President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes
[c] Luis Romero 2009
San Salvador, El Salvador - El Salvador inaugurated its first leftist president Monday morning.
Mauricio Funes, a former television journalist, assumes the highest office, marking the first time his political party, The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, also known as FMLN, is made up of former Marxist guerrillas.
The FMLN fought for 12 years to overthrow U.S.-backed governments.
Funes was chosen from outside of the party’s highest ranks. His candidacy helped soften the FMLN’s radical image, which in the past alienated much of El Salvador’s population divided by years of civil war.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the inauguration, calling his election a testament to the strength of democracy in the Americas.
Funes said he promises to maintain a friendship with the United States and will restore ties with Cuba.