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
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)
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(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.