Thursday, June 24, 2004

FMLN: the purges begin

This editorial cartoon from today's La Prensa Gráfica should not be taken as simply the skewed vision of a conservative paper. Today's story in that paper has ample citations from respected reformista leaders such as Oscar Ortiz, Gerson Martínez, Héctor David Cordoba and Ileana Rogel, all protesting the expulsion two days ago of San Salvador FMLN coordinator Roberto Hernández. El Diario de Hoy reporters asked for a copy of the FMLN's Ethics Tribunal statutes in order to better understand what articles were being used to expel Hernández, but they were denied any access to that document. The problem is that even leading FMLN party members were not familiar with the rules invoked for the expulsion.

FMLN deputy Córdova notes the contradiction between the FMLN asking for justice in the courts, while their own Ethics Tribunal has taken this decision with little due process or review of the case. Ortiz and others make it clear that this is an effort to intimidate the reformistas, who are battling to take over the FMLN leadership in internal elections to be held in November. Both factions of the FMLN have their own structures in place to register party members and get out the vote for these elections. And the local press is only happy to cover these factional struggles.

A new political party law, theoretically one of the conditions of a $3.5 million loan to the Legislative Assembly by the Inter-American Development Bank, might eventually bring more transparency and order to such party problems, in the FMLN as well as in ARENA.

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