Release: North American academics call for free and fair elections in El Salvador

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE **December18, 2008**

�150 LatinAmerica scholars denounce U.S.intervention in Salvadoran elections, call for democracy to be respected ascampaigning intensifies ahead of January and March 2009 voting

**Contact: William Robinson, University ofCalifornia-Santa Barbara - 805-259-5455**

(read the entire letter here )

A group of 150 scholars from universities andcolleges in the United Statesand Candada have released an open letter calling on the U.S. and Salvadoran governments to ensure that El Salvador'supcoming elections are free of fraud, foreign intervention, and electoralviolence.

The letter expresses four areas of concern, whichthe signers hope will be heard by the incoming Obama administration:

������ � The historyof U.S.government intervention and attempts to influence election results in El

������ Salvador

������ � A recentpublic statement made by El Salvador'sForeign Minister calling for further U.S.

������ action onbehalf of the governing ARENA (Nationalist Republican Alliance) party

������ � An alarmingincrease in politically-motivated violence and assassinations in the past twoyears

������ � Recentchanges to polling place procedures that open the door to fraud

Citing cases of U.S.intervention in both past and present Salvadoran campaigns, the letter assertsthat �The United States government must respect the right of the Salvadoranelectorate to choose its government free from threats of U.S. hostility or reprisals.�During El Salvador's2004� presidential campaign, several Bush administration officials andMembers of Congress made public statements indicating that a victory by theopposition FMLN (Farabundo Mart� National Liberation Front) party would resultin hostility toward Salvadoran immigrants living in the United States, among other threats.

The academics also expressed alarm at SalvadoranForeign Minister Marisol Argueta's September 2008 call for the act to prevent an FMLN victory in the 2009 elections. The open letterstates, �These declarations virtually call for U.S.intervention in El Salvadorto avoid a possible electoral triumph by the FMLN, and to undermine in this waythe right of the Salvadoran people to elect the government of their choosingfree from threats, pressures, and interference by a foreign power.� Giventhe long and sordid history of U.S.intervention in El Salvadorand in Latin America we view these statements with grave concern and we call onthe Salvadoran government to desist from inviting U.S. intervention.�

William Robinson, Professor of Sociology and LatinAmerican and Iberian Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara andone of the letter's original authors, has studied U.S. involvement in LatinAmerica and is concerned by the precedent set in 2004 for U.S. intervention inEl Salvador's electoral process.

�The U.S. government has undermined thedemocratic aspirations and human rights of the Salvadoran people for manydecades. The incoming Obama administration has an opportunity that it shouldnot pass up to mend relations with our Latin American neighbors,� Robinsonstated. �If the United Statesis truly concerned with the promotion of democracy around the world, now is thetime to cease all intervention in El Salvador and respect thepolitical will of that country's electorate.�

It remains uncertain how President-elect Obama'sadministration will approach the upcoming elections in El Salvador. However, it has beenannounced that the current U.S. Ambassador, Charles Glazer, will be recalledfrom his position effective January 20th. Robinson applauded this development,saying "Ambassador Glazer has demonstrated with his recent conduct that heis not a neutral diplomat and is unwilling to respect international law,insofar as such law prohibits diplomatic missions from involvement in in theinternal affairs of host countries."

In May 2008, Glazer made unsubstantiated accusationsto the Salvadoran press asserting that the FMLN had ties to the FARC guerillamovement in Colombia, addingthat �any group that collaborates or expresses friendship with the FARC is nota friend of the UnitedStates.�

In their letter, the North American scholarsdenounced Glazer's actions, affirming that �such statements constituteunacceptable outside interference in the electoral process.� They are aveiled threat against the Salvadoran people that, should they elect agovernment not to the liking of the United States,they will face U.S.wrath and possible reprisals.� We consider this interference to be inviolation of international norms and we call on the U.S. government to immediatelydesist from all such interference.�


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