The SHARE Blog

ARENA Continues to Seek to Nullify Vote Despite Statements from United Nations and OAS Noting Transparency of Elections

March 13, 2014

Last night a quarter after midnight the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) finished its final vote count. At 1:45 a.m. they held a press conference announcing the results. The FMLN won 50.11% of the vote with 1,495,815 votes and ARENA 49.89% with 1,489,451 votes (see the press release here). However, the TSE has yet to declare Salvador Sanchez Ceren the official president elect, as first they have to rule on legal requests ARENA submitted to nullify the elections, claiming that 20,000 FMLN poll workers voted twice.
 
Given the declarations by the Attorney General that there was no fraud in the elections, and the statements by the OAS, United Nations and many observation groups noting the transparency and efficiency of the elections, the request will likely be rejected.
 
This morning, a couple hundred smiling members of various civil society organizations including FESPAD, the MPR-12, the Health Forum, and Pro-Busqueda gathered in front of the Salvador del Mundo Statue with signs stating “Respeto a la Democracia”/I respect Democracy. María Silvia Guillén, director of FESPAD, emphasized the transparency and legitimacy of the TSE, calling on all Salvadorans regardless of their political colors to respect the government’s institutions. 
 
Margarita Posada, coordinator of the National Health Forum read a press release titled “For Peace, Victory, and Dignity” noting that this is a transcendental moment in the history of El Salvador that has put to the test the government institutions and culture of peace and democracy, recognizing these elections as the most transparent yet, and congratulating the Salvadoran people for their participation in a peaceful elections, creating an environment of civic responsibility. Posada highlighted the work of the TSE to ensure the inclusion of the LGBT community and disabled persons.
 
Stay tuned to the SHARE blog and Facebook page for more updates.
 
 

TSE Announces Official Results of the Final Count


The following is a translation of a press statement issued by the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE)

TSE

At 1:50am on March 13 the Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced the results of the second round of the 2014 presidential elections.

The president of the TSE, Eugenio Chicas, divulged the results to an audience that stayed through the end of the count, many of whom were journalists waiting in the disclosure room.

After the final count, the data approved by the collegial body with the unanimous support of the TSE is the following:

The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) received 1,495,815 votes, representing 50.11% of the vote; the National Republican Alliance (ARENA) received 1,489,451 votes, representing 49.89% of the vote. The total number of valid votes was 2,985,266 with a difference of 6,364 between the two parties.

In their message they did not fail to acknowledge the enormous help of many international organizations, observer delegations, national organizations, the Electoral Supervisory Board, the Attorney General of the Republic, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the technicians, clerks, the press for their many hours of work, the contending political parties, the union of the TSE, the workers, and the collegial body, “We feel very satisfied with the work that has been accomplished, which has not been easy, there were distortions of information due to the way in which the data was entered.”

“There was much political tension, this means that there were some departments that did not work at the same rate. This, without doubt, caused the anxiety of the long process. Nevertheless, we are satisfied with the agreement between the preliminary and final count.”

In this electoral process the TSE highlights the quality, the transparency, the safety, speed, and certainty that was in the first and final scrutiny of the vote.


ARENA Seeks to Nullify Election Results

March 12, 2014

On Sunday, March 9, 2014 Salvadorans voted to elect their president for the next five years. While FMLN candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren lead the preliminary vote count with a slim margin of 6,634 votes, El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has yet to declare an official winner.

The ARENA party has refused to accept that the FMLN has won the election, claiming the process has been marked by fraud. Yesterday at four in the afternoon, representatives of ARENA delivered a written statement to the TSE, announcing that ARENA would no longer participate in the final vote count process until the TSE ruled on their demand for a vote-by-vote recount. The TSE rejected ARENA´s petition because it violates the Salvadoran Electoral Code. According to Article 215 of the Salvadoran Electoral Code, the TSE may only do a vote-by-vote recount if the number of contested votes is greater than the margin of victory.  In these elections the number of contested votes (4,191) is less than the margin of victory (6,634), thus a vote-by-vote recount would be illegal.

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Supreme Electoral Tribunal to Announce Official Results this Tuesday

March 10, 2014

While the FMLN leads with 50.11% of the vote and 100% of Vote Receiving Boards (JRV) reporting, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has yet to declare a winner due to the narrow margin of victory. 

Vote Receiving boards (JRV) count the votes.

Vote Receiving boards (JRV) count the votes.

Although neither party can officially claim victory until the TSE has finished reviewing ballots on Tuesday, both the FMLN and ARENA announced themselves the victor.

Sunday evening, ARENA candidate Norman Quijano declared himself the winner with only 49.89% of the vote. Quijano accused the TSE of corruption stating, “We are not going to allow fraud. We are 100% certain that we have won. We will fight, if necessary, with our lives.” Quijano continued to elude to military intervention saying, “the armed forces are ready to defend democracy.”

In his acceptance speech FMLN candidate, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who received 6,634 more votes than Quijano, asked that the people’s right to vote is respected.

“The men and women of El Salvador are the ones who decide, and if you don’t accept the result, you are violating the will of the people,” Sanchez Ceren said. “I say to my adversary, to his party, that my administration will welcome them with open arms, so that together we can build a new country.”

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Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8, 2014

In 1975, March 8th was declared International Women’s Day after several incidents around the world brought attention to the struggle of working women. In the U.S.,140 young women, the majority of whom were immigrants, died in a factory fire that, in turn, revolutionized the country’s labor laws and brought international attention to the inequality and dangers facing working women.

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In December of 1977, two years later, an assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 8th as International Women and Peace Day. Once this day was officially recognized by United Nations many countries began to officially recognize this day in their national calendar as well. El Salvador is one of the countries that has officially recognized this day.

In 2011, The United Nations started their “Gender Equality and Empowerment Program for Women” commonly referred to as “ONU Mujeres” in El Salvador. International Women’s Day has gained momentum throughout the twentieth century as a global celebration of women and opportunity to campaign for women’s rights. As a result of the attention this day gives to the issue, the international movement to defend the rights of women is growing. This has been reinforced by the United Nations as they have held four world conferences on women’s participation in politics and the economy centered around International Women’s Day.

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El Salvador Election monitoring: blog no. 2 – the Magic of Witnessing

March 7, 2014

The following reflection was written by Cathy Lester, a first round elections observer, and representative for Meta Peace Team.  Cathy lives in Grayling, Michigan.  She writes a blog for the Traverse City Record-Eagle website.  You can read some of her other posts here. 
 
Americans take our right to have elections somewhat for granted. This was brought home to me by the enthusiasm of the Salvadoreños. They were not only glad simply that they were allowed to have elections, they were extra-glad that, as I said in my previous blog, the electoral process has been reformed into something they could believe in.
 
The Election Monitors arrived at the voting center at 5:00 a.m., when it was supposed to open. By then, both the major parties already had tents up and were making lots of noise. 
 
Arena tent
I have to say the party of the Right had a lot more money to spend on tents, balloons, signs, drums, banners, food, etc. Their music had a triumphal, bouncy, we´ve-already-won air. I also noticed a certain racial divide: none of the right-wingers had “Indian” features, most of them had a middle-or-upper class air, and a lot of them were tall, fat and/or had big booming voices. (I think the “vigilantes” were chosen partly for that.)
 
The workers’ party had more country people, and more that looked Indian, and few that were fat. Or tall or overbearing. Their music was strong, serious, and determined – in a minor key but very upbeat.
 
The observers were surprised by the almost carnival-like atmosphere. I spoke to some Finns from a European group of Election Monitors, and they were saying, “In Finland, when we vote we´re so silent, it´s like going to church!” 
 
Outside the center, there was a constant stream of cars honking. Groups from the various parties were waving flags and chanting, singing, playing music. In addition, the sidewalks were crowded with vendors calling their wares: Mango-mango-mango! Election souvenirs, best prices! 

Second Round Elections Update: What do the polls say?

March 5, 2014

We are just four days away from the second round of presidential elections. And although the stakes are still high, spirits are higher because the chaos of elections season will finally be over, and a new President of the Republic will be chosen.  Unlike the first round’s 5-party contest, three of which that were stronger than others,  the FMLN and ARENA will be the only ones to face-off this upcoming Sunday.

Updated observer credentials for the second round of elections.

Updated observer credentials for the second round of elections.

Both Salvador Sanchez Ceren (FMLN) and Norman Quijano (ARENA) advanced their campaigns significantly in the last month. More party flags, colors, photos, and slogans scatter the country. Both candidates made appearances at various cultural and political events, until the official campaign closing last Sunday, exactly one week before Election Day. Neither party had a large turnout at the closing. Hopefully that is not an indication of what will happen in just a few short days. The polls thankfully say otherwise.

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Patricia Guadalupe García Panameño, PRESENTE!

March 3, 2014

Paty, Patricia, Hija de la Madre Alicia, daughter of Madre Alicia, Fiel luchadora de los derechos humanos, faithful defender of human rights, voz para la verdad y la justicia, voice for truth and justice, te extrañamos, we miss you, te recordamos, we remember you. Patricia Garcia, Presente!

Paty Betania at Romero march

The day of the Salvadoran presidential elections, Patricia Garcia, president of Comadres and life-long defender of human rights drew her last breath, ending a painful struggle with cancer. No words seem sufficient to truly express Patricia’s spirit, courage, humility, commitment, and beauty.

Patricia grew up in the midst of the Christian Base communities, in the times when it was a crime to carry a Bible, with Monseñor Romero as light and guide. She accompanied her mother, Alicia Garcia and other members of Comadres in search of their disappeared loved ones, including her uncle. When she and her family had to flee to Mexico in 1979, Monseñor Romero helped them find families to stay with and visited them there. When Patricia returned to El Salvador, she helped care for the children of the Comadres as they searched for their loved ones, and helped take the mothers’ testimonies. In the late 80s Salvadoran security forces captured, imprisoned, and tortured Paty. Only through a pressure campaign supported by Edward Kennedy was she released.

Patricia worked alongside Alicia Garcia accompanying las Comadres in the struggle for justice as well as their daily struggles for subsistence, and sharing their testimonies with countless delegations and visitors. Patricia said that her mother taught her that every victim is a gem and should be treated as such. With her gentle spirit, Paty showed profound love in her interactions with the madres of Comadres. Her eyes held a glow of humor, compassion, and thoughtfulness.

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Human Rights Tour and Update!

February 28, 2014

Join SHARE for our 2014 Truth and Justice for El Salvador Tour! Wilfredo Medrano of Tutela Legal María Julia Hernandez, a representative of the Pro-Historical Memory Commission, and Bethany Loberg of SHARE will be visiting the U.S. for a speaking tour! See below for locations, dates, and how you can get involved!

wilfredo

The last six months has been full of chilling and exciting surprises for members of human rights organizations and movements – and they just keep coming. Last fall ranged from the Attorney General´s announcement that it would investigate the El Mozote Massacre to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court admitted a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 1993 Amnesty Law, to the Archbishop´s abrupt closure of Tutela Legal and the attack on Pro-Busqueda. The closure of Tutela Legal raised especial outrage, giving birth to the Movement for Historical Memory, and new levels of collaboration between human rights organizations, victims, Christian Base Communities, and youth activist networks. Just this morning they held a press conference in front of the Supreme Court, calling on the court to accept an injunction for violations of constitutional rights committed by the Archbishop.

In January the lawyers of Tutela Legal opened their new, independent organization Tutela Legal María Julia Hernandez, with the support of the victims they have worked with for years. Additionally, events this month have continued to weaken the Amnesty Law. At the beginning of February, the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the Attorney General´s Office to investigate the San Francisco Angulo Massacre in San Vicente. The Supreme Court also invited forensic experts for four days of consultation on the investigation of massacres. María Silvia Guillen, Director of FESPAD, and other human rights leaders believe there is a real possibility that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court will declare the Amnesty Law null within the next couple of months.

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First Round Elections Delegate Reflection

February 26, 2014

The following reflection was written by Cathy Lester, a first round elections observer, and representative for Meta Peace Team.  Cathy lives in Grayling, Michigan.  She writes a blog for the Traverse City Record-Eagle website.  You can read some of her other posts here.

Cathy Lester on the right.

Cathy Lester on the right.

A lot of the election procedure in El Salvador is a result of elections having seen so much fraud and corruption in the past. Along with my fellow monitors, I found it fascinating to see how each stage was a counter to a specific abuse.

Problem: Voters were unable to get to the polls to vote. Solution: This year saw “residential voting,” whereby polling stations were set up in every municipality and village so campesinos (country people) could get there. This may not sound like a big thing to Americans, but ask yourself: if Kingsley, Grawn and Acme were up in steep mountains without bus service, how many people from there would walk to Traverse City to vote?

Problem: People voting more than once, and/or people from neighboring countries being paid to come in and vote as Salvadorans. Solution: Everyone had to vote in their specific neighborhood, and they had to have their National ID card. At each polling station, voters had to go to a designated table. The urban center my group was monitoring had 69 tables with their own voting booths. Each table had a list of 500 voters. The voter showed their ID, found their name on the list, and an official put a stamp by their name. Voters have to dip their thumb into a pot of indelible ink AFTER voting, so officials inspected people’s hands beforehand. One guy who’d been working had to dust his hands off on his pants twice or thrice before the officials were satisfied he didn’t have any ink on them. Only after all that did the voter get their mitts on a ballot paper. The officials were really suspicious of one woman with a stain on her index finger. Eventually they smelled her finger and finally let her have a ballot. I asked if the ink had a particular smell. Yes. Could I smell it? Yes, but be careful. The “careful” came a second too late as I got a noseful of pungent, stinging smelling salts!

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