RealNews

Salvadoran leftist candidate stirs U.S. unease

After the limousine pulled up to the campaign office, the brief courtesy call appeared cordial enough between U.S. Ambassador Douglas Barclay and one of El Salvador’s leading presidential contenders, Schafik Handal. Behind their chitchat, however, were lingering Cold War suspicions, concerns about U.S. meddling and worries that an unabashed communist could rewrite the plot of what U.S. officials consider to be Central America’s biggest success story. Handal, 73, is a former guerrilla commander of the Marxist rebel movement that battled the U.S.-backed Salvadoran regime in a civil war that cost 75,000 lives during the 1980s. The veteran head of El Salvador’s Communist Party is running second in the March 21 presidential elections. And he stands a chance of winning because of Salvadorans’ anger about their economic woes under three successive governments led by the right-wing, U.S.-allied ARENA party. Full Story

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