Judges Oppose Anti-Terrorism Law; FMLN Announces Candidates for President and Vice-President


Market vendors show their support for the FMLN candidates

A year after the ARENA party and its right wing allies passed the Anti-Terrorism law, three judges from the San Salvador tribunals criticized the law as lacking clarity, saying that the law is much too broad and can therefore be applied arbitrarily. Judges Rolando Corcio, Martin Rogel and Aida Santos de Escobar declared the law too confusing and more importantly, clarified that simple street protests are not acts of terrorism, which coincides with the analysis and resistance of the Salvadoran social movement regarding the law. 


Despite the criticism of the Anti-Terrorist law, Attorney General Garrid Safie insists that acts of terrorism have occurred, but guilt has not been proven.  More than 40 people have been arrested under the law since it went into effect, yet none have been sentenced with terrorism charges. On September 1, the 28 vendors charged with terrorism on May 12 were all released as the judges in the specialized tribunals claimed there was not enough evidence to convict them as terrorists.  As one judge stated, even the arrests were arbitrary given that some people were arrested and charged with acts of terrorism for simply having been at the scene of the crime.

Meanwhile, the 14 people charged with terrorism for their participation in the Suchitoto protest against water privatization have joined with the Committee of the Families of Political Prisoners to continue their struggle for the charges to dropped. Two weeks ago they held a two-day fast in front of the Legislative Assembly, and they won a temporary victory when it was announced that their trail would be delayed.

FMLN publicly announces presidential and vice-presidential candidates for 2009 elections

On September 27, the FMLN Political Commission publicly announced Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Ceren as their proposed candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency for the 2009 Salvadoran elections. The final decision on the presidential candidates for the FMLN will made at the party convention in November of this year; already, however, different sectors of the Salvadoran social movement have announced their overwhelming support for the FMLNs presidential slate including at a rally of the National Vendors movement this week and excitement is growing around the FMLNs chance to win in 2009.

ARENA's desperate and uncoordinated response to the FMLN's announcement involved current vice-president Ana Vilma de Escobar calling for an emergency press conference just hours after the announcement by the FMLN Political Commission.  There she announced her intentions of becoming a presidential candidate for ARENA, but the event was attended only by the media and no fellow ARENA members were present. 

Internal divisions within ARENA have become more public in the past few months. Escobar herself admitted to the press that she does not have the support of her party members, to which Saca responded that she has the right to launch her candidacy but that there are many men and women within the ARENA party that also have candidacy inspirations. ARENA has announced that it will not make its candidates public until May 2008.

FMLN investigates National Civilian Police training in Military facilities

FMLN deputy Benito Lara, member of the Security Commission in the Legislative Assembly, announced this week that the FMLN legislative fraction will present a resolution to National Civilian Police (PNC) Director Rodrigo Avila, Defense Minister Otto Romero and National Police Academy director Benjamin Cestoni demanding an explanation for why police are being trained in military facilities.

According to Guillermo Gallegos, head of the ARENA fraction in the Assembly, the FMLN is seeing ghosts where they dont exist.  Gallegos declared that the PNC can in fact be trained in military facilities as long as they have verification from a superior and said that the only coordination between the PNC and the armed forces is in rescue operations during natural disasters.  FMLN deputy Lara sustained that the national police is becoming militarized and increasingly repressive and therefore the FMLN will continue to push for an investigation.

Salvadoran Union Front gives full support to Costa Rica CAFTA Referendum

The upcoming CAFTA Referendum in Costa Rica on October 7 is receiving attention from unions in El Salvador, as well as from other representatives in the Central American Union Platform (PSCC.)  Many union members are accompanying the process as observers, and are also coordinating mobilizing efforts that strengthen the NO CAFTA campaign.

The Salvadoran Union Front (FSS), a member of the PSCC, is coordinating efforts with the NO campaign in Costa Rica to help guarantee a transparent and democratic process in the referendum.  Unions such as the SETA water workers union and the SUTTEL telecommunications union are sending representatives to accompany and support the referendum process in Costa Rica.

In the U.S., CISPES and the Stop CAFTA also continue to support the struggle against CAFTA.  Eight people representing the coalition are in Costa Rica this week to present the report DR-CAFTA Year Two:  Trends and Impacts, which can be downloaded at www.lasolidarity.org and to observe the referendum.  An interview with CISPES director Burke Stansbury about the referendum is available from Between the Lines at http://www.btlonline.org/btlseg2101207.html

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