Cablegate: Fmln Affirms Socialist Course; Leadership Acknowledges Need


DE RUEHSN #1105 3492209
O R 152209Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/15
SUBJECT: FMLN Affirms Socialist Course; Leadership Acknowledges Need
for Strong Relations with U.S.


CLASSIFIED BY: RBlau, Charge, state, FO; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: At its 25th annual convention December 13, the
FMLN, without President Funes present, voiced solidarity with Cuba
and Venezuela, repeated opposition to "the Empire," and voted to
join the Fifth Socialist International. It decided to devolve
authority to select candidates for local office to local party
organizations. Senior FMLN leadership told us December 14 there
had been no change in the FMLN's stated desire for good relations
with the U.S. and attributed some of the anti-U.S. rhetoric by FMLN
members (including VP Sanchez Ceren) to events outside of El
Salvador, and an inability to adapt to new circumstances. End

2. (SBU) In an atmosphere closer to a rock concert than a political
convention, the FMLN held its 25th annual national convention
December 13 in San Salvador where it affirmed solidarity with Cuba
and Venezuela, opposition to "the Empire," and adopted changes to
the party statutes with virtually no opposition. The FMLN voted to
join -- as party, not as government -- the Fifth Socialist
International proposed by Venezuela's Chavez and other left-leaning
leaders and declared its alliance with Chavez' "21st Century
Socialism." In what could prove to be a significant change in
future elections, delegates voted to modify party bylaws to allow
local party organizations, rather than national FMLN leadership, to
choose candidates for local office. In his keynote speech, VP
Salvador Sanchez Ceren compared leaves blowing through the meeting
area with the "dead leaves of ARENA," noting the disarray and
internecine conflict that has divided the Salvadoran Right. He
declared that the FMLN's socialism would be distinctly Salvadoran
and called on the GOES to choose between socialism or
neoliberalism. Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes did not attend
the FMLN convention.

3. (C) Charge, Acting DCM and PolCouns met December 14 with Medardo
Gonzalez, FMLN General Coordinator and head of legislative bloc,
Sigfrido Reyes, FMLN Spokesman and Assembly Deputy, and Oscar
Ortiz, Santa Tecla Mayor. Gonzalez stated categorically there had
been no change in the FMLN's stance of seeking a constructive
relationship with the U.S. Noting recent statements by VP Sanchez
Ceren criticizing the U.S., the three were quick to say there was
no anti-U.S. policy in the FMLN and, on the contrary, the FMLN and
the Funes Government saw strengthening U.S.-Salvadoran relations as
a priority. Reyes, agreeing with the Charge that the U.S. and FMLN
could disagree civilly, emphasized Honduras as the FMLN's and Latin
America's biggest disappointment with the USG, arguing that ousted
Honduran President Zelaya had received political assurances of his
reinstatement that had later been withdrawn, effectively
strengthening the hand of coup leaders. Reyes said he believes
this has badly damaged U.S. credibility in the region. Charge
noted that the commitment to seek Zelaya's reinstatement depended
on action by the Honduran Congress, that the USG supported Zelaya's
reinstatement, but did not want to impose a solution. Gonzalez
said he recognized it was much easier for the FMLN to take a
position on Honduras than it was for the Funes government. Ortiz
suggested much of the anti-Imperialist commentary still emanating
from the FMLN was, in part, a function of the party's slow
adaptation to a new world of governing and the difficulty of
setting aside long-held political rhetoric.

4. (C) Comment: The FMLN's historic, guerrilla roots run deep, and
the rhetoric of years on the battlefield and two decades in
opposition will not disappear quickly, or maybe ever. While our
outreach to the FMLN during the 2008-2009 campaign and since Funes'
inauguration has paid off in open channels of communications, we
continue to combat old suspicions of U.S. motives in El Salvador
and the region. On the other hand, good relations with the U.S.
enjoys a 90 percent approval rating. If the FMLN overdoes its
radicalism, it will have a hard time sustaining its current
electoral advantages.

© Scoop Media

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