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Cablegate: (S/Nf) Funes's Relationship with the Fmln

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DE RUEHSN #0928/01 2732102
ZNY SSSSS ZZH (CCY ADBBC5AB MSI4648-695)
O 302102Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1683

S E C R E T SAN SALVADOR 000928

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C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2034
TAGS: PINR PGOV ES
SUBJECT: (S/NF) FUNES'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FMLN
(C-AL9-01786)

REF: A. STATE 93069
B. SAN SALVADOR 789
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, for reasons 1.4 (b), (c), and (d).

1. (SBU) Embassy San Salvador provides the following
responses to Reftel queries.

2. (S/NF) DOES MINISTER OF DEFENSE PAYES HAVE CLOSE RELATIONS
WITH FMLN HARDLINERS? IF SO, WITH WHOM? No. Munguia Payes,
both during the campaign and since becoming Minister of
Defense, has been quick to point out to Embassy interlocutors
that he fought against the guerrilla forces that later formed
the FMLN during his time in the Salvadoran Armed Forces.
Indeed, Munguia Payes seems to see himself as the sole
cabinet-level official in a security position without divided
loyalties between Funes and the FMLN. However, he has a
cordial/correct relationship with the FMLN hardliners in the
GOES.

3. (S/NF) WHAT IS VICE PRESIDENT SALVADOR SANCHEZ CEREN'S
CURRENT RELATIONSHIP WITH FMLN HARDLINERS? We have no
evidence to suggest that longstanding ties between Sanchez
Ceren and FMLN Coordinator General (and head of legislative
bloc) Medardo Gonzalez, Jose Luis Merino, Sigfrido Reyes, and
other hard-line elements of the FMLN have changed. However,
the heavy schedule Sanchez Ceren keeps as Minister of
Education and Vice President, along with persistent rumors of
health problems, suggest he has less time to devote to party
business than when he was head of the FMLN's bloc in the
Legislative Assembly. It is very troubling that on September
26 Sanchez Ceren made anti-American statements at an FMLN
rally in support of Manuel Zelaya. The GOES is wrestling
with Sanchez Ceren's inconsistency when wearing his VP hat as
opposed to his FMLN hat. HOW DOES HE GET ALONG WITH FUNES?
Sanchez Ceren's relationship with Funes grew from nearly
non-existent to a working relationship during the campaign.
XXXXXXXXXXXX recently told PolCouns that Funes and Sanchez
Ceren did not talk "as much as I would like" but that when they
did talk, it was productive and that the two seemed to get along
well together. The two almost never appear together in public.
Also, in early September, Funes countermanded a decision by
Sanchez Ceren regarding agriculture subsidies.

4. (S/NF) IS FUNES CONSIDERING CONFRONTING FMLN HARDLINERS
WHOM HE BELIEVES ARE UNDERMINING HIM? HOW IS FUNES COPING
UNDER STRESS? XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolCouns
September 22 that the divorce between Funes and the FMLN wa
final, pointing to the lack of public conflict as convincing
evidence: the two sides are no longer even trying to work
together. XXXXXXXXXXXX is convinced FMLN hard-liners
smuggled Honduran President Zelaya into Tegucigalpa
September 21 without the knowledge of Funes and in direct
defiance of his efforts to keep the Honduras conflict from playing
out on Salvadoran soil. XXXXXXXXXXXX believes the relationship
is beyond repair. We believe that Funes distrusts the orthodox
FMLN, but is not able to break with the party at this time. He has
some valuable FMLN "lite" members of his cabinet, and would
risk more active subversion and street protests if he broke
with the party.

5. (S/NF) WHO ARE CURRENTLY THE MOST INFLUENTIAL FMLN
LEADERS? HOW DO THEY VIEW FUNES? HOW DOES FUNES VIEW THEM?
WHAT PLANS DO THEY HAVE, IF ANY, TO STRENGTHEN THE FMLN'S
INFLUENCE? FMLN General Coordinator Medardo Gonzalez,
PARLACEN Deputies Jose Luis Merino and Nidia Diaz, and
Salvadoran Assembly Deputy Sigfrido Reyes continue to hold
significant power within the FMLN. Hato Hasbun, now
Secretary for Strategic Affairs in the presidential staff,
straddles both worlds as an FMLN insider and Funes
confidante. Within the hard-line faction of the FMLN, it
appears the influence of the BRV and Hugo Chavez is on the
rise, with some in the FMLN capitalizing on the crisis in
Honduras to widen the breach between Funes and party
hard-liners. Samayoa was recently introduced (by phone) to
Havana's new Charge d'Affaires and believes the Cubans are
planning to raise their profile in El Salvador. FMLN
hard-liners engineered Funes' selection as a pragmatic step
to gain power, expecting they would eventually govern through
Funes as their puppet. Funes made a pragmatic decision to
run for President on the FMLN ticket, expecting to govern
despite the opposition he expected would emerge from radical
elements of the party. San Salvador's political pundits
continue to speculate that the Friends of Mauricio (now being
rebranded the Citizen Movement for Change) will soon merge
with the FMLN's smaller ally CD (Democratic Change) giving
them a base to win seats in 2012 legislative elections and a
power base from which to negotiate. El Salvador's
conservative business class continues to assess that working
with Funes is the best avenue for protecting Salvadoran
democracy and their own business interests in the long run.
A senior executive XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolCouns September
22 he thought Funes would wind up governing with the support of
ARENA and other conservative parties before his term was up.

6. (S/NF) HAVE KEY SECURITY ORGANIZATION BUDGETS
CHANGED? IF SO, TO WHAT EXTENT? Funes' Private Secretar
told us (Ref (B)) the President was disappointed in Eduardo Linares,
new Director of the Salvadoran State Intelligence Organization
(OIE). In fact, Funes has privately commented on his
complete lack of faith with Linares and the OIE, whom Funes
believes to be beholden to the hard-line factions of the
FMLN. Given Funes' disappointment in and distrust of
Linares, Funes has decided to shift a significant part of
OIE's intelligence collection duties to the El Salvador Armed
Forces (ESAF). Even so, the CY2010 budget for the ESAF was
reduced USD 6 million from its CY2009 level of USD 132
million, a significant decrease considering over 90 percent
of the budget is directed to salaries. Accordingly, Funes
plans to also gradually reduce OIE's budget to further
marginalize the Agency's ability to operate effectively.
Hato Hasbun has told us he envisages OIE evolving into a more
analytical than operational organization. Other sensitive
reporting suggests a pending realignment of the GOES
intelligence apparatus.

7. (S/NF) HOW DO AVERAGE SALVADORANS SEE FUNES'S ACTIONS TO
REDUCE CRIME, SPECIFICALLY THE MURDER RATE, IN THE COUNTRY?
DO FMLN HARDLINERS IN GOVERNMENT VIEW THE ISSUE AS A KEY
PRIORITY? WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT OFFICIAL HOMICIDE RATE?
Salvadoran press reported September 29 that as of September
28, the number of murders in 2009 (3,182) had already
exceeded the 2008 total (3,179). This represents an
annualized total of 4,286 killings if the current rate holds,
or almost 12 per day in 2009 compared to a rate of nearly 9
per day in 2008. This uptick in the homicide rate seems to
have shocked even those Salvadorans who had grown numb to the
persistently high levels of violence in their country.
September polling numbers from the University of Central
America's IUDOP polling institute suggest a majority of
Salvadorans are concerned about public security but remain
willing to give the Funes Administration time to address the
problem. 58.6 percent of respondents believe crime is
growing worse since Funes took office, while 26.5 percent
believe it is about the same and only 14.9 percent believe it
is improving. Respondents were almost evenly split as to
whether Funes' public security policies represent more of the
same (48.9 percent) or a change (49.9 percent) from policies
of the Saca administration. 67.8 percent of respondents
believe Funes' security policies will have some or a
significant effect on crime, while 32.3 percent believe they
will have little or no effect. However, 51.9 percent of
respondents thought Funes' public security policies were
having little to no effect while 48.0 percent believed they
were, in fact, showing results already. FMLN hardliners are
concerned more with obtaining operational control over the
PNC than they are with reducing the crime rate. The
biographies of some of these hardliners include involvement
in murder (Melgar, Sanchez Ceren, Nidia Diaz), kidnapping
(Sanchez Ceren), and arms trafficking (Merino), so their
commitment to law and order cannot be easily assumed.
BLAU

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