HERE***Next elections in El Salvador will be in 2019!*** 

The Center of Interchange and Solidarity – CIS-   invites you to participate in the

13TH CIS International Election Observer Mission

Human Rights and Democracy in El Salvador 2019:

As a short term Observer:  January 28th – February 5th, 2019 (arrival and departure dates)

As a medium or long term Volunteer:

January 1 – March 30, 2019 (arrival and departure dates)

November 5th, 2018-April 4th, 2019 (arrival and departure dates)


Click HERE to download the application form now and send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 In the upcoming February 3, 2019 election, the people of El Salvador will elect the President and vice President of El Salvador.   If there is not a candidate who wins 50% +1 vote, there will be a run-off election on March 10th.   It is a priority to have observers in the first round, but CIS will also organize observers in the event of a second round. The CIS Mission plays an important role in providing objective observation, maintaining alert political parties tempted to manipulate the process, and providing important recommendations to strengthen the democratic process.

The elections come on the heels of the 2018 municipal and legislative elections, where there was an upset in the balance of traditional political party power. The right-wing ARENA party won a sweeping majority – even though it had 60,000 less votes than 3 years ago, and the FMLN received a strong message of discontent from its followers, losing 400,000 of its votes from the previous election.  

The former FMLN mayor, Nayib Bukele, who was expelled from the FMLN, has started the process to form a new political party, Nuevas Ideas (New Ideas), which has an up swell of support particularly from young people who have felt left out of the political process. The other right wing parties PCN and GANA also won a decent block of support in the elections. The 84 Legislative Assembly Deputies are divided as such:   ARENA 37; FMLN 23; GANA 11; PCN 8; PDC 3; CD 1; Independent candidate 1.   The FMLN does not have 1/3 or 28 seats in the assembly needed to weigh in on important votes that require a 2/3 majority, such as international loans, the election of the Human Rights Procurator, Supreme Court Magistrates, Election Tribunal Magistrates, among others, though in some cases the GANA party will align with the FMLN to provide a 1/3 vote block needed to pass some important decisions of a qualified majority (2/3 vote).

Current polls show the New Ideas Party with a clear majority of support from the population – however there is a perception in the communities where CIS works that ARENA and FMLN are trying to block it from gaining legal status as a political party to stop it from being able to compete in the elections. The other option is for New Ideas is to run with a smaller existing legal party, but it would take steam out of the new movement, since many of the existing political parties have lost the trust of the population. New Ideas is criticized for not having a clear political platform, but many base their support on the administration of Nayib Bukele as Mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán and then San Salvador, the country’s capital city, where he put into motion efficient administration, support for recreation, culture, education for youth, effective violence prevention programs with at risk youth, and safety measures that have brought people back to the streets of San Salvador after dark.

ARENA has elected Carlos Callejas as their presidential candidate. He is CEO and heir to the country’s largest supermarket chain, Super Selectos. He is projected for his youth and creating jobs (albeit poorly paying jobs) and ARENA sees him as a clear contender to beat Nayib Bukele.   Callejas has been in an alliance with Bill Clinton and Carlos Slim to create training and jobs in rural areas of El Salvador, but this unholy alliance is also questioned for their intent to bring metallic mining back to El Salvador.

The FMLN militants elected Hugo Martinez as their candidate. He has been the Minister of Foreign Relations for the past 9 years under President’s Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Ceren. He has a history of being a leader in the student movement at the University of El Salvador during the war as well as heading up an Institute for Political studies of the FMLN.   Many see his candidacy as a challenge to the current direction of the party and their top down model of organizing. Whether he will be able to lead internal structural reforms has yet to be seen, but it is also critical for the FMLN to rebuild its trust with its base after a strong electoral defeat.

The CIS program will include meetings and trainings for observers as well as opportunities to visit communities and learn more about Salvadoran reality.   Observers will meet with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the official electoral body in charge of elections, Political Parties competing in the elections, Election oversight boards, the Human Rights Procurators Office, and other institutions. CIS observers will be well trained and play an important role sharing objective observations and recommendations for reforms.

CIS program will also focus on human rights issues facing the country, especially immigrants’ rights, youth rights and gender rights. We will visit communities affected by immigration and deportation as well as CIS empowerment programs that generate alternatives to migration and violence. We will meet with women who are serving 30 – 40 year prison terms for alleged abortions, who in reality suffered miscarriages or still births, and the movement that is working to get these women out of prison as well as legislation to allow abortion in the event a women’s life is in danger or she is the victim of rape or incest.

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In country Program Fees: Fees do not include flights to and from El Salvador. You are responsible for booking and paying for your own flight on the recommended days. If you arrive early or stay late, the CIS can make additional hotel reservations for you upon request and let you know the additional costs.Please send your applications as soon as possible, but at least one month prior to start date. Fees are due one month prior to the start date.

Short-term Observer Delegation Program:   January 28 – Feb. 5, 2019. We recommend that you arrive in the morning or midday flight on January 28 to get full orientation and depart on the afternoon flight Feb. 5th so you can participate in the Tuesday morning press conference. Per Person cost for participation in program, translation, meals, all in country transportation from Jan 28 – Feb 5:

$900 – single room accommodation

$800 Double occupancy room

$700 Shared room (3-5 people)

$575 if you have your own housing. Breakfast will not be included, and you will have to get to the CIS or the Observer Hotel at indicated departure time. CIS will drop you off in the evening.

Observer applications due by December 14th, 2018.

Medium and Long term Observer Volunteers: Jan. 1 – March 30, 2019 or November 5, 2018 – April 5, 2019 (arrival and departure dates) will not be required to pay program fees. They will be responsible for covering flights and room and board expenses. CIS can arrange special discount family stay for medium and long term volunteers for $80 per week including breakfast and dinner; or $50 per week with no meals included. Spanish is a requirement to be a medium or long term volunteer. Applications due by Nov.1, 2018.


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You can download an application form ( or can request an application form.

To request an application form, more info and to send application:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please send fees to:  LOS OLIVOS CIS / P.O. BOX 76 / Westmont, IL 60559 or pay on-line:

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