Leaked U.S. cables recount tensions between El Salvador’s Mauricio Funes, FMLN


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El Salvador’s first leftist president, Mauricio Funes, harbored fears for his personal safety last year and suspected his offices had been bugged, newly disclosed secret U.S. cables reveal. However, the perceived threat was not from El Salvador’s right wing but from members of the very coalition that brought Funes to power, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

The cables, part of the WikiLeaks trove published this week in El Pais newspaper, recount the growing tensions between the moderate Funes and the more hard-line wing of the leftist FMLN coalition of former guerrillas.


The Salvadoran government ‘can best be characterized as schizophrenic,’ U.S. diplomats wrote in a communication dated Jan. 26 of this year. FMLN hard-liners, led by Vice President Sanchez Ceren, have been making anti-U.S. speeches and frequent contacts with leftist governments like those of Venezuela and Cuba, without Funes’ authorization, the report says.

Another cable, from last year, quotes a close aide of Funes (whose name is blacked out) as saying the president is worried about his ‘physical security’ and asks for protection from the United States.

‘The message from [the unnamed associate] on behalf of Funes was clear: we have great confidence in the USG [United States Government], real security concerns, and need your help,’ the cable said.

Tensions between Funes and the FMLN, which fought against the U.S.-backed right in El Salvador’s long civil war, have been mounting for months. He never belonged to the party but was its candidate in historic elections in March 2009 which put a leftist in the presidential office for the first time in the country’s history.

--Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City