Elections Bulletin #3: San Salvador Municipal Employees Attack FMLN Campaigners on Day 2 of Campaign
On Wednesday, January 11, brigades from all parties took to the streets to post campaign materials for their parties and candidates on the first day of the official two-month campaign period for the March 11 elections. The following morning, San Salvador mayor and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) candidate for re-election, Norman Quijano, ordered municipal employees to remove the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party's campaign materials from public spaces, citing a municipal ordinance that he pointedly ignored for the campaign materials of his own right-wing party and the right-wing Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) party. When FMLN activists heard about the removal of their campaign materials, a brigade of activists returned to San Salvador to repost them. Thirty of the city´s municipal security agents (CAM), who are under Quijano's jurisdiction, and over 200 ARENA campaign activists arrived and attacked the FMLN activists. CAM agents pepper sprayed FMLN campaigners, and illegally detained several of them. Agents from the National Civil Police eventually arrived on the scene and were able to control the CAM agents and ARENA activists. Twenty-one FMLN activists were injured in this first major incident of electoral violence. FMLN mayoral candidate for San Salvador Jorge Schafik Hándal accompanied the party activists to the Attorney General´s office on Friday to press charges of assault and illegal detention against the ARENA party and the San Salvador mayor´s office. In addition to the FMLN, the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman has denounced the incident of electoral violence. The President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal Eugenio Chicas lamented the attack and asked CAM agents to keep out of campaign activities.