El Salvador Dictionary of History
El Salvador, Isthmian Central American State. It borders to the East and N with Honduras, to the West with Guatemala, while to the South it overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The territory corresponding to the current El Salvador was populated in pre-Columbian times by indigenous tribes belonging to two groups: the Lenca, settled in the eastern areas and coming from South America, and the pipil, of the Nahua family, who resided in the central-western areas. The territory was conquered by the Spaniards after more than four years of bloody wars (1524-28) and remained dependent for the entire colonial age on Audiencia of Guatemala, in turn belonging to the viceroyalty of New Spain. The first movements for the independence of the Central American region started from the El Salvador 1811 an uprising led by the priest JM Delgado expelled the Spanish intendant from San Salvador, but was soon quelled, as was the one led in 1814 by MJ Arce. After the proclamation of independence in Mexico (February 1821), in the Sept. 1821 the captain general of Guatemala convened a junta of notables who declared Chiapas, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica independent from Spain. A project of accession of the Central American provinces to the Mexican empire of A. de Itúrbide, supported by Guatemala, was bitterly opposed by the El Salvador, whose resistance, again led by Delgado and Arce, was repressed with arms by a Mexican expeditionary force. After the fall of Itúrbide (March 1823), an assembly of representatives of the various provinces (with the exception of Chiapas) met in Guatemala City and proclaimed the birth of the United Provinces of Central America (July 1, 1823); they adopted a republican constitution (nov. 1824) and had their first president in the Salvadoran Arce (1825). C
ontrasting regionalist pressures and divisions between conservatives, supporters of a strong central power, and liberals, in favor of maintaining the federal structure, soon made the United Provinces ungovernable; after the assumption of dictatorial powers by Arce, supported by the conservatives of Guatemala (1826), San Salvador became the center of the liberal resistance; subjected to a severe siege, the city was liberated in 1829 by F. Morazán,Guatemalan conservative leader R. Carrera (1840), the El Salvador became a republic (Jan 30, 1841). As in the rest of the region, the achievement of independence had not brought about any improvement in the living conditions of Indians and mestizos in the El Salvador they continued to occupy the lower rungs of an elite- dominated social ladderCreole, holder of the land monopoly and public office, politically divided into two factions: the conservatives, opposed to any federal hypothesis, and the liberals, in favor of reconstituting a union with neighboring countries.
According to indexdotcom, the attempts made in this direction by El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua (1842-44, 1849-52 and 1862) failed due to the resistance of the conservative oppositions of the three countries, supported from outside by Carrera. In 1863 he invaded the El Salvador bringing back to power F. Dueñas, already president in 1852-60. Author of a new conservative constitution, Dueñas ruled until 1871, when he was overthrown by the caudillo El Salvador González, which was followed by the administration of the liberal R. Zaldívar (1876-85). In this period a strong impulse was given to the cultivation of coffee, introduced in the mid-1940s and destined to supplant the traditional indigo production, which was in crisis after the appearance of synthetic dyes on international markets. A small bourgeois oligarchy dedicated to the production of coffee for export (the so-called fourteen families) managed to seize the land expropriated from the village communities of the Indians thanks to the laws of 1879, 1881 and 1882, which prohibited the common possession of the land, forcing Indians and mestizos to transform themselves into underpaid laborers or peons, linked for debts to the plantations where they worked. The prospects for regional unification gained new impetus after the liberals came to power in neighboring Guatemala (1871): the Guatemalan president JR Barrios tried to create a Central American union first through diplomatic channels (1876), then by force, but later having invaded the El Salvador was defeated and killed in Chalchuapa (1885). Failed new attempts at unification in 1889 and 1898, the El Salvador was involved in brief conflicts for territorial issues with Guatemala (1906) and Nicaragua (1907), both resolved with the mediation of the USA, interested in the control of the region in which they intended to build an interoceanic channel. The liberal dominance was interrupted by the military coup that in Dec. 1931 brought General MH Martínez to the presidency; indios and the mestizos of the coffee plantations, left without work following the serious economic crisis in progress. Martínez ruled with dictatorial methods until 1945, when he was replaced by General El Salvador Castañeda (1945-48), then by Colonels Oscar Osorio (1950-56) and JM Lemus (1956-60), both members of a reformist faction of the forces armed forces, organized in the Partido revolucionario de unificación democrática (PRUD). Meanwhile, the economy of the El Salvador benefited from a rise in international coffee prices and recorded the development of a new crop for export, cotton. Failed the attempt to introduce some limited reforms, the governments of the PRUD passed to the systematic repression of all internal opposition, while on the international level they kept the country rigidly aligned with the USA. In Oct 1960 some young reform officers seized power, soon replaced by a military junta with a conservative tendency (Jan. 1961), which promoted the birth of a new political formation, the Partido de conciliación nacional (PCN). In power with Colonels A. Rivera (1962-67) and F. Sánchez (1967-72), the NCP gained some consensus from the trade unions thanks to some social policy measures (minimum wage for agricultural workers) and tried to promote a process of industrialization, exploiting among other things the birth (1960) of the Central American Common Market (MCCA). However, the action of the colonels did not affect the excessive concentration of wealth, especially land ownership, made even more serious by the constant increase in population. Since the 1950s, overpopulation and unemployment had forced some 300,000 Salvadorans to emigrate, mostly clandestinely, to neighboring Honduras; in the second half of the 1960s, however, many of them had to repatriate, after having been deprived of the lands they occupied by the Honduran government. This helped to increase the tension between Honduras and El Salvador, already determined by a long-standing border dispute: violent incidents that broke out after a football match between the representatives of the two countries resulted in an open conflict (“football war”, June- July 1969). The war cost the El Salvador a significant reduction in exports to the MCCA, given the prohibition of passage for its goods through Honduran territory, maintained in retaliation until the signing of the peace treaty (1980). Internally, while the economic situation experienced a progressive worsening, only the recourse to fraud and irregularities made it possible for the PCN candidates to win in the presidential elections of 1972 and 1977. Over the course of the decade, the worsening of the living conditions of the majority of the population and the Permanent exclusion of the opposition (Communists, Christian Democratic Party, PDC, and Social Democrats of the Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario) from any perspective of government favored the formation of guerrilla groups of Marxist inspiration. In Oct 1979 a coup d’état promoted by reformist officers gave power to a military and civilian junta including progressive exponents, who were soon ousted. While the terrorist actions of far-right paramilitary formations multiplied in the country, directed against the same civilian population (assassination of the archbishop of San Salvador, OA Romero, in March 1980), five leftist guerrilla groups formed a unitary organization, the Frente Farabundo Martí para la liberación nacional (FMLN). The El Salvador plunged into a bloody civil war, which saw the growing involvement of the US alongside the government with substantial economic and military aid. Under pressure from Washington, which was trying to strengthen the role of the PDC within the junta, the executive tried to initiate some reforms (primarily the agrarian one) and began a process of transition to a civilian government: in Dec. 1980 on the executive tried to initiate some reforms (in the first place the agrarian one) and started a process of transition to a civil government: in dec. 1980 on the executive tried to initiate some reforms (in the first place the agrarian one) and started a process of transition to a civil government: in dec. 1980 on leader Christian Democrat JN Duarte was appointed provisional president and in March 1982 a Constituent Assembly was elected, in which the right-wing parties (the PCN and the Republican Nationalist Alianza, ARENA, linked to the paramilitary terrorist groups) were the majority. After the launch of a new Constitution (December 1983), the presidential elections of March 1984 saw the affirmation of Duarte, whose party won an absolute majority of seats in the National Assembly in the legislative elections of the following year. Conservative resistance and economic difficulties due to the war and the worsening of the terms of trade with foreign countries prevented Duarte from resuming the reforms started, but immediately blocked in the early 1980s; despite some meetings between government delegations and guerrillas, The president’s pacification intentions also proved fruitless, unable to exercise full control over the armed forces and sever the ties between them and the death squads. The situation did not improve even after the international agreements signed in August 1987 in Esquipulas for a general pacification in Central America. The legislative elections of 1988 therefore marked the success of ARENA, whose candidate, Alfredo Cristiani, was elected a year later to the presidency. Although the rise to power of the far right had initially caused a radicalization of the conflict, in 1990 the end of the civil war in Nicaragua, the change in relations between East and West and the relaunch of the role of the UN at the regional level made it possible to search for a negotiated solution to the conflict. Thanks to the mediation of the UN, in the course of 1991 the government and FMLN agreed on a series of reforms to be implemented in the military, economic and social fields, which led to a peace agreement (Mexico City, Jan. 16, 1992). After about 12 years, 75,000 dead and more than a million refugees, the civil war formally ended with an official ceremony in the capital on Dec 15. 1992. In the sept. 1992, a sentence of the International Court in The Hague had meanwhile resolved the border dispute between El Salvador and Honduras, attributing two thirds of the disputed territory to the latter. Internally, the neoliberal policy promoted by Christians did not lead to improvements in the living conditions of the population, nor did it favor the development of the reforms envisaged by the peace accords; these agreements were largely disregarded also in the military field: the halving of the number of armed forces was not followed by the granting of land and housing to the demobilized units, nor the reabsorption of former guerrillas into a civil police force. The purge of the military guilty of the most serious violations of human rights proved impossible, after the amnesty law, approved by the conservative majority of the National Assembly in March 1993, which canceled the prosecution of crimes committed during the civil war. During the presidency of A. Calderón Sol (1994-99), belonging to the ARENA, conflicts arose between the forces in government over social protection policies and school reform and at the same time diminished the initial favor met by the neoliberal policy promoted by the president himself. The rigorous economic plan of 1995-96, supported by the International Monetary Fund, and implemented despite the opposition of several sectors, aroused in fact a strong social discontent, which was expressed in the capital with repeated demonstrations and symbolic occupations. The judicial action (concluded in October 1996) for the murder of F. Manzanares Mojaraz, member of the FMLN, the former guerrilla organization now the main opposition party, also confirmed the already suspected presence of the so-called CDDs. death squads within the police force, repeatedly accused of murders or politically motivated attacks. The deadlines for applying the peace plan were therefore extended until July 1997, date of departure of the last United Nations verification mission. The situation of public order remained particularly serious in recent years due to the increase in common crime. Calderón Sol’s crusade against crime, which provided for the establishment of joint patrols of armed forces and police, the constitutional amendment (art.27) to extend the death penalty to those responsible for kidnapping and rape, together with the exchange program of arms against vouchers, he was unable to avoid the disastrous electoral results. Popular discontent with the government’s economic policy and the increase in common crime caused an erosion of consensus for the party in power: in the legislative elections of March 1997, ARENA obtained 28 seats, only one more than the FMLN. which also managed to prevail in municipal elections (in the main cities and in the capital San Salvador, where it obtained 7 seats out of 16 and the office of mayor). Without a majority, the ARENA found itself ruling with traditionally hostile parties such as the NCP and the PDC. He had to withdraw the motion on the reintroduction of the death penalty and succeeded, with difficulty, in passing the first privatization of a public company (Administración nacional de telecaciones, ANTEL) in July 1997. Torn within by corruption allegations, ARENA sought to regain credibility by electing former president A. Cristiani (Oct. 1997) to head the party. In the presidential elections of March 1999, the election in the first round, with 52% of the votes, of F. Flores, candidate of the ARENA, seemed to raise the fortunes of the party. The victory, however, was diminished by the results of the legislative elections of March 2000, in which the ARENA won 29 seats against the 31 of the FMLN. The former guerrillas also reported considerable success in the contemporary administrative elections. Meanwhile, in the country, severely hit by the earthquake (Jan.-Feb. 2001), the debate between the Catholic Church, opposition parties and non-governmental organizations was growing to ask the government of President Flores to promote a national pact for reconstruction. In 2003 the FMLN achieved success in the legislative elections; despite this, the 2004 presidential vote saw the victory of the ARENA candidate, EA Saca, who confirmed the economic line of his predecessor and announced a renewed commitment to the fight against crime and drug trafficking. The country’s orientation changed again in 2009, when the FMLN won the legislative elections and its candidate, CM Funes, prevailed in the presidential elections. In 2005, the Central American Customs Union formed by El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua became operational.