Written by SHARE: Who Will be the Next President of El Salvador? Open-Forum with Presidential Candidates
Background and information about Election Monitoring in El Salvador 2014.
February 2, 2014
Tomorrow, eighty SHARE delegates will travel throughout El Salvador to participate as international observers in the 2014 Salvadoran Presidential elections.
Yesterday, these delegates had the privilege of meeting the Vice Presidential candidate for the three largest political parties in this elections: FMLN, UNIDAD, and ARENA. While the political campaigns officially ended on Wednesday and political parties can no longer promote their candidate, the vice presidential candidates answered a series of questions covering the economy, security, and education.
To open the forum the first presenter, FMLN Vice Presidential candidate Oscar Ortiz began, “I want to thank CIS and SHARE for bringing you here to help the Democratic process. Thank you for accompanying us at this historic moment. I won’t ask you to vote, but I will tell you that we will win.”
Ortiz explained the FMLN’s top five priorities:
1. Grow the economy to both improve jobs and create more jobs
2. Education, invest more in the people of El Salvador
3. Security,guarantee greater safety for families and entire communities
Continue to lower the homicide rate
Reign in extortion
Reform the prison system in El Salvador
4. Continue with social inclusion programs
5. Strengthen the democratic system in El Salvador
Ortiz recognized that though the homicide rate in El Salvador has decreased from 83 per 100,000 in 2009 to 42 per 100,000 in 2013, too many Salvadorans continue to suffer from high levels of violence. The mass immigration to the United States has torn families apart and the FMLN will invest in children, art, community programs that will reconstruct the social fabric of Salvadoran society.
“We don’t want our biggest export to be people. We are grateful for the way people in the U.S. have received our people, but we need to ensure that our people can stay here.” said Ortiz.
As the former mayor of Santa Tecla, Ortiz piloted a similar model where the local government invested in marginalized communities to include them in society through art and educational programs. In the past five years Santa Tecla went from one of the eight most dangerous municipalities to one of the safest municipalities in San Salvador.
In regards to the economy Ortiz explained that exports from El Salvador grew by 45% in the last five years as well as increasing the connectivity of the country through investing in highways and roadways.
Ortiz also expanded on the educational policies of the FMLN. In the past five years the illiteracy rate in the U.S. decreased from 17% to 12% through the National Literacy Program. In the next five years the FMLN will invest in increasing the technology that is made available for students.
The second Vice Presidential Candidate to present, Francisco Laínez, started his presentation by discussing the UNIDAD party’s commitment to gender equality. The UNIDAD party is the only political party in El Salvador with a women in charge of their political campaign. Laínez also discussed the UNIDAD party’s plans for their Allianza Mujeres program that will provide access to business loans for low income women. As part of this program the party is committed to launching a daycare program on June 1st that will be coordinated by local churches and will provide children with food, clothing, and where they can learn to read and write, as well as learn morals and values from the church.
On the issue of national security Laínez stated that the country needs to, “Invest more in poor people so the children can be children and have opportunities to learn and to plan.”
The UNIDAD party has a three step plan to address national security:
Rehabilitation of gang members
Strong police force to investigate
In his response to a question regarding the economy of El Salvador Laínez mentioned that both he and Saca came from the business world and understand how to create jobs. The educational programs of UNIDAD will also contribute to the development of the economy by promoting degrees in English and engineering as well as the development of “morals and values” by reading the bible in schools.
The final candidate to present was René Portillo Cuadra, a former university professor, and member of the ARENA party. Cuadra stated that reducing violence is the top priority for the ARENA party and explained ARENA’s two step approach:
Prevention through better educational programs and more opportunities to support themselves
Develop respect for the laws
In regards to the economy Cuadra stated that the only way for the economy to grow is to encourage foreign investments and to have a government that generates confidence and judicial security.
In response to a question regarding the President Flores’ attempts to illegally leave El Salvador in the past week Cuadra explained that a political party is no more than the people who are in it and that, “All citizens are under the law. We are not covering up corruption.”
Cuadra also mentioned that Quijano and Cuadra are the only candidates who have not served in the national government.
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