El Salvador and the Hemispheric Impact of its Looming Election
El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central
America. A notable demographic transition describes the nation as experiencing slower population growth, a decline in its
number of youths, and the gradual aging of its population. A 2008 national family planning survey showed that female sterilization remained the most common contraception method in El Salvador (its sterilization rate
is among the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean), but that the use of injectable contraceptives was growing.
that appear to be the catalysts for the most deteriorating factors in El Salvador, that include murder with impunity, fear,
intimidation, violence, and lawlessness, are brought about courtesy of the familiar theme and specter of transnational organized
Within a region of overwhelming death, misery, and deception, El
Salvador's dollarized economy, geographic location and spot on the drug route from South America to the US makes it a
home of convenience to a myriad of criminal groups. Furthermore, El Salvador’s violent gangs, especially the Mara
Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Eighteenth Street (M18) gangs, have coyly used truce announcements to apparently
increase their identity and boost their strength and control, much like the Colombian FARC guerrillas.
round of a presidential election will take place in El Salvador on February 2, 2014. This election may be one of the most
important elections in El Salvador and Central America in many decades. A failure of a new administration to make significant
proactive inroads to curb criminal insurgent violence and take control of the homeland may prove disastrous to the entire
region. A failure to strategically act may further strengthen the organized criminal bridge of lawlessness and mayhem saturating
Honduras, Guatemala and many parts of Mexico.
All of these continued failures
to strengthen security and enforce the rule of law follow north to the US border and beyond, and obviously require a massive
organized and cooperative effort in strengthening enforcement and security infrastructures. Much of this must include a needed,
yet absent, dialogue between US governing officials from an efficiency and quality control standpoint, beyond just throwing
dollars south to see where they land and what they may actually do towards progress.
Although US funding
for equipment, systems, and training are in abundance to many affected regions, political aspects of governing philosophy,
attitudes, abilities, strengths and weaknesses play a most important part of coordinated strategy and communication that must
be delineated in expected necessary goal achievements. There must be a raised US government platform of facilitative dialogue
with as many governments south of the US border as possible. This as many Latin American nations complain that they are perceived
as lesser need mandates and ignored for other world regions and hotspots.
Just how important is a secure US border?
With the US being
a primary destination for massive illicit drugs and those wishing to do harm to the nation, the southern border requires vigilance
and communication with those cooperative Latin American governments wishing to be a part of the solution.
Just what do the
two leading candidates, among those on the ballot for the five year presidential term in El Salvador, bring to this hemispheric
table of discourse?
Norman Noel Quijano Gonzalez (67) is the current mayor of San Salvador. A dentist by profession, his introduction to the political
domain began as Manager of Social Action of the Municipality of San Salvador from 1989 to 1994. Since 1994 he participated
in five continuous legislative periods, holding the position of secretary of the Board of the Legislative Assembly from 2006
In 2008 Quijano was the candidate of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) for mayor of San Salvador, a position he won in open elections held on January 18, 2009. On August
20, 2012 he was named to be ARENA's presidential candidate in the 2014 elections.
The other leading candidate for
president is Salvador Sanchez Ceren (69). His political ideology derives from various democratic and revolutionary (i.e. leftist)
organizations that he has been a member of over the years. Today he belongs to, and is the presidential candidate of, the
Farabundo Martí National Liberation (FMLN), a left-wing political party that prior to 1992 was a coalition
of five guerrilla organizations.
Sanchez became politically active in the late 1960s, as a student and during
the movement in El Salvador against US policies. With the start of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1980, Sanchez adopted the pseudonym "Commander Leonel Gonzalez," plus he
was appointed to the position of "comandante." The FMLN leadership described its ideology
during the war as Marxist-Leninist.
To ensure free campaigns and transparent balloting, El Salvador must remain
cognizant of any efforts by nondemocratic institutions, or rogue nations, to intervene or attempt to rig the election in order
to advance anti-democratic and corrupt agendas -- factors that continue to threaten regional stability.
More than 4 million people are expected to vote in the
Salvadoran elections on February 2, when they will pick a president and vice president who will govern the gang-ridden, violence-torn,
poverty-stricken country for the next five years. The winning candidate will need more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid
a run-off election, which would take place on March 9.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat
mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.