The Friendly Leftists

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

By Daniel Nardini

In a twist of fate, a former leader of the Salvadoran leftist guerrilla organization FMLN (Faradundo Marti National Liberation Front) was elected president of El Salvador. The election victory for the FMLN means that now the former guerrilla organization, which fought for Communism during El Salvador’s brutal civil war (1979-1990) has come to power by peaceful means. What does this mean for the United States, and possibly Latin America? There are those who are predicting another Venezuela—an extreme leftist government that will alienate Washington, D.C. and forge ties with other leftist governments and even rogue states.

This is a maybe, but this may not happen. The newly elected president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, has not made public statements against the United States, and has so far expressed no change in El Salvador’s relations with the status quo of friendly relations with the United States as well as other leftist Latin American governments. In many ways, the Salvadoran government’s foreign policies have been pretty neutral. El Salvador does not want to antagonize anyone. There are good reasons for this. El Salvador is one of the handful of Latin American countries that uses the U.S. dollar as its currency (the other two being Panama and Ecuador). If it were to start a hostile campaign against the United States then it would by cutting its own economic throat.

Another important reason why the FMLN government will not want to alienate the United States is that there are 2 million Salvadorans living in the United States. Regardless of their politics, these Salvadorans and their families regularly do business in El Salvador, send tens of millions of dollars to El Salvador in remittances a year, and clearly help influence in one form or another U.S. foreign policy towards El Salvador. It would be unlikely that any Salvadoran administration—be it leftist or rightist—would want to break with the United States or strain relations with America simply because of the large Salvadoran community in the U.S. Is any of this a guarantee that the new Salvadoran government will not become a hostile force against the United States? There is no guarantee, and we can only wait to see what happens. But there are many things that bind El Salvador to the United States which cannot be so easily broken.

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