Right wing Attempts to Undermine Sánchez Cerén’s Inauguration Ceremony

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As Salvador Sánchez Cerén prepares to assume the presidency of El Salvador on June 1st, commencing the the nation’s second leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party administration, the right-wing opposition, which mounted a long and bitter battle before finally conceding electoral defeat, is now working to block funding for the inauguration ceremony.

In March, the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party and the conservative media blasted the Legislative Assembly’s decision to reassign just under $1.5 million from the national budget to finance the ceremony, despite the fact that the four preceding ARENA administration ceremonies cost taxpayers between $2.1 million and $3.5 million each. Intent on impeding the incoming administration’s transition, a group of individuals—including a former vice president under ARENA—filed a Supreme Court case against the transfer of funds for the inauguration. The Court’s Constitutional Chamber, notorious for responding to right-wing interests, accepted the case and ordered the temporary freeze of the transfers.

Nevertheless, the FMLN has assured the public that Sánchez Cerén will enjoy a dignified ceremony that is now projected to be the most modest on record, costing a mere $850,000. “Nothing will take away the people’s happiness; Salvador Sánchez Cerén and Óscar Samuel Ortíz will assume their titles…with the same nobility and grace that a nation and a people should demonstrate before the world in an act of this nature,” said FMLN legislator Norma Guevara.

The ceremony will be attended by 13 presidents, among them regional leftist leaders Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador. Although the FMLN-Funes inauguration in 2009 was attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, this year the United States is sending a less prestigious delegation led by María Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, accompanied by Secretary of State Counselor Thomas Shannon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs John Feeley and the National Security Council’s Latin America director Ricardo Zúñiga.

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