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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05SANSALVADOR2060
2005-07-19 20:09:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy San Salvador
Cable title:  

EL SALVADOR: POORLY-ATTENDED FMLN "PRIMARIES"

Tags:   ES  PGOV  PREL  ELECTIONS 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 002060 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2015
TAGS: ES PGOV PREL ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: EL SALVADOR: POORLY-ATTENDED FMLN "PRIMARIES"
RUBBER-STAMP HARDLINER SLATE

REF: A. SAN SALVADOR 1079

B. SAN SALVADOR 1673

C. SAN SALVADOR 1747

Classified By: A/DCM Mark Silverman, Reason 1.4 (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 002060

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2015
TAGS: ES PGOV PREL ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: EL SALVADOR: POORLY-ATTENDED FMLN "PRIMARIES"
RUBBER-STAMP HARDLINER SLATE

REF: A. SAN SALVADOR 1079

B. SAN SALVADOR 1673

C. SAN SALVADOR 1747

Classified By: A/DCM Mark Silverman, Reason 1.4 (d)


1. (C) Although FMLN leaders were hesitant to provide exact
numbers of voters at each polling place, it appeared that
only about one-third of eligible party activists bothered to
participate in Sunday's primaries for March 2006 municipal
and Legislative Assembly elections. In San Salvador, it was
reported that as few as 800 votes were cast (out of more than
3,600 eligible activists), while in many municipalities
including Uluazapa and San Jorge (both in San Miguel
Department), primaries were hastily canceled when virtually
no voters appeared.


2. (C) An April 3 FMLN convention basically abolished the
party's traditional primaries, replacing them with an
orthodox-controlled process of "consensus" that offered
little transparency (see reftel A). Handal-ally Violeta
Menjivar appeared as the sole candidate for Mayor of San
Salvador, in place of moderate incumbent Mayor Carlos Rivas
Zamora, who hardliners did not allow to run. Similar
scenarios unfolded in most of the nation's 262
municipalities; moderates prevailed in only five
(Chalatenango, La Libertad, Quetzaltepeque, Santa Tecla, and
Zacatecoluca). In the race for Legislative Assembly nominee
in San Vicente, Tecoluca Mayor Carlos Cortez defeated Schafik
Handal's son Jorge Handal 1,500 to 900. Santa Tecla Mayor
Oscar Ortiz and Legislative Assembly Deputy Hugo Martinez
were two of the very few high-profile moderates remaining as
FMLN candidates for 2006; both will seek reelection to their
current positions.


3. (C) The FMLN primaries took place in the wake of further
recent hemorrhages of party activists. The June 8 mass
resignation of more than 200 mostly Santa Ana activists (see
reftel B) was followed by the formation of the new
Revolutionary Democratic Front (FDR; see reftel C); the July
9 resignation attempt by 300 Sonsonate FMLN militants was
thwarted by hardliners' simple if desperate expedient of
simply locking party headquarters to forestall the submission
of resignations. In withdrawing her name from consideration
July 13, the party's Deputy Delegation Chief in the
Lesislative Assembly, Celina Monterrosa, cited the primary
process's lack of credibility. The following day, some 25
high-ranking San Salvador municipal officials, including
three city council members, deserted the FMLN. Central
American Parliament (PARLACEN) Deputy Jose Luis Medrano and
Alternate Deputy Vladimir Alfaro resigned from the party the
same day, complaining that the Front's leadership had ceased
to listen to the people it ostensibly represented.

4 (C) COMMENT: The Sunday primaries, which FMLN moderates
had characterized as a form of "dedocracia" (i.e., government
by the hand-picked) occurred against the backdrop of
continued high approval ratings for President Saca, now more
than one year into his term. Party hardliners put the best
face they could on the results; close Handal ally and party
spokesman Sigfrido Reyes called the primaries a "democratic
exercise" that "we challenge other parties to imitate", but
they must privately shudder at facing next March a united,
well-organized, and resurgent ARENA, while their own ranks
totter in division and disarray. END COMMENT
Barclay