Another Latin American Left President Under Fire?

The new Oliver Stone documentary South of the Border israisingawareness of the often shabby U.S. media treatment of Latin America.

A recent example is a June 24L.A. Times piece by Alex Renderos headlined “El Salvador President Under Fire.”

The president is former FMLN leader Mauricio Funes, who waselected last year. According to the Times, things are going poorly for him: Crime and corruption are still problems, he is facing an”avalanche of criticism,” and “Salvadorans are growing impatient.”

The paperadds:

Funes’ failures have hit the poor and working class especially hard. After two decades of one-party right-wing rule, they greeted the rise of the left with great hope. Today they are deeply disillusioned.

When the evidence of public discontent–especially in Latin America–is at least in part based on a newspaper editorial, one should be cautious.

The paper cites recent poll results concerning how Salvadorans feel about crime and corruption. But what about how they feel about their president?The same poll the Times is citing to show discontent asked direct questions about Funes, and he’s actually still very popular, according to this summary:

A full year into his presidency, the 50-year-old Funes remains a popular figure. Respondents in a recent poll by the Universidad Centroamericana’s Instituto Universitario de Opinión Pública (IUDOP) gave the president a grade of 6.8 out of 10, down somewhat from the 7.16 score he earned last September but still a sign of continued support. Figures released in April by the polling firm Mitofsky put Funes’ approval rating at 83 percent, the highest of any Latin America leader.

For years U.S. coverage of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told readers that he was highly unpopular, based on dubious polling data. In this case, there are certainly polls relevant to the question of whether Funes is popular–but they undermine the premise of the article, and thus aren’t mentioned.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.