Son of FMLN Presidential Candidate Mauricio Funes Dies in France

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Popular journalist and now FMLN presidential candidate Mauricio Funes is mourning the death of his 27 year old son Alejandro, who died in France last week where he lived and studied photography.  Alejandro died of cranial traumatism caused by a violent attack by an unidentified person in Paris. His death has caused suspicion given that the violence occurred just days after the announcement of his fathers candidacy for the upcoming 2009 elections. The FMLN, social organizations, and friends have expressed their condolences to Mauricio Funes and his family. The body is scheduled to arrive this week to El Salvador, and FMLN supporters have called for a thorough investigation.

Fear and divisions within ARENA become more public

The announcement by the FMLN Political Commission of its presidential and vice-presidential candidates has created a series of desperate public reactions from the ARENA party. Security Minister Rene Figueroa has put himself forward as a pre-candidate for ARENA, running up against current vice-president Ana Vilma de Escobar.  Figueroas presidential aspirations have made internal divisions public; two weeks ago honorary ARENA president and former president of El Salvador Armando Calderon Sol denounced Figueroas candidacy publicly, which was followed by an editorial from the right-wing Diario de Hoy newspaper, stating that it would be unethical for Figueroa to run.

Figueroa dismissed these comments, saying that he respects that people have an opinion and has called for the right-wing to be united. In the past ARENAs fear of losing the presidency translated into rhetoric about fighting communists and even political violence against FMLN activists to induce fear in the population, to cover divisions within the party, and to secure re-election.

 SETA and other social organizations march in defense of water

 Social organizations mobilized over 15,000 people to march to the Legislative Assembly in early October to present a Citizen Letters demanding that water be recognized in the Constitution as a fundamental right and that it therefore not be privatized.  The water workers union SETA was part of the coordination of the protest and SETA leaders called it an important collective step towards building consciousness in the population around the right to water.

 Communities from all parts of the country participated in the protest which was sponsored by more than 125 social organizations. Ex-US ambassador Robert White, Kathleen Kennedy, and Maryland State legislator Ana Sol Gutierrez were also present to accompanying the Salvadoran organizations.  According to Gutierrez, The government of El Salvador should give high priority to the right to water; if not it will be moving backward as a democratic nation. The law should be a legal vessel that allows everyone [water access]. Future plans are in the works to have regional gatherings in defense of water.  For more information about the water march check out http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/936/74/.

 Proposed 2008 budget lacks public spending

 The Saca administration has presented its 2008 budget proposal to the Legislative Assembly, declaring it beats last years in public spending.  On the contrary, Health Minister Guillermo Maza admitted that the investment in public health is stagnant; were in about the same situation as 5 years ago. The extreme shortages in the national hospital have been demonstrated as unprecedented and critical, yet Saca and Maza continue their discourse of addressing the shortcomings by prioritizing expenses. 

 Calixto Mejia, FMLN deputy in the Legislative Assembly, declared Sacas statement as false since there is a huge deficit in social spending according to statistics by the UNs Development Project (UNDP).  Mejia states that since 2004, the budget assignation has not gone in the right path of achieving international commitments like poverty reduction.

 FMLN celebrates 27th anniversary

 The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) celebrated its 27th anniversary last week with a series of activities at the national, departmental and municipal levels.

Most of the activities were organized to commemorate the compañeros and compañeras that gave their lives to the struggle, to honor the internationalists who contributed to the process and to celebrate the FMLNs presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the upcoming 2009 elections.  The FMLN also celebrated the life and struggle of historic revolutionary leader Schafik Handal by commemorating his birth date with the inauguration of a monument to his leadership in the social and political struggle of El Salvador. 

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