Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Electoral observations (4): Joe DeRaymond

Following up on a series of comments by people who were in El Salvador during the last elections, Joe DeRaymond --whose article in Counterpunch is here-- writes the following:

I just came upon a charge by Tommy-Sue Montgomery-Abrahams that I was factually wrong when I state the following:

"On March 24, three days after the election, the United States Ambassador to El Salvador, Douglas Barkley, came out with a statement that the US government would recognize any government chosen by the Salvadoran people, and that the remesas and immigration policy were not at risk at any time. What a bizarre, cowardly act, days after the election, after he had refused to state this during the campaign, and had even refused to allow a picture of him with the FMLN candidate to be published."

She states that the Ambassador had made it clear on "a couple of occasions" during the campaign period that he would work with any elected government. She cites a personal meeting with US residents during which he told these US citizens that he would honor the results of the election. This does no good in terms of defusing the campaign of fear directed at the Salvadoran people by US officials and ARENA. In my monitoring of the press in the weeks before the election, I only read of the Ambassador's refusal to allow distribution of his photo with Schafik Handal. I believe that a strong statement by the Ambassador, similar to what he said after the election, was in order before the election, in light of the heavy press emphasis given to people such as Fisk, Likens, Noriega, Reich and the US congressmen Tancredo, Burton and Diaz-Ballart.

Also, while there has been extensive criticism in the comments of this blog about the poor conduct of the election by Schafik and the FMLN "ortodoxos", and about the nightmare of Schafik as a candidate, I would like to honor the commitment of Schafik in the struggle for social justice. The FMLN has come a long way in a short time, has converted itself from a guerrilla army to a political force for a new El Salvador. They have made mistakes, but I look at my nation with Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and compare them to Schafik - an anti-war candidate, a socialist, a human being presented to the people without the PR makeup applied to the fresh faces of actors and sports announcers. He and the FMLN deserved a fair shake, and, in my opinion, did not get it....

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