President Saca offers $500 million to private and foreign banks

FMLN demands that the money benefitsmall businesses and the agriculture industry
 also in this update:
  1. MauricioFunes Travels to the U.S. to Meet with Leaders ofFinancial Organizations and the Organization of American States
  2. Funes and SánchezCerén Promise to Governwith Policies thatwill Benefit the Women of El Salvador
  3. SalvadoransLiving AbroadDemand the Right to Vote

Inmid-November, Salvadoran President Tony Saca, following in thefootsteps of hismentor and ally George W. Bush, requested a $500 million loan from theInter-American Development Bank (IDB) to inject liquidity into privateandforeign banks. CitingEl Salvador 's Constitution,the opposition FMLNparty (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) maintains that theloan mustbe approved by the Legislative Assembly. The Constitution of ElSalvadorrequires all sovereign debt to pass a legislative debate and beapproved by atwo-thirds vote in the Assembly.

PresidentSaca and his ARENA party (Nationalist Republican Alliance) contend thatinjecting money into the private and foreign banks will give Salvadoranbusinesses and industries access to loans. The FMLN wants conditions toapplyto the IDB loan to make sure the money stays within the country andgoes to small-and medium-sized businesses, as well as the agricultural sector.  Manyinternational and domestic economists have agreed with the FMLNsproposal, advising Saca that giving the money to private and foreignbankswould be a mistake.  Renowned economist Juan Héctor Vidal explained,Inother circumstances these $500 million would be given through otherintermediaries, but I would not give resources to the banks simply topalliatethem; it is truly sad.

Formany in El Salvador ,the thought of taking on public debt to give money away to private andprimarily foreign banks seems completely illogical as lay-offs andunemploymentsurge throughout the country. The Association of Cooperative Banks andSavingsand Credit Unions of El Salvador has sent an open letter to PresidentSaca,imploring that a large percentage of the $500 million loan be directedto itsmember institutions.  This would ensure that the money stays within thecountryand benefits the associations thousands of clients that form partof the productive sector of micro, small, and medium businesses inEl Salvador ,instead of simply giving more money to an already privileged businesssector.

MauricioFunesTravels to the U.S. to Meet with Leaders of Financial Organizations and the Organization ofAmericanStates

FMLNpresidential candidate Mauricio Funes traveled toWashington , D.C. ,in late November to meet with leaders of the International MonetaryFund andInter-American Development Bank, as well as leaders of the OrganizationofAmerican States (OAS).  The purpose of meeting with the financialleaders wasto let them know first-hand the situation of our country and ourvisionof the country that we will construct after June of next year.

Themeeting with José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS, wasintended todiscuss Funes' and the Salvadoran peoples concern about potentialfraudin the coming elections, to be held in January and March of 2009. Pollscurrently show that a majority of the Salvadoran population is notconfident inthe integrity of the electoral process.  The OAS previously issued along listof suggestions to make the Salvadoran electoral process fair andtransparent,but very few of these have been implemented.  One of therecommendations was torevise the electoral registrydue to a high number of irregularitiesanderrors in the list of votersand to open the registry to scrutiny byallparties.  Presently, only one FMLN official has been allowed to viewtheregistry.  Despite the fact that this recommendation has not beenimplemented,ARENA has falsely asserted that the OAS has approved the electoralregistry. 

SinceFunes meeting with Insulza, the OAS has created a new mission of 80observers that arrived in the country at the end of November to reviewandmonitor El Salvador selectoral process.  The right-wing dominated Supreme Electoral Tribunal(TSE)has been heavily criticized by the FMLN as well as the OAS forimplementing aseries of electoral reforms that allow for the possibility of fraud andirregularities in the 2009 legislative, municipal, and presidentialelections. Recent polling gives Funes a 14-point lead over ARENA presidentialcandidateRodrigo Ávila, which has lead some observers to worry that ARENA mayexploitthe irregularities cited by the OAS to perpetrate fraud in an effort toholdonto power.

Funesand Sánchez Cerén Promise to Govern with Policies that will Benefit theWomenof El Salvador

In ameeting with hundreds of women fromSan Salvador on Sunday, November 23,FMLN presidentialcandidate Mauricio Funes and vice-presidential candidate SalvadorSánchez Cerénpromised to promote policies that will resolve the problems faced bySalvadoranwomen. We cant conceive a democratic exercise if we donthave a vision of gender, declared Funes.

TheFMLN has taken many steps to promote the participation of women in thepolitical process, including a Womens Secretariat that concerns itselfwith this sole purpose.  40% of the FMLN legislative candidates arewomen and30% of FMLN governed municipalities have women mayors. During themeeting,Sánchez Cerén pointed out that many of the womens proposals alreadymakeup a part of the FMLN ticket's governing platform.  These plans includeimproving the quality of jobs for women, closing the pay gap betweenmen andwomen, recognizing domestic work, and providing women with access tohealthcare, education, credit, and a dignified life.

Theproposals of the women represented at the meeting pointed out that inthe last20 years of ARENA governance; there has been growth inmarginalization,poverty, and exclusion, which has its origin in machismo and theconcentrationof power in the hands of few.  This meeting continues Funes' andSánchezCeréns series of visits with diverse sectors of society as theydevelopa plan for governing that is inclusive and will serve the majority ofSalvadorans.

SalvadoransLiving Abroad Demand theRight to Vote

Thedemand for the right to vote was a central theme of the 6thInternational Convention of Salvadorans in the World, which took placein San Salvador the thirdweek of November.  There is currently no mechanism to allow the 2.5millionSalvadorans who live outside ofEl Salvador to vote. Convention attendeesgathered in protest at the Monumento a la Constitución to call forPresidentTony Saca to allow them their constitutional right to vote in electionsin El Salvador .

SalvadorSanabria, executive director of the organization El Rescate inLos Angeles ,pointed out the large roleSalvadorans living abroad play in keeping the Salvadoran economyafloat. Its impossible that, after sending more than $3.6 billion infamily remittances annually, the Salvadoran state denies the right toexercisesuffrage and the ability to decide the destiny and future of thisnation, said Sanabria at the demonstration.

TheSupreme Electoral Tribunals plan to install polling places inSan Salvador forcitizensliving abroad is seen as pure show by many.  The demand for emigrantssuffrage is consistently denied by ARENA, as it is generally understoodthatSalvadorans general emigrate due to the deterioration of their economicsituation in ElSalvador ,and would most likely vote for a change in government.

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