San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Neighboring leaders arrive in El Salvador in support of new president

Signs that Latin America is tipping further from the right were threaded through newly elected Mauricio Funes´ inauguration speech Monday.

The first left-leaning Salvadoran president after 20 years of right-wing rule, Funes, of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), pledged to strengthen ties with Cuba and eliminate existing inequalities.

He blamed the country´s poverty on the “ruling elite,” saying they “plunged the country into a critical situation in the economic field.”

“The people of El Salvador requested a change and change begins now,” Funes said.

The onetime journalist also promised the creation of 100,000 jobs over the next 18 months and implementation of 25,000 urban improvement projects.

“We want social reconstruction, economic reconstruction and institutional reconstruction of our homeland,” said the new president of El Salvador.

Representatives from more than 72 countries were in the audience for Funes´ speech, including Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

Arias and Funes had already launched diplomatic relations in late March, following Funes´ election, and discussed issues ranging from the challenges facing small countries to increases in unemployment and poverty.

“We had the opportunity to discuss common issues affecting these sister countries, El Salvador and Costa Rica, and, in general, Central America. We talk about the major concerns we have,” Arias said following the meeting.

Funes´ election ends 20 years of uninterrupted rule by the rightist Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).

See The Nica Times, a publication of The Tico Times, for more on Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes.

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