Stop Peace Accord Violations and the Looming Threat of Electoral Fraud in El Salvador!

Join CISPES in March 2006 to Observe Important Salvadoran Elections



The combination of institutional short-comings and a recently approved electoral reform, as well as the right-wing ARENA party’s dirty campaigning tactics, are threatening the transparency of the upcoming elections in El Salvador. In March 2006 El Salvador will elect a new National Assembly as well as mayors in each of its 282 municipalities, and the opposition FMLN party could make significant gains. These elections have the potential to drastically shift the political direction of a government that has constantly ignored the needs of its people by approving US-promoted projects like the CAFTA Free Trade Agreement and a new SOA-style International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA).

The right wing’s dirty tactics have gone as far as to rely on public institutions to practically legalize fraud, completely ignoring and violating the 1992 Peace Accords. Last month the Right pushed through several key reforms to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) in the Assembly that allow critical decisions on electoral oversight to be approved with a simple majority instead of a requiring the votes of four out of five magistrates. The change gives the right-wing parties near total control over electoral process. Perhaps even more appalling is ARENA’s strategy of rearranging voters in ways that would benefit its electoral outcome. In the week before the official voting roles were closed, some 11,000 voters changed voting locations to municipalities where the vote is expected to be close.

The opposition has denounced these actions, and in response ARENA has intensified its “campaigning” efforts meant to undermine the FMLN by constantly accusing the party of being connected to gangs, terrorists and "de-stabilizing" forces in the country. In fact, recently ARENA went as far as to accuse FMLN mayors of having an unresolved debt with the government through the MIDES (garbage disposal) project. The threat of the MIDES ruling is that the right wing is trying to use it to prevent popular FMLN mayors from running as candidates in the upcoming elections. This situation demonstrates ARENA’s capacity to utilize government institutions to “legitimize” their political attacks on the FMLN. As Salvadorans continue organizing to expose the unjust conditions they live under, ARENA is desperate to project its own corruption and governmental failures to its political opponent. With nearly unlimited media space, unregulated propaganda, a vast array of corrupt funds, and US intervention on its side, the right-wing sees a green light to use all its power to promote its own candidates.

Thirteen years after the signing of the Peace Accords that put an end to the war and legalized the FMLN as a political party, the country's "transition to democracy" continues to be fragile. Several reforms that would guarantee accessible, fair and free elections have yet to be implemented or respected; meanwhile, despite denouncements by international observers in past elections, the right-wing party has persistently committed fraud by buying votes, intimidating civilians, and threatening opposition candidates. In the 2004 elections, the government even tried to stop international observers from attending the elections and have recently been making statements about limiting the amount of international observers at these upcoming elections. Join CISPES is demanding the transparency that will lead to free and fair elections in El Salvador!



TAKE ACTION!





1. Attend the March 2006 CISPES Elections Observing Delegation to El Salvador and promote fair elections as an accredited international observer! Accompany the Salvadoran people by standing with them during their struggle for true democracy. Apply for the delegation by contacting your local committee, or downloading the application at  http://www.cispes.org/english/Delegations. The application deadline is January 15! *help with fundraising is available*
- If you cannot travel yourself, donate money or frequent fliers miles to CISPES, in order to help finance those who want to go but cannot afford it:  https://secure.people-link.com/~cissecure/



2. Contact Walter Araujo, the head of El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) by phone at 011 503 2264-7375 or by fax at 011 503 2263-4678 and tell him to respect El Salvador’s democratic process and put a stop to political slander and ARENA’s attempts at undermining Salvadoran electoral law.