Friday, September 12, 2008

El Salvador : A short history

(This is a simple time line with some important dates and names in modern Salvadoran history.)

1929 –El Salvador suffered an economic crisis involving the fall of coffee prices, and significant increase in levels of unemployment.
1932 (La Matanza) – there was an agrarian and peasant uprising led by the communist leader of the Communist Party of El Salvador Faribundo Marti to which the military responded with force and in a matter of a few weeks 15,000-30,000 people were killed by the military of Maximiliano Hernández Martínez’s government and started the period of military dictatorship in El Salvador that lasted until 1979.

1969 (La Guerra de Futbol) – the ‘Soccer War’ (or the 100 Hour War) broke out during a World Cup Soccer qualifying match between El Salvador and Honduras. The conflict was provoked by border disputes and the instability of relations between the countries due to the masses of Salvadorans who had crossed over to Honduras during the '60's looking for work and economic stability.

1972 –the military arrested the president and death squads were established throughout the country.
1979 -the president was overthrown (after several internal military coups).
1980 – In March, Napoleon Duarte takes charge of the country and begins to implement US supported political reforms and declared that the country was in a state of war.

In March, the Salvadoran Communist Party creates the FAL (Fuerzas Armadas de Libracion/ the Armed Forces of Liberation)and on March 24th Oscar Romero the Roman Catholic bishop (who was outspoken against the support being given to the military by the US) was assassinated by the group said to have been led by General Roberto D'Aubuisson.

In October, all the opposition groups join together and become the FMLN (Frente Faribundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional) – the organization that took the name of Faribundo Marti (who was arrested and killed after the peasant uprising in 1932) and became the guerrilla during the war and is the current opposition party in El Salvador.

1981 – In January General D’Aubuisson was arrested with the accusation of trying to overthrow Duarte. In September it was reported that 32,000 civilians had been killed by government forces or death squads linked to the Military. D’Aubuisson started the Nationalist Republican Aliance party (ARENA).

In December from the 10th-13th the Salvadoran Armed Forces were involved in the incident that is known as El Mozote Massacre which occurred in the department of Morazan. It is e estimated that up to a 1,000 people were killed and many more fled to Honduras.
The FMLN guerrilla also was involved in violent acts against government and business leaders and destroyed public infrastructure, and other significant violent crimes against society.

1989 – Alfred Cristiani of ARENA became president by popular vote. In April, the FMLN presents its proposal for a peace agreement.
The US funneled 6 billion dollars to the government during the 12 years of civil war. During those years 300,000 people fled the country, 75,000 people were killed, and approximately 9,000 disappeared.

1992 –a peace agreement was signed and ARENA remained in power with the FMLN as the main opposition party
In 1994 and 2004 the ARENA candidates won the presidency with Elías Antonio Saca as the current president.

El Salvador still lives with the significant differences only resting slightly under the surface of the national conversation. After the peace agreements were signed the National Assembly extended amnesty to those who would have been guilty of war crimes.

Post-war El Salvador found itself with a level of violence perpetuated by ‘Maras’ or gangs which are said to have originated from the Salvadorans who were deported from the US. The level of crime became so paralyzing that the president established the plan ‘Mando Dura’ (the Hard Hand) to fight gang crime.

One of the largest sources of income in El Salvador comes from the estimated $2,000 in remittances that are sent back to the country from the Salvadorans who live outside of the country. There are approximately 2 million expatriate Salvadorans. This is the source of many conversations about the stability of the Salvadoran economy and its future self-sufficiency as a nation.

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live the questions now... R.M. Rilke