Salvadoran American Leaders Urge the U.S. to Support Transparent Elections in El Salvador

Washington D.C. — Salvadoran American leaders from across the U.S. come to the Capital on Monday and Tuesday to urge lawmakers to support free, fair, and transparent elections in El Salvador.

The leaders express their support for the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter authored by Representatives Raul Grijalva from Arizona and Marcy Kaptur from Ohio regarding the upcoming presidential elections in El Salvador to be held on March 15, 2009.

The letter which will be sent to members of Congress and President Obama emerges in light of efforts by the ruling party, ARENA, to manipulate the official foreign policy of the United States toward El Salvador for partisan ends.

Among other things the letter by Congressman Grijalva and Congresswoman Kaptur states the following: “We call upon all U.S. government officials and Members of Congress to refrain from any attempt, at any point during the campaign, to influence the decision of Salvadoran voters.”

Mario Fuentes, general director of the Salvadoran American National Association (SANA), stated that, “The latest elections in the United States have demonstrated the profound hope for change in America, and the same desire for change has been expressed by 80 percent of the Salvadoran people.”

The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter expresses concern over the actions of forces associated with the ruling party in El Salvador that jeopardize the integrity of democracy in the country and of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. These forces are misrepresenting the official position of the Obama Administration in an effort to intimidate voters by suggesting that if the opposition party wins the presidential elections the United States will deport Salvadorans living in the U.S. and put a blockade on remittances to the country.

Salvadoran American civic leaders from diverse sectors, ranging from non-profit organizations, labor leaders, business, religious, and community organizations from Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York, Boston, and California are visiting over eighty Congressional Representatives this week.

These leaders are urging Congress to support the letter sponsored by Grijalva and Kaptur and petitioning the Obama Administration to help promote transparent and democratic election in El Salvador. Genuine neutrality and support for transparent elections would mark a break with the partisan practices under the Bush Administration and begin a new era in U.S.-El Salvador relations.

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