Deputy Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center Jason Marczak writes an op-ed for Fox News Latino urging US engagement with El Salvador’s new administration:
Less than three months after being declared El Salvador’s new president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén accepted the presidential sash of a deeply polarized nation on June 1. The wounds of a divided campaign had yet to heal as half the nation celebrated President Sánchez Cerén’s inauguration and the other half cautiously watched his inaugural address.
The festive inauguration ceremony – marked by singing, chants, and flag waving in support of the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) political party – had the feel of a victory party. Attendee enthusiasm, in sharp contrast to the event’s more staid protocol, bubbled over with excitement for the new president, but also praise for his predecessor, Mauricio Funes, the television journalist turned president.
Salvadorans of all walks of life traveled to the packed amphitheater in downtown San Salvador along with some of the nearly 2 million who reside in the United States. Beyond individuals, groups such as the Washington D.C.-based Salvadoran Business Civic Committee (COCIES), a group of Salvadoran business leaders committed to advancing U.S.-El Salvador policy, organized delegations of policy influencers to attend the inauguration and discuss the government’s plans for the next five years.
One challenge will be balancing the relationship with the United States and Latin American countries less friendly to U.S. interests. Fear in some U.S. policy circles is that the new Salvadoran government is further to the left than its predecessor, with the potential of impeding a strong bilateral relationship marked by U.S. assistance in the form of the Partnership for Growth economic plan and a Millennium Challenge Corporation compact.