C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 000817
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2019
TAGS: PGOV, ENRG, EAGR, SENV, SOCI, ES
SUBJECT: WAVE OF PROTESTS MAY SIGNAL FMLN EFFORT TO
Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES ROBERT BLAU FOR REASONS 1.5 (B and D).
1. (C) SUMMARY. A recent wave of protests organized by a
so-called environmental group, "La Coordinadora Nacional de
Medio Ambiente (CNMA)", are likely part of a movement by
hard-line elements of the FMLN to undermine President Funes.
Over the past several weeks, the CNMA has carried out
large-scale, coordinated protests throughout the country
ostensibly protesting GOES plans to continue with the
construction of the hydroelectric dam "Chaparral" and
perceived inequities in the seed disbursement program to
farmers. It seems that hard-line members of the FMLN party
are using this relatively unknown organization to vent their
frustration about the direction of economic policy and
directly challenge the President. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) On August 26, the CNMA coordinated a sophisticated
series of road blocks at nine key points in the highway
system across the country in the morning hours, effectively
bringing traffic to a halt. Many key transportation arteries
were blocked off, including the Pan-American Highway. This
protest included wide-spread participation and there were
reports of vandalism and destruction of property. Police
were unable to restore order until the afternoon. Past CNMA
protests consisted of no more than small-scale demonstrations
outside of the Presidential Palace.
3. (SBU) According to press reports, CNMA is protesting
President Funes' decisions to proceed with the construction
of the state-owned hydroelectric dam "Chaparral" and the
planned cutbacks in the government-managed seed distribution
program. In each case, only a small portion of the
population is adversely affected by the policy decisions.
4. (C) COMMENT: Mass street protests are part of the
traditional FMLN play book and are one battlefront in an
ongoing struggle for power between the orthodox FMLN and
President Funes. Funes said at a meeting Thursday August 27
that his administration will not yield to blackmail. There
is broad public support for the need for Funes to prevail.