Urgent: Right wing trying to steal elections in El Salvador


It’s hard to believe that only two days have passed since the FMLN’s thrilling victory on Sunday night – so much has happened in the meantime. The right-wing is moving swiftly to derail the democratic process and stop Salvador Sanchez Ceren from being announced as president - we need your help. Will you forward this email to 10 friends tonight and invite them to join CISPES’ Emergency Response Network so they can receive action alerts when our solidarity is called upon? Tomorrow and the next day will be critical, as the US allies of the Salvadoran right, including Members of Congress, are already on the move to legitimize this outrageous attempt to overturn the election results. This morning, the official and final vote count began to confirm the results of Sunday’s election in El Salvador. Though the FMLN margin of victory was razor thin (50.11% to 49.89%), news reports that the election is “too close to call” are misleading. The preliminary count from El Salvador’s electoral authority, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), with 100% of voting tables reporting, shows the FMLN with 6,634 more votes than ARENA, which is considered an irreversible trend. In the weeks to come, more analysis will be coming out about why the elections results were so close in the end - for now, check out today’s article in Upside Down World. It may have been a close race but FMLN is the clear winner, and the TSE’s announcement of the final results later this week is likely to make that official. (Check out our own Laura Embree-Lowry reporting on Democracy Now! as to why Sunday’s elections were the most transparent that we’ve ever observed) But the right is not going down without a fight. This morning, our observer mission was dispatched to TSE headquarters where several thousand ARENA activists had gathered to protest and demand a ballot-by-ballot recount of Sunday’s vote. Perhaps recruited by a barrage of Facebook ads from the Nationalist Republican Youth, ARENA’s youth wing, they held pre-printed signs reading “No to fraud” and “Vote by vote.” We just received a report that ARENA is mobilizing its members to the streets to call for the results, which have not yet been officially announced, to be annulled. An hour ago, ARENA members within the TSE just walked out of the official count as a way to further derail the process and prevent the Salvador Sanchez Ceren from being declared the victor. Stay tuned for more on our blog. If you followed the election of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela last April, this may all seem like déjà vu.  Maduro’s right-wing challenger Henrique Capriles also called fraud and demanded a vote-by-vote recount, despite the fact that Jimmy Carter has called Venezuela’s electoral system “the best in the world.” It’s not surprising that ARENA’s Norman Quijano is taking a page out of Capriles’ playbook, considering they share the same Miami-based campaign strategist J. J. Rendón. Rendón ‘s strategy to sow the seeds of doubt about the election’s legitimacy has been highly effective, so much that so the US has still not acknowledged Maduro’s presidency. But that’s not the only reason that listening to Quijano’s victory speech on Sunday night sent shivers of fear down our spines. As he exhorted the crowd gathered at his “victory” rally:  “As of this moment we are ready for war.  Our armed forces are watching this fraud that is brewing. We are committed to defending this victory, we are going to fight with our lives if necessary.” Whether or not you remember the days of the armed conflict in El Salvador, when the military brutally repressed the popular movement in service of the elite, I’m sure you can imagine how scary a pronouncement this was to hear. In the upcoming days and weeks, our Salvadoran allies will be mobilizing to defend the FMLN victory in the face of ARENA’s attempts to discredit the results, and they need US solidarity allies to remain alert and ready to act. Can we count on you? Will you forward this email to 10 friends and invite them to join CISPES’ Emergency Response Network so they can receive action alerts when our solidarity is called upon in the next couple of days? As FMLN leader William Hernández told our delegation yesterday morning, “The days to come will be hard and the next five years won’t be easy.  We will urgently need the solidarity of CISPES and allies in the US, and we know we can count on you like we always have.” CISPES is ready for anything, whether that’s pressuring on the US government not to fall prey to the right-wing’s trap or providing direct financial and mobilization support for the social movement here on the ground. Please consider making a generous, tax-deductible contribution today to our elections Emergency Response Fund. The Salvadoran people will not rest until their victory is assured and neither can we! ¡Adelante! Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director Reporting from San Salvador

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