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Cablegate: Tfha01 El Salvador: Pushing Back On Misguided Haiti Comments

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #0033 0252359
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 252359Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0257
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 000033

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/25
TAGS: PREL HA ES
SUBJECT: TFHA01 EL SALVADOR: PUSHING BACK ON MISGUIDED HAITI COMMENTS

CLASSIFIED BY: Robert I. Blau, Charge d' Affaires, Department of
State, Executive Office; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (U) On Saturday, January 23, the leftist FMLN party held a
rally in honor of one of their founders, Shafik Handal, at which
Central American Parliament member Nidia Diaz criticized American
bases in Latin America, the militarization of U.S. assistance to
Haiti, and what she described as a more generalized U.S.-based plot
to undo leftist gains in the region, as evidenced by the electoral
victory of PiC1era in Chile.

2. (U) On-line daily "El Faro" contacted Embassy Information
Officer Alberto Rodriguez over the weekend to obtain a USG
reaction; IO corrected the record on Haiti, emphasizing that the
USG presence was welcomed by the Haitian government and people, and
that the missions were all humanitarian and necessary. Regarding
basing, the IO pointed out that the Cooperative Security Location
at Comalapa Airport operates pursuant to a bilateral agreement,
which satisfies both countries' interest in combating narcotics
trafficking. El Faro ran the IO's comments on Monday, January 25.

3. (U) Taking advantage of a ceremony to donate
Merida-Initiative equipment to the Salvadoran Police on Monday,
January 25, ChargC) d'Affaires responded to media questions on these
same subjects, and once again corrected the record, making
essentially the same points as IO did with "El Faro." ChargC)
emphasized that the U.S. military, working with civilian agencies,
the Haitian government, MINUSTAH, and other countries'
representatives were saving lives, much as they did in the wake of
mudslides and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ida here in El
Salvador in November. ChargC) also called Foreign Minister Hugo
Martinez, who said that he had himself publicly clarified today
(Monday, January 25) that Nidia Diaz's statements did not in any
way reflect the position of the GOES, and that the U.S. effort
responded to a natural disaster of enormous proportions.

4. (C) Comment: Haiti provides yet another context for the
hard-line part of the FMLN to show its hostility to the USG, and at
the same time embarrass the Funes government, which always responds
by emphasizing that the FMLN does not speak for the GOES on foreign
policy matters. Nidia Diaz, a former guerrilla commander, is one
of the most radical FMLN members, but at her side were other key
party leaders, such as FMLN Coordinator Medardo Gonzalez,
Legislative Assembly Vice President Sigfrido Reyes, and
Vice-President Salvador Sanchez-Ceren. Unfortunately, it is the
hard-liners that dominate the party leadership, while more moderate
members, such as the foreign minister, are caught between the
competing forces of party discipline and loyalty to President
Funes.
BLAU

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