Leftists in El Salvador are celebrating after the candidate of former Marxist guerrillas won the country’s presidential election.
Mauricio Funes, an ex-TV journalist, beat his conservative rival by around 3 percentage points. He had not fought in the civil war of the 1980s and urged unity and reconciliation. It was this message that apparently convinced voters that his FMLN movement had now distanced itself from its violent past.
His victory over Rodrigo Avila was also evidence of fatigue with the rule of the centre-right, and its economic policies. El Salvador’s commodities and manufacturing-driven economy has been hit particularly hard by the global recession. Funes says he will crack down on tax evasion and use the funds to create jobs.
The outcome is a boost for left-wing leaders in Latin America, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but Funes says he is a moderate who will maintain El Salvador’s close ties with Washington.