.11%) and the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) with 1,489,451 votes (49.89%).
The FMLN accused ARENA of making up ground in the polls by using a terror campaign that presented the conflicts in Venezuela as an incentive to not vote for the FMLN, accusing the leftist party of propagating Communism, Chavismo, and zealous Bolivarianism. The FMLN also claims that workers in some companies were told that in the case of an FMLN victory, the companies would close and move abroad, leaving the employees without work. The ARENA party also collected the votes of most of those who had supported the right-wing coalition UNIDAD, which lost in the first round of elections.
Salvadorian bloggers are also divided, some supporting ARENA and others supporting FMLN.
On his blog Siguiente página [es], Paolo Lüers writes a “Carta en defensa del berrinche” [es] (Letter in defense of throwing a fit), where he supports ARENA's continued demands for a vote-by-vote count.
Señores de ARENA:
Les autorizo (más bien: les exhorto) a defender mi voto, de la manera más firme e inteligente posible.
Dear Sirs of ARENA:
I authorize you (or, rather, I urge you) to defend my vote, in the firmest and wisest possible way.
Salvadorian community site Blog de San Pedro Nonualco [es] posts a photo summary [es] of the electoral process in the city, including some reflections:
¿Para qué sudar calenturas ajenas por ARENA o FMLN? Si al final no son tan diferentes, son caras de una misma moneda, no puede vivir uno sin el otro, por eso viven sólo criticándose y no tienen interés por solucionar los graves problemas del país.
Why get caught up in ARENA versus FMLN? At the end of the day they aren't that different. They're two faces of the same coin, one can't live without the other, so they only live to criticize each other. They aren't interested in solving the country's serious problems.
Neto Rivas, well-known Salvadorian blogger and right-wing sympathizer, posts the final results [es] and mentions that the appeal put forward by ARENA:
…ha exacerbado la tensión política que ha puesto en riesgo la misma estabilidad del país. Hoy día, nadie sabe qué va a ocurrir y adónde vamos a estar en los próximos días.
…has exacerbated the political tension that has threatened the country's very stability. Today no one knows what will happen or where we will be in the coming days.
On his blog Cosas Tan Pasajeras [es], Carlos Abrego writes the post “Volvamos a la Realidad” [es] (Let's Return to Reality), where he begins by citing the fact that the landslide victory predicted by the polls never appeared. He criticizes the FMLN for having given in to the “framework of domination of the oligarchy”:
…y que en lugar de plantearse formas de lucha, hablan de buscar entendimientos con el patronato desdeñando la promoción de las luchas populares.
Los resultados electorales reflejan la falta de esperanza entre los trabajadores. El FMLN no pudo, no puede llevar a cabo una campaña entusiasmante, pues le falta el motor de la lucha cotidiana por mejores condiciones de vida y de trabajo.
…and that instead of suggesting ways to fight, they're talking about coming to an understanding with the ruling class, disdaining the advancement of popular struggles.
The electoral results reflect the lack of hope among workers. The FMLN couldn't and can't carry out a motivating campaign, as it lacks the drive of the daily fight for better living and working conditions.
The blog Colectivo de análisis de la realidad [es] publishes the post “Imposible detener las ruedas de la historia” [es] (Impossible to stop the wheels of history), criticizing ARENA for the tricks it used to delegitimize the elections:
Las maniobras areneras habían sido denunciadas desde antes de la primera vuelta electoral. Desde entonces, ARENA buscaba justificar una muy probable derrota ante su militancia.
ARENA's manipulations have been criticized since before the first round of elections. Since then, ARENA has been trying to justify a very likely defeat in the face of its militancy.
El Blog de Salvador, the presumed blog of FMLN candidate Salvador Sanchez Cerén, thanks the Salvadorian public for their confidence in his party's plans, urging unity and hard work [es]:
Reafirmo ante el pueblo salvadoreño que seremos un gobierno participativo, amplio, transparente y plural.
I reaffirm before the Salvadorian people that we will be a participatory, broad-minded, transparent, and pluralistic government.
Blogger Tim Muth reviews FMLN's victory in the final tally, ARENA's rejection of the results, and the losing party's taking to the streets to demand a vote-by-vote recount, citing accusations of fraud that are not shared by the public. Tim also points out that the Armed Forces have already declared their intention to respect the electoral tribune's decision, which refutes ARENA candidate Norman Quijano's call for the Armed Forces to intervene and “defend democracy.”
The process leaves the country tense and polarized. As of this morning, ARENA's next step is not clear.
But the real battle is playing out on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, where accusations, jokes, threats, and calls for common sense are mixing together in a chaotic explosion of ideas.
Some leaders, like representative Roberto D'Aubuisson of ARENA, are summoning their supporters to marches and protests for this Friday, March 14.
Los invitamos! pic.twitter.com/QZe2MV7szA
— Roberto d'Aubuisson (@rdaubuisson) marzo 13, 2014
We invite you!
Others are already tired of what they consider a political circus.
Al fin termino el circo politico, proxima funcion dentro de 6 meses mas o menos para las #EleccionesSV del 2015
— Irvin Estrada (@IrgEst) marzo 13, 2014
The political circus has finally ended, next show in about six months for the elections in 2015.
The artist Hugo Rodriguez, known as Crack Rodriguez, ate his ballot in protest because he does not believe in the electoral process.
“Hugo Rodríguez se comió su papeleta frente a JRV, según el en denuncia a la relación de hambre y poder” – uffff. pic.twitter.com/bPbJFvYs1A
— Oscar Martell (@oscarmartell) marzo 10, 2014
Hugo Rodriguez ate his ballot in front of the voting stations, according to him, to denounce the relation of hunger and power
On their blog, the Center for Investigation of Central American Resources published a manifesto [es] written by Rodriguez:
SV// Manifesto de @crackrodriguez, el artista que comió su papeleta de voto http://t.co/5mtJgwsAGe via @el_circa #EleccionesSV #ElSalvador
— CIRCA (@el_circa) marzo 13, 2014
Second round of elections: Manifesto from Crack Rodriguez, the artist who ate his voting ballot.
The 2014 presidential elections in El Salvador have been unprecedented, and there may be more surprises still to come.
I am a lifelong human rights/social justice activist whose resume begins with the US civil rights and Vietnam War struggles and includes more than 20 years in El Salvador, most of them during the war there. It’s disheartening that valuable sources like Global Voices is negligent in connecting the dots and/or in providing an important historical context for situations like those in El Salvador. For example, academics and others who have long researched and published articles and books on the country always cite its long history of repression vis-a-vis 50 years of military dictatorships and rule of the tiny, economic right-wing elite that backed Roberto D’Äbuisson, notorious death squad organizer and leader, when he founded their political party ARENA with the encouragement of his US right-wing friend, Jesse Helms. In more recent studies, the party – from its first president Alfredo Cristiania (1989) to its last one (Tony Saca) – has also been associated with rampant and devastating corruption. Etc. Etc. El Salvador is a toddler democracy: all its political parties have serious flaws but the evidence shows that the worst one, the least credible one, is ARENA. This history must be taken into consideration when viewing the cultural, political and economic realities of El Salvador.