28 July 2015
El Salvador’s left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party administration has denounced a right-wing destabilization campaign seeking to oust the democratically elected government of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén.
Speaking on the President’s weekly radio show, “Governing with the People,” on July 18, Communications Secretary Eugenio Chicas warned that “the country’s right-wing, and presumably the [Nationalist Republican Alliance] ARENA party — they will have to clarify it — have launched a campaign on social media” that “seeks to transfer destabilization campaigns that have been undertaken in Ecuador, in Venezuela, and in other countries” to El Salvador.
Clear signs of destabilization
El Salvador’s Auxiliary archbishop Monseñor Rosa Chávez affirmed that there are “clear signs of destabilization efforts against the government of the FMLN.”
The campaign launched on social media is known as Mano Negra, or Black Hand, a name reminiscent of the infamous 1970s death squad, Mano Blanca (White Hand). “This is a movement for a coup d’état,” said FMLN’s Chicas, against “a government of the people, a legal government, a legitimate government that fights every day for the interests of the population.”
Expanding universal health care and education
Sánchez Cerén, elected in March 2014, has continued the work of expanding universal health care and education against a backdrop of homicides and violence, including what is increasingly being seen as a war between the police and the country’s major gangs.
In 2015, murders in El Salvador reached historic highs, including targeted attacks against the police and armed forces, in what Police Chief Mauricio Landaverde called a deliberate campaign to drive up body counts. The recent spike in gang-related violent homicides seems to be subsiding, however, a fact that the administration attributes to law enforcement efforts.
With murder rates on the decline, at least temporarily, on July 27 and 28 imprisoned gang leadership called for a halt of El Salvador’s privately-operated mass transit services, threatening violence against drivers. Several private companies responded by freezing dozens of bus routes in the San Salvador metropolitan area.
Criminal and political intentions that coincide
“This is a destabilizing plan of a terrorist nature,” declared Gerson Martínez, Minister of Public Works. In response, the government has effected the transfer of several gang leaders found to have ordered the transit halt into maximum security facilities. “There are criminal and political intentions that coincide,” said FMLN Secretary-General and legislator Medardo González. “Underneath it all, there is an oligarchy in this country that has not accepted the governance of an administration that our constitution mandates.”
The FMLN released a statement earlier this month describing “an aggressive campaign by the oligarchic Right, represented politically by ARENA and disguised as small supposed civil society groups” that has used “rumors and lies [and] distorted reality though its media with the purpose of spreading uncertainty, misinformation and concealing the government works that benefit the population.”
Planned attack against the Presidential Palace
The FMLN cited several recent rumors that had been circulating on social media in El Salvador that were quickly picked up by the conservative mainstream media, including that of an alleged gang attack planned against the Presidential Palace on July 10 and a call for a march against the Sánchez Cerén administration on July 18, which was later abandoned. The FMLN also warned that the Salvadoran right-wing hopes to capitalize on anti-corruption movements in neighboring Guatemala and Honduras in its ongoing attempt to unseat the government by painting it as a failed state.
In contrast to Guatemala and Honduras, recent mobilizations in El Salvador have expressed support for the government, including a July 18 rally at the site where opposition groups had convened a march against the government that was subsequently called off.
The right-wing ARENA party, in turn, has filed suit against FMLN Communications Secretary Chicas for defamation and sent a letter to the Organization of American States decrying the FMLN’s accusations and calling for a special mission to “evaluate the political situation [and] the state of democracy” in the country.
Alexis Stoumbelis is co-director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and is based in Washington, DC.
Source: Government of El Salvador Warns Against ‘Movement for a Coup’ 0 TeleSUR