CISPES Observers Share Analysis on the 2018 Elections in El Salvador

Press Release

Press Release: March 6, 2018, San Salvador, El Salvador

In the context of the 2018 legislative and municipal elections, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) was invited to bring a delegation of international and national observers to accompany the Salvadoran people in this important moment. CISPES is a grassroots organization based in the United States dedicated to supporting the Salvadoran people’s struggle for self-determination and has observed every electoral process in El Salvador since the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords.

During the last week and a half, our delegation of twenty observers has met with environmental, youth, women’s, feminist, union and other social movement leaders, as well as with health officials, lawyers and judicial officials, all working towards advancing social and economic justice in the country.

We are impressed by the commitment of these social movement activists who are working to make sure Salvadoran people do not lose access to important public services and resources and to expand social programs. We appreciate the time they have dedicated to us in order to give us the opportunity to learn about what we can do from the U.S. to support their right to live dignified lives.

The primary purpose of these meetings has been to give delegates a context in which to understand the significance of Sunday’s elections. On Election Day, our group of 23 observers spread out across multiple voting centers in the greater San Salvador area, including San Jacinto, Nejapa, Apopa, and Ilopango. We were inspired by how seriously voters took the process and, despite the complexity of the ballot, citizens at the voting centers were able to exercise their right to vote.

We observed that more voting tables than in previous years were staffed with only the minimum number of poll workers, making it more difficult for them to carry out their duties. After the voting centers closed, the complexity of the vote count process and the lack of adequate staffing caused anxiety and fatigue as the count continued late into the night. The limited interest of some of the citizen volunteers of the voting tables further complicated this process. We hope that issues such as these can be addressed for future elections.

As we learned from the legal experts, judicial officials and social movement activists we met with these complexities were a result of the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber’s decisions concerning the country’s electoral process. These rulings have excluded political party members from participating in the process as volunteers or as Supreme Electoral Tribunal officials, and have changed the nature and composition of the Tribunal, which was a product of the 1992 Peace Accords. We agree with fellow international observers who have described El Salvador’s current electoral process as one of the most complicated in Latin America. We call on the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador and the U.S. State Department to withhold from taking actions or making any statements that might appear to support the Chamber’s controversial decisions.

In the wake of the 2018 elections, CISPES continues to be committed to accompanying the Salvadoran people in their struggle to build upon the democratic accomplishments the last several years.

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