San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

El Salvador's Funes marks 100 days with high public approval

Mauricio Funes on Tuesday reaches his 100th day as president of El Salvador with a more than 80 percent approval rating, in spite of attempts by the opposition to paint his administration as a “government of deception.”

Funes, a former TV journalist who ran as a reformed leftist on the ticket of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), took office June 1 from conservative President Tony Saca, starting a new chapter in El Salvador´s history by leading the first left-leaning government after a long line of right-wingers (NT, May 29).

A July CID-Gallup poll ranked Funes and fellow newly-elected president, Ricardo Martinelli of Panama, the most popular Central American leaders, both with an 86 percent favorability rating.

This Monday, local TV channel Telecorporación Salvadoreña released a public opinion poll by Mitofsky that shows his approval rating remains high at 85 percent.

Roy Campos, president of Mitofsky, said Funes is still in his “honeymoon” period. “The hope for changes (and) for a better life with the Funes win remains,” Campos said. His poll surveyed 1,200 Salvadorans at the end of August.

A recent Universidad Centroamericana survey gave Funes high marks too. The university´s president, José María Tojeira, said the Funes administration started off on the right foot. “It´s a government that began with a quite solid position because it gave stability to a country following an electoral period in which stability was in question,” said Tojeira, who is also a priest. The university president added that he considers the administration is “a kind of moderate-leftist government.”

Faced with the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression, Funes scored points when he proposed a $587 million investment to build 25,000 homes and other social programs.

The opposition, the National Republican Alliance (ARENA), which governed the country for about two decades, said the FMLN-led administration “is headed toward becoming the ‘government of deception.´”

“100 days is a brief time period that´s being used to criticize us,” Funes said at an event in Acajutla, southeast of San Salvador, in which the government handed over land to small farmers.

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