National Intelligence Director: Venezuela to intervene in Salvadoran elections

From the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Feb. 21:

In a recent visit to the United States, Salvadoran president Antonio Saca expressed concern about the findings of a recent US intelligence report, which predicts that Venezuela will intervene in El Salvador’s 2009 elections. In his Annual Threat Assessment, US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell states that “we expect [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez to provide generous campaign funding to the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador in its bid to secure the presidency in the 2009 election.”

Similar US national security reports, later exposed as false and comprised of politically-manipulated intelligence, were used by the Bush administration to justify its preemptive war against Iraq in 2003. Nevertheless, Saca ordered an investigation into the US claims and recalled a diplomat from Venezuela for consultations, declaring, “we are instructing the diplomat to return to El Salvador to provide first hand information on this topic.”

Additionally, Saca warned that “any interference of a government such as Venezuela’s in El Salvador’s domestic affairs is unacceptable.” Conversely, Saca seems to view electoral intervention by the United States government as not only acceptable, but welcomed. In a November 2007 press conference with President Bush, Saca stated that the US “can help out a lot in preventing citizen support for certain proposals in the upcoming elections.”

FMLN presidential candidate Mauricio Funes denied the U.S.’s accusations and pledged that his party would not receive financing from Venezuela. Funes promptly proceeded to propose a campaign finance reform package to the Legislative Assembly that would cap campaign spending, mandate transparency in campaign financing and expenditures, and ban donations from foreign sources.

For his part, Venezuelan president Chávez also dismissed the intelligence report, stating that the FMLN did not need his support because it is a “solid” and “well-organized” party with popular support. “It’s a lie. We don’t need to do that, and they don’t need it,” Chávez said.

In further response to the US claims, Saca’s right-wing ARENA party accused the FMLN not only of accepting electoral financing from Venezuela, but also of allowing economic intervention by means of a petroleum importation agreement between FMLN municipalities and the Venezuelan state oil company. ENEPASA, the enterprise that imports and distributes subsidized oil from Venezuela, publicly expressed its willingness to submit to any type of investigation and insisted that it has complied with all legal requirements and paid all necessary taxes for the project.

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