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In El Salvador, Kent visits TSE before FMLN victory

Finishing off his first overseas trip as a Canadian official, Peter Kent visited El Salvador, Central America’s most densely populated…

By Dawn Paley , in Blogs Foreign Correspondence , on January 26, 2009 Tags: , , ,

Finishing off his first overseas trip as a Canadian official, Peter Kent visited El Salvador, Central America’s most densely populated country, and home to the delectable pupusa.

There, he fulfilled a foreign policy agenda that seeks to ensure stability for Canadian investors in El Salvador, while guaranteeing a consistent stream of temporary migrant workers from El Salvador to Canada.

Kent met with representatives from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), the body which oversees elections, and underlined the importance of transparent and free elections.

Days after his visit, Salvadorans voted in legislative and municipal elections, with the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) taking the majority of legislative seats in what experts consider “an auspicious prelude to the presidential vote,” which is to take place in March.

There is little doubt that the rise of the FMLN in some way mirrors that of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, who now govern Nicaragua.

Kent’s pre-emptive comments about El Salvador’s elections, which came just days after his condemnation of Nicaragua’s elections, indicate a growing emphasis on democracy promotion as a diplomatic tool for ensuring suitable investment climates for Canadian corporations operating abroad.

In El Salvador, trade discussions have a unique dimension, as Canada has a long dormant Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with the small Central American nation.

The perceived need from corporate Canada to activate the FIPA with El Salvador takes on additional urgency given the recent lawsuit launched by a Canadian mining company under the US-DR-Central America Free Trade Agreement.

Pacific Rim, the corporation launching the Chapter 11 style suit against the Saca government, is doing so through its subsidiary in Nevada. A bilateral or multilateral free trade agreement would allow Canadian companies to take on host governments without the hassle of going through the United States.

Kent also discussed immigration, as many Salvadorans have immigrated to Canada as labourers under the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker program.

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