For Immediate Release
March 19, 2009
Francisco Lopez, Executive Director, 503.269.5694
Erik Sorensen, Communications Director, 503.488.0263
Salem, Ore. - On Sunday, the Salvadoran people elected Mauricio Funes 51.3% to 48.7%. Funes, a member of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, was elected president in one of the most highly contested elections in Salvadoran history. The election results mark an important turning point for the country--ending 20 years of right-wing rule and giving the left-wing control for the first time since the Salvadoran Civil War.
Last week, CAUSA, in cooperation with the SHARE Foundation, sent a delegation to El Salvador to act as International Elections Observers. The delegation was made up of CAUSA’s current and former directors, Francisco Lopez and Aeryca Steinbauer and University Students from Willamette University, Whitman College, Salem’s First Congregational Church, Georgetown University, University of Maryland, Northwest School in Seattle, MAZON Jewish Respond to Hunger, Service Employees International Union, The US Baptist Alliance, National Lawyers Guild, Columbia University, and many other community organizations from the United States. The SHARE/CAUSA contingent included more than 150 delegates that were part of more than 1,000 observers from the United States and 4,000 from other countries in Latina America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Despite widespread concerns that violence would break out over the election, the process went smoothly.
Since the election, President Funes has pledged to work closely with the United States on important issues like immigration. During an interview with The Nation on Tuesday, Funes pledged to “rebuild democratic institutions, enforce the constitution and make of El Salvador a democratic state that respects the rule of law”, which he says, will reduce the flows of out-migration. And although the President-elect would like for the U.S. to renew Temporary Protected Status (TPS), to do so without reducing the migration flows from his own country would not be fair.
On Wednesday, President Obama telephoned President Funes to congratulate him on his victory and to say he was ready to strengthen bilateral ties. “The historic election of President Funes offers an important opportunity for President Obama to work towards mending relations with people who view the United States as historic supporters of repressive regimes”, said Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of CAUSA.
CAUSA and the SHARE Foundation encourage President Obama to continue working towards establishing a strong relationship with President Funes. A strong relationship between the two countries can only ensure that El Salvador will be in a better position to rebuild it’s productive capacity and creating a coherent social policy that improves the quality of life for all Salvadorans. This will in turn positively impact the United States’ immigration system thereby reducing the numbers needing to flee from El Salvador due to economic hardship and political persecution.
CAUSA is Oregon's statewide, grassroots immigrant rights coalition. We work to defend and advance immigrant rights through coordination with local, state, and national coalitions and allies. For more information, visit www.causaoregon.org
The SHARE Foundation supports the empowerment of historically impoverished and marginalized communities, as they strive to meet both their most immediate needs and construct long-term sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty, underdevelopment and social injustice. For more information, visit www.share-elsalvador.org