By Ben Cohen
I meant to write on the socialist victory in El Salvador yesterday, but wanted to spend a day or so reading about the election to brush up on my history in the region. I'm no expert, but was well aware of the U.S attempts to destabilize and install leaders of its choosing in recent history. The U.S has helped keep the country under the control of several vicious dictatorships and extreme neo liberal regimes that have ruined the economy and brutalized the population.
The victory of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is another notch for democratic socialism in Latin America, and could bring much needed reform in a country devastated by neo liberalism. The FMLN has spent decades in the political wilderness, and now led by a former CNN presenter Mauricio Funes, it has worked its way into the mainstream and presented a new face to the party painted as extreme by the CIA and the country's elite.
We obviously don't know whether the party will have a beneficial effect on the country, but it cannot get much worse. According to US aid, 49% of the rural population live in extreme poverty and many are illiterate and without adequete access to health care. Democratic socialism is sweeping across Latin America in response to the failures of the Washington Consensus, and in large part due to America's obsession with the Middle East. The reforms in Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua and Bolivia have helped lift millions out of poverty and provided hope in an alternative to savage capitalism. El Salvador is the latest to catch the bug, and hopefully not the last.