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Cablegate: Fmln Candidate Funes On Wiretaps, Partisanship,

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #1037/01 2421858
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291858Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0019
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0151
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0345

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 001037

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL ES
SUBJECT: FMLN CANDIDATE FUNES ON WIRETAPS, PARTISANSHIP,
DEBATES, AND MORE

Classified By: The Ambassador, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: FMLN Presidential Candidate Mauricio Funes
told us August 26 the FMLN supported in principle legislation
to legalize wiretapping for law enforcement, but could not
support the constitutional amendment currently before the
Assembly. He had waffled on this in public earlier in the
week. FMLN Deputy Hugo Martinez said the FMLN would propose
its own amendment that would provide stricter protection of
civil liberties. Funes and his wife complained about being
harassed by the Ministry of Public Security. Funes charged
the GOES was seeking to convince military retirees that the
FMLN intended to disband the armed forces, a charge he said
was false. He said CAFTA-DR was the law of the land and
other trade deals (e.g., with Venezuela) must be compatible
with it. Funes said whoever wins the March 2009 election
will face a difficult governing situation and he had reached
out to ARENA candidate Avila in order to tone down the
excessive confrontation of the campaign. Funes said he had
agreed to a television debate under the auspices of
Salvadoran network TCS and CNN en Espanol; Avila has yet to
agree. End Summary.

2. (C) DCM and PolCouns met with (left-wing) FMLN
Presidential candidate Mauricio Funes, his wife and Brazilian
Embassy Cultural Attache Vanda Pignato, and FMLN Legislative
Assembly Deputy Hugo Martinez August 26. Pignato provided
this answer to our question about the seeming conflict of
interest: "I am a political appointee cultural attache until
5:00 p.m. on work days. Evenings and weekends I can campaign
with Mauricio." The Brazilian Ambassador was uncomfortable
when he explained this arrangement to Ambassador Glazer
earlier the same day.

3. (C) Wiretapping: Funes said he and the FMLN recognized the
need for wiretapping as a law enforcement tool, but that they
could not support the proposal pending ratification by this
assembly because it did not contain sufficient protections
against abuse. Martinez said the FMLN bloc was finalizing a
draft constitutional amendment to present to the Legislative
Assembly within two weeks. (Note: A constitutional amendment
is required to enable legal wiretapping requiring a simple
majority in one legislature and a two-thirds super majority
in the subsequent legislature. End Note.) Martinez
reiterated Funes' line that the current proposal does not
include sufficient controls to ensure wiretaps are used only
for law enforcement purposes. Martinez said the FMLN hoped
to reach a consensus with other parties, including
(center-right, pro-U.S.) ARENA to pass the proposal by a
simple majority in the current Assembly and by a super
majority when the new Assembly meets in May 2009.

4. (C) Chavez/ALBA: Funes said he had been asked to react to
media reports of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's comments
in Honduras on that country's accession to ALBA. Funes said
he did not want to be commenting on every statement made by
Chavez and told the media to redirect their questions to
Caracas. Media quoted CENTAM Parliamentarian Nidia Diaz as
saying the FMLN would bring El Salvador into ALBA if they won
in 2009. Diaz, an FMLN hardliner, was in Honduras for the
ceremony, and was photographed embracing Chavez. Funes
commented that El Salvador's existing trade agreements are
the law of the land; if Venezuela wanted to make a new deal
with El Salvador, it would have to be compatible with
CAFTA-DR.

5. (C) Alleged harassment: Funes said he was resigned to the
fact that (he believes) his phones are tapped and that his
movements are being followed by the GOES. Pignato said she
had recently denounced, via the Government of Brazil, that
vehicles later traced back to the Ministry of Public Security
had followed her in San Salvador, brandishing weapons and
photographing her. She said this was part of a campaign to
paint her as a potentially dangerous first lady, including
rumors that she is a follower of Santeria, is of questionable
moral character, etc. She alleged that her application for
Salvadoran citizenship is being delayed for political
purposes.

6. (C) Cuba: Funes, who has promised to establish relations
with Cuba if elected, described his visit to Cuba as a
journalist (during the 1998 Papal visit) to interview Fidel
Castro. Responding to Funes' rapture over meeting Castro,
DCM noted the totalitarian nature of the Cuban regime,
contrasting it with the political freedoms and relative
economic prosperity found in l Salvador. Funes and his wife
had mentioned tht they were animal lovers; DCM described to
themhow Cuban state security had broken into their hous and
poisoned their pet while serving at USINT/Hvana. DCM also
urged Funes to see Cuba through he eyes of Cuba's democratic
opposition.

7. (C) Military: Funes said the GOES was attempting to
convince military retirees that the FMLN's platform plank for
"demilitarization" indicated the FMLN intended to eliminate
the Salvadoran Armed Forces. Funes said he was on record as
opposing excessive "militarism," but that the FMLN would
support the constitutional role of the Armed Forces.

8. (C) Polarization: Funes said he had reached out to rival
candidate Rodrigo Avila with a proposal to tone down the
confrontation in the campaign, but has received no response.
He said whoever wins will have to govern beginning June 1,
and El Salvador will be better served with a less polarized
atmosphere. Neither party, he predicted, will win a majority
in the Assembly and thus will depend on votes from the
opposition. Funes agreed Avila is a decent man; he said he
was much more concerned about those behind Avila.

9. (C) Debates: Funes said he had accepted an offer from
Telecorporacion Salvadorena (TCS, one of El Salvador's main
TV networks) to participate in a debate organized by CNN en
Espanol. He said he was not concerned about participating in
a debate under the auspices of TCS, despite the fact his TV
career was spent on a competing network. He said he was
unaware of a response from the Avila camp. Funes griped
about his ongoing feud with El Salvador daily El Diario de
Hoy, repeating standard complaints that the Salvadoran media
is heavily controlled by the ruling party.

10. (C) Comment: As always, Funes' statements were moderate
and tailored for his audience. His views on the polarization
of Salvadoran politics and the difficulties facing the next
President are on target although we doubt he is concerned
about polarization if he loses. The prospects for ARENA and
the FMLN toning down the rhetoric of the campaign are slim,
because each has a strong incentive to paint their opponent
in extreme terms in order to garner the support of undecided
voters. On wiretaps, the FMLN only wants them in place after
they win in 2009, while the ruling party is hesitant to
approve them now because they fear the FMLN might win.
Embassy continues to lobby all relevant sectors for passage
of a wiretap law, as law enforcement is diminished without
one in place.
BLAU

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