On Sunday, it will be 30 years since the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the El Salvador State signed peace after 12 years of civil war (1980-1992), which left 75,000 dead and over 8,000 citizens disappeared. Below are some key events that marked these three decades.
1980: THE WAR BEGINS
On March 24, 1980, Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero was assassinated by a death squad sniper while celebrating mass.
On October 10, social and political organizations founded the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which began its first armed offensive in January 1981. From that moment on, the U.S.-backed Salvadoran Army intensified its dirty war against the people in an attempt to contain the advance of the guerrillas.
Besides arising as a consequence of poverty and exclusion, the civil war was the people’s response to decades of military dictatorship, which murdered its opponents, social activists, and human rights defenders with impunity.
1989: ARENA TAKES THE PRESIDENCY
In March 1989, businessman Alfredo Cristiani won the Presidency for the period 1989-1994. He was sponsored by the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), a far-right party founded by Roberto D’Aubuisson, who planned the assassination of Monsignor Romero.
From Nov. 11 to Dec. 12, the FMLN launched “Up to the Top”, the civil war’s largest military offensive. On Nov. 16, the Salvadoran Army assassinates the Spanish Jesuits Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Amando Lopez, and Juan Ramon Moreno. The Salvadorans Joaquin Lopez, Elba and Celina Ramos were also murdered with them. President Cristiani was involved in planning the massacre.
1990: PEACE NEGOTIATIONS BEGIN
In April in Switzerland, the FMLN and the Salvadoran government sign the “Geneva Agreements”, committing themselves to accept the mediation of the United Nations and continue negotiations for peace.
On January 16, 1992, the parties sign the “Chapultepec Agreements” in Mexico, which formally ended the civil war.
Doing a story for Globetrotter on US anti-China moves in El Salvador. Sitting on the phone with comrades in San Salvador as they tell me about natural gas plants & ports. My mind drifts to the US dirty war of the 1980s & the brave FMNL fighters I met then. pic.twitter.com/ojcOm44SrU
— Vijay Prashad (@vijayprashad)
October 31, 2020
1992: POST-WAR SITUATION
Starting in 1992, the FMLN became the first opposition political force in El Salvador. In the 1994 general elections, this organization won 15 mayoralties and 21 seats in Congress.
In 1999, the FMLN competes in the presidential elections for the second time. Although it failed to win, the leftist organization remains a constantly growing political force.
2009: THE FMLN REMOVED THE RIGHT-WING FROM POWER
In 2009, the FMLN candidate, journalist Mauricio Funes, won the presidency of El Salvador, removing ARENA from power for the first time in twenty years. The transfer of power from Arena to the FMLN is the first peaceful transition of government since the Peace Accords.
In 2014, the FMLN assumes the presidency for the second time with the former guerrilla commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren.
2019: BUKELE BREAKS THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM
Businessman Nayib Bukele won the 2019 presidential elections, thus breaking three decades of ARENA and FMLN governments. His administration has been accused of repeated violations of human rights, lack of transparency, and corruption.