FMLN Boycotts Underhanded Negotiations in the Legislative Assembly
Yesterday's march in San Salvador also went to the Legislative Assembly to denounce what they call a "mega-package" of legislation ARENA has been pushing to get through before May 1st when the newly elected Assembly, including the FMLN's 32 deputies, will be sworn into office. Before that happens ARENA wants to get 2/3 majority approval for three things: a new Attorney General, another package of international loans for over $300 million, and new Supreme Court Judges. Because starting May 1st ARENA will have to negotiate with the FMLN to pass these kinds of nominations and loans, they have been trying to negotiate with the other parties in the legislative assembly to get their votes in the remaining weeks of April. However, ARENA still hasn't come through on promises they made in December to a group of 14 legislators from the small political parties in the Assembly, promises ARENA made in exchange for the votes from this group to approve hundreds of thousands of dollars in international loans at that time.
The FMLN has denounced ARENA's attempt to push this "mega-package" of votes through the Assembly, since the legislative votes on the loans and the Supreme Court judges legally correspond to the next legislature, not this one. The FMLN was negotiating with ARENA on the election of a new Attorney General - since that vote is overdue - but strongly opposes the ARENA candidate, Romeo Barahona. The Attorney General in El Salvador should be an independent office - like the Human Rights Ombudswoman's office - that oversees and investigates the functioning of government institutions, and the Attorney General's office could play an important role in combating corruption and impunity in El Salvador. It is for that reason that ARENA wants to push their puppet candidate through in the next few weeks, before they are forced to seriously negotiate with the FMLN.
In protest to the underhanded negotiations going on, the FMLN decided this week that its deputies would not participate in sub-committees and would boycott yesterday's legislative assembly. The FMLN deputies instead walked out and joined the protestors in the streets.