“Red Tide” of 200,000 celebrate FMLN presidential ticket

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Yesterday, 70,000 red and white clad men, women, and children filled San Salvador’s Cuscatlán Stadium to capacity to participate in the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front’s (FMLN) yearly National Convention. Another 130,000 people gathered outside the stadium in the hot sun, listening and trying to catch a glimpse as the leftist party officially presented its presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the 2014 elections: Salvador Sánchez Cerén and Oscar Ortíz.

All morning on the grounds outside the stadium, attendees enjoyed different musical acts, family soccer games and an “Achievements Fair,” where different FMLN municipal governments showed off various public works and social programs they had

Alba Food tractor at the "Achievements Fair"

initiated, while Alba Petroleum and Alba Food – projects begun in coordination with the Venezuelan government – provided information about their low-cost products, low-interest agricultural loans and social projects.

Inside the stadium, the FMLN’s Secretary General Medardo González gave the opening words, affirming that the massive turnout of supporters was a demonstration of the FMLN’s unity and the popular support for the presidential-vice-presidential ticket.

González went on to introduce presidential candidate, current Vice President and former Minister of Education, Sánchez Cerén as “a visionary statist, historic leader, a leader with great social and human sensitivity, a conciliatory capacity, honesty, and demonstrated capacity in public administration.”

Of Ortíz, the popular Mayor of Santa Tecla, the Secretary General said that he is an “historic compañero that has turned Santa Tecla into a successful model of municipal governance, with national, dynamic, and enthusiastic leadership.”

All of the formal convention business had occurred during the previous week in sessions with the hundreds of convention delegates that represent the country by department, municipality, and sector, including Salvadorans that live abroad. González announced that the convention delegates had reached consensus in support of the executive ticket, and asked them to symbolically vote in the public event by raising their credentials.

Photo: La Prensa Grafica

He then announced, “We proclaim our next President Salvador and our next Vice President Oscar. Salvador and Oscar are the winning ticket for our country,” and invited Ortiz and Sánchez Cerén to address the crowd. The packed stadium erupted in cheers, as drum crews played and teenagers ran laps around the field with FMLN flags.

“With humility, with deep conviction I must thank the vote of confidence given to this servant, this militant, this revolutionary – the same as many of you…with much pride I accept the vice-presidential candidacy,” said Ortíz. The Santa Tecla Mayor went on to say the government he and Sánchez Cerén would construct would be leftist, democratic, and open to working with all sectors.

Sánchez Cerén then took the podium, paying homage to “Monsignor Romero, Mélida Anaya Montes, Shafick Jorge Hándal, mothers and fathers of the fallen, the Christian martyrs, those disabled in the war and ex-combatants, internationalists.” He went on to describe his plans to expand the positive changes initiated under the current government.

The Vice President congratulated Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Nicaragua’s Sandinista party, and US President Barack Obama for their recent electoral victories. Of the latter, he added that given the decisive role the Latino vote played in the US elections, “we expect the vindication of the rights of immigrants with immigration reform.”

The Vice President then thanked current President Mauricio Funes for having the courage and determination to begin this process of change, and he thanked all those in attendance for their resolve to take the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) – the right-wing party founded by the architects of El Salvador’s death squads that governed for 20 consecutive years – out of power in 2009.

Sánchez Cerén went on to enumerate the new social programs that are attending to the needs of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable populations for the first time in history. He gave special recognition to the health reform implemented by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, infrastructure projects carried out by the Ministry of Public Works, reactivation of agricultural production promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture, and myriad of reforms and projects begun by the Ministry of Education, all FMLN-led ministries.

Photo: La Pagina

Sánchez Cerén then called on all those present to commit themselves to the tireless organizing work that would be necessary to keep ARENA from returning to power and to continue and expand these important programs.

“Oscar and I will govern for you, for everyone!” concluded the newly-named presidential candidate to roars of applause.

The Convention concluded with blasts of red and white confetti as the entire FMLN Political Commission joined the candidates and their families to sing and dance to “El Sombrero Azul” on the central stage.

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