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Playing on cable "09SANSALVADOR928"
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S E C R E T SAN SALVADOR 000928 NOFORN SIPDIS C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2034 TAGS: PINR PGOV ES SUBJECT: (S/NF) FUNES'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FMLN (C-AL9-01786) REF: A. STATE 93069 B. SAN SALVADOR 789 Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, for reasons 1.4 (b), (c), and (d). 1. (SBU) Embassy San Salvador provides the following responses to Reftel queries. 2. (S/NF) DOES MINISTER OF DEFENSE PAYES HAVE CLOSE RELATIONS WITH FMLN HARDLINERS? IF SO, WITH WHOM? No. Munguia Payes, both during the campaign and since becoming Minister of Defense, has been quick to point out to Embassy interlocutors that he fought against the guerrilla forces that later formed the FMLN during his time in the Salvadoran Armed Forces. Indeed, Munguia Payes seems to see himself as the sole cabinet-level official in a security position without divided loyalties between Funes and the FMLN. However, he has a cordial/correct relationship with the FMLN hardliners in the GOES. 3. (S/NF) WHAT IS VICE PRESIDENT SALVADOR SANCHEZ CEREN'S CURRENT RELATIONSHIP WITH FMLN HARDLINERS? We have no evidence to suggest that longstanding ties between Sanchez Ceren and FMLN Coordinator General (and head of legislative bloc) Medardo Gonzalez, Jose Luis Merino, Sigfrido Reyes, and other hard-line elements of the FMLN have changed. However, the heavy schedule Sanchez Ceren keeps as Minister of Education and Vice President, along with persistent rumors of health problems, suggest he has less time to devote to party business than when he was head of the FMLN's bloc in the Legislative Assembly. It is very troubling that on September 26 Sanchez Ceren made anti-American statements at an FMLN rally in support of Manuel Zelaya. The GOES is wrestling with Sanchez Ceren's inconsistency when wearing his VP hat as opposed to his FMLN hat. HOW DOES HE GET ALONG WITH FUNES? Sanchez Ceren's relationship with Funes grew from nearly non-existent to a working relationship during the campaign. XXXXXXXXXXXX recently told PolCouns that Funes and Sanchez Ceren did not talk "as much as I would like" but that when they did talk, it was productive and that the two seemed to get along well together. The two almost never appear together in public. Also, in early September, Funes countermanded a decision by Sanchez Ceren regarding agriculture subsidies. 4. (S/NF) IS FUNES CONSIDERING CONFRONTING FMLN HARDLINERS WHOM HE BELIEVES ARE UNDERMINING HIM? HOW IS FUNES COPING UNDER STRESS? XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolCouns September 22 that the divorce between Funes and the FMLN wa final, pointing to the lack of public conflict as convincing evidence: the two sides are no longer even trying to work together. XXXXXXXXXXXX is convinced FMLN hard-liners smuggled Honduran President Zelaya into Tegucigalpa September 21 without the knowledge of Funes and in direct defiance of his efforts to keep the Honduras conflict from playing out on Salvadoran soil. XXXXXXXXXXXX believes the relationship is beyond repair. We believe that Funes distrusts the orthodox FMLN, but is not able to break with the party at this time. He has some valuable FMLN "lite" members of his cabinet, and would risk more active subversion and street protests if he broke with the party. 5. (S/NF) WHO ARE CURRENTLY THE MOST INFLUENTIAL FMLN LEADERS? HOW DO THEY VIEW FUNES? HOW DOES FUNES VIEW THEM? WHAT PLANS DO THEY HAVE, IF ANY, TO STRENGTHEN THE FMLN'S INFLUENCE? FMLN General Coordinator Medardo Gonzalez, PARLACEN Deputies Jose Luis Merino and Nidia Diaz, and Salvadoran Assembly Deputy Sigfrido Reyes continue to hold significant power within the FMLN. Hato Hasbun, now Secretary for Strategic Affairs in the presidential staff, straddles both worlds as an FMLN insider and Funes confidante. Within the hard-line faction of the FMLN, it appears the influence of the BRV and Hugo Chavez is on the rise, with some in the FMLN capitalizing on the crisis in Honduras to widen the breach between Funes and party hard-liners. Samayoa was recently introduced (by phone) to Havana's new Charge d'Affaires and believes the Cubans are planning to raise their profile in El Salvador. FMLN hard-liners engineered Funes' selection as a pragmatic step to gain power, expecting they would eventually govern through Funes as their puppet. Funes made a pragmatic decision to run for President on the FMLN ticket, expecting to govern despite the opposition he expected would emerge from radical elements of the party. San Salvador's political pundits continue to speculate that the Friends of Mauricio (now being rebranded the Citizen Movement for Change) will soon merge with the FMLN's smaller ally CD (Democratic Change) giving them a base to win seats in 2012 legislative elections and a power base from which to negotiate. El Salvador's conservative business class continues to assess that working with Funes is the best avenue for protecting Salvadoran democracy and their own business interests in the long run. A senior executive XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolCouns September 22 he thought Funes would wind up governing with the support of ARENA and other conservative parties before his term was up. 6. (S/NF) HAVE KEY SECURITY ORGANIZATION BUDGETS CHANGED? IF SO, TO WHAT EXTENT? Funes' Private Secretar told us (Ref (B)) the President was disappointed in Eduardo Linares, new Director of the Salvadoran State Intelligence Organization (OIE). In fact, Funes has privately commented on his complete lack of faith with Linares and the OIE, whom Funes believes to be beholden to the hard-line factions of the FMLN. Given Funes' disappointment in and distrust of Linares, Funes has decided to shift a significant part of OIE's intelligence collection duties to the El Salvador Armed Forces (ESAF). Even so, the CY2010 budget for the ESAF was reduced USD 6 million from its CY2009 level of USD 132 million, a significant decrease considering over 90 percent of the budget is directed to salaries. Accordingly, Funes plans to also gradually reduce OIE's budget to further marginalize the Agency's ability to operate effectively. Hato Hasbun has told us he envisages OIE evolving into a more analytical than operational organization. Other sensitive reporting suggests a pending realignment of the GOES intelligence apparatus. 7. (S/NF) HOW DO AVERAGE SALVADORANS SEE FUNES'S ACTIONS TO REDUCE CRIME, SPECIFICALLY THE MURDER RATE, IN THE COUNTRY? DO FMLN HARDLINERS IN GOVERNMENT VIEW THE ISSUE AS A KEY PRIORITY? WHAT IS THE MOST RECENT OFFICIAL HOMICIDE RATE? Salvadoran press reported September 29 that as of September 28, the number of murders in 2009 (3,182) had already exceeded the 2008 total (3,179). This represents an annualized total of 4,286 killings if the current rate holds, or almost 12 per day in 2009 compared to a rate of nearly 9 per day in 2008. This uptick in the homicide rate seems to have shocked even those Salvadorans who had grown numb to the persistently high levels of violence in their country. September polling numbers from the University of Central America's IUDOP polling institute suggest a majority of Salvadorans are concerned about public security but remain willing to give the Funes Administration time to address the problem. 58.6 percent of respondents believe crime is growing worse since Funes took office, while 26.5 percent believe it is about the same and only 14.9 percent believe it is improving. Respondents were almost evenly split as to whether Funes' public security policies represent more of the same (48.9 percent) or a change (49.9 percent) from policies of the Saca administration. 67.8 percent of respondents believe Funes' security policies will have some or a significant effect on crime, while 32.3 percent believe they will have little or no effect. However, 51.9 percent of respondents thought Funes' public security policies were having little to no effect while 48.0 percent believed they were, in fact, showing results already. FMLN hardliners are concerned more with obtaining operational control over the PNC than they are with reducing the crime rate. The biographies of some of these hardliners include involvement in murder (Melgar, Sanchez Ceren, Nidia Diaz), kidnapping (Sanchez Ceren), and arms trafficking (Merino), so their commitment to law and order cannot be easily assumed. BLAU