Mauricio Funes

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Funes and the second or maternal family name is Cartagena.
Mauricio Funes
Mauricio Funes (Brasilia, May 2008).jpg
Mauricio Funes in Brasilia in May 2008.
President of El Salvador
In office
June 1, 2009 – June 1, 2014
Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén (2009-2014)
Preceded by Elías Antonio Saca
Succeeded by Salvador Sánchez Cerén
Personal details
Born (1959-10-18) October 18, 1959 (age 57)
San Salvador, El Salvador
Political party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (2007-2014) Independent (2014-Present)
Spouse(s) Vanda Pignato (Separated)
Alma mater Central American University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena (born October 18, 1959) is a Salvadoran politician who was President of El Salvador from June 1, 2009 to June 1, 2014. He won the 2009 presidential election as the candidate of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) political party and took office on June 1, 2009.

Early life and education[edit]

Funes was born in San Salvador. He received his High School Diploma (Bachillerato) from the Externado San José,[1] and studied at Universidad Centroamericana "José Simeón Cañas"(UCA) but did not graduate.[2] Both Externado and UCA are Jesuit institutions, something that has deeply influenced president Funes. In this respect, Funes has mentioned his relationship to the murdered scholars of UCA as of particular significance in his professional and personal development.[3] In 1994 he was awarded the Maria Moors Cabot prize from Columbia University for promoting press freedom and inter-American understanding.[4]

Funes' brother was killed during the Salvadoran Civil War.[5] His oldest son, Alejandro Funes Velasco, who was 27 years old, died after being attacked in Paris, where he was studying photography.[6]

Career in journalism[edit]

Prior to his involvement with politics of El Salvador, Funes was a journalist who hosted a popular interview show on television.[7] He made appearances on Channel 12 and CNN en Español,[8] and also hosted local news programs which were critical of previous governments. He was a reporter during the Salvadoran Civil War and interviewed leftist rebel leaders. It was during this time that he became more sympathetic to leftists in El Salvador, and he considers himself to be center-left.[5]

Political career[edit]

Funes was nominated to be the FMLN candidate on September 28, 2007 and competed against the Nationalist Republican Alliance's candidate Rodrigo Ávila, a former deputy director of the National Police. Funes won the 2009 presidential election with 51.32% of the popular vote, thus winning election in a single round. He was the country's second left-leaning president (the first being Arturo Araujo), as well as the first FMLN party leader not to have fought in the Salvadoran civil war. His swearing-in on June 1 marked only the third time in the country's history that a governing party peacefully transferred power to the opposition.

His presidential campaign was highlighted by statements endorsing moderate political policies.[9] He has promised to better programs such as health care in rural areas and crime prevention.[10] Political opponents stated that Funes' election would herald an era of Venezuelan influence but he insisted that "integration with Central America and strengthening relations with North America will be the priority of our foreign policy".[7] Funes has also promised to keep the U.S. dollar as El Salvador's official currency (dollarization took place in 2001 under President Francisco Flores Pérez).[10]

Since coming to power, Funes' administration has implemented a wide range of social reforms designed to combat poverty and inequality, including the institution of various poverty alleviation programs in the most impoverished communities,[11] the abolition of public health care fees,[12] the introduction of free shoes,[11] meals and uniforms for schoolchildren, the distribution of property titles to hundreds of families,[13] the introduction of monthly stipends and job training for those living in extreme poverty, and pensions for the elderly.[14] In addition, investments have been made in improving school infrastructure,[15] a presidential decree has been made against discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation in the public services, two working groups on indigenous affairs have been created as a means of bringing about better representation of the interests of El Salvador’s indigenous communities,[16] a community health plan has been introduced,[17] improvements have been made in teacher’s salaries, and measures have been introduced to combat illiteracy.[18]

Upon his inauguration on June 1, 2009, Funes resumed Salvadoran diplomatic relations with Cuba. El Salvador previously suspended diplomatic relations with Cuba 50 years ago due to the Cuban Revolution.[19]

In November 2009, President Funes had to face the natural disaster that greatly affected communities in Cuscatlán, San Salvador and San Vicente as a result of the rain brought by Hurricane Ida. A community in San Vicente called Verapaz disappeared because it was buried by huge rocks that fell from the nearby volcano. Civil Protection, which is the government entity in charge of handling catastrophes, rehabilitated public schools in which refugees stayed for more than 3 months while they found a place to stay from family or friends. The Army and the Red Cross of El Salvador rescued many people from the communities.

Funes has been criticized[20] for lack of a plan to fight El Salvador’s increased crime in El Salvador. In response, the President has ordered the deployment of the army to cooperate with police authorities in their fight against crime.[21] More recently, there have been reports of newly formed Death Squads operating in El Salvador, due in part to a lack of response of the police.[22]

In January 2010, after a public denouncement of Funes’ former cabinet member Francisco Gómez, local Salvadoran media uncovered plans whereby almost all government publicity and advertising were to be carried, without any previous public solicitation (as required by Salvadoran Law), by advertising agency Polistepeque, S.A. de C.V. Some advisers to the president are members of its board of directors, and allegedly Funes himself has some participation through stock in that agency.[23]

The President reacted to these accusations by stating that no other advertising agency in El Salvador has the experience or capacity to manage government publicity and advertising, despite the fact that El Salvador has many local and international advertising agencies such as BBDO.[24][25]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Vanda Pignato, the former First Lady of El Salvador who was involved in the Workers' Party in Brazil.[26] They have one son, Gabriel. In October 2014, Funes publicly acknowledged that he and Pignato had separated.[27]

Corruption Allegations[edit]

On February 10, 2016, the El Salvador Supreme Court ruled that Funes would face a civil trial for charges of illegally laundering more than $700,000 in personal bank accounts.[28] Nicaragua has granted political asylum to Mauricio Funes, who is being accused of illicit enrichment in El Salvador.[29]


  1. ^ "Mauricio Funes (Biography)". Mauricio Funes: Un cambio seguro (in Spanish). Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Mauricio Funes (president of El Salvador)". Britannica Online Encyclopaedia. 
  3. ^ "Mártires jesuitas reciben Orden José Matías Delgado". Mártires jesuitas reciben Orden José Matías Delgado (in Spanish). Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  4. ^ "4 awards for Latin American Coverage". The New York Times. October 27, 1994. Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Factbox: Salvadoran President-elect Mauricio Funes. Reuters March 16, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-03-16.
  6. ^ "Fallece en París Alejandro Funes, hijo del periodista Mauricio Funes". Chichicaste (in Spanish). 11 October 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Journalist Mauricio Funes wins El Salvador presidency. The Guardian March 16, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-03-16.
  8. ^ Booth, William (March 9, 2009). "In El Salvador Vote, Big Opportunity for Leftists". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 
  9. ^ Left-winger wins El Salvador poll. BBC News March 16, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-03-16.
  10. ^ a b "Left Turn". The Economist. March 21–27, 2009. p. 40. 
  11. ^ a b Stephens, Sarah (June 28, 2010). "What's Really Happening in El Salvador?". Huffington Post. 
  12. ^ A New Chapter for El Salvador: The First Hundred Days of President Mauricio Funes. Center for Democracy in the Americas. November 9, 2009
  13. ^ "El Salvador: School meals, uniforms made free as right attacks | Green Left Weekly". September 12, 2009. Retrieved June 25, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Split with the past: with Panama's Ricardo Martinelli and EL Salvador's Mauricio Funes both Looking to be paradigms for successful government in the Americas, will ideology take a backseat to ruling from the center?". 
  15. ^ Education Reform Gets High Marks in El Salvador. (March 5, 2012). Retrieved on October 5, 2013.
  16. ^ 2012: Transformationsindex. Retrieved on October 5, 2013.
  17. ^ Ayala, Edgardo (July 27, 2011) EL SALVADOR: Growing Tension Between Funes and Ruling Leftwing Party.
  18. ^ US-El Salvador: Threats to Privatize Education Meet International Resistance. (November 29, 2012). Retrieved on October 5, 2013.
  19. ^ EL SALVADOR AND CUBA REESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS at the Wayback Machine (archived June 15, 2011). Ministry of Foreign Affairs. June 1, 2009
  20. ^ Ponce, Carlos (February 9, 2010). "La batalla presidencial contra la delincuencia". 
  21. ^ Ayala, Edgardo (November 13, 2009) EL SALVADOR: More Troops on the Streets to Fight Crime.
  22. ^ Ayala, Edgardo (February 16, 2010). "Grupos de exterminio vuelven a El Salvador". 
  23. ^ "Mauricio Funes le daría toda la publicidad del gobierno a empresa de amigos". January 10, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Funes defiende asignación publicitaria a Polistepeque". January 12, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Publicistas en El Salvador piden a Funes cancelar contrato con empresa de su amigo personal". January 14, 2010. 
  26. ^ Ellingwood, Ken (June 26, 2008). "In El Salvador, journalist may lead leftists to center stage". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Retrieved March 11, 2009. 
  27. ^ Corea, Emilio (2014-10-13). "Mauricio Funes confirma estar separado de Vanda Pignato". El Blog. Retrieved 2016-01-17. 
  28. ^
  29. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Elías Antonio Saca
President of El Salvador
June 1, 2009–June 1, 2014
Succeeded by
Salvador Sánchez Cerén