ARENA kickstarts pre-electoral year with destabilization tactics


Just as the people of El Salvador finished saying farewell to 2012, they saw 2013 begin with alarmist newspaper headlines about a supposedly bankrupt economy, transport stoppages, and groups of armed ex-military officers shutting down major highways and border crossings. The right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, whose presidential candidate Norman Quijano is falling behind in the polls, has begun this pre-electoral year desperately amping up the destabilization strategy that has characterized the party since losing the executive office after 20 consecutive years in power to the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party in 2009.

Below we have translated some analysis from El Salvador’s popular education collective Equipo Maíz (you can see the original Spanish version here):

ARENA isn't well and the only option left to them is to destabilize

The ARENA party, internally fractured and lacking credibility with the population, began the year trying to destabilize the government with two actions: a transport stoppage and "demobilized" members of the Armed Forces shutting down streets. Both actions left them looking bad and were resoundingly rejected by the people.

The fall of ARENA After the legislative and municipal elections in March 2012, the right-wing media started to say that ARENA had a huge lead over the FMLN and that the Mayor of San Salvador, Norman Quijano, was the most popular man in the country. But by the end of 2012, the Candidate-Mayor had caused people's disapproval of him and his party to grow with his out-of-touch proposals and the violent methods he used to evict vendors from downtown San Salvador.

What happened at the end of 2012? The FMLN became stronger due to the positive social measures taken by the government and the announcement of their presidential-vice-presidential ticket. The gathering of more than 100,000 people in Cuscatlán Stadium was a show of strength that scared the right wing. On the other hand, ARENA was weakened by their furious discourse against the government, their internal division and by the deranged declarations of their candidate who threatened to eliminate the government's social programs.

ARENA's strategy With a bad candidate that doesn't even have the support of the entire party, ARENA decided to do two things: have their economists and the spokespeople of ANEP [the National Association of Private Enterprise] say that the economy is bankrupt and carry out destabilization actions to generate the sensation that the country is in chaos and it's the government's fault.

Every day, alarmist articles from economists and businesspeople appear where they try to scare people about the current situation and the future of the economy. These are articles without any journalistic rigor, full of lies and manipulations. This journalistic terrorism will continue for all of 2013.

Along this destabilizing line, ARENA began 2013 instigating some transport guilds to carry out a public transport stoppage and demand that President Funes increase bus fares. They also promoted closures of highways by associations of supposed ex-military officers that demanded the government pay $10,000 to every single one of the 130,000 affiliates they claim to have.

The government said that it wouldn't authorize the bus fare increase, and that it can't pay that money to the ex-military officers because it has no obligation to do so, and because the amount they are demanding is $1.3 billion, equivalent to the national budgets for education and healthcare combined. It is clear that the motive of the demand is to smear the government. ARENA is also planning to mobilize several guilds of schoolteachers that are enemies of the government.

What ARENA isn't considering is that the people are rejecting the transport owners and the supposed "demobilized" members of the Armed Forces and are against all actions that attempt to destabilize a government that works in favor of the poor.

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