Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Presidential Hopeful Moderating Views
Mauricio Funes, the presidential candidate for the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), El Salvador's Communist Party and former guerrilla group which waged a bloody war against the established government for years, is being forced to moderate his political views to appeal to a broader base of communist sympathizers.
Funes faces Rodrigo Avila, the candidate of the National Republican Alliance Party, in Sunday's hotly contested election. Funes has run a series of campaign ads which point out how similar he is to American President Barack Hussein Obama. Both Funes and Obama, the ads note, have been compared by their opponents to radical leftists and terrorists. In fact, President Obama worked closely with Weather Underground terrorist William Ayres for years, running Ayres organization, "Chicago Annenberg Challenge", and Funes is running as the candidate for a party which also killed numerous civilians and targeted police and government personnel.
Funes, who according to Larry Birns, Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, was picked for his popular appeal to a wider range of voters, is considered to be less ideological than former FMLN candidates.
But this does raise issues: “Is Funes a new force, or is he simply a face man for the older, hard-line FMLN, who are still the guerrillas, who want to go back to Marxist, Leninist views of society, who want to take it to a Cuba-style, Chavez-style system of government?” ponders Latin American policy expert Ray Walsner.
To counter these questions, Funes has been forced to moderate his positions in his campaign speeches, avoiding specific policy discussions in favor of soaring, inspirational rhetoric. One can see how far Funes has moved to the center when you consider his job before becoming a communist politician: Funes' previous job was as a reporter for CNN.