more grass shoots…
watering the lawn
Recently, we read the following:
Washington Post: “Leftist Takes El Salvador Helm” by Mary Beth Sheridan
“Nearly two decades after the end of a U.S.-backed war against El Salvador's rebels, a representative of the former guerrilla movement took power on Monday -- with a top American official applauding.
“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the inauguration of Mauricio Funes, dressed in bright red, the color of the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front. It was an image that would have been unthinkable in the 1980s, when the United States poured $6 billion into El Salvador to fight the rebel group backed by Cuba and the Soviet Union….
“Clinton, however, told reporters here that she expects ‘a positive relationship’ with Funes, who is considered by many Latin Americans to be a moderate. Her visit signaled the Obama administration's effort to reach out to a more assertive Latin America altered by a ‘pink tide’ of socialist victories in recent years….
“In his inaugural speech at an amphitheater packed with men in red ties and women in red jackets, Funes hailed his two political heroes: President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, a moderate leftist, and President Obama….
“Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said the FMLN has a democratic track record, holding many mayor's offices and congressional seats in recent years. ‘The FMLN has been part of the architecture of representative democracy in El Salvador. El Salvador's resemblance to other countries in Latin America governed by the populist left are quite minimal, she said….
“Funes's inauguration was deeply emotional for many Salvadorans who suffered through the 12-year civil war, which left 75,000 dead. ‘We fought the battle so we could have this change,’ said Cecilia Hermin Navarro, 68, a tiny woman in a red shirt who said she was tortured by police during the conflict….”
And we thought:
….After three decades since the FMLN’s formation, spring harvest! No doubt change is a protracted process. Moving forward, Mauricio Funes inherits 20 years of bungling by ARENA, an ultra right-wing party in El Salvador founded by the late Roberto D’Abuisson.
[D’Abuisson was the Salvadoran army major who organized and led the death squads that tortured and killed thousands of civilians during the Salvadoran civil war. Among his victims was San Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass. The archibishop was known widely for his denunciations of human rights violations during the Salvadoran civil war and for his advocacy on behalf of the Salvadoran poor.]
Funes and the FMLN face a tough road ahead. What could -- and would -- the FMLN do in the next five years to put reforms in place, based on its ideal of “preferential option for the poor”? Hope the changes would be enough to earn the FMLN an extended run, five years hence, as it pursues its goals of economic and social justice in El Salvador. One expects the FMLN already has the late Archbishop's blessings ….