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Cablegate: Fmln Seeks to Improve Relations with U.S.,

VZCZCXYZ0022
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #2255 3121709
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081709Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8556
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 002255

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2017
TAGS: ES PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: FMLN SEEKS TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH U.S.,
MAINTAIN MODERATE TONE TO APPEAL TO CENTRIST VOTERS

REF: SAN SALVADOR 2015

Classified By: The Ambassador, for reason 1.4 (d).

1. (C) Summary: Moderate FMLN Deputy Hugo Martinez told us
November 1 that FMLN leadership had decided improving
relations with the U.S. was important and that he had been
tapped to coordinate U.S.-FMLN relations. He commented on
the difficulties presented by the FMLN's presidential ticket,
but asserted FMLN leadership had taken and would take steps
to keep the party on message to avoid undermining its
moderate message. End Summary.

2. (C) FMLN Deputy Hugo Martinez told PolCouns November 1 the
leadership of the FMLN had decided maintaining and improving
relations with the U.S. was important for the party and the
leadership had asked him to be in charge of U.S. relations.
He said relations with the Salvadoran diaspora in the U.S.
would be handled by others in the FMLN. Martinez told us
separately on October 29 that the FMLN would be taking steps
to prove their desire for strong relations with the U.S.

3. (C) Martinez said the upcoming municipal, legislative, and
(especially) presidential campaigns would be difficult, with
ARENA working to remind voters of the FMLN's rhetoric and
public positions since the end of the civil war. He said the
FMLN's choice of Mauricio Funes as head of the party's
presidential ticket was a difficult decision. Funes, he
said, has long sympathized with the FMLN, but has not been
involved in party politics during his career as a journalist.
Martinez said the choice of Funes was made deliberately in
order to attract votes from the center, not to cater to the
party's base. Funes' running mate, Salvador Sanchez Ceren,
current head of delegation in the National Assembly, was
selected in order to placate the FMLN's core supporters.
While the combination might seem illogical at first glance,
Martinez said the ticket was constructed in order to maximize
its attractiveness at the center of the political spectrum.

4. (C) PolCouns noted the difficulties the FMLN ticket would
face despite Funes' name recognition and appeal to the
center, largely because of Funes' running mate, Sanchez
Ceren. Martinez agreed that gaining the confidence of
centrist voters would be difficult. Asked if he expected the
FMLN would be able to maintain discipline during the campaign
and keep candidates and party activists on message and avoid
undermining Funes' attractiveness, Martinez noted that the
party has already effectively silenced one internal critic,
Salvador Arias, who was openly criticizing the composition of
the ticket. FMLN leadership moved quickly to remove one of
Arias' political allies from a position as a departmental
head for the FMLN and effectively ended his public dissent.

5. (C) Martinez said he was surprised to hear FMLN General
Coordinator tell us during lunch October 4 (Reftel) that the
FMLN would "absolutely" support the continued operation of
the Forward Operating Location at Comalapa. He said this was
evidence of what he called slow, steady steps towards change
within the FMLN, aimed at modernizing both the party and its
positions.

6. (C) Bio note: Martinez, 39, is a moderate within the FMLN.
He hails from La Union, but has lived in San Salvador since
childhood.

7. (C) Comment: Despite the FMLN's best efforts, Salvadoran
voters will not easily ignore Sanchez Ceren as Funes' running
mate or forget the FMLN's long history of radical rhetoric.
ARENA will do everything in its power to ensure Funes is
linked in voters' minds with the FMLN's most extreme
positions and personalities. Even so, we will continue to
encourage moderate voices and, more importantly, actions out
of the FMLN during this looming campaign season, giving the
party the opportunity to put its money where its mouth is on
issues of importance to the USG, such as negotiating the
renewal of U.S. access to the Forward Operating Location at
Comalapa. End Comment.
Glazer

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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