El Salvador Recent History

El Salvador Recent History

Military dictatorship and matanza (1931-1944)

Through the Great Depression of 1929 coffee prices fell. The state was ultimately insolvent. Political unrest ensued. General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez took power in El Salvador in a military coup in 1931.

An uprising by the newly formed Communist Party led by Farabundo Martí was bloodily suppressed by the Hernández Martínez regime. In the subsequent massacre (matanza, “slaughter”) around 30,000 indigenous people were killed. The Pipil language, Nawat, was banned. In 1930 20 percent belonged to the indigenous population, today it is only 1 percent of the population. They were almost completely wiped out.

In 1933 Martínez ‘Fascist regime banned entry for Jews, Roma, Blacks and Turks, among others.

In 1944 Martínez was deposed on a general strike, but the successive presidents of El Salvador were all but one member of the army.

Football War with Honduras (1969)

Around 300,000 smallholders from El Salvador had moved to Honduras since the 1950s. Many of them had settled on fallow land there. Now Honduras wanted to distribute the land to its own compatriots and began to expel the Salvadorans, eventually by force.

In qualifying for the 1970 World Cup, El Salvador and Honduras had to face each other several times. Every time there was a riot. Eventually around 17,000 Salvadorans from Honduras fled to their old homeland. On July 14, 1969, the war began with an attack from El Salvador on Honduras. A defeat for Honduras was looming. However, through the mediation of the Organization of American States (OAS), a peace agreement was concluded on July 18. The war is also known as the football war or the 100-hour war. Although the war was short, it had major consequences because the two countries stopped trading with each other afterwards, and this damaged the economy.

Organization of American States

According to physicscat, the Organization of American States (OAS) includes 35 states from North, Central and South America. It was founded in 1948. It has set itself the goal of securing peace and promoting democracy and human rights. Close cooperation is also sought culturally and economically. The heads of state and government of the countries meet regularly for the America Summit.

The 1970s

In the following years the political situation remained unstable. The country’s population continued to suffer from poverty. The small farmers lacked knowledge and money for modernizing agriculture. There were large-scale land evictions, especially for the construction of a large reservoir to generate hydropower. The result was a guerrilla that began to fight for a fairer distribution of the land and communist rule.

In 1977 Carlos Humberto Romero came to power through electoral fraud. Protests were brutally suppressed. The big landowners sent paramilitariesGroups that were soon supported and taken over by the military and thus the state. Many people were killed and the country was on the verge of collapse.

Civil War (1979 / 80-1992)

On October 15, 1979, a military junta took over rule. With a land reform the people should be appeased. But the military and the big landowners wanted to prevent this reform. Right- wing circles took over the leadership of the military junta. The repression increased again. Political opponents were arrested, tortured and murdered.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, a sharp critic of the military regime, was assassinated in 1980. He had campaigned for political reform and social justice. He is one of the best-known representatives of liberation theology. This supports the poor in Latin America. The civil war in El Salvador began with Romero’s assassination.

Several guerrilla groups joined forces to form the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional). The US government, meanwhile, supported the military government of El Salvador with money and weapons to prevent communist rule. In the El Mozote massacre alone, around 900 ordinary citizens were killed by government soldiers in 1981.

The rural population was fought to prevent their support for the guerrillas. In total, around 70,000 people died, mostly civilians. 8000 people disappeared and thus belong to the Desaparecidos. A million people fled within the country, for example in refugee camps on the border with Honduras, or abroad.

End of the civil war

Alfredo Cristiani of the ARENA party was legally elected president in 1989. Negotiations with the FMLN began under him. However, until 1991 there were still killings, tortures and “disappearances”. Cristiani is also accused of having ordered a massacre.

In 1992 a peace agreement was finally concluded. A process of democratization began. The FMLN now became a political party.

Until 2009 the right-wing conservative party ARENA provided the presidents. In 2009 and 2014, however, the FMLN candidates won the elections. On June 1, 2014, Salvador Sánchez Cerén became President of El Salvador.

In 2019 he was replaced by Nayib Bukele. He belongs to the GANA, a moderate split from ARENA.

El Salvador Recent History