San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Controversy Erupts over Flores for OAS Candidate

SAN SALVADOR (AFP) – TheSalvadoran Congress this week gave itsbacking to former Salvadoran PresidentFrancisco Flores (1999-2004) in his bidfor the post of Secretary General of theOrganization of American States (OAS),despite opposition from within and outsidethe country.“We are expressing our support for theSalvadoran candidate for the secretarygeneral of the OAS,” reads the congressionaldeclaration of support. “We areproud to have a compatriot who aspires tothis post because it represents the wholehemisphere’s recognition of the prestigethat El Salvador has achieved with ademocratic and free system (of government).”Leaders of El Salvador’s left-wingFarabunto Martí National LiberationFront (FMLN) did not condone the congressionalbacking.“We never supported this congressionaldeclaration of support for Flores,” saidFMLN congressman Gerson Martínez.“He is not a man who should aspire tothis post.”The FMLN is accusing Flores of corruption,and has called on him to clarifyquestions regarding a secret discretionarybank account of $136 million.The allegations of corruption alsoprompted Costa Rican President AbelPacheco to temper his earlier support forFlores on the condition that he respond tothe corruption concerns. Pacheco alsoexpressed concern over the lack of regionalconsensus for Flores’ candidacy.Honduras, which has an ongoing borderdispute with El Salvador that wasexacerbated during Flores’ administration,has come out against the Salvadoran candidate’sbid, as has Venezuela, whichblames Flores for involvement in thefailed 2002 coup attempt againstVenezuelan President Hugo Cháves.Flores denied he played any role in thecoup plot.Flores was nominated as the CentralAmerican candidate for the position twoweeks ago during the Latin American-Iberian Summit of Heads of State andGovernment in Costa Rica.The OAS post was vacated after formerCosta Rican President Miguel AngelRodríguez stepped down to face corruptioncharges (TT, Oct. 8, 15; Nov.12, 26).

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