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El Salvador worries: Are they even on the Obama administration's radar?

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Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Latin America's continuing turn toward corrupt, leftist government is evident in El Salvador's likely next president, a terrorist. And it spells trouble for U.S. interests in the region.

In the presidential election of Feb. 2, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, drew almost 50 percent of the vote. He's expected to win next month's runoff against the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party's Norman Quijano, who received nearly 39 percent of the vote.

Mr. Sanchez Ceren rose through FMLN ranks in the 1980s and '90s during the party's 12-year civil war against conservative, U.S.-backed governments. More than 75,000 were killed. He was elected vice president in 2009, when FMLN ended Arena's two-decade hold on the presidency.

Sanchez Ceren's close FMLN adviser Jose Luis Merino has ties to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia drug traffickers who will “spend a lot of money on the runoff” to ensure his victory, says Elliott Abrams, an official in the administrations of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. Mr. Merino also is on the advisory board of a Venezuelan state oil company's El Salvador branch that has provided FMLN with subsidized gasoline.

Amazingly, the State Department hasn't even commented on the election. Whether the Obama administration awakens to El Salvador's growing threats remains to be seen.



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