Victoria International Election Observers to El Salvador
Introduction: CASC invited 2 observers to share their experiences & reflections on the 2014 Presidential election in El Salvador. After 2 elections & a recount Salvador Sanchez Ceren was declared winner by 7000 votes. His inauguration will take place on June1.
From Cory Greenlees
In the fall of 2013, the Victoria FMLN club requested volunteers to serve as international observers in the upcoming presidential election. After several meetings, eight of us volunteered and travelled to El Salvador for the February 2, 2014 presidential election.
Most of the delegation spent about ten days in El Salvador. Our responsibilities included monitoring events prior to the election, including press coverage, attending observer training, election day observation, and post election reporting.
Since the end of the civil war, and the signing of peace accords in 1992, international observers have been participating in El Salvador elections. International observers are invited to help ensure elections are fair and transparent. This year, approximately 6,000 international observers, from 33 countries, went to El Salvador to express solidarity and assist with the election.
International observers receive instructions.
On election day, international observers were dispatched to polls all over the country. The task was to witness proceedings in and around voting places. The instructions we received were not to interfere directly but to report questionable activities to local election officials. Intimidation, fraudulent voting, and inaccurate reporting of ballots were issues to be alert to. Thanks to the organization of the Victoria FMLN, our delegation was able to participate fully and contribute to the best of our ability.
Unfortunately, the first round of voting on February 2, did not produce a clear winner. With 49.5%, the incumbent FLMN party garnered 10 points more than the right wing ARENA party but did not get the required 50% +1 majority. A second round of voting takes place on March 9, 2014 and an FMLN win is predicted
FMLN campaign rally San Salvador 2014
Although a second round of voting is required, reports confirm that the February election was transparent and peaceful. The process of democratization continues to advance in El Salvador. Ease and access to voting places increased, fraud was reduced, and attention to human rights, including those of the disabled, gays, and women were enhanced. And no small matter, the 2014 election was the first election campaign in which no one was killed.
An inked finger serves as proof of voting in the presidential election on Feb 2.
While in El Salvador, the Victoria delegation also continued the solidarity work started by CASC, in 2009, with the community of El Milagro. Prior to departure, the Victoria delegation raised about $1600 for El Milagro. The funds were designated for improvements to the community health centre. Once in El Salvador, the delegation delivered the funds and met with people in El Milagro.
The children of El Milagro
Serving as an election observer was fascinating and worthwhile.
If you are interested in participating in the future contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Report by Kevin Neish.
For his full account see: www.kevinneish.ca
The March 9th second round of the Salvadoran election was a close one, with FMLN winning by only 0.22%, a 6,300 vote lead out of 3 million. How did the right wing ARENA party come so close to over taking the FMLN? Well, basically by using lies, threats, intimidation and cheating. In its 2nd round campaign, ARENA simply promised to do everything that the FMLN had already promised or done, usurping their campaign. For example, the FMLN government gave free education, school books, back packs, uniforms, shoes and a daily meal with a glass of milk to every Salvadoran school child.
As can be seen in this photo, ARENA blatantly steals the FMLN program victory, by proclaiming on its billboards that “We Eat Well in School”, showing healthy kids in new uniforms and backpacks, with glasses of milk in their hands, all of which was provided by the FMLN not ARENA.
As part of the intimidation campaign, the pro ARENA media, ran a daily stream of lurid anti-Venezuela articles, suggesting that the same fascist violence was in store for El Salvador, if the FMLN won the election.
I saw wholesale cheating and intimidation by ARENA on election day, at the “Feria Internacional” polling station in San Salvador.
Election rules state that there can be no campaigning within 300 meters of the poll entrance, but here you cannot even see the poll entrance, behind all the
Voters had to line up amongst intimidating ARENA propaganda and goons, just to enter the polling station yard.
But with the support of the majority of Salvadorans, like this vote being counted, the FMLN won, despite ARENA’s cheating, intimidation and lies.
Now we have to do whatever we can to support the new FMLN government against the expected attacks of ARENA and the US government.
CASC observer for both 2014 presidential elections.