Viewing cable 06SANSALVADOR1276
Title: WOMEN IN SALVADORAN POLITICS: SLOW BUT STEADY

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06SANSALVADOR12762006-05-12 19:11:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Salvador
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSN #1276/01 1321911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121911Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2424
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SAN SALVADOR 001276 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ES KWMN PGOV PHUM PREL
SUBJECT: WOMEN IN SALVADORAN POLITICS: SLOW BUT STEADY 
PROGRESS 
 
REF: SAN SALVADOR 1228 
 
¶1.  SUMMARY:  Although in the wake of March elections, El 
Salvador now slightly outpaces the United States in its 
percentage of women legislators, it still lags behind several 
countries in the region in terms of the number of women 
elected to political office.  Salvadoran women are also less 
likely to vote than their male counterparts.  Women hold a 
number of important positions in the Saca administration and 
comprise three of five newly-confirmed Supreme Court 
justices, but there appears to be little significant 
difference among the nation's political parties in electing 
or appointing women to positions of power.  President Saca's 
Special Commissioner for Governability, Gloria Salguero 
Gross, is training a new generation of women to be the 
country's future political leaders.  END SUMMARY. 
 
¶2.  Fourteen women deputies were elected in March 12 
nationwide elections--a 55 percent increase over the number 
of women in the 2003-2006 Legislative Assembly; with women 
now comprising around 17 percent of its legislature, El 
Salvador ranks approximately 65th among the world's 
parliaments in representation of women.  However, women were 
the victors in only about six percent of mayoral races in 
2003 and 2006.  Three of the five new Supreme Court justices 
selected and confirmed April 30 by the outgoing 2003-2006 
Legislative Assembly are women (see reftel: Dolores "Lolly" 
Claros de Ayala, Rosa Maria Fortin Huezo, and Evelyn Roxana 
Nunez Franco); from all reports, all five new justices are 
better-qualified and less politically-partisan than the large 
majority of their predecessors. 
 
¶3.  Unlike the U.S., where all recent Census Bureau data 
indicate that women are more likely to register and vote, 
Salvadoran women are less likely to vote than their male 
counterparts (although they compose a slight majority--54 
percent--of registered voters).  Some political observers 
theorize that women do not vote because of apathy, while 
others believe it is because of competing family obligations. 
 (Note:  Public-service radio announcements during the recent 
campaign season encouraged men to assist their wives with 
household responsibilities on election day in order to 
facilitate their voting.  End note.) 
 
¶4.  High-profile women in the Saca administration include 
Vice President Ana Vilma de Escobar, Minister of the Economy 
Yolanda de Gavidia, Minister of Education Darlyn Meza, Vice 
Minister of Foreign Affairs for Salvadorans Abroad Margarita 
Escobar, Vice Minister of Governance Silvia Aguilar, Special 
Commissioner for Governability Gloria Salguero Gross, Vice 
Minister of the Economy for Commerce and Industry Blanca 
Imelda de Magana, Vice Minister for the Environment Michelle 
Gallardeo de Gutierrez, Central Reserve Bank President Luz 
Maria Serpas de Portillo, Consumer Protection Commissioner 
Evelyn Jacir de Lobo, and President's Saca's Technical 
Undersecretary Anabella Larde.  First Lady Ana Ligia de Saca 
holds the honorary position of National Secretary of the 
Family, and has been active in her advocacy for families, 
including promotion of programs to prevent at-risk youth from 
joining gangs.  Charismatic and highly-popular former Foreign 
Minister Maria Eugenia "Mayu" Brizuela de Avila is often 
mentioned as a future ARENA presidential candidate. 
 
¶5.  While the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front 
(FMLN) includes the equality of women in their political 
platform (as enshrined in Article 3 of the Salvadoran 
Constitution), in actual practice, they do little better in 
electing women to positions of power than other parties. 
Former FMLN Deputy Violeta Menjivar narrowly defeated her 
ARENA counterpart on March 12 to retain San Salvador city 
hall for the FMLN.  (Note:  During the 2003-2006 Legislative 
Assembly, two of the FMLN's most high-profile women deputies, 
Celina Monterrosa and Ileana Rogel, were forced out of the 
party due to their lack of adherence to orthodox hardliners' 
policies.  End note.) 
 
¶6.  ARENA's Gloria Salguero Gross was the first woman elected 
President of the Legislative Assembly (1994-1997), and now 
serves as President Saca's Special Commissioner for 
Governability.  Salguero Gross, in conjunction with the 
Business Foundation for Educational Development (FEPADE), 
holds weekly classes to train prospective women candidates in 
developing a platform, running a political campaign, and 
interacting with the media.  These weekly classes enjoy high 
attendance, and include women from all parts of the political 
spectrum; Salguero Gross hopes to expand the program if 
additional funding can be secured. 
 
¶7.  Comment:  Notwithstanding traditional characteristics of 
Latin American culture that have heretofore limited the 
participation of women in politics and held back their 
attainment of political power, Salvadoran women continue to 
 
make advances, and when elected or appointed to high office, 
they are usually evaluated fairly on the basis of job 
performance.  (Note:  In recent polls, Minister of Education 
Darlyn Meza is the second most highly-rated political figure 
after President Saca.  End note.)  The young women Gross is 
now training will unquestionably play a significant role in 
the nation's political future. 
Barclay