Un Lindo Amanecer: A Beautiful Dawn

After the March 15, 2009 Salvadoran presidential elections, throughout the country people declared a new dawn in El Salvador with elated bursts of "¡Si se pudo!"/"We did it!" and "¡Ganamos!"/"We won!"

Victory was sweet with the election of Mauricio Funes of the FMLN party, the guerrilla group to which the Peace Accords of 1992 gave legal status. This was an unprecedented victory over the right wing, US-allied ARENA party, formed by the leader of the death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s. Post-election analysis by The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador declared: "'Hope triumphed over fear' as the Salvadoran people elected the first leftist government in their history, the realization of more than 30 years of vision, struggle and sacrifice."

This election victory is seen as both a new beginning in El Salvador, and a new phase in the struggle for social justice. In Funes' election night acceptance speech, he said that hope and reconciliation are finally possible for the first time since promised in the 1992 Peace Accords. Funes has made a commitment to build alliances that serve the needs of the poor majority rather than multinational corporations.

Many Salvadorans appear elated in much the same way that minorities in the US felt about Obama's victory in November. Lucia, a prominent member of Syracuse's Sister Community in Estancia, Morazán, says about the election: "The FMLN looked at which ways they could be with the people, supporting them, and making sure they didn't believe the negative propaganda. The people this year were more conscious of voter fraud, and this time they weren't interested in bribes - they voted for their children, for the country. Sure there was fraud, but this time there was less."

Don Santos, an older indigenous man in Estancia, shared these words regarding the election: "It was El Salvador that received and achieved the government that we wanted… The triumph was ours; No one can deny this, despite so many circumstances and political propaganda, fear, and terror… We feel very happy and content because we have been sent a step forward toward liberation… There is a hope that change will arrive at the furthest corners of the country where the people are the poorest and most isolated. We feel happy because we have a government that is going to fight for the poor and is no longer going to be associated with the most powerful. The government is going to be more with us, because it was the pueblo who elected the government."

Salvadoran Roberto Zamora, who lived in Syracuse for almost two years as a member of the Syracuse Covenant Sanctuary, expressed his elation at Funes' victory:"This is a new dawn not only for my family that gave its blood so that the seed of hope finally is able to be born, but also for the thousands of campesino brothers and sisters, students, teachers, priests, politicians, and all of the foreigners who died in our struggle to bring peace, justice and democracy to the Salvadoran people." After so many years of struggle, to the Salvadoran people: ¡Adelante!

-Shirley Novak