On Monday, October 14, presidential candidate with the UNITY coalition Tony Saca announced, at last, his choice for running mate: former Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) leader Francisco “Pancho” Laínez, who defected from the party in March. While the UNITY coalition claims to represent several parties, the final UNITY ticket strongly testifies to a return to the ARENA policies of the past under a new name. Indeed, Laínez himself was a contender for the ARENA presidential candidacy in 2009, and served as Minister of Foreign Relations under Saca.
Explaining his decision, Saca praised Laínez for experience with international relations and foreign investment. As Foreign Minister under Saca from 2004-2008, Laínez oversaw the implementation of the notorious Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which continued the pro-corporate economic attacks against the country’s peasants, workers, street vendors and poor—the distinctive hallmarks of previous ARENA administrations’ economic policies, developed in faithful collaboration with the US, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). As Vice President, Laínez would work on “foreign trade” and “attracting investment,” said Saca.
On Sunday, October 13, Saca registered with the National Conciliation Party (PCN), recognizing the PCN as the only UNITY member party with any real popular base. Nevertheless, as evidenced by Saca’s pick for running mate, the UNITY ticket is an ARENA ticket more than anything else. Indeed, the 2014 Presidential Elections are shaping up to be a three-way battle between two warring ARENA factions and the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party.
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