Mauricio Funes Cartagena is the former president of El Salvador, 2009 to 2014. Funes now lives in Nicaragua, evading Salvadoran justice. Funes’ presidency is best remembered for corruption and the gang truce that cost many Salvadorans their lives.
Funes won the presidency by winning the 2009 presidential elections under the banner of the left-wing political party FMLN.
Looking to be president with the FMLN.
In September 2007, the FMLN officially named Funes as its candidate for the 2009 presidential election.
Later that year, at the FMLN national convention in November 2007, the left-wing political party proclaimed and reiterated Mauricio Funes as the presidential candidate for the 2009 elections. His running mate was ex-combatant Salvador Sanchez Ceren.
In the elections held in March 2009, Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez Ceren defeated ARENA; they were now the elected President and Vice President of the Republic of El Salvador.
The presidency of Mauricio Funes Cartagena.
Since getting to power, the Funes administration implemented a wide range of social reforms designed to combat poverty and inequality. These changes included the institution of various poverty alleviation programs in the most impoverished communities.
For example, Funes implemented the abolition of public health care fees and introduced the system of giving free shoes, meals, and uniforms to schoolchildren.
The Funes administration did good things for many Salvadorans. However, former President Mauricio Funes Cartagena is remembered for the charges of illicit enrichment, the truce with the gangs, and for having fled to Nicaragua.
Unlawful enrichment charges.
In 2016, the Salvadoran Supreme Court ruled that Funes had to face a civil lawsuit on money laundering charges for more than $700,000. According to Salvadoran authorities, Mauricio Funes was unable to justify personal transactions of more than $500,000.
The indictment against Mauricio Funes claimed that he and his family increased their assets by more than $700,000. The salary of the President of El Salvador in 2015, one year after Mauricio Funes left office, was $5,181.72 per month.
In November 2017, a Salvadoran civil court found Funes guilty of illegal enrichment. The court sentenced Mauricio Funes and his son to return $420,000 to the Salvadoran state.
The truce with the Salvadoran gangs.
Former President Mauricio Funes Cartagena and the Ex-Minister of Defense of El Salvador Munguia Payes will be remembered for their participation in the truce with the Salvadoran gangs, MS-13 and 18th street.
The truce between Salvadoran gangs was created in secret towards a process of building social peace; this is what the Funes administration wanted to achieve.
However, what the gang truce did was to give more control to gangs in prison and on the territory. For example, Funes and his administration arranged for gang leaders to be transferred from maximum-security prisons to minimum security facilities. Also, he gave control of the prison facilities to the gangs.
President Nayib Bukele, along with Rogelio Rivas, his security minister, Osiris Luna, and Merino Monroy, changed all of that in 2019. Today, there is no one prison for a particular gang; they are all mixed together.
Mauricio Funes Cartagena fleeing to Nicaragua.
While Mauricio Funes was being criminally investigated by the Salvadoran Public Prosecutor’s Office, FGR, for the crimes of embezzlement, diversion of public funds, and illegal negotiations with gangs. Former President Mauricio Funes fled to Nicaragua and received asylum under the Daniel Ortega regimen.
Also, when Funes fled to Nicaragua, many of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front party (FMLN), who were in power, criticized Funes for his attitude of leaving the country.
Mauricio Funes, thus far, has about six criminal charges pending in El Salvador. They include money laundering, iligal enrichment, negotiating with gans, and a few others.
Mauricio Funes Cartagena.
Some years have passed since Funes fled to Nicaragua. Since then, Daniel Ortega has granted Funes and his family Nicaraguan citizenship.
Now that Funes is a Nicaraguan citizen, it will be more difficult for the Salvadoran government to bring former President Mauricio Funes, to trial.
Mauricio Funes will be remembered for being the first president of the left-wing political party FMLN and for escaping to Nicaragua.