On Monday, January 3, Elliot Abrams, former foreign policy advisor to both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, published an editorial in the Washington Post that brashly proclaimed that a Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party victory in the February 2 presidential elections would put “democracy and peace in Central America […] at risk.” In an effort clearly intended to discourage votes for the leftist FMLN party and their presidential front-runner Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Abrams’ article recycled the unfounded claim that Sánchez Cerén and the FMLN have ties to narco-trafficking, repeating accusations made by El Salvador’s right wing in the 2009 presidential contest. In El Salvador, Abrams’ accusation was widely disseminated by coverage in the major daily newspaper, La Prensa Gráfica.
Abrams’ accusations have since been countered in the Washington Post and Salvadoran blogosphere for the astonishing lack of evidence and the author’s criminal history as a State Department official under Reagan. Abrams himself was implicated in Reagan’s notorious Iran-Contra scandal and convicted for lying to Congress about his involvement. Under Abrams’ watch, pilots carrying Colombian cocaine were allowed to fly from El Salvador’s Ilopango airport to the US, returning with cash to buy arms for Reagan’s dirty war against the revolutionary Sandinista government in neighboring Nicaragua.
The attempt to link the FMLN to narco-trafficking is even more absurd considering one of their closest electoral challengers, the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) opposition party, has strong, established links to organized crime. In 2007, three ARENA representatives to the Central American Parliament were murdered in Guatemala while transporting $5 million and 20 kilograms of cocaine, according to the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.
Though the US Ambassador in El Salvador has made it clear that the US will work with whichever candidate the Salvadoran people elect, the Salvadoran right continues to call on their US allies – including former Reagan and Bush-era officials like Elliott Abrams and Otto Reich – to join their anti-FMLN smear campaign and feed false information to Salvadoran voters as election day fast approaches.