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id: 44237
date: 11/1/2005 18:04
refid: 05SANSALVADOR2964
origin: Embassy San Salvador
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 05SALVADOR2913
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2025
Classified By: Ambassador H. Douglas Barclay.  Reasons 1.4 (b,d).
1.  (C) Summary:  On October 31, the Ambassador met with
President Saca to review GOES support at the upcoming Summit
of the Americas, the controversy regarding certification of
the moderate left FDR Party, rumors of a new government
ethics decree, and Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez recent
visit.  Saca assured the Ambassador that he is only going to
Mar del Plata because President Bush is going, that he
intends to support the President and U.S. positions there,
but that he is concerned about what Chavez will do. Saca
expressed disappointment that the President was unable to
visit El Salvador on his way to, or back from Mar del Plata,
and extended another invitation for the President to visit
sometime between now and the March 2006 national elections
here.  On the FDR controversy, Saca said that the FDR will be
given every opportunity to qualify as a political party, but
that they must meet the legal requirements.  Saca told the
Ambassador privately that he will sign a decree creating an
Ethics Office in the Executive to prevent and watch over
corruption.  End Summary.
2.  (C) On October 31, the Ambassador met with Salvadoran
President Saca at the Ambassador's request to review issues
of mutual interest, including the Mar del Plata Summit,
movement on an ethics law, and recent controversy over the
certification of the Revolutionary Democratic Party (FDR), a
moderate offshoot of the FMLN.  Saca was joined by Private
Secretary to the President Elmer Charlaix; the Ambassador was
accompanied by DCM and Polcouns (notetaker).  The Ambassador
recounted the success of the recent visit by Secretary of
Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, thanked Saca for having convened
all the Central American presidents, and remarked that
Secretary Gutierrez had been very impressed by El Salvador's
potential to take advantage of the benefits of CAFTA-DR.  He
added that Secretary Gutierrez had been impressed by Saca and
his leadership in the region.  Saca affirmed that he, too,
had been very impressed with Gutierrez and assured that El
Salvador would comply with all CAFTA-DR requirements by
December, but was concerned that Costa Rica would not likely
ratify in time.
3.  C) The Ambassador then recounted his earlier meeting with
GOES Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez (reftel), in which the
Ambassador asked that the Salvadoran government support USG
positions at the Mar del Plata Summit, especially on the
Summit Declaration and a separate declaration on Doha.  The
Ambassador asked Saca to support U.S. positions and to take a
leadership role in that regard among his neighbors. Saca
replied that his government has always been a very close ally
of the U.S., that he treasures his personal relationship with
President Bush, and that the GOES would indeed support U.S.
positions at the Summit.  He added that, because of this
special relationship with President Bush, he had hoped that
President Bush would have accepted his invitation to stop in
El Salvador either on the way to Mar del Plata or on the way
back.  Saca asked the Ambassador to convey an invitation to
President Bush to visit El Salvador in the next few months,
prior to the March 2006 national elections, since such a
visit would be politically important for Saca and his ARENA
party to defeat the FMLN.  The Ambassador assured Saca that
he would pass the message.  Regarding the Summit, Saca said
that there are now way too many summits and meetings, but
that he is going to Mar del Plata only/only because President
Bush is going and to support the U.S.  He said he was
relieved that Castro would not attend the Summit because it
would reduce the potential for mischief, but was concerned
about Chavez' behavior at the Summit.
4.  (C) The Ambassador then raised the controversy
surrounding the certification of the FDR Party, and told Saca
that Washington was concerned that the inability of the FDR
to qualify not be tied to political motives rather than
strict adherence to the law. (Note:  The Revolutionary
Democratic Party, composed of disenchanted FMLN deputies,
mayors, and other political leaders, had applied to the
Supreme Electoral Tribunal for legal status over a month ago,
and had submitted the legally-required 40,000 plus write-in
signatures to qualify.  Late last week, the Tribunal
completed its signature verification process, and found that
some 5,000 signatures are, in essence, fraudulent.  The FDR
leadership has accused the GOES of nullifying its signatures
because FDR deputies in the National Assembly did not agree
to support the re-election of the Attorney General, an ARENA
stalwart.  End Note.)  Saca said that his government did not
interfere in any way in the TSE decision to disqualify the
signatures and that the TSE audit was strictly technical, and
invited the Embassy to meet with TSE President Walter Araujo
and view the evidence. (Note:  TSE President Araujo will make
a presentation on this issue to Polcouns on November 1.  End
Note.) Saca said there are "serious problems" with the FDR
signatures, including massive fraud, and assured there is no
political motive for him to block the FDR, since the FDR
would clearly take votes away from the FMLN and would help
weaken the left in the March 2006 elections, thus indirectly
helping ARENA.  He stressed that the FDR will be given every
opportunity to gather the 5,000 signatures it still needs to
qualify, but that he will not interfere in the process to
benefit the FDR if the FDR does not qualify under the law.
Saca cautioned that not all FDR adherents are moderate left,
but repeated twice that many of their leaders are "nostalgic
FMLN," are not pro-American, and would certainly not support
our efforts in Iraq, Cafta-DR, or many other issues important
to the U.S.
5.  (C) Asked by Ambassador about rumors Saca intends to pass
a decree creating an Ethics Office in the Executive Branch,
Saca privately confirmed that "they are not rumors, it's
true." Saca said that he would sign the decree late October
31 or early November 1, prior to his departure for Mar del
Plata, but that he would not announce it until his return
from the Summit because his schedule did not permit it.  He
said he has instructed Technical Secretary to the Presidency
Eduardo Zablah to convey the news to Zablah's Millennium
Challenge interlocutors.  (Note:  Zablah is the GOES lead on
the MCA process.  End Note.)  Saca said that the decree
called for creation of an Executive Branch office whose
principal roles would be "to prevent" corruption among
Executive Branch employees and act as a watchdog on
transparency issues, including government licitation
6.  (C) Comment:  Saca is clearly disappointed that that the
President was unable to accept his invitation to stop in El
Salvador and is hoping that a visit in the next few months by
President Bush will help boost Saca and ARENA's chances to
trounce the FMLN in the March 2006 national elections.  As
Saca has said repeatedly, he feels he needs to increase the
number of ARENA seats in the National Assembly substantially
to be able to complete his agenda in his last three years,
and give ARENA the momentum it will need to defeat the FMLN
in 2009. Regarding the FDR controversy, both the GOES
Executive and the TSE appear confident that they have the
goods on the FDR, and are making it clear that, unless the
FDR meets the legal requirements, they will not be certified.

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