Would you want to be president of El Salvador?



Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Salvadorans are poised to pass Cubans as the third-largest Latino group in the United States, behind Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.

There are 2 million Salvadorans in the United States. That’s almost a third of the entire population of El Salvador itself, Central America’s smallest country. Many were born in the United States, but most are migrants — and that inordinate exodus suggests some serious things are wrong with El Salvador.

A civil war tore El Salvador apart in the 1980s — and today violent drug-gang crime is tearing it down. About 40 percent of the population live in poverty while a tiny elite lives in luxury. The economy’s long been in the cellar, and the country still seems as politically polarized as it did when right-wing death squads terrorized the place a generation ago.

If you needed a reminder of that split, consider the results of the March 10 presidential election: Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén of the leftist FMLN party defeated Norman Quijano of the right-wing ARENA party by a miniscule 50.11 percent to 49.89 percent. Sánchez, 69, who was a guerrilla during the civil war, was declared the winner this week, but Quijano and ARENA reject that official ruling and are crying fraud.

Quijano even summoned cold-war demons last week by urging the military to intervene.

To read the rest of Tim Padgett’s column, click here.

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