A United Left is Unstoppable: The 23rd FMLN National Convention


El Salvadorwill likely be the next country in Latin Americato elect a president on the left.

On Sunday November 11, more than seventy thousandSalvadorans attended the FMLN 23rd National Convention celebrated at theCuscatlan stadium in San Salvador.Buses from throughout the country began arriving in the morning and by theearly afternoon, the stadium had become a red sea of FMLN shirts. The stadiumwas not big enough to hold everybody, so more than twenty-five thousand peoplehad to listen to the speeches of FMLN Presidential and Vice-Presidentialcandidates Mauricio Funes and Sanchez Ceren from a nearby hill. The wide rangeof participants, from El Salvadorand from throughout Latin America, are part ofa growing left movement throughout the region. The LatinAmerica left turn is united and it is unstoppable.

With numerous ovations, Mauricio Funes and Salvador SanchezCeren were welcomed at the stadium. In October Funes, the most popularindependent journalist in ElSalvador, was selected by the party to beits candidate in the March 2009 elections, and his candidacy has ignited thecountry. Viva Funes! Viva Ceren! was chanted over and over on the day of theconvention, and the candidates welcomed their wives, families, friends,Salvadorans in the country and abroad, FMLN members,    mayors, and legislators of the party, anddiplomatic delegations from Latin America. The candidates went on to addressthe social, political, and    economic issuesthat they, with the peoples input, will work on when they win the presidencyof El Salvador.The changes needed in ElSalvador, they emphasized, could not becopied from any other country and must be developed in response to the peoplesneeds.

A euphoric crowd welcomed historic leader Salvador SanchezCeren. The march for the 2009 victory has begun today he declared. Latin America is constructing its own destiny withcreativity and inspiration without copying models. With the integration of thepeople we built new governments referring to the recent electoral victoriesfor the left throughout the region. Sanchez Ceren also emphasized that the FMLNwould implement the Peace Accords after 18 years of ARENA obstruction.

In his speech, Funes criticized the ARENA governmentseffort to rewrite history, decrying the recent approval of legislation in theNational Assembly declaring November 11 a National Mourning Day, supposedly inmemory of the people who died when the guerrilla movement launched a nationaloffensive on that day in 1989.  Funesstated that there can not be a national mourning day because everyday thereare on average 10 homicides in this country and until those numberssignificantly decrease, Mourning Day should be every day. As a candidate andthe next president of El Salvador,I declare November 11 a National Peace Day in recognition of the people whogave their life to build a new ElSalvador.

Funes criticized ARENAs regressive economic policies,saying that If it wasnt for the four billion dollars a year that Salvadoranssend in remittances to our country, this economy would have collapsed already.He also criticized the governments approach to crime in making   security a lucrative business for Sacasfriends who own private police services. Funes asserted that the PNC shouldprovide security for the people while the government must address the socialconditions that breed violence and crime.

Funes said that he would maintain ties with the United States,but that the relationship would no longer be one of servility. One of his firstdiplomatic decisions will be to bring the troops back home from Iraq. After thespeech, convention delegates and representatives from throughout the regionratified the Funes-Ceren presidential slate.

The left forces in El Salvadorand Latin America have ARENAand the BushAdministrationscared. Saca has been traveling to the United Statesto drum up support for supposed improvements ARENA has made. Meanwhile, ARENAcontinues to intimidate people by saying that Funes is a little Chavez,referring to the Venezuelan leader who is constantly demonized by the press.

There is much work to do to support an FMLN victory in 2009.In El Salvador,Mauricio Funes, Salvador Sanchez Ceren and other FMLN leaders have beenvisiting various municipalities. In late November Funes visited the Lower Lempa region of the country, an area known for itspoor economy and vulnerability to flooding. The visit is part of the FMLNsOpen Social Dialogue initiative (or Dialogo Social Abierto), which will createa presidential platform with input from throughout Salvadoran society. The OpenDialogue will travel to San Francisco, Los Angeles, WashingtonDC and New York in December in an effort toconsult with Salvadorans living in the US.

Solidarity activists in the UnitedStates continue to support the left turn in Latin Americaby denouncing any U.S.attempt to intervene in the 2009 Salvadoran electoral process and denouncingARENAs dirty campaign of fear against the FMLN and their politics ofrepression against the countrys social movements. Que viva el FMLN y lasolidaridad internacional!


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