A left wing candidate has become president of El Salvador in Central America, as part of a sweeping defeat for the right.
The ex-guerrillas of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) have won the elections in El Salvador with just over 50 percent of the vote. This is the first victory for the left since right wing forces unleashed a bloody civil war in 1980, lasting 12 years and killing 75,000 people.
The right, organised in the Arena party, and their ruling class backers have dominated the country ever since, overseeing massive poverty and inequality – where a tiny 0.3 percent of the population enjoy 44 percent of the country’s wealth.
Now the working class and poor have flocked to elect the FMLN and journalist Maurico Funes as president. They rejected scare-mongering by employers, who threatened they would de-invest from El Salvador if the “communists” won. Arena regularly included the face of left-wing Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in its electoral posters, saying that the FMLN would turn the country into a Venezuelan satellite.
But unfortunately the new Salvadoran president is far from being a communist or radical. In his victory speech he gave guarantees to bankers, landowners and multinational investors, and called on closer ties with the US.
His moderation is causing unease within the party's ranks, as has the revelation that during the election campaign he personally received a mansion and $2 million from a businessman.
Nonetheless his party’s victory clearly will give hope and confidence to the poor.