It’s exciting that the country’s government is investing in the arts, though the gallery’s emphasis on the poor is certainly politically convenient. Céren’s Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) — a formerly militant leftist party — has a history of campaigning in the poverty-stricken, rural regions of El Salvador, where access to basic needs like clean water and sanitation is limited. It’s also worth noting that while thirty family members of civil war victims and eight human rights organizations were invited to the gallery’s opening, journalists were not (the president has already been criticized for his treatment of the press).
His rhetoric plays on a schism in Turkish society between a western-facing, largely secular segment of the population suspicious of his conservative Islamic ideals and a pious, working-class mass who see him as a hero for returning religious values to public life and driving a decade of growth. It is a strategy, his opponents say, which sees him deliberately appeal to only the half of the population while ignoring the rest. Yet even Erdogan’s critics acknowledge that he has overseen Turkey’s transformation from a financial backwater into one of the world’s most dynamic economies, a record which means that a narrow majority of voters – as well as investors – have kept giving him the benefit of the doubt. “One of the greatest fears is that the government will make populist policies, which will grossly affect growth, but they haven’t done that yet,” said an Ankara-based diplomat, asking not to be identified so as to speak more freely. “Erdogan is a smart man, he can turn the bleakest situations to his advantage. He is only focused on the 50 percent. His only point of reference is to stay in power,” he said. “He’s as pragmatic as you can get.”