Press Release: Salvadoran-Americans View Positively Democratic Leader's Statements Calling for US Neutrality in El Salvador's Presidential Elections

Press Release

Salvadoran American Coalition for Democracy in El Salvador Contact: Jessy Mejía, 301-979-1199, [email protected]

Washington, DC - On November 12, Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and former chair of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, presented his opinions regarding the upcoming elections in Honduras and El Salvador before the group of academics and business leaders who make up the Council on the Americas in Washington, DC.

Representative Engel took advantage of the space to urge the US government to maintain neutrality in El Salvador's presidential elections and to work with whichever president is democratically elected in both countries.  "To the State Department: it is imperative that you show, by words and deeds, that the US is relentlessly neutral in these elections," declared Engel before the Council of the Americas. Representative Engel made reference to the actions of other members of Congress who have attempted to influence  election results in El Salvador through intimidation tactics and smear campaigns.

Speaking to Salvadoran and Honduran voters, the representative from New York insisted: "As you have in the past, you may well hear lots of voices telling you about dire consequences for US policy if you cast your votes one way or another. Don’t believe it.  Your vote is your own, and it falls to you to choose your leaders.  We will work with your choice. Count on me to do everything I can from here to make that a reality."

Representatives of the Salvadoran-American Coalition for Democracy in El Salvador (SAMPDES) who gathered in Washington, DC to speak to their elected representatives on the need to promote US government neutrality in the elections in El Salvador,  were appreciative of Representative Engel's statements. "For us it's really gratifying to see such an esteemed leader in Congress express this commitment," said Guillermo Mayora of New York, from the Congressman's state.  "It's important that our fellow Salvadorans know that the highest ranking Democratic party leader on the Foreign Affairs Committee has expressed his respect for the sovereignty of our democratic process."

Engel emphasized that despite the problems of economic inequality and insecurity, there is a lot to celebrate regarding the progress that has been achieved in the country. In the first place, Engel applauded the ongoing truce between the gangs, and the Millennium Challenge II agreement, which is about to be signed. Then the representative congratulated the country on the democratic transition made since the 2009 elections, which handed the leftist party, the FMLN, a victory for the first time in the history of El Salvador, without creating any breach in the friendly bilateral relations between El Salvador and the US.

Given this success, Representative Engel sees the work of the US government in supporting democracy in El Salvador as something the requires the unflinching neutrality of the United States during the electoral process and the commitment "to work with the Salvadoran government—whoever it may be—to build on that success."

The continuation of a positive bilateral relationship is another work area shouldered by SAMPDES during the group's visit to Washington, DC; the coalition's leaders view Engel's comments as a sign of the continuation of a US policy that fosters good relations with the Salvadoran government, regardless of who the next president may be. "We also will continue to work to ensure that the State Department commits to US government neutrality in the upcoming February 2014 elections in El Salvador," declared Celina Benítez de Los Angeles, California who is also part of the SAMPDES delegation.  "It's great that we  have the backing of a recognized leader like Engel, who is reinforcing the ties with our country, ties which are not going to change."

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For the full text of Rep. Engel's speech, click here for English and here for Spanish

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Photo: CISPES