El Salvador. The party's candidate Antonio Saca already
won in the first round of the presidential election March 21
with 58% of the vote over Shafik Handal for the left-wing
party FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación
Nacional). The 39-year-old Saca thus became El Salvador's
youngest president ever, and also the fourth president in
succession from the ARENA party (Alianza Republicana
Nacionalista). Saca's stated goal under the government
program (País Seguro, "Safe Land") is to improve security by
primarily combating the rise in crime.
CountryAAH, the total population in El Salvador is 6,486,216 people in 2020.
The crime prevention program is a continuation of what
the outgoing President Francisco Flores has invested in, and
is even referred to as Super Mano Dura as a direct response
to the Flores Mano Dura campaign (young "hard tag").
President Saca claimed that crime fell by as much as 40%
just twelve days after the program's August 30 launch, a
figure which, however, met with great skepticism. A major
problem that Saca intends to address concerns of the youth
leagues, whose total membership is estimated at
10,000-15,000. Their internal settlements have also been
withdrawn in the prison system. In a gang fight at La
Esperanza prison in Mariona outside San Salvador on August
18, 31 people were killed and just as many were injured.
El Salvador's contemporary history
El Salvador has been strongly influenced by the
settlement and legacy of the civil war between 1979 and 1991
since 1990. In an international situation characterized by
cold war and confrontation between the left and right sides
of politics, the Salvadoran elite's unwillingness to remedy
the country's sharp social differences to strong
polarization and ultimately full civil war. After a ten-year
bloody battle between the left-wing FMLN guerrilla and
right-wing governments, and parallel to the end of the Cold
War, the parties agreed to US-backed UN peace talks in 1990.
The FMLN was transformed into a political party and
eventually joined power in 2009.
The end of the civil war led to a few years of reform and
high economic growth. But even though the civil war was
over, El Salvador should not get rid of the violence - on
the contrary: In the 1990s and 2000s, the country became the
scene of gang wars that made El Salvador one of the most
dangerous places to live. With increased violence, reforms
and economic growth also stopped.
The challenges of democracy
With Funes Vice President Salvador Sánchez Cerén as a
candidate, the FMLN won the presidential election in 2014 as
well. Sánchez Cerén has a background as a teacher and
guerrilla leader in the FPL and belongs to the party's
Orthodox wing. In other words, now the entire ideological
political spectrum of the 1990s has come to an end and sat
peacefully in power as proposed by the peace agreement. On
the other hand, this spectrum has not been able to handle
the economic stagnation and gang crime.
Both Funes and Sánchez Cerén have embarked on smaller
welfare programs, but these have largely acted as gifts from
the president rather than institutional reforms. In
addition, corruption; in 2016 Tony Saca was arrested for
misappropriation of state funds and the same year, Funes
sought asylum in Nicaragua with his family following similar
charges. In the parliamentary and local elections in 2018,
turnout declined again to around 45 per cent and the FMLN
declined markedly; another indication that the country is
constantly facing basic institutional challenges.