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El Salvador 2009 Presidential Elections 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Juan Carlos Sanchez, FESPAD (Foundations for the Study of the Law)

[Audio available at]

Our presence is important to avoid fraud.
FESPAD began in 1988 during work as human rights org. 3 main themes, and elections is not one of them, but participating because of the current situation:
1. human rights and gender equality
2. public security
3. transparency and anti-corruption.
Electoral process plays into people's political and human rights. Not affiliated with a party, but as way to get people to enjoy their human rights. Defending interests of most vulnerable people, including those affected by megaprojects, eg. communities and groups against mining or road construction, railroad displacements, tourism, etc.

Work with gays.

Salvadoran electoral system is one of the most backwards in Latin America. We have been comparing to political systems in neighboring countries of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua. We are going into Sunday's elections with the rules of the game favoring the right. Shows us the importance of electoral observation. Want a clean electoral system. Electoral system is part of human rights. You come with your human rights. TSE has rules of observation which we think are overly restrictive—sees it as passive, and only thing we do is turn in our report afterwards. But in ES hierarchy of legal norms, beginning with constitution recognizing people. Second int'l treaties that protect Hrs, laws, rules. TSE tries to restrict w/ rules. Don't violate rules, but look at broader HRs. And keep in mind that there are higher level laws. Attitude of legitimizing our political activities. Right not happy we are here. Observation can play 3 roles:
1. preventative. Strong and respective presence could prevent violations of laws, including buying of votes. Possibility of making denouncements.
2. information. Often don't have figures to approve problems, but we can provide info to prove fraud. No organization has capacity of int'l delegations.
3. political advocacy, to carry out forward what we are doing here. Important to try to get feedback & build better democracy.

What are we specifically going to do as FESPAD? Center for reception of denouncements, w/ 20-20 people. 1st commission is to monitor press, looking at news irregularities. Centers w/ DUIs ready to go out, which is weird because time to pass them out has already gone out..

As for reports that need urgent & immediate attention from attorney general, call FESPAD. Better to come to 2 orgs in order to

3rd commission of legal analysis to decide what kind of action needs to happen.

4th commission is outreach to other orgs.

Important network of independent journalism that covers our information.

5th commission of sistemization to come up with final report, etc.

Will have small office in Raddison where TSE has its base, present for final count.

Preparing for a very close vote. Sunday could be very tense. Important to be at Raddison, and could help mediate process. Importance to count votes at JRV, because otherwise TSE will count them. Counting is very important, because people are counting votes when they are very tired. It doesn't benefit FMLN if there are a lot of contested votes because FMLN always loses in recounts. Bad for FMLN to count in TSE because TSE has lack of control & tends to rule against the FMLN. Right is not happy w/ international observation. Importance to present ourselves to authorities, and to interact with everyone there.

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