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Fooled Again? Salvadorans Face Republican Remittance Threats à la 2004 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jason Wallach   
Thursday, 12 March 2009 19:22

The role of US involvement in the Salvadoran election was ratcheted up a notch yesterday when right-wing US Congressmen threatened the Salvadoran electorate with political repercussions if the country elects Mauricio Funes in this Sunday's Presidential election.  In a move reminiscent of previous Salvadoran elections, Indiana Republican Dan Burton said, "Those monies that are coming from here to there I am confident will be cut, and I hope the people of El Salvador are aware of that because it will have a tremendous impact on individuals and their economy."

Burton's statement upped the ante in a pong match of Congressional statements on the election. Last week, Congressman Raul Grijalva joined 32 other US Legislators in asking President Obama to declare US neutrality in the March 15 Salvadoran Presidential election, but so far only the only response is a peep from Alberto Rodriguez, a State Department press aide.

"The U.S. government reiterates its official position that it does not support either candidate in the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador on March 15th. Through our embassy in El Salvador, we have stated this position publicly and repeatedly since November of 2007.

With regard to the letters that have been sent [by members of Congress], the separation of powers and freedom in the U.S. allow for a debate in which members of the U.S. legislature have expressed their opinions. This does not reflect the official position of the United States."

We need the US Embassy's A-Rod to cede to a real heavy hitter, because this kind of neutrality will not clarify anything for the farmer in Cabañas who relies on remittance money to finance his growing season. Will he be able to receive the money the Burton and his clan of thugs are threatening to throttle, or not?

The bottom line here is that Obama has a big opportunity to undo the lie, which has been tried again and again by the same gang of House Republicans, who minority status have them with little more to do than wag fingers at Obama and prop up what's left of their Latin American allies.
 
It is worth recalling that the same strategy failed to work in Nicaragua three years ago, and what happened as a result? Nothing. On Oct. 27, 2006, Dana Rorhbacher (R-CA46), in a press statement that he was prepared to:

"to prepare in accordance with U.S. law, contingency plans to block any further money remittances from being sent to Nicaragua in the event that the FSLN enters government."

There is no US law that provides for such contingency plans to be made. And it is unlikely that if such contingency plans were never drawn up in 2006 under a Republican House and narrowly divided Senate, that they would happen under today's Congressional calculus.

Equally unlikely is the chance that the Salvadoran electorate will fall for such threats. In 2004, there was good reason to believe them, but while Salvadorans elected Tony Saca, deportations rose exponentially anyway. In spite of the trumpeting of the "success" of the 250,000 Salvadorans who benefit from Temporary Protective Status, an equal if not greater number were deported from the US last year alone.
 
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