Yesterday general elections in el Salvador between presidential candidates Tony Saca and Schafik Handal took place. The victory for Saca apparently was overwhelming given the high percentage participation of the voters, over 60% for a country used to see rates of barely over 50%.
The people of El Salvador choose wisely for a continuity in reforms, which is making this country a Central American Tiger. What a shame the lack of conformity of FMLN former guerrilla candidate Handal of the results of the election.
El Salvador showed yesterday several important things. Changes and free market reforms can be sold to the people if they bring positive effects to the population. The reason why so many countries in Latin America have apparently rejected the free market reforms has been because of the lack of results or benefits for the general population. The answer to development problems is more reforms and not less reforms. Salvador has proven the contrary and asides from the social problem of the Maras (gang violence) that has to be solved this time, the people in el Salvador seems to be determined to continue the path of prosperity and development.
Equally important is the fact that ARENA is not controlling the congress because that is a powerful reminder to ARENA that they can not in any way deceive people's hopes. FMLN will have to learn also that the only way to become a significant player in the Salvadorian politics is to get away from the revolutionary practices of the past (which they seem to be doing) and to get away from the left rhetoric of class warfare and revenge (which they seem to be having a hard time accepting).
What is happening in el Salvador right now should be also a sign that the reforms are not lost at all as it seemed after the elections of Lula, Gutierrez, the overthrow of President Sanchez de Lozada and the nostalgic feelings for the time of Che Guevara in Argentina. El Salvador and ARENA particularly have a great responsibility in carrying the torch of freedom. Everybody from left to right is seeing what is happening and everybody is going to be keen in making it work and not work. There is too much at stake now in El Salvador. The challenge now for ARENA is to make a reality in a widespread way the benefits of a free society to the vast majority of it's population.