>Latin America File: Cuban FM wraps up trip to red regimes in San Salvador, Managua; Castro to visit El Salvador, Funes out of favor with FMLN leaders

>– WikiLeak Revelations: President Funes Suspects FMLN’s Marxist Leaders Tapping His Telephone, Organizing Anti-Government Protests

– US Embassy in San Salvador Assesses El Salvador’s Government as “Schizophrenic,” Predicts Open Break between Funes’ Moderate Camp and FMLN’s Party Leadership

Pictured above: El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes shakes hands with Arturo Valenzuela, US Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, in San Salvador on December 8, 2010. Funes’ vice president and the leadership of the ruling FMLN are not so kindly disposed toward the USA.

The communist regimes in Havana and San Salvador are closing ranks since the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) won its first election last year, 17 years after the end of the Salvadoran Civil War. This past Monday, while visiting El Salvador, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez praised the importance of ties with the small Central American country. Rodriguez met deputies from the National Assembly’s commission on foreign affairs, with whom he discussed bilateral medical cooperation. In a move to ward off protests, he added that “This is by no means a political intervention. Medical cooperation is strictly humanitarian.”

For his part, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez lauded the importance of Rodriguez’s visit, the first by a Cuban diplomat in the history of bilateral relations between the two countries. “It is proof of El Salvador’s maturity in diplomatic relations with Cuba,” Martinez gushed.

Rodriguez was not only slated to meet Martinez, but also the leadership of the FMLN, which includes Medardo Gonzalez, and Salvadoran Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the FMLN’s former battlefield commander. During the Salvadoran Civil War, “doctrinaire Leninist” Sanchez acquired a reputation for ordering assassinations. Today, he is widely perceived among Salvadorans as the real ruler of the country. Indeed, cynical Salvadorans joke that he is only “nine millimeters” from the presidency, referring to the caliber of a certain bullet. Significantly, Sanchez dutifully present himself to his Cuban masters in December 2009, nearly a year before President Mauricio Funes made the same trek.

During his San Salvador stay-over, Rodriguez was scheduled to place flowers at the grave of Schafick Handal, formerly head of the Communist Party of El Salvador and later leader of the FMLN. The Cuban FM also paid tribute to Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Catholic archbishop who opposed the military dictatorship and was assassinated in 1980. Finally, Rodriguez placed flowers at the Wall of Memory in Cuscatlan Park to remember the 75,000 victims of the civil war.

The Cuban FM is on a whirlwind tour of Latin America, having attended the 21st Ibero-American Summit in Argentina prior to showing up in San Salvador. Following his pep talks with the FMLN, Rodriguez then flew to Managua, where President Daniel Ortega is trying to implement martial law in an effort to subvert the 2011 elections and rebuild his Cold War-era dictatorship. Afterward, he was slated to depart to Cancun, where the previous mayor employed a Cuban assassin, to participate in the United Nations’ Climate Change Summit.

Reciprocating Funes’ pilgrimage to Cuba in October, dictator Raul Castro plans to visit El Salvador “as soon as the corresponding agreements are made through diplomatic channels.” This is an important development in view of the latest WikiLeak revelations, which expose the political chasm between El Salvador’s “moderate” president and the hard-core Marxists who run the FMLN.

Funes is a former CNN Espanol journalist who did not bear arms during the civil war and who did not join the FMLN until the presidential campaign in late 2008. He has distanced himself from Latin America’s hard-left leaders who have tense relations with the USA, such as Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa. Instead, he has embraced former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, another “moderate” center-leftist. Unlike Vice President Sanchez, who advocates El Salvador’s incorporation into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas bloc of socialist nations, Funes has snubbed the idea.

By contrast, FMLN party leaders, states a February 23, 2010 cable from the US embassy in San Salvador, “have pushed him to strengthen ties with Venezuelan and Cuba while de-emphasizing the U.S. relationship.” Another message dated January 26 described El Salvador’s government as “schizophrenic.” Posted online by the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the earlier message continues: “The part of the government Funes controls is moderate, pragmatic, responsibly left-of-center and friendly to the [U.S. government]. The part he has ceded to hard-line elements of the … Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front … is seeking to carry out the Bolivarian Chavista game-plan, including implacable hostility toward the [U.S. government.]”

Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez downplayed the content of the Wikileak revelations, which have annoyed and outraged politicians around the world: “The subjective opinions of one official are not going to affect the strong and strategic relation we have with the United States. We think the issue is being given an importance that it doesn’t have.”

FMLN Lawmaker Benito Lara also insisted the party has a “good rapport” with Funes. “I have not heard the president express concern about the FMLN,” Lara opined. However, according to a report sent on August 21, 2009, one Funes ally told US embassy officials that the president “suspects hard-line FMLN elements are intercepting Funes’ and his inner circle’s telephone calls.” Another message that month claimed “hard-line FMLN members” orchestrated street protests against the construction of a hydroelectric dam advocated by Funes.

By last January, the US embassy, looking ahead to the 2012 legislative elections, warned: “If things continue to deteriorate, we could see an open break between the two sides.” The cable elaborated: “The FMLN response would be ugly – massive street protests, labor strikes, road blockages, threats of violence, legislative logjams – and paralyze some government operations and place a further drag on the struggling economy.”

2 responses to “>Latin America File: Cuban FM wraps up trip to red regimes in San Salvador, Managua; Castro to visit El Salvador, Funes out of favor with FMLN leaders

  1. mah29001 December 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    >Hmm…sounds like FMLN leaders are likely going to purposely try to instigate tensions with Funes as a ruse to make it look like the CIA is behind it all.I am pretty sure Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa will jump onboard the conspiracy bagwagon.

  2. mah29001 December 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    >I am also wondering if the situation with Funes is very similar to what went on in Ecuador with the protests over government reforms for pensions and other government welfare payouts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: