LATINO VOICES
10/09/2012 10:25 am ET

Hugo Chavez Loses Election In El Salvador As Boulevard Is Renamed

Hugo Chávez may have won the Venezuelan presidential election on Sunday, but in El Salvador he faced an overwhelming electoral defeat.

The city of Ilopango in the Central American country voted by a landslide to rename “Hugo Chávez” boulevard, which the previous mayor had instituted when she led the local government back in 2006, Spanish news wire EFE reports.

Only 13 of the 1,520 voters who cast ballots in the referendum voted to keep the street named “Hugo Chávez.” The citizens of Ilopango had a choice of six names, but settled on returning the boulevard to its old name of San Bartolo, which carried 80 percent of the votes.

Ilopango’s last mayor, Daysi Cruz of the leftwing Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, changed the street’s name out of admiration for Venezuela’s president.

“It’s a recognition of the support Hugo Chávez and his people have given to our people,” then-Mayor Daysi Cruz said at the 2007 event to officially rename Hugo Chávez Boulevard.

Venezuela gave aid to El Salvador after the 2001 earthquake and maintained a program called Operation Miracle that provides low-income people with free surgery to correct cataracts.

But Ilopango’s new Mayor Salvador Ruano of the rightwing party ARENA didn’t care for the name. He says Cruz changed the name by collecting 200 signatures, rather than consulting the voters.

Changing the name back by the letter of the law required some civic engagement on the part of Ruano, who held at least five open forums on the name change before holding the referendum.

In a contest he was more concerned about, on Sunday, Hugo Chávez won his third reelection as president of Venezuela, carrying 55 percent of the vote against challenger Henrique Capriles’ 46 percent. Chávez has held Venezuela’s presidency continuously since 1999.

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