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EL SALVADOR
New era, new president
6/13/2009
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Mauricio Funes takes office vowing to build a new nation.

In a turnaround for Salvadoran politics, the new president, Mauricio Funes, of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, or FMLN, took office on June 1, ending two decades of right-wing governments.

Funes, a 49-year-old former television journalist, won the March election with 51 percent of the vote, beating Salvador Sánchez Cerén, candidate for the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance party that had governed the Central American country since 1989.

“The Salvadoran people asked for change, and change starts now,” Funes said in his inaugural address.

He called for social inclusion in the country´s development, and better opportunities for Salvadorans, many of whom emigrate to the United States in search of jobs.

Funes, who will govern until 2014, said the outgoing government “lacked a clear and coherent strategy” to confront the global economic crisis.

Shortly after taking office, Funes launched the Global Anti-Crisis Plan, to help stabilize the economy, which has been hit hard by falling remittances from Salvadoran workers in the United States, and generate some 100,000 jobs in the next 18 month, as well as a temporary employment program. Financing for social programs are also included as well as housing for Salvadorans living in extreme poverty, and the formation of a state-run bank to finance small- and medium-business.

During his inauguration, he called Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and US President Barack Obama symbols of hope for their countries.

“Obama proved that it is possible to reinvent hope, and Lula showed that you can have a popular, democratic government with a strong economy and a just distribution of wealth,” said Funes.

He ended his address as new leader of the smallest country in Central America saying, “Let’s live and govern so the other countries say: Today, that little Tom Thumb is a giant for its honest work, a giant of liberty and happiness for its people.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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