LOS ANGELES [May 9, 05] A frustrated and annoyed President Tony Saca of El Salvador cut short a question and answer period during a pro-CAFTA event here Monday morning when activists angrily confronted him with a first series of hostile questions.
The Salvador president was meeting with business people at an elite Beverly Hills hotel early Monday morning to sell the "investment benefits" of CAFTA when five young Salvadorans, who had registered for the session, opened up with questions challenging his facts and his motivations.
Media immediately moved in on the five Salvadoran questioners, annoying the President and causing security people to approach them. One young man, who identified himself only as "Ernie," was escorted out by State Department officials.
No arrests were made and the confrontation went on for several minutes. President Saca cut short the q and a and said the young people "obviously had not been to El Salvador and did not know the situation there."
Outside the hotel the five told reporters that they had visited El Salvador and that was part of their motivation to confront Saca.
Spanish television focused on the confrontation in coverage Monday evening.
Outside demonstrators carried banners and signs and drew attention with their spirited anti-CAFTA chanting. The predominately Salvadoran group used a bullhorn to project their message to the parking lot and lobby.
Saca left the hotel through an alternate exit to avoid protesters on his way to a San Diego appearance.
The direct confrontation with Saca came at a time when two more California members of the House announced opposition to CAFTA. The President seemed frustrated that his appearance touched off an anti-CAFTA scenario in front of mainly Spanish language television crews, many of which transmit to Latin America.
Scores of California representatives, including Congresswoman Jane Harman, are now firmly opposed to the trade legislation and the list is growing. The Central America Free Trade Agreement [CAFTA] is due for a congressional vote in the near future.