EL SALVADOR: Research Delegation

The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), an independent, non-profit, nongovernmental organization hosted a delegation to El Salvador to observe and report on that country’s presidential election.

The election occurred on March 15, 2009.

The CDA closely monitored the balloting and tallying of votes in San Marcos, a community adjacent to San Salvador. We held meetings with Salvadoran supporters of the FMLN and ARENA; with Salvadoran and foreign employees of non-governmental organizations that focus on development, education, and human rights; with Salvadoran journalists, and with the political officer at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador. We also held discussions with Salvadoran citizens and voters, many of which we recorded on digital video.

Our purposes in observing and reporting on the elections were to see the balloting first-hand and assess the outcome, to understand the implications of the election for El Salvador’s political future, and to bring back lessons and recommendations for U.S. policymakers who are interested in U.S. relations with Central America. Finally, we returned with ideas about what NGOs like CDA could do, and what our policymakers should do, to help El Salvador continue to solidify its democracy.

Following our trip to El Salvador, the CDA held a March 24th colloquy on the election with participation by Rep. Jim McGovern, co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and a decades-long actor in U.S. policymaking on El Salvador, and four election observers. The colloquy attracted a broad and diverse audience drawn from foreign embassies, the U.S. State Department, staff of the U.S. Congress, Salvadorans resident in the U.S., and the NGO community.

Members of the delegation also met with career foreign service officers at El Salvador’s embassy in Washington to discuss what we learned in El Salvador.