Ex-Guerrillas Win El Salvador Presidency

Left takes power for first time since 12-year civil war

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 16, 2009 5:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – A leftist television journalist has won El Salvador's presidential election, bringing a party of former guerrillas to power for the first time since the bloody civil war and ending 2 decades of conservative rule. Mauricio Funes, a moderate plucked from outside the ranks of the rebel-group-turned-political-party FMLN, became the latest leftist to rise to power in Latin America at a time of uncertainty over how Barack Obama will approach the region.

Funes, who covered the 1980-1992 war that left 75,000 people dead, promised to unite the country after one of the most polarizing campaigns since the conflict; his opponents flooded TV with ads suggesting a Funes victory would turn El Salvador into a Venezuelan satellite. The Obama administration has assured Salvadorans it would work with any leader elected. That's a marked departure from the Bush administration, which in 2004 suggested that an FMLN victory would hurt ties.

Supporters of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party (FMLN) cheer for their candidate Mauricio Funes, who won El Salvador's presidential election yesterday.
Supporters of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party (FMLN) cheer for their candidate Mauricio Funes, who won El Salvador's presidential election yesterday.   (Rodrigo Abd)
Mauricio Funes, left, raises his arms with his running mate Salvador Sanchez Ceren prior to claiming victory in the presidential elections in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.
Mauricio Funes, left, raises his arms with his running mate Salvador Sanchez Ceren prior to claiming victory in the presidential elections in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.   (Luis Romero)
A supporter of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party (FMLN) cheers for candidate Mauricio Funes during presidential elections in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.
A supporter of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party (FMLN) cheers for candidate Mauricio Funes during presidential elections in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.   (Rodrigo Abd)
Mauricio Funes, presidential candidate of the FMLN, embraces Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu during presidential elections in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.
Mauricio Funes, presidential candidate of the FMLN, embraces Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu during presidential elections in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.   (Luis Romero)
A supporter of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party (FMLN) cheers for Funes during election day outside a voting center in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.
A supporter of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party (FMLN) cheers for Funes during election day outside a voting center in San Salvador, Sunday, March 15, 2009.   (Rodrigo Abd)
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The time has come for the excluded, the opportunity has arrived for genuine democrats, for men and women who believe in social justice and solidarity. - Mauricio Funes, president-elect
of El Salvador

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