chapter
El Salvador
Pages 6

President Castañeda Castro was overthrown in a military coup d’état, to be replaced by a Provisional Council of Government, headed by Lt-Col Oscar Osorio. 26-28 March 1950: Lt-Col Osorio was elected President. 1951: The Organization of Central American States was founded by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. 4 March 1956: Lt-Col José María Lemus was elected President. 8 January 1959: The Central American Common Market, comprising El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and later Costa Rica, came into force. 26 October 1960: Following a bloodless coup d’état, President Lemus was replaced by a military junta. 25 January 1961: A coup d’état, headed by Col Aníbal Portillo, replaced the junta with a new Military-Civilian directorate. December 1961: In legislative elections the recently established conservative Partido de Conciliación Nacional (PCN) won all 54 seats in the Constituent Assembly. 16 January 1962: The Assembly, renamed the Asamblea Nacional (National Assembly), assumed power over the directorate. A new Constitution came into effect, providing for a republican, democratic and representative form of government, composed of three Powers-Legislative, Executive and Judicial-which would operate independently. 29 April 1962: Col Julio Adalberto Rivera, of the PCN, was elected unopposed to the presidency. 5 March 1967: The PCN candidate, Col Fidel Sánchez Hernández, was elected to the presidency. 1969: ORDEN, the first of a series of extreme right-wing terrorist groups, or ‘death squads’, was established; these groups engaged in intimidation and murder of those who supported political reform. June 1969: Ill-feeling concerning the treatment of football supporters during three World Cup qualifying round matches between the El Salvador and Honduras national teams resulted in the countries terminating diplomatic relations. About 12,000 Salvadorean migrants resident in Honduras were expelled from the latter country, and a state of emergency was declared in El Salvador. 3-18 July 1969: Military skirmishes between Salvadorean and Honduran armed forces culminated, on 14 July, in Salvadorean troops advancing some distance into Honduras. After the intervention of the Organization of American States (OAS), a cease-fire was agreed on 18 July. A final peace treaty was not signed until 1980, and the underlying territorial dispute, which was referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1986, was not resolved until 1992. About 2000 people were killed in the conflict, which is sometimes known as the ‘Football War’. 1970: Cayetano Carpio, the Secretary-General of the PCS, broke from the party in order to pursue a campaign of armed insurrection. 8 March 1970: The PCN won 38 National Assembly seats in a general election, the remaining 16 seats being won by the Partido Demócrata Cristiana (PDC). 20 February 1972: Col Arturo Armando Molina Barraza was elected President. In r

followed allegations of massive electoral fraud, resulting in some 100 deaths; the leader of the PDC, José Napoleón Duarte, was exiled. 20 February 1977: The PCN candidate, Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero Mena, was elected President. 15 October 1979: A military coup d’état, headed by Col Jaime Abdul Gutiérrez and Col Adolfo Arnoldo Majano, forced President Romero into exile. January 1980: An unstable coalition Government of military officers and members of the PDC was formed. 24 March 1980: The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdames, an outspoken supporter of human rights, was assassinated. April 1980: The Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberation Nacional (FMLN) guerrilla front was formed from various extreme left-wing groups, marking the commencement of a more intensive civil war. The FMLN also had a political wing, the Frente Democrático Revolucionario (FDR). The Salvadorean Government refused to recognize the FDR while it was linked with the guerrillas. 30 October 1980: The Governments of El Salvador and Honduras signed a peace treaty. 13 December 1980: José Napoléon Duarte was sworn in as the first civilian President since 1931. 30 September 1981: A new right-wing political party, Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA), was formed. It was to be alleged that various ARENA politicians had links with the right-wing ‘death squads’. 28 March 1982: In elections to the new National Constituent Assembly no party obtained an absolute majority. The five right-wing parties together obtained 60% of the total votes, and so formed a Government of National Unity. Maj. Roberto D’Aubuisson Arrieta, leader of ARENA, became President of the Assembly. 29 April 1982: A politically independent banker, Dr Alvaro Magaña Borja, was accepted by all parties as interim President. 20 December 1983: The new Constitution entered into effect, providing for a republican, democratic and representative form of government, composed of the three independent Powers. Parts of the 1962 Constitution had been in abeyance since the coup d’état of 1979. 1 July 1984: In the second round of voting in presidential elections, Duarte was reelected President, defeating D’Aubuisson. 31 March 1985: At legislative and municipal elections the PDC secured a clear majority in the National Assembly. 1 October 1986: The conflicting territorial claims of Honduras and El Salvador over three islands in the Gulf of Fonseca and a small area of land on the common border were submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration. October 1987: In discussions between the Government and the FDR-FMLN, an agreement was reached on the formation of two committees to study the possibility of a cease-fire and an amnesty. November 1987: The Partido Social Demócrata (PSD), the Movimiento Nacional

20 March 1988: At legislative and municipal elections ARENA secured control of more than 200 municipalities, including San Salvador. The party secured 31 seats in the National Assembly, compared with the PDC’s 23 seats. 19 March 1989: Alfredo Félix Cristiani Burkard of ARENA was elected President of El Salvador. The FMLN had advocated a boycott of the election and intensified its campaign of violence, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 people on election day alone. The level of abstention was estimated at almost 50%. 7 November 1989: The UN Security Council authorized the creation of the UN Observer Group for Central America (ONUCA), a multinational military force, to monitor developments in the region. 11 November 1989: The FMLN launched a military offensive. 16 November 1989: The head of a San Salvador Jesuit university, and five other Jesuit priests, were killed by gunmen. 12 January 1990: The FMLN announced that it would accept an offer made by the Salvadorean Government whereby the UN Secretary-General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, was to arrange the reopening of peace talks. November 1990: A renewed FMLN offensive was undertaken by the newly-proclaimed National Army for Democracy (the establishment of which marked the reorganization of the FMLN’s previous divisions into a more conventional army structure). 10 March 1991: In elections to the National Assembly (enlarged from 60 to 84 seats) ARENA lost its majority, but continued to command considerable support, with 44.3% of the votes and 39 seats. The party also retained significant support in the local elections, with victories in 175 of the 262 municipalities. 1 July 1991: The UN Security Council created an observer mission to El Salvador (ONUSAL), charged with the verification of accords reached between the Government and the FMLN. December 1991: The heads of state of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama signed the Protocol of Tegucigalpa to the agreement establishing the Organization of Central American States, thus founding the Central American Integration System. December 1991: A new peace initiative was announced, incorporating a formal ceasefire on 1 February 1992, under the supervision of some 1,000 UN personnel. 16 January 1992: The formal peace accord was ratified at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. September 1992: El Salvador and Honduras accepted the ruling of the ICJ regarding disputed territory; Honduras was awarded two-thirds of the disputed mainland territory, but El Salvador received two of the three contested islands in the Gulf of Fonseca. A resolution of the issue, which had led to numerous disputes between the two countries, was finally achieved in January 1998, when the parties signed a convention specifying the rights and obligations of those affected, including the right to choose between Honduran and Salvadorean citizenship. November 1992: In accordance with the terms of the December 1991 peace accord, the

15 December 1992: The conflict was formally concluded and the FMLN was officially registered and recognized as a legitimate political party. 20 March 1994: Presidential, legislative and municipal elections took place. ARENA’S presidential candidate, Armando Calderón Sol, won in the second round of voting, while ARENA candidates also achieved considerable success in the legislative elections (retaining 39 seats in the Assembly) and in the municipal poll (securing an estimated 200 municipalities). FMLN candidates won 21 seats in the Assembly and a number of rural municipalities. 6-12 December 1994: The Resistencia Nacional (RN) and the Expresión Renovadora del Pueblo (ERP-formerly the Fuerzas Armadas de la Resistencia Nacional and the Ejército Revolucionario Popular guerrilla groups, respectively) announced their withdrawal from the FMLN, owing to a divergence of political interests. 28 March 1995: The formation of a new centre-left political force, the Partido Demócrata (PD), comprising the ERP, the RN, the MNR and a dissident faction of the PDC, was announced. April 1995: The ONUSAL mandate was extended until the end of April 1995, and was then replaced by a small contingent of UN observers, MINUSAL, which remained in El Salvador until the formal termination of the mission on 31 December 1996. 10 October 1996: The National Assembly approved a constitutional amendment whereby the death penalty for civilians (abolished in 1971) was to be reinstated for a number of offences including rape, abduction and aggravated murder. 16 March 1997: In municipal and legislative elections the FMLN gained a significant increase in support, while support for ARENA declined. ARENA won 28 National Assembly Seats, and the FMLN 27; however, divisions within the latter prevented them from becoming a coherent alternative to ARENA nationally. ARENA won control in 161 municipalities, and the FMLN in 48. 19 May 1997: A new Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources was created to address the country’s serious environmental problems. 7 March 1999: The presidential election was won by Francisco Flores Ferez of ARENA, who obtained 52.0% of the votes, thereby obviating the need for a second round of voting. Voter participation was the lowest recorded in the country’s history, with more than 60% of the 3.2m. registered voters choosing to abstain. 12 March 2000: In legislative elections the FMLN became the largest single party in the National Assembly, winning 31 of the 84 seats. ARENA secured 29 seats, followed by the PCN (14 seats), the PDC (five seats), the Centro Democrático Unido (CDU-an electoral alliance comprising the CD and the PSD, three seats) and the Partido Action Nacional (PAN, two seats). In concurrently-held municipal elections the FMLN gained control of 78 of the 262 municipalities, while ARENA won 127. 21 March 2000: The FMLN proposed a governability pact with ARENA. However, relations between the two parties immediately became strained. 1 May 2000: ARENA formed an alliance with the PCN and the PDC in order to prevent the FMLN claiming the presidency of the Assembly. Although the party gaining the most

1 January 2001: In an attempt to stabilize the economy, lower interest rates, and stimulate domestic and foreign investment, the US dollar was introduced as an official currency alongside the colon, at a fixed rate of exchange. 13 January 2001: An earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, hit El Salvador, causing landslides in many areas. More than 700 people were killed, with many more unaccounted for, an estimated 4,000 people were injured, and a further 50000 people were left homeless. Total damages and losses were estimated at US $1,600m., representing around 10% of gross domestic product in 2000. May 2001: The PCN supported the FMLN in granting US $1,000 each to 37,708 former village guards who had been recruited by the army during the civil war. However, this compensation was not covered in the peace accords and President Flores vetoed the bill, claiming that the country could not afford to pay compensation.