Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - Page 9 News List

Change is coming to El Salvador, but it may not be so joyous

By Kevin Casas-Zamora

The stakes are high. Confronted with daunting obstacles and a disloyal opposition, Funes may well decide to cater to FMLN hardliners and pursue his reform agenda with no patience for democratic checks and balances as other leftist leaders in Latin America, such as Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Bolivian President Evo Morales, have done.

For Funes, choosing that path would be a historic mistake. It would endanger the single most important — if slightly ironic — legacy of the FMLN’s armed struggle: the creation of a liberal democracy in El Salvador.

Democracy is a priceless bequest. If, amid the indifference of the world, Funes chose to play fast and loose with it, Livingstone would be proven wrong: Voting can change much, and sometimes for the worse.

Kevin Casas-Zamora is senior fellow in foreign policy at The Brookings Institution and former vice president and minister of national planning of Costa Rica.

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