Keep an eye on the elections in El Salvador
Not long ago, Central America was a big part of our foreign policy discussion in the US.
Remember the contras? Noriega and the Panama invasion? El Salvador civil war?
We don't have those problems anymore and we've spent a lot of time looking at Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and so on. Nevertheless, the region faces violence and economic challenges. It is also a source of illegal immigration to the US.
Last Sunday, the left won the first round of the El Salvador election, as reported in The NY Times:
"In El Salvador, a divided right may have benefited the front-runner of the left-leaning Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, known as the F.M.L.N., which appeared in good position to hold on to the presidency. It won the office for the first time in 2009, after a string of losses to conservatives following peace accords in 1992 ended one of the bloodiest civil wars in the Americas. The F.M.L.N. candidate, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander and the vice president, got 49 percent of the vote, but not the majority needed to avoid a March 9 runoff, according to preliminary results."
The right should do better in the 2nd round because many of the 3rd party votes are more likely to go right then left. At the same time, the left goes to the "runoff" with 49% of the vote in the first round. As they say, I'd rather go to the runoff with 49% in the first round than 39%!
No matter who wins, the people are not happy with the political class because of a sluggish economy and rampant gang violence.The winner of the election will have a very brief honeymoon and face citizens who want quick results. It won't be easy governing El Salvador.
Central America has come a long way from "contras" and "the civil war" of the early 1980s in El Salvador. Unfortunately, they face a new set of problems, such as mindless gang violence and insecurity.
And let's not forget that Central America is a source of illegal immigration to the US. It's in our interest to have jobs and economic growth in the region.
P. S. You can hear my chat with Fausta Wertz (Fausta's Blog) and Miguel Portillo-Cuadras from El Salvador & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.