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Publicado el 14 de Junio de 2011

id: 173094
date: 10/8/2008 19:07
refid: 08SANSALVADOR1167
origin: Embassy San Salvador
classification: CONFIDENTIAL

DE RUEHSN #1167/01 2821907
P 081907Z OCT 08

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/03/2018
Classified By: Ambassador Glazer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Summary:  During a September 28-October 1 visit to San
Salvador, Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) Madison engaged
key politicos from the left-leaning FMLN and the
conservative, pro-U.S. ARENA parties on the upcoming
elections, and discussed with GOES officials the prospects
for extending the Comalapa Cooperative Security Location
(CSL). She also gave a media interview with the largest
circulation newspaper in which she outlined benefits to the
region from CAFTA and law-enforcement cooperation.  End
Elections:  The FMLN,s Take
2. (C) Salvador Samayoa: The former FMLN member and signatory
to the 1992 Peace Accords is now a prominent political
analyst.  Samayoa said both parties faced credibility issues:
ARENA with the economy, and the FMLN with Chavez. Samayoa
said the FMLN leadership has not changed its ideology since
the Peace Accords, and that the leadership is at odds with
more open-minded party activists.  Samayoa said this dynamic
explains the rift between presidential candidate Funes and
FMLN General Coordinator Medardo Gonzalez.  While the
Salvadoran system concentrates power in the President,
Samayoa told the DAS that modern El Salvador has never seen a
presidential candidate so at odds with the party he
represents.  Samayoa predicted that if Funes wins, he will
not be a puppet for the FMLN.  But, he added that a
combination of an FMLN victory with Venezuelan cash would
corrupt the Salvadoran political system.  Nonetheless, he
suggested that the U.S. should avoid getting directly
involved in the Salvadoran electoral campaign, and limit
public comments to exhortations for fairness and respect for
the democratic process.  Samayoa said the FMLN is convinced
it will win, and that he is concerned that an unexpected
ARENA victory would result in violence.
3. (C) FMLN Deputy Hugo Martinez: He said that the Salvadoran
electorate is divided into three groups: one-third are strong
ARENA supporters, one-third are strong FMLN supporters, and
one-third are swing voters.  He said that during the first
month of the campaign (the official campaign season for the
municipal and legislative elections began September 1) the
FMLN,s efforts have been concentrated on winning these swing
voters by focusing on social issues.  He said the FMLN is
working to transmit a message of peace and tranquility in
order to attract new voters.  When asked about the
possibility of violence if the election was close, Martinez
said that the FMLN was more concerned about fraud, especially
after the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) recently
eliminated the requirement that polling officials sign each
ballot.  He said that if the election was close, the
possibility of fraud would increase.
4. (C) David Munguia Payes: The retired Salvadoran Army
Colonel is widely-assumed to be the Minister of Defense if
Funes wins.  Munguia Payes told DAS Madison that he was
concerned about Funes, &delicate8 personal security
situation. He said the FMLN was taking measures, but that the
U.S. could help by providing information and intelligence.
Munguia Payes indicated that the FMLN has information that
&right-wing individuals8 have stated that saying that they
&would not let Funes win.8  He then said that, although
there have not been any political assassinations in El
Salvador for many years, there are people on the far right
who would not accept a change of government and could make
some &bad decisions8.  Munguia Payes also stated that
right-wing belief that the FMLN would seek to abrogate the
Amnesty Law also poses a risk to Funes, personal security.
(Comment:  We do not find these particular allegations
credible.  End comment.)
ARENA,s Take on the Elections
5. (C) Salvadoran Ambassador to the U.S. Rene Leon told DAS
Madison that ARENA presidential candidate Rodrigo Avila
"still has a chance to win," noting that Funes' initial lead
of over twenty points had diminished.  He acknowledged
mistakes in Avila's campaign and said the candidate's inner
circle was controlling the campaign, in his opinion, to the
candidate's detriment.  He said the campaign still lacked
focus.  Leon compared Avila's challenge to that faced by
Senator John McCain, i.e., how to convince voters to support
the ruling party while at the same time offering change.  He
said that, contrary to conventional wisdom, President Saca is
giving Avila "all the room he needs" to run his campaign, but
Avila has so far been "unable" to use that space.  Leon said
that although Avila is still suffering from ARENA's
"traumatic" candidate selection process, he is &only four or
five points behind Funes now.8 Leon identified three things
that could save Avila's candidacy: the selection of a running
mate; the selection of ARENA's candidates for the Legislative
Assembly; and proposals to reorganize the justice system.
Towards the end of the meeting, Leon expressed his fear that
the presidential race could be extremely close, possibly just
a few thousand votes, and that the FMLN, which is convinced
it will win, will resort to violence.
The Cooperative Security Location (CSL)
6. C) MFA Vice Minister Calix: Calix, joined by Politcal
Director Werner Romero, said that El Salvado is interested
in extending the CSL agreement as moothly as possible.  He
mentioned that El Salvaor was not certain that the U.S. had
wanted a siple extension, based on having seen an earlier
US. note that requested an expansion of the agreemet.
Calix said that the GOES was still considering the risks of
legislative approval of an enhancedagreement. DAS Madison
requested an answer to the most recent note, which postulated
a simple extension; Calix said the GOES would answer as soon
as possible, maybe within days. Calix and Romero expressed
interest in adding additional missions to the CSL, and asked
how a simple extension of the current agreement could
accommodate these added missions. DAS Madison pressed for the
simple extension, but added that any further discussion of
enhanced missions would need to take place at a technical
level with USG agencies in Washington.
7. (C) DAS Madison also discussed the CSL agreement with
Ministry of Defense (MOD) Chief of Defense Policy Colonel
Alvarado. Alvarado said that while the MOD realizes that the
current political situation is sensitive, he believes the
agreement could be expanded to include some additional
missions rather than simply extended.  He said that the MOD
believed that with some effort, an expanded agreement could
be approved by the Legislative Assembly.  Alvarado noted that
the FMLN would find it hard to obstruct an expansion of the
agreement since that would contradict FMLN presidential
candidate Mauricio Funes, public statements in favor of the
CSL. DAS Madison urged avoiding these political risks by
agreeing to the simple extension. She suggested follow-up
discussions on other missions subsequent to the extension.
Alvarado concluded the session noting that El Salvador
&feels threatened8 by Nicaraguan and Honduran actions that
have harmed regional security.
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The Merida Initiative, Public Security, and TPS
--------------------------------------------- -----
8. (C) DAS Madison discussed the Merida Initiative at length
with MFA Vice Minister Calix and provided the state of play
in the USG.  Calix brought up the $900 million security plan
that Central American countries formulated, and asked where
the Merida funding stood.  He contrasted the Central American
plan with the announced Merida funding, which would average
$6 million per country, and expressed his disappointment in
the funding.  Calix said that he hopes that some of the money
can go through this year, and that in the future, perhaps
after Congressional staff members travel to El Salvador and
see results, more funding could materialize.
9. (C) DAS Madison also discussed public security with FMLN
Deputy Martinez.  Martinez said that the FMLN last week
unveiled a proposal to amend the constitution to allow for
wiretapping in some cases.  He acknowledged that a proposal
had already passed the Legislative Assembly, but said that it
lacked sufficient safeguards to protect civil rights. (Note:
A proposed constitutional amendment must pass the Legislative
Assembly twice, the second time by a supermajority. End
note.)  He also said that while the FMLN wanted to include
corruption in the list of crimes against which wiretapping
would be admissible in court, ARENA did not consider this
request.  Martinez also said that even though wiretapping is
currently illegal, it is nonetheless being used as a
political tool.
10. (C) DAS Madison and Vice Foreign Minister Calix also
discussed immigration and temporary protected status (TPS)
for Salvadoran nationals.  Calix said the GOES was pleased
with the joint announcement on the TPS extension from
Presidents Bush and Saca, and said that it shows the U.S.
recognizes TPS as an important benefit that offers stability
to many Salvadoran families.  Calix said that El Salvador is
looking forward to the upcoming U.S. elections to see how the
candidates respond to migration issues.  He said that while
he realizes Americans are concerned about porous borders, his
government is trying to demonstrate that Salvadorans do not
pose a threat to U.S. national security. (Comment: The high
incidence of transnational street gang membership amongst
Salvadoran immigrants, both legal and illegal, argues
otherwise.  End comment).
Left and Right Weigh in on the Economy
11. (C) DAS Madison met September 30 with FUNDE (National
Development Foundation) President Roberto Rubio, who told her
that that Salvadorans not receiving remittances are
vulnerable to rising food and fuel prices.  He also noted
signs that U.S. economic problems are starting to affect
remittances.  Rubio described fiscal problems caused by
rising subsidies and warned that, under worst-case scenarios,
inadequate revenue growth and failure to refinance GOES debt
would render the government unable to meet its short-term
debt obligations within the next 2-3 years.  Rubio was
pessimistic about the direction the country may take if the
FMLN does well in upcoming legislative and presidential
elections.  Noting that he served as FMLN representative in
Europe during the war, Rubio said that he knows the FMLN
leadership personally (&they are my friends8) and says
their thinking has evolved little since the war.  He
suggested that without any constraints, the old guard FMLN
would like to &go the way of Chavez and press for
twenty-first century socialism.8  He did note that in the
short term, the absence of a legislative majority and other
constraints will likely limit the FMLN,s ability to carry
out these ambitions.
12. (C) During her meeting with FMLN Deputy Martinez, DAS
Madison asked about recent statements by FMLN officials
implying that they might reconsider dollarization and seek
renegotiation of CAFTA.  Martinez pointed out that Funes
spoke to a business group earlier in the week, and that he
reiterated that he would not reverse CAFTA nor revisit
dollarization.  Martinez said that the party has evolved and
that the anti-CAFTA and anti-dollarization statements do not
reflect the FMLN,s position today. Martinez then opined that
even if the FMLN wanted to walk away from CAFTA and other
pro-U.S. issues, the Salvadoran people would never allow
anything that would damage relations with the U.S.
13. DAS Madison gave a media interview to El Diario de Hoy,
the largest circulation newspaper in El Salvador, in which
she outlined benefits to the region from CAFTA and
law-enforcement cooperation.  She highlighted the "Pathways
to Prosperity" as a way to boost the process of trade
liberalization and enhance regional cooperation and the USG's
efforts to promote security efforts in the region through the
Merida Initiative.
14. (C) Comment: DAS Madison's visit highlighted that we are
still waiting for a formal GOES reply to our request to
extend the CSL at Comalapa.  It also highlighted the
political polarization in the pre-election season, and
anxiety over the possibility the FMLN could win in 2009.

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