In a letter sent last night to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, fifty members of the US Congress, including a number of Democratic Party leaders, encouraged the State Department to support a free, fair, transparent and peaceful electoral process in the 2009 Salvadoran elections.
In January and March of 2009, Salvadorans will cast their vote in legislative and presidential elections respectively. Analysts widely believe these will be hotly-contested elections, indicating not only leaps made in democratic progress but also a real opportunity for voters to challenge deeply-entrenched patterns of political control in the country.
The letter, sponsored by Congressmen James McGovern (D-MA) and Dennis Moore (D-KS), recognizes the important role the US and international community can play in supporting open debate and freedom from intimidation in the period leading up to the elections. McGovern, an influential Democrat on the House Rules Committee, has had a long interest in human rights and democracy in El Salvador.
The signatories echo the statement made by outgoing US Ambassador to El Salvador Charles Glazer last March when he said “There are too many political connections between our two countries” not to follow the elections, offering the caveat that “what you won’t see, however, is the US taking sides in these elections. We will respect the Salvadoran people’s sovereign right to choose their next leaders.”
“Because the upcoming elections will be highly competitive, it will be pivotal to have strong international support for transparency and to avoid scare tactics in El Salvador,” said Maureen Meyer, WOLA Associate for Mexico and Central America. “WOLA hopes that representatives of the US government will continue to express their support for free and fair elections in the country.”
“As we transition to a new Administration in the United States, we expect that US policy toward El Salvador will be based on the principle that free elections are important, and that the United States government will recognize and work with what ever government is elected” affirms WOLA’s Program Director, Geoff Thale.
To read the letter click here .
Maureen Meyer, Associate for Mexico and Central America
Geoff Thale, Program Director