A computer file purportedly discovered on a laptop computer at a guerrilla camp in Ecuador, has bloggers in El Salvador wondering what impact it will have and what impact it should have on the upcoming elections in their country scheduled for March 2009. The laptop computer was taken in the Colombian army’s raid on the camp of FARC guerrillas in Ecuador. In that raid the number two man of the FARC, Raul Reyes, was killed, and his computer seized.
The furor in El Salvador started when the Spanish newspaper El Pais disclosed[es] that one document on the computer referred to a Salvadoran making an introduction in 2007 from the FARC to Australian arms dealers. The Salvadoran named was Luis Merino, a senior official of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and member of the Central American parliament. The conservative press in El Salvador played up the story with prominent pictures showing Merino beside the FMLN’s presidential candidate Mauricio Funes.
Photo by Fixem and used under a Creative Commons license.
Bloggers in El Salvador have been writing about how this story could impact the presidential campaign of Funes. Blogger Hunnapuh wrote a post [es] which put the issue in the context of the campaign strategy of the ruling right-wing ARENA party. According to Hunnapuh, ARENA is trying to convince the “swing” voter. This is the person who is currently inclined to vote for the FMLN and Mauricio Funes, but is not a party militant and would not vote for the FMLN if convinced that “FMLN = [Venezualan president Hugo] Chavez.” But the strategy is shifting with the disclosure of the FARC computer files:
Por lo que se vé, la estrategia la han cambiado un poco dados los acontecimientos, ahora la tesis me imagino que es FMLN = FARC, pero como lo expuse anteriormente, nuestro pueblo tiene una memoria coyuntural y toda esta publicidad y cobertura mediática actuales sera pronto olvidada.
Si en realidad hay algo de verdad en todas las acusaciones, se deben ejecutar las acciones legales pertinentes de parte de los paises que se consideren ofendidos e iniciar los juicios legales que correspondan, pero si solo se queda en la pura propaganda, se demostrará que símplemente se trata de estrategias electorales.
If indeed there is some truth in all accusations, the relevant legal actions should be implemented on the part of countries deemed offended and they should initiate appropriate legal proceedings. But if it only stays in the realms of pure propaganda, it will demonstrate that the [media focus] was just electoral stratagems.
The writer at the blog Salvadorans in the World [es] sees the repetition of the regular themes of Salvadoran politics in this story:
Y es aquí dónde las principales fuerzas políticas salvadoreñas se enfrentaran en una guerra de acusaciones e insultos. El FMLN dirá que todo esto es un montaje, un show, una estrategia más de la derecha para mantenerse en el poder. Por otro lado, ARENA volverá a repetir la misma historia, que el FMLN tiene nexos con grupos que no benefician en ningún modo al país, bla bla bla, etc. En la guerra de acusaciones e insultos, las propuestas para sacar al país adelante quedarán relegadas a un tercer o cuarto plano.
En este escenario adverso, Mauricio Funes debería dar señales inequívocas que tiene criterios propios, y más importante, que tiene suficiente independencia de los comandantes en el FMLN para pedir que se investigue a fondo las acusaciones.
In this adverse scenario, Mauricio Funes should give clear signals that he has his own criteria, and most importantly, that he has sufficient independence from commanders in the FMLN to ask for a thorough investigation into the allegations.
Ernesto Rivas-Gallont did not believe [es] that presidential candidate Funes had done well in his initial response to the story. In Funes’ initial statement after the El Pais story, Rivas-Gallont saw an unconditional defense of Merino, the FMLN leader, with Funes acting almost as an apologist for the FARC.
Con esa actitud, Mauricio ha desilusionado a aquellos que creímos en su independencia, porque estamos convencidos que un gobierno de Funes sería controlado por los mismos que hoy controlan el partido y parecen controlar al candidato.
With this attitude, Mauricio has disappointed those who believed in his independence, because we are convinced that a government controlled by Funes would be controlled by the same ones who today control the party and seem to control candidate.
El-Visitador [es] referred to the links to the FARC to support his conclusion that the FMLN was a “very dangerous entity.”
Reflecting the polarization of El Salvador’s politics and parts of its blogosphere, the view of El Visitador is counter-balanced by Chichicaste [es], who has a lengthy post[es] challenging the media coverage of the FARC computers and looking at the links between El Pais, its ownership and the owners of powerful media in San Salvador. For Chichicaste, the nonstop coverage in Salvadoran newspapers and television is an sign of the fear that foreign multi-national corporations have over the prospect of a Mauricio Funes’ victory.