ARENA Mayors Face Corruption Allegations from Within Their City Councils
Major corruption accusations have been mounted against right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party mayors of two San Salvador suburbs from within their own city governments. These charges against mayors in long-time strongholds of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) recently won by ARENA are the latest in a series of scandals that have plagued several such municipalities since the 2012 municipal elections. In the city of Ilopango, city council trustee Persy Abdúbal Santos has accused Mayor Salvador Ruano of corruption and misappropriating $235,000 in city funds. Santos has also filed claims against Ruano with the Attorney General for sending him death threats. In Mejicanos, seven of the city council’s 14 members have turned against Mayor Juana Lemus de Pacas, accusing her of planning to fire high-ranking city officials for refusing to misappropriate city funds. Lemus also faces allegations of creating “ghost positions” in the city government for certain ARENA activists to collect a municipal salary without engaging in any actual work, and with planning to fire some 300 municipal employees at the end of this year. Lemus in turn has filed suit against two city council members with the Attorney General for defamation. Meanwhile, Mejicanos residents are facing a garbage crisis, with mounting piles of uncollected waste piling up on sidewalks across the city, provoking further criticism of the mayor’s administration. Both Ruano and Lemus previously sparked outrage when the two mayors announced major salary increases for themselves and their council members, and were both forced to revoke the raises following enormous public outcry. Ruano and many other new ARENA mayors have also faced criticism for mass firings of city employees following their elections, with Lemus firing over 100 municipal workers in her first months in office.