About  |   Contact  |  Mongabay on Facebook  |  Mongabay on Twitter  |  Subscribe
Rainforests | Tropical fish | Environmental news | For kids | Madagascar | Photos

El Salvador - GOVERNMENT




El Salvador - Government and Politics

SINCE THE REFORMIST COUP of 1979, El Salvador has experienced wrenching political turmoil as numerous actors, movements, and forces contended for the right to shape the country's future. By the late 1980s, the most extreme of these forces--the oligarchic elite and the Marxist-Leninist guerrilla forces--appeared to have lost some of their previous influence, as a still-tentative democratic process continued to evolve amid trying circumstances. The United States loomed large in this process as the country's major source of economic and military aid and assistance and the most enthusiastic foreign supporter of its democratic efforts. Despite consistent support from Washington and a certain amount of progress in human rights and economic reform, many problems remained intractable, and the overall political situation was still volatile and, to some extent, unpredictable. The conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance underscored this fact by capturing a surprising legislative majority in the March 1988 elections.

Although the system established by the Constitution of 1983 was functional, some observers questioned its legitimacy because it excluded the Salvadoran left from the political process. As the 1989 presidential elections approached, however, these claims lost some of their validity in the face of the return to El Salvador of such opposition figures as Guillermo Manuel Ungo Revelo and Ruben Zamora Rivas, the establishment of the Social Democratic Party and the possibility, however dubious, of a settlement between the government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front-Revolutionary Democratic Front within the framework of the Central American Peace Agreement signed in Esquipulas, Guatemala, on August 7, 1987 (the so-called Arias Plan).

Observers were reluctant to predict the odds of successful implemention of a genuine democratic system in El Salvador, a country with no real democratic tradition to draw on, where economic conditions were tenuous at best and where a destructive and divisive insurgent conflict wore on with no resolution in sight. It was clear, however, that the El Salvador of the late 1980s was different from the El Salvador of the 1970s and that further change was inevitable, even if the exact nature of that change remained uncertain.

<>CONSTITUTIONAL BACKGROUND
The Constitutions of El Salvador, 1824-1962

<>The Constitution of 1983
<>GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS
The Executive
<>The Legislature
<>The Judiciary
<>The Military
<>Local Government
<>POLITICAL DYNAMICS
Electoral Procedures
<>The Electoral Process
<>Political Parties
Christian Democratic Party
<>Nationalist Republican Alliance
<>National Conciliation Party
<>Left-Wing Parties
<>Other Parties
<>Interest Groups
Private Enterprise
<>Labor and Campesino Groups
<>The Roman Catholic Church
<>Mass Communications
<>Relations with the United States
<>The Contadora Process
<>The Arias Plan

El Salvador - CONSTITUTIONAL BACKGROUND

The Constitutions of El Salvador, 1824-1962

El Salvador has functioned under fifteen constitutions since it achieved independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century. The vast majority of these documents were drafted and promulgated without the benefit of broad popular input or electoral mandate. The nature of the country's elite-dominated political system and the personalistic rule of presidents drawn from either the oligarchy or the military accounted for the relatively short life span of most of these documents. Some of them were drafted solely to provide a quasi-legal basis for the extension of a president's term, whereas others were created to legitimize seizures of power on an ex post facto basis.

The first Salvadoran constitution was produced in 1824. It declared El Salvador independent as a member of the United Provinces of Central America. The dissolution of the United Provinces necessitated the promulgation of a new constitution in 1841 as El Salvador emerged as an independent republic in its own right. The 1841 constitution was a liberal document that established a bicameral legislature and set a two-year term for the nation's president with no possibility of reelection. The latter feature contributed directly to the demise of the document in 1864, when President Gerardo Barrios dispensed with it and extended his term by legislative decree.

That same year, Barrios replaced the 1841 constitution with one that, not surprisingly, increased the presidential term to four years and allowed for one reelection. This issue of presidential tenure proved to be a major point of contention for the next two decades. The 1871 constitution, drafted by resurgent liberal forces, restored the two-year term, prohibited immediate reelection, and strengthened the power of the legislative branch. This document too, however, fell victim to individual ambition when President Santiago Gonzalez replaced it with the constitution of 1872, which restored the four-year term. Similarly, the constitution of 1880 was used to extend the term of President Rafael Zaldivar. The four-year term was retained in the constitution of 1883, but presidential tenure was reduced to three years in the constitution of 1885. The latter document, although it never formally came into force, owing to the overthrow of Zaldivar by Francisco Menendez, was nonetheless an influential piece of work, primarily because it formed the basis for the constitution of 1886, the most durable in Salvadoran history.

The constitution of 1886 provided for a four-year presidential term with no immediate reelection and established a unicameral legislature. Some limits on presidential power were incorporated, most notably the stricture that all executive decrees or orders had to comply with the stated provisions of the constitution. This constitutional litmus test of executive action was, at least in theory, a significant step toward an institutionalized governmental system and away from the arbitrary imposition of power by self-serving caudillos. The constitution of 1886 showed remarkable staying power by Salvadoran standards, remaining in force in its original form until January 1939. It was reinstated in amended form after World War II. The 1939 constitution that filled the wartime gap was designed by President Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez to ensure his uninterrupted rule; it increased the presidential term from four to six years. Martinez's effort to extend his rule still further by inserting a provision for the one-time legislative election of the president was one of several grievances fueling the public unrest that drove him from office in 1944.

The wartime constitution was revised in that same year. Although technically titled the Reforms of 1944, this document is also sometimes referred to as the Constitution of 1944. It was supplanted in 1945 by yet another charter, the constitution of 1945, which endured for only one year. The 1886 constitution, in amended form, was reinstated in 1946. These changes reflected the political uncertainty that prevailed in El Salvador between the termination of Martinez's long tenure as president and the advent of the military-led Revolution of 1948.

The constitution that grew out of the Revolution of 1948, under which Oscar Osorio was elected president, was the constitution of 1950. It retained a unicameral legislature and changed the name from National Assembly to Legislative Assembly. The 1950 charter also restored a six-year presidential term with no immediate reelection and, for the first time, granted Salvadoran women the right to vote.

A Constituent Assembly appointed by the military-civilian junta and headed by Colonel Julio Adalberto Rivera drafted a document that was promulgated as the constitution of 1962 but that was basically quite similar to the 1950 constitution. Relatively long lived by Salvadoran standards, it was not superseded until 1983, by which time the personal and political guarantees of the constitution had been suspended by a state of emergency.

El Salvador - The Constitution of 1983

The Political Setting

The sixty-member Constituent Assembly elected in March 1982 was charged with producing a new constitution. This new document was expected to institutionalize, although perhaps in modified form, the reform measures taken by the various junta governments after 1979; it was also to serve as the master plan for a system of representative democratic government. In addition to crafting the structure of that government, the Constituent Assembly was responsible for issuing a schedule for presidential elections.

A majority of the members, known as deputies, of the Constituent Assembly represented conservative political parties. All told, conservative parties had drawn approximately 52 percent of the total popular vote. The moderate Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democrata Cristiano--PDC) had garnered 35.5 percent. These results equated to twenty-four seats for the PDC and thirty-six seats for a loose right-wing coalition made up of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista--Arena), the National Conciliation Party (Partido de Conciliacion Nacional--PCN), Democratic Action (Accion Democratica--AD), the Salvadoran Popular Party (Partido Popular Salvadoreno--PPS), and the Popular Orientation Party (Partido de Orientacion Popular--POP). Representatives of these five parties issued a manifesto in March 1982 decrying both communism and Christian democratic communitarianism and declaring that both ideologies had been rejected by the people by way of the ballot box. The coalition leaders suggested that they were preparing to limit Christian democratic influence on the drafting of the constitution and to exclude the PDC from participation in the interim government that was to be named by the Constituent Assembly.

The original exclusionary aims of the rightist coalition, however, were never completely fulfilled. During its existence, from April 1982 through December 1983, the Constituent Assembly came under pressure from a number of sources, most significantly from the United States government and the Salvadoran military. United States envoys from both the White House and Congress pressed Salvadoran political leaders to incorporate the PDC into the interim government and to preserve the reform measures, particularly agrarian reform. At stake was the continuation of United States aid, both economic and military, without which El Salvador would have been hard pressed to sustain its democratic transition in the face of growing military and political pressure from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front--Revolutionary Democratic Front (Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional- Frente Democratico Revolucionario--FMLN-FDR), the leftist guerrilla (the FMLN) and political (FDR) opposition groups that unified in 1981 in an effort to seize power by revolutionary means. El Salvador's military High Command (Alto Mardo) recognized this reality and lent its considerable influence to the cause of continued PDC participation in government. The Christian Democrats had been brought into the junta governments at the urging of reformist officers; by 1982 the PDC and the military had come to a practical understanding based on their shared interest in maintaining good relations with the United States, expanding political participation, improving economic conditions for the average Salvadoran, and fending off the challenge from the Marxist left. Realistically, the last objective was preeminent and encompassed the other three. Lesser influence was exerted on the deputies by popular opinion and demonstrations of support for specific reforms. For example, campesino groups staged rallies outside the Constituent Assembly's chambers to press their demand for continuation of the agrarian reform decrees.

The actual drafting of the constitution was delegated by the Constituent Assembly to a special commission composed of representatives of all the major political parties. The assembly agreed to reinstate the 1962 constitution with only a few exclusions until a constitution was produced and approved. At the same time, the deputies voted to affirm the validity of the decrees issued by the junta governments, including those that enacted agrarian, banking, and foreign commerce reforms. Having reestablished a working legal framework, the assembly voted itself the power to act as a legislature through the passage of constituent decrees.

Since it could not serve as both the legislative and the executive branch, the Constituent Assembly was required to approve the appointment of a provisional president. Many observers believed that Arena leader Roberto D'Aubuisson Arrieta, who was elected president of the assembly on April 22, 1982, was the most likely candidate. D'Aubuisson's reputed ties with the violent right wing, however, militated against him. It was reported that the United States and the Salvadoran High Command lobbied persuasively against D'Aubuisson's appointment, mainly on the grounds that his negative image outside El Salvador would complicate, if not preclude, the provision of substantial aid from Washington. Apparently swayed by this argument, the members of the Constituent Assembly appointed Alvaro Magana Borja, a political moderate with ties to the military, to the post on April 26. In an effort to maintain a political equilibrium, Magana's cabinet included members of all three major parties-- Arena, the PDC, and the PCN.

Despite its defeat on the issue of the provisional presidency, Arena continued to hold the balance of power in El Salvador through its leadership of the conservative majority in the Constituent Assembly. The areneros (members or adherents of Arena) vented their frustration with the political process primarily in the area of agrarian reform. In May 1982, Magana proposed a partial suspension of Phase III of the reform, the Land to the Tiller program, for the 1982-83 harvest season in order to avoid agricultural losses occasioned by the transfer of land titles. The Arena-led coalition in the assembly seized on this proposal and expanded it to include some 95 percent of Phase III landholdings. This action was interpreted by interested parties both in El Salvador and abroad as a bid by the right to eliminate agrarian reform and to encourage the eviction of land recipients, a process that was ongoing at the time, although its extent was difficult to quantify; it led directly to a limitation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Congress on military and Economic Support Funds (ESF) aid to El Salvador. Although Arena's most important domestic constituency--the economic elite-- continued to advocate the limitation if not the elimination of agrarian reform, it was clear that such efforts in the Constituent Assembly would have negative repercussions. The failure of Arena's leadership to take this fact into account and its seeming inability--or unwillingness--to seek compromise and accommodation on this and other issues contributed to its eventual loss of influence among center-right assembly delegates and the military leadership.

In August 1982, in an effort to bring the areneros under control and to prevent them from sabotaging not only the reforms but perhaps the entire fledgling democratic system, Magana, apparently at the strong urging of the military chiefs and the United States, brought together representatives of Arena, the PDC, and the PCN to negotiate a "basic platform of government." In what became known as the Pact of Apaneca, the parties agreed on certain broad principles in the areas of democratization, the protection of human rights, the promotion of economic development, the preservation of economic and social reforms, and the protection of the country's security in the face of the violent conflict with leftist insurgent forces. Organizationally, the pact established three commissions: the Political Commission to work out a timetable and guidelines for future elections, the Human Rights Commission to oversee and promote improvements in that area, and the Peace Commission to explore possible resolutions of the civil conflict. The guidelines established by the pact eased the chaotic governmental situation to some degree; they were also significant in that they brought Arena into a formal governmental association with more moderate actors, such as the PDC, and committed the areneros, at least in principle, to the preservation of some degree of reform.

The pact did not put an end to infighting among the political parties, however. Magana, lacking a political power base or constituency beyond the good will of the military, found it frustrating to try to exert authority over his cabinet ministers, particularly those drawn from the ranks of Arena. This conflict came to a head in December 1982, when Magana dismissed his health minister, an arenero, for refusing to comply with the president's directives. Arena party leadership advised the minister to reject the president's action and to retain his post. This proved to be a miscalculation on the part of Arena, as Magana went on to have the dismissal approved by a majority of the Constituent Assembly. Again in this instance, the behind-the- scenes support of the military worked in favor of the provisional president and against Arena.

The damage done to Arena's prestige by the dismissal of the health minister was compounded by the party's efforts to influence the appointment of his successor. Magana proposed a member of the small, moderate AD for the post. The areneros, particularly Constituent Assembly president D'Aubuisson, saw this (not without justification) as an effort to diminish their influence in the government and sought to defeat the appointment through parliamentary maneuvering. They succeeded only in delaying approval, however. Furthermore, after the vote the assembly amended its procedures to limit the power of the assembly president.

Arena was not the only party to see its standing diminish after the signing of the Pact of Apaneca. The PCN delegation in the Constituent Assembly suffered a rupture immediately after the signing of the pact, as nine conservative deputies split from the party to establish a bloc they dubbed the Salvadoran Authentic Institutional Party (Partido Autentico Institucional Salvadoreno- -PAISA). This move left the assembly more or less evenly split between conservative and centrist deputies.

The special commission charged with drafting the constitution finished its work in June 1983. At that time, it reported that it had reached agreement in almost all respects. Two major exceptions, however, were agrarian reform and the schedule and procedure for presidential elections. These issues were left to the Constituent Assembly to resolve.

Of all the constitutional provisions debated in the Constituent Assembly, those dealing with agrarian reform were the most contentious. In light of the decline in the Arena coalition's standing and influence and the corresponding gains of the PDC and its moderate allies, eliminating the reforms altogether was ruled out. The conservatives retained enough clout, however, to limit the provisions of the original decrees. Their major victory in this regard was the raising of the maximum allowable landholding under Phase II of the reform from 100 to 245 hectares, an action that addressed the concerns of some well- to-do landowners but that put a crimp in redistribution efforts by reducing the amount of land subject to expropriation. After the 1982-83 suspension, the Constituent Assembly twice extended Phase III of the reform; the government accepted applications for title under this phase until July 1984.

Aside from the sections dealing with agrarian reform, the draft constitution was approved by the Constituent Assembly without an excess of debate. One exception was the article dealing with the death penalty. The version finally approved by the assembly endorsed capital punishment only in cases covered by military law when the country was in a state of declared war. These restrictions effectively eliminated the death penalty from the Salvadoran criminal justice system. Consideration of the draft document by the full Constituent Assembly began in August 1983; the final version was approved by that body in December. The effective date of the Constitution was December 20, 1983. The Constituent Assembly, having completed its mandate, was dismissed at that point, only to be reconvened on December 22 as the Legislative Assembly. The membership of the body remained the same.

The Document

The Constitution of 1983 is in many ways quite similar to the constitution of 1962, often incorporating verbatim passages from the earlier document. Some of the provisions shared by the two charters include the establishment of a five-year presidential term with no reelection, the right of the people to resort to "insurrection" to redress a transgression of the constitutional order, the affirmation (however neglected in practice) of the apolitical nature of the Salvadoran armed forces, the support of the state for the protection and promotion of private enterprise, the recognition of the right to private property, the right of laborers to a minimum wage and a six-day work week, the right of workers to strike and of owners to a lockout, and the traditional commitment to the reestablishment of the Republic of Central America.

The Constitution consists of 11 titles, subdivided into 274 articles. Title One enumerates the rights of the individual, among them the right to free expression that "does not subvert the public order," the right of free association and peaceful assembly for any legal purpose, the legal presumption of innocence, the legal inadmissibility of forced confession, and the right to the free exercise of religion--again, with the stipulation that such exercise remain within the bounds of "morality and public order."

Title One, however, also specifies the conditions under which constitutional guarantees may be suspended and the procedures for such suspension. The grounds for such action include war, invasion, rebellion, sedition, catastrophe (natural disasters), epidemic, or "grave disturbances of the public order." The declaration of the requisite circumstances may be issued by either the legislative or the executive branch of government. The suspension of constitutional guarantees lasts for a maximum of thirty days, at which point it may be extended for an additional thirty days by legislative decree. The declaration of suspension of guarantees grants jurisdiction over cases involving "crimes against the existence and organization of the state" to special military courts. The military courts that functioned from February 1984 until early 1987 under a suspension of guarantees (or state of siege) were commonly known as Decree 50 courts, after the legislative decree that established them.

According to the Constitution, all Salvadorans over eighteen years of age are considered citizens. As such, they have both political rights and political obligations. The rights of the citizen include the exercise of suffrage and the formation of political parties "in accordance with the law" or the right to join an existing party. The exercise of suffrage is listed as an obligation as well as a right, making voting mandatory. Failure to vote has technically been subject to a small fine, a penalty rarely invoked in practice.

Voters are required to have their names entered in the Electoral Register. Political campaigns are limited to four months preceding presidential balloting, two months before balloting for legislative representatives (deputies), and one month before municipal elections. Members of the clergy and active-duty military personnel are prohibited from membership in political parties and cannot run for public office. Moreover, the clergy and the military are enjoined from "carry[ing] out political propaganda in any form." Although military personnel are not denied suffrage by the Constitution, the armed forces' leadership routinely instructed its personnel to refrain from voting in order to concentrate on providing security for polling places.

Title Five defines the outlines of the country's "Economic Order." As noted, private enterprise and private property are guaranteed. The latter is recognized as a "social function," a phrase that may function as a loophole for the potential expropriation of unproductive land or other holdings. Individual landowners are limited to holdings of no more than 245 hectares but may dispose of their holdings as they see fit. The expropriation of land may be undertaken for the public benefit in the "social interest" through legal channels and with fair compensation.

Amendment of the Constitution is not a simple procedure. Initial approval of an amendment (or "reform") requires only a majority vote in the Legislative Assembly. Before the amendment can be incorporated, however, it must be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the next elected assembly. Since legislative deputies serve three-year terms, an amendment could take that long or longer to win passage into law.

El Salvador - GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS

The Constitution of 1983 affirms the Salvadoran government as republican, democratic, and representative, as had the constitution of 1962. The government is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The military, although not a constitutional branch of government per se, exerts considerable influence over the country's governance and serves as the most immediate representative of the government for many Salvadorans, particularly those in rural areas and in the zones most affected by the insurgency.

The Executive

The executive branch is made up of the president of the republic, the vice president, ministers and vice ministers of state, and their subordinate officials. The president must be Salvadoran by birth, over thirty years of age, of good character, and a member of a legally recognized political party. The president is elected by direct popular vote, serves a five-year term, and may not run for reelection. Several categories of individuals are proscribed from seeking the office of president: anyone who has held the office of president for more than six months prior to the beginning of a presidential term; the spouse or relatives to the fourth degree of consanguinity of said officeholder; anyone who had held the office of president of the Legislative Assembly or president of the Supreme Court of Justice for one year prior to the beginning of a presidential term; anyone who has held the post of minister, vice minister, or head of an official autonomous institution for the same one-year period; or any professional member of the military who is or has been on active duty during a three-year period prior to the beginning of a term. The same restrictions apply to those holding the offices of vice president or designado (the two individuals designated by the legislature as next in line after the vice president for presidential succession).

The powers of the president are circumscribed to some extent by the Constitution. The president requires the approval of the Legislative Assembly in order to leave the country. He is required to report to the assembly upon request on any subject except secret military strategy. In addition, the president can be declared physically or mentally incapacitated by a two-thirds vote of the assembly.

The president is charged with the "direction of foreign relations" and is designated the commander in chief of the armed forces. He is required to report to the Legislative Assembly within the first two months of each year on developments within the country and the government during the course of the previous calendar year (the Salvadoran "state of the union" address).

Ministers and vice ministers are named and removed by the president. They are required to be Salvadoran by birth and over twenty-five years of age. Together with the president and vice president, the Council of Ministers (or cabinet) produces the government plan--the projected requirements of the government for the coming year--and proposes a budget to the assembly at least three months before the beginning of the fiscal year.

El Salvador - The Legislature

The legislature is a unicameral body known as the Legislative Assembly. Its members are referred to as deputies (diputados). They are elected every three years according to a system of proportional representation. The assembly elected in March 1988 was composed of sixty deputies and sixty alternates (suplentes).

There is no restriction on the reelection of deputies. To serve in this capacity, however, one must be a Salvadoran by birth and over twenty-one years of age. Those prohibited from seeking election to the assembly include the president and vice president of the republic, government ministers and vice ministers, active-duty military personnel, and relatives of the president within the fourth level of consanguinity or the second level of affinity. Elected deputies, however, may serve as ministers or vice ministers, heads of official autonomous institutions, or chiefs of diplomatic missions. Such individuals do not participate in the business of the assembly but may be reintegrated into that body at the conclusion of their service in such a post.

The powers of the Legislative Assembly are considerable. It is the body that determines the statutory laws of El Salvador. It has the power to levy taxes, to ratify or reject treaties negotiated by the executive branch with foreign governments or international organizations, and to regulate the civil service. The assembly also wields the power of the purse as the body that approves the national budget in its final form. Perhaps just as important in a political sense is the assembly's power to place individuals, through a majority vote, in the following posts: president (chief justice) and magistrates of the Supreme Court, president of the Central Electoral Council, president and magistrates of an independent government auditing body known as the Court of Accounts (Corte de Cuentas), the attorney general, and the procurator general. By naming to these positions members of parties or factions opposed to the president, the Legislative Assembly can (and has, in some instances) impede the workings of government to a significant degree. The assembly also has the power to declare war, ratify peace treaties, and grant amnesty for political offenses or common crimes.

Legislation may be introduced not only by deputies but also by the president, by way of his ministers; the Supreme Court, in the case of laws pertaining to the judiciary; and local municipal councils, with regard to municipal taxation. A presidential veto of a law passed by the Legislative Assembly may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of that body. The executive may raise objections to a law on constitutional grounds; in such a case, the Supreme Court serves as the arbiter. If a law submitted to the Supreme court by the president is ruled to be constitutional, the president is compelled to sign it into law.

El Salvador - The Judiciary

The judicial branch of government is headed by the Supreme Court of Justice. The number of magistrates on the Supreme Court is not stipulated in the Constitution but is determined by other statutes. Magistrates are required to be Salvadoran by birth, more than forty years of age, and lawyers who have practiced for at least ten years or who have served as judges in a chamber of second instance for six years or on a court of first instance for nine years. Clergymen are prohibited from serving as magistrates. The president of the Supreme Court directs the business of the Supreme Court and functions as the head of the judicial branch. Magistrates are appointed by the Legislative Assembly to fiveyear terms.

The Supreme Court is divided into three chambers, or salas. The Constitutional Chamber (Sala de lo Constitucional), composed of the Supreme Court president and four other magistrates, rules on the constitutionality of laws and hears cases involving the invocation of amparo (restraint against the infringement of an individual's rights) or of habeas corpus. The remaining chambers of the Supreme Court, the Civil Chamber and the Criminal Chamber, serve as the last level of appeal in these legal categories.

Below the Supreme Court are the chambers of second instance, or courts of appeal. Each chamber is composed of two magistrates, who hear appeals of decisions handed down in the courts of first instance. There were fourteen chambers of second instance in 1986. The courts of first instance hear both civil and criminal cases; there were some eighty-seven such courts in 1986. The broadest level of the legal system is the justice of the peace courts. Numbering approximately 193 in 1986 and located throughout the country, the justice of the peace courts decide only cases involving misdemeanors and minor civil suits.

El Salvador - The Military

The constitutional role of the Salvadoran armed forces is spelled out in Title Six, Chapter Eight of the Constitution. The military is charged with maintaining a representative democratic form of government, enforcing the no-reelection provision for the country's president, guaranteeing freedom of suffrage, and respecting human rights. The armed forces as an institution is defined as "essentially apolitical" and obedient to established civilian authority.

It should be borne in mind that such documents tend to reflect ideals and goals for conduct, not the prevailing state of affairs at the time of their drafting. In the late 1980s, the Salvadoran armed forces was an evolving institution attempting to deal simultaneously with a left-wing insurgency and the institutionalization of a democratic form of government while also seeking to deflect what it perceived as threats to its internal cohesion. One such threat was the potential investigation and possible prosecution of officers on human rights charges, many of them connected with the prosecution of the war against the guerrillas, although such action was rendered less likely by the amnesty approved by the Legislative Assembly in 1987 as well as by the political ascendancy of Arena. Given its history, the heightened importance of its role in dealing with the insurgents, and its interest in preserving its institutional integrity, the Salvadoran military certainly exerted political influence, particularly in areas of policy directly related to national security. Indeed, the armed forces was expected by all political actors in the country to play a role in the country's affairs, and its power and influence were accepted by all those participating in the democratic system.

Since the political influence of the armed forces, usually exerted through the High Command, was exercised largely behind the scenes, it was in many ways difficult to measure. There were indications, however, that the military was attempting to cooperate with civilian democratic leaders. The minister of defense and public security, General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, accompanied President Jose Napoleon Duarte Fuentes to the October 1984 meeting with representatives of the FMLN-FDR in La Palma. General Vides also appeared before the Legislative Assembly a number of times at the request of that body to testify on military issues. Both the air force, by restricting aerial bombing, and the security forces, by showing restraint in dealing with radical demonstrators in San Salvador, followed directives laid down by the president. Perhaps the best evidence of military restraint under the emerging democratic system was the fact that, as of late 1988, the High Command had made no move to overthrow the existing government by force, despite several reported appeals from Salvadoran political factions to do so.

Another important development with regard to the military's political role concerned its relationship with other actors, particularly the elite and the political parties. By supporting a government headed by a Christian democratic president and assisting in the implementation of agrarian reform measures, the armed forces demonstrated in the 1980s that their previous ties with the elite, particularly the agrarian elite, no longer compelled them to resist almost every form of social and political change. The dissociation by the military from direct institutional support of any political party--in contrast to its virtual control of the PCN during the 1960s and 1970s--also enhanced the armed forces' political independence.

El Salvador - Local Government

El Salvador is divided into fourteen administrative divisions called departments, the equivalent of states in the United States. Each department is administered by a governor appointed by the president. An alternate for each governor is also designated. Governors must be Salvadoran by birth, over twenty-five years of age, and residents of their department for at least two years prior to their appointment.

Below the departmental level, El Salvador is divided into 261 municipalities (or municipios, the equivalent of counties in the United States). Each municipio is governed by a municipal council composed of a mayor (alcalde), a legal representative (sindico), and two or more council members (regidores). The number of regidores is determined by the population of the municipio. Members of the municipal councils must be more than twenty-one years of age and residents of the municipio in which they serve. Directly elected, municipal officials serve three-year terms and may be reelected. Municipios are not all of equal size but are required to have a population of at least 10,000; municipal boundaries are determined by the Legislative Assembly.

The powers of local government are circumscribed by those of the central government. Because department governers are appointed by the president, their independence is questionable. Despite their status as elected representatives, the powers of municipal officeholders are also limited in certain key areas. The most glaring example is taxation. Although the municipal councils are allowed to suggest local taxes and tax rates, only the Legislative Assembly has the power to actually levy taxes. Therefore, all funds utilized by the councils are appropriated and disbursed by the assembly, although such funds are earmarked in the budget and are not incorporated into the central government's general fund. Among the duties relegated to the municipal councils under the Salvadoran Municipal Code are the holding of town meetings (cabildos abiertos) at least once every three months. The council is enjoined from acting against the majority opinion expressed at the cabildos abiertos. The municipal councils also grant legal recognition (personalidad juridica) to communal associations in their municipios. The councils are required to meet periodically with representatives of the communal associations and to consult with them on the appointment of representatives to advisory and other local commissions. The councils also issue local ordinances and regulations.

El Salvador - POLITICAL DYNAMICS

Electoral Procedures

Electoral procedures in El Salvador are governed by the Electoral Code, which was updated by the Legislative Assembly in January 1988. The system it established is in some ways cumbersome and open to abuse but adheres closely to electoral procedures followed in most Latin American countries.

The organization in charge of administering electoral procedures is the Central Electoral Council (Consejo Central de Elecciones), which consists of three members and three alternates elected for five-year terms by the Legislative Assembly. Nominees for the council are drawn from the ranks of the leading political parties or coalitions, as determined by the vote totals in the most recent presidential elections. The president of the Central Electoral Council serves as the chief administrator and the ultimate authority on questions of electoral procedures.

In order to cast their votes, all citizens are required to obtain from the Central Electoral Council an electoral identification card (carnet electoral) certifying their inscription in the national Electoral Register. The carnet electoral is presented at the individual's polling place and is the only form of identification accepted for this purpose. The card must bear the voter's photograph, signature (if literate), and right thumbprint. The carnet electoral is valid for five years from the date of issue.

The issuing of carnets electorales and the related maintenance of the Electoral Register are the most cumbersome aspects of the electoral system, particularly in rural areas where voters' access to their municipal electoral boards frequently is impeded by poor transportation and the effects of the insurgent war. Rural voter registration has also been hampered by direct and indirect coercion by the guerrilla forces, who have described national elections as a sham and a component of a United States-designed counterinsurgency strategy. These and other factors, including a general disenchantment with the electoral process based in large part on the failure of the government to end the insurgency and improve economic conditions, contributed to a gradual decline in voter turnout during the 1982-88 period. Whereas some 80 percent of the electorate turned out for the Constituent Assembly balloting in 1982, only an estimated 65 percent voted in the first round of presidential balloting in March 1984. This was followed by turnouts of approximately 66 and 60 percent in the 1985 and 1988 legislative and municipal elections, respectively.

The Central Electoral Council, in coordination with its departmental and municipal electoral boards, determines the number and location of polling places. This process is to be completed at least fifteen days prior to balloting. Although the Electoral Register and final vote tallies are processed at least partially by computer, paper ballots are utilized at the polling places. Ballots are deposited in clear plastic receptacles to reduce the possibility of fraud. All political parties are entitled to station a poll watcher at each balloting site to reduce further the opportunity for vote manipulation.

Polling places are open from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., at which time the officials at each site begin the preparation of an official record of the results. This record includes a preliminary vote count by party, an inventory of ballots issued to the polling place (the discrepancy between ballots issued and ballots used is not to exceed 300), and accounts of challenges received and any unusual incidents or occurrences during the course of the voting. Poll watchers scrutinize the record's preparation and are entitled to a copy of the final product. As a result, political parties frequently are able to issue preliminary electoral results well in advance of the official tally.

These records from the polling places are forwarded to the local municipal electoral board, where a record for the entire municipio is prepared. The municipal voting records are conveyed to the Central Electoral Council by way of the departmental electoral boards. The council conducts the final scrutiny of the records; this process must be undertaken no later than forty-eight hours after the closing of the polls. Copies of voting records are also provided to the office of the attorney general as a further safeguard against tampering.

In the case of presidential elections, the Central Electoral Council can declare a winner only if one ticket receives an absolute majority of all votes cast. If no one party or coalition receives such a majority, as happened in the March 1984 elections, the council is required to schedule within thirty days a runoff election between the two leading vote-getters. The declaration of winners in legislative balloting is less direct; here, voters cast their ballots for parties more than for individuals, since seats in the Legislative Assembly are allotted to registered candidates roughly on a proportional basis according to the departmental vote totals of their party or coalition. Municipal elections are more straightforward, with the winners decided according to their showing in the municipal vote tallies.

The protracted insurgent war exerted pressure on the government to adjust its electoral procedures. In areas where guerrilla control prevented the establishment of polling places, voters were urged to cast their ballots at the nearest secure location. Some polling places in departmental capitals were required to have on hand electoral records for rural voters who had relocated from war zones. In some towns, so-called national polling stations were set up to accommodate displaced voters from other departments. These stations were required to have on hand electoral registration data for the entire country. Guerrillaengineered transportation stoppages, attacks on public buildings, and sabotage of the electrical system impeded voting as well, especially in rural areas. Indeed, many of these actions were undertaken with the specific intention of deterring voters from participation.

In addition to overseeing elections, the Central Electoral Council is also charged with the official recognition of political parties. Initial petitions to the council for the formation of a party require the support of at least 100 citizens. This group then is granted sixty days to secure the signatures of at least 3,000 citizens and submit them to the council. If all the signatures are verified, the party is then granted legal recognition, referred to as inscription (inscripcion). The party's inscription can be revoked if it fails to receive at least 0.5 percent of the total national vote cast in a presidential or legislative election, or if the party fails to participate in two consecutive elections. Parties are allowed to form coalitions at the national, departmental, or municipal levels without forfeiting their separate inscriptions.

Political campaigns are underwritten to some extent by the state through the provision for "political debt." The Electoral Code stipulates that each party can expect to receive reimbursement according to the following formula: C10 for each valid vote cast for the party in the first round of a presidential election, C6 for each vote in legislative elections, and C4 for each vote in municipal elections. All parties are eligible for payment, regardless of their showing at the polls.

El Salvador - The Electoral Process

From March 1982 to March 1988, Salvadorans went to the polls five times to cast their ballots for members of the Constituent Assembly (later converted to the Legislative Assembly), the president, deputies of the Legislative Assembly, and municipal officials. This flurry of electoral activity was occasioned by the transition to a functional representative system of government, a decidedly new experience for Salvadorans.

The first round of the 1984 presidential election was held on March 25. Some 1.4 million Salvadorans went to the polls. Although eight candidates competed, most voters cast their ballots for the representative of one of the three leading parties, the PDC's Duarte, Arena's D'Aubuisson, or the PCN's Francisco Jose Guerrero Cienfuegos. The results were not immediately decisive. Duarte received 43 percent of the vote, D'Aubuisson 30 percent, and Guerrero 19. This necessitated a runoff election on May 6 between Duarte and D'Aubuisson. Despite entreaties from Arena, Guerrero declined to endorse either candidate. It is doubtful that his endorsement would have made much difference in the balloting, given Duarte's relative popularity and D'Aubuisson's reputed connections with right-wing violence and the disapproval of his candidacy by the United States government. It was reported in the United States press after the election that the United States Central Intelligence Agency had funneled some US$2 million in covert campaign aid to the PDC. Nevertheless, the results of the runoff were surprisingly close, with Duarte garnering 54 percent to D'Aubuisson's 46 percent. Some observers criticized the presidential election on the grounds that it excluded parties of the left, such as those represented by the FDR. Political conditions at that time, however, were not favorable to participation by such groups. If nothing else, the inability of the government to provide for the physical security of leftist candidates militated against their inclusion in the electoral process.

The 1985 legislative and municipal elections were carried overwhelmingly by the PDC. The party achieved an outright majority in the Legislative Assembly, increasing its representation from twenty-four to thirty-three seats, and carried over 200 of the country's municipal councils. Arena and the PCN joined as a two-party coalition for these elections in an effort to secure a conservative majority in the assembly. The terms of the coalition, whereby Arena agreed to split evenly the total number of seats won, resulted in a political embarrassment for D'Aubuisson's party, which took 29 percent of the total vote but was awarded only one more seat (thirteen to twelve) than the PCN, which had drawn only 8 percent of the vote. PAISA and AD also won one seat apiece.

The style of Salvadoran political campaigning bore little resemblance to that of the United States and other institutionalized democracies. Personal verbal attacks between competing candidates and parties predominated in the media, campaign literature, and at public rallies. Debate on specific issues was largely eschewed in favor of emotional appeals to the electorate. It was therefore not uncommon to hear candidates and leaders of the PDC refer to Arena as a "Nazi-fascist party," whereas areneros openly denounced Christian Democrats as "communists." One of Arena leader D'Aubuisson's favorite campaign embellishments was to slash open a watermelon with a machete; the watermelon, he told the crowds, was like the PDC--green (the party color) on the outside but red on the inside. This dramatic, personalistic type of appeal highlighted the lack of institutionalization of the Salvadoran democratic system, the intensity of emotion elicited by the political process, and the polarizing effect of the ongoing struggle between the government and leftist insurgent forces. Observers reported, however, that Arena spokesmen toned down their appeals during the 1988 legislative and municipal elections in an effort to project a moderate, responsible image.

El Salvador - Political Parties

By 1988 El Salvador had a number of inscribed political parties participating in the democratic process. Only three, however, had significant followings: the PDC, Arena, and the PCN.

Christian Democratic Party

The ideological position of the Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democrata Cristiano--PDC) was more liberal than that of most Christian democratic parties elsewhere in Latin America or in Western Europe. In the Salvadoran context, taking into account the existence of radical leftist groups such as those constituting the FMLN-FDR, the PDC could be characterized as a party of the center-left. The party was born out of the frustration of urban middle-class professionals who felt themselves excluded from the political process in El Salvador. From its founding in 1960 until the early 1980s, the party and its leaders showed considerable tenacity and staying power in the face of right-wing repression, the adamant refusal of the economic and political elite (with the backing of the military) to allow broad-based popular participation in government, and the eventual defection of some of its members to the radical left, in the form of the FDR. The year 1979 was a turning point for the Christian Democrats, as it was for the country as a whole. Party leaders' participation in the junta governments established after the reformist coup gave them an opportunity to organize and prepare to participate in the democratic process initiated in 1982. Their involvement also attracted the support of the United States. Despite its failure to win a majority of the seats in the 1982 balloting for the Constituent Assembly, the PDC nonetheless emerged from that election as the leading political party in the country, a position it went on to demonstrate in the 1984 and 1985 elections.

The PDC reached the peak of its power after the 1985 elections. At that point, Duarte was still a popular figure. The party's absolute majority in the legislature was seen by him and his fellow Christian Democrats as a mandate for the continuation and extension of reforms. The opposition was weakened and divided. Resentment among the areneros over their unsuccessful coalition with the PCN provoked a rupture between the two conservative parties. Subsequently, the PCN became more supportive of the PDC and its political program.

Duarte and his party used their control of the executive and legislative branches to further the agrarian reform program first established by decree in 1980, to draft a new Electoral Code, to approve an amnesty for political prisoners, and to pass additional economic reform measures. The momentum that had seemed so compelling in the wake of the March elections, however, was eroded by events and was eventually lost in the tumult of politics and insurgency. Perhaps the first of the blows to the PDC's position was the kidnapping of the president's daughter, Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran, in September 1985. This incident preoccupied Duarte personally, so that his support within the armed forces weakened, and a leadership vacuum developed in both the government and the PDC.

Another major dilemma for the PDC government was the direction of a war-ravaged economy. Although it could be justified on an economic basis, Duarte's 1986 package of austerity measures drew political fire from most major interest groups. The associated currency devaluation, always a controversial step, was especially unpopular. The impression that the president implemented the austerity measures largely in response to pressure from the United States also did little to enhance his prestige or that of the party.

For most Salvadorans, the civil conflict and its attendant violence were the problems of uppermost concern, especially insofar as pocketbook issues such as inflation, standard of living, and employment were seen as closely related to the war against the leftist guerrillas. Duarte's personal popularity was boosted after the October 1984 meeting in La Palma with representatives of the FMLN-FDR; a war-weary population began to believe that a resolution to the conflict might be in sight. These optimistic expectations, however, were dampened considerably as the negotiating process bogged down and stalled. The kidnapping of Duarte's daughter further hardened the president's attitude and rendered the prospect of a negotiated settlement during his administration highly unlikely. Although the majority of Salvadorans had little sympathy for the FMLN, Duarte's failure to achieve peace nonetheless undermined his popularity and diminished the public perception of the PDC as a viable mediator between the extremes of left and right.

Another issue that tarnished the reputation of the PDC was corruption. Rumors and allegations that had become common in El Salvador came to a head in March 1988 with the publication of an article in the New York Times indicating that as much as US$2 million in United States economic aid might have been embezzled. One of the individuals named in the article was an associate of Alejandro Duarte, the president's son. Although the president himself was never linked with corrupt practices of any kind, the apparent failure of other members of the PDC to resist the temptations of office was a blow to the image of a party that had throughout its history protested and decried the abuses of power perpetrated under previous governments.

The post-1985 decline in the fortunes of the PDC government closely paralleled a general popular disillusionment with the democratic process. By 1987 polls conducted by the Central American University Jose Simeon Canas showed that slightly over three-quarters of the electorate felt that no existing political party represented their interests. Of those respondents who did express a party preference, only 6 percent identified with the PDC and 10 percent with Arena.

Given the lack of clearly demonstrable progress in the economic, political, and security spheres, most observers correctly predicted that the PDC would lose its legislative majority in the March 1988 elections. The scale of that loss, however, was greater than most had anticipated. The final official vote count yielded thirty Legislative Assembly seats for Arena, twenty-three for the PDC, and seven for the PCN. Arena's leaders initially protested the results, claiming that they had captured at least thirty-one seats and thus a majority in the legislature. The protest was rendered academic in May 1988, when a PCN deputy switched his party allegiance to Arena. A September 1988 ruling by the Supreme Court awarded the contested seat to Arena, raising its majority to thirty-two. In a stunning turnaround, the Christian Democrats had dropped eleven seats in the assembly and lost more than 200 municipal races to Arena. A particularly sharp blow to PDC pride was the loss of the mayoralty of San Salvador, a post the party had held continuously since Duarte's election as mayor in 1964. Ironically, Duarte's son Alejandro was the PDC candidate who was forced to concede defeat to the Arena candidate, Armando Calderon Sol.

The internal cohesion of the party had begun to erode well before the 1988 elections. While Duarte was struggling to deal with affairs of state, his own party was polarizing into two personalistic, competitive factions. One of these factions was led by Julio Adolfo Rey Prendes, a longtime party member and associate of Duarte's. The other faction supported Fidel Chavez Mena, a younger technocrat who had disrupted a seemingly harmonious and supportive relationship with Duarte by opposing him for the 1984 presidential nomination. Rey Prendes's faction was commonly known as "the Ring" (La Argolla) or "the Mafia." The latter designation, used by members of the faction themselves, perhaps reflected Rey Prendes's reputation as a backroom political wheeler-dealer. Chavez's followers were referred to as institucionalistas or simply as chavistas.

Through his accumulated power within the party, Rey Prendes was able to influence the nomination of PDC legislative candidates in the 1988 elections. These deputies served as his political power base. The chavistas, although frozen out of the nominations to the Legislative Assembly, rallied to have their man nominated for president at a party convention in June 1988, but only after an earlier convention dominated by members of the Rey Prendes faction was ruled invalid by the Central Electoral Council. Not surprisingly, the earlier convention had nominated Rey Prendes as the party's standard bearer.

Judging by his public inaction in the matter, Duarte awoke fairly late to the trouble in his own party. In an effort to settle the conflict between the two contentious factions, the president proposed in April 1988 that both Rey Prendes and Chavez renounce their campaigns for the presidency in favor of a unity candidate, Abraham Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a founding member of the PDC who had run unsuccessfully for president in 1967. The fact that Duarte's attempt at reconciliation was rejected immediately by both factional leaders demonstrated the president's diminished status and authority among the party's ranks.

The decline in the fortunes of the PDC was tragically and almost symbolically accentuated by the announcement in June 1988 that President Duarte was suffering from terminal liver cancer. The illness might have explained to some extent Duarte's faltering leadership of both the government and his party. In any case, the announcement seemed to punctuate the end of an era in Salvadoran politics.

El Salvador - Nationalist Republican Alliance

The nature of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista--Arena) as a political force in El Salvador was the object of some debate as it moved toward becoming a ruling party with its 1988 electoral victory. Some observers characterized Arena as the institutional representative of the "disloyal right," meaning those conservative forces that played the game of democracy while privately harboring preferences for authoritarian or even dictatorial rule and a restoration of the absolute political preeminence of the elite. Others felt that after a rocky beginning, Arena had moderated and extended its ideology beyond simplistic, reflexive anticommunism and was ready to assume the role of a conservative party that would support private enterprise and be willing to accept some economic reforms in response to popular demands.

The fortunes of Arena, like those of the PDC, were cyclical in nature. Although the 1982 Constituent Assembly elections yielded the party a leading role in that body, subsequent elections appeared to reflect a growing public rejection of the extremist image of Arena and its leader, D'Aubuisson. The nadir of the party's influence was reached after the 1985 elections and the unsuccessful coalition with the PCN. Much of the blame for the party's electoral defeats fell on the shoulders of D'Aubuisson. In an effort to moderate the party's image, D'Aubuisson was persuaded to step down as party president in October 1985. He was replaced by Alfredo Cristiani Buckhard, a member of a prominent coffee-growing family. Although Cristiani, who in May 1988 was designated the party's 1989 presidential nominee, subsequently went on to project a less hyperbolic public image for the party, D'Aubuisson was nevertheless retained as an "honorary president for life," and he continued to serve as a charismatic drawing card at public rallies and as a party spokesman in the media. San Salvador mayor Calderon Sol also emerged from the 1988 elections as a leading figure in the party.

Arena's journey from obstructionist opposition to apparent majority status was attributable to a number of factors. With its support from private enterprise and large agricultural interests, Arena enjoyed a distinct advantage in funding over its rivals. Along with superior liquidity came superior organizational and propaganda capabilities. Although its elitist supporters were the most influential, Arena's base of support also incorporated significant numbers of rural peasants and, particularly in the March 1988 elections, the urban poor. The party consistently drew some 40 percent of the peasant vote, reflecting the basic conservatism of this voting bloc as well as the ingrained appeal of strong caudillo leadership and a visceral response to the party's promises to prosecute more forcefully the war against the guerrillas. Arena also benefited from the intractable nature of the country's problems and the PDC's apparent inability to cope successfully with the challenge of governing a country torn by violence and instability.

Arena also reportedly counted a significant percentage of the military officer corps as sympathizers with its views, particularly the party's call for a more vigorous prosecution of the counterinsurgent war. D'Aubuisson, a 1963 graduate of the Captain General Gerardo Barrios Military Academy, apparently maintained contacts not only with members of his graduating class (tanda) but also with conservative junior officers. It was reported by some observers that D'Aubuisson's behind-the-scenes appeals from 1984 to 1988 were intended to foment a rightist coup d'etat against the PDC government. After the party's March 1988 electoral victory, such a drastic method of taking power appeared to be ruled out by Arena's seemingly bright prospects in the 1989 presidential race.

Although Arena's surprisingly strong showing in the 1988 elections was to a great extent a rejection of the PDC, it also seemed to reflect a hardening of public attitudes, particularly with regard to the conflict between the government and the leftist guerrillas. Whereas Duarte and his party had drawn support among the electorate at least in part by promising to end the fighting through negotiations, Arena suggested that the more effective approach was to step up military efforts in the field. This approach seemed to have the greatest appeal among the residents of conflict zones in the north and east of the country, where resentment of the protracted fighting ran high. Some urban middle-class voters, once strong supporters of the PDC, also reportedly responded favorably to this hard-line position.

Another aspect of Arena's appeal revolved around nationalism and rejection of foreign interference in Salvadoran affairs. Some areneros bitterly resented the perceived favoritism shown the PDC by the United States and blamed much of their party's misfortune from 1984 through 1988 on manipulation by the norteamericanos. Some party spokesmen such as Sigifredo Ochoa Perez, a flamboyant retired army colonel elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1988, extended their criticism beyond the political sphere into the arena of military tactics, publicly criticizing the role of United States military advisers in formulating counterinsurgent strategy. Cristiani also spoke out against such United States-backed innovations as the switch to small-unit tactics and suggested that an Arena government would move to abandon them. The seeming inability of the armed forces to resolve the insurgency by military means appeared to sharpen the public's receptiveness to these criticisms.

The most immediate advantage gained by Arena through its control of the Legislative Assembly was its ability to dictate the appointment of candidates to important government posts, such as magistrates of the Supreme Court and the attorney general of the republic. The party's legislative agenda was uncertain in mid-1988, but it seemed to entail some tinkering with land reform provisions, such as changing the titling procedure for cooperatives; easing the tax and regulatory burden on the private sector, especially the coffee industry; restoring private banking; and, perhaps, reprivatizing the foreign trade procedures.

El Salvador - National Conciliation Party

The National Conciliation Party (Partido de Conciliacion Nacional--PCN) was the dominant political party in El Salvador during the 1960s and 1970s, when it was closely associated with the military. Although its level of popular support was all but impossible to quantify because of institutionalized electoral fraud, the PCN had supporters among both the elite and the rural population, especially in areas where the armed forces served as the primary governmental presence. The party's showings in the 1982 Constituent Assembly elections and the first round of the 1984 presidential elections were respectable; it was Guerrero's almost 20 percent total that forced the voting to a runoff between Duarte and D'Aubuisson. From that point on, however, the PCN's support at the polls declined steadily. This appeared to be a by-product of the democratic transition in El Salvador. Under a system allowing open electoral competition, the military shifted its support to the party best positioned to ensure continued aid from the United States and to provide some measure of stability to the government. Until 1988 this party was the PDC. Deprived of its military connection, the PCN was left to fend for itself in a new and unfamiliar scheme of things. Given the polarizing tendencies of Salvadoran politics, parties without a mass base or superior organization tended to be marginalized. This clearly seemed to be the case with the PCN in the wake of the 1988 elections.

During its years in power, the PCN was a rightist party that implemented limited and controlled reform in an effort to placate nonelite sectors, such as the peasantry and the urban middle class. The image of the party, however, was tarnished severely by the harsh repression undertaken by the military and the so-called "death squads" in response to growing popular unrest in the 1970s. When the armed forces turned to the PDC in 1980 in an effort to lend legitimacy to the post-1979 junta governments, the separation of the PCN from the military was begun. Unfortunately for the PCN, however, the association between the two was strong in the public mind. Although this lingering perception may have helped the party among some rural voters, overall it was judged a liability by most observers. In response to this perceived image problem, the PCN in the mid-1980s was attempting to moderate its policy positions, adopt a social democratic platform, and reach out to labor and peasant groups. Any support that the PCN might pick up from these sources was expected to come at the expense of the PDC.

El Salvador - Left-Wing Parties

The major representative of the political left in El Salvador was the Revolutionary Democratic Front (Frente Democratico Revolucionario--FDR), a grouping of social democratic parties and the remnants of some of the "popular organizations" that led antigovernment protests in the late 1970s. Up to and including the elections of 1988, the left had been excluded from the electoral process. The most frequently cited impediment to leftist participation was right-wing violence. This was certainly a very valid consideration in the early 1980s, when the level of human rights violations was extremely high.

By the mid-1980s, however, political violence had declined considerably, rendering the possibility of leftist participation more plausible. Such an eventuality was complicated considerably by the direct association of the FDR with the violent, rejectionist left as represented by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional-- FMLN). The leadership of the FMLN clung to the position that the only legitimate elections would be those undertaken after the conclusion and implementation of a power-sharing arrangement between the government and the FMLN-FDR. Participation in elections held in the absence of such an agreement only served to legitimate what the insurgent commanders described as a puppet government of the United States. This extremism and intransigence by its allies made problematic the FDR's full inclusion in the electoral process. Yet another consideration for the leftist parties was the potential for a weak showing at the polls and the loss of prestige and bargaining power that would entail.

Nevertheless, despite the numerous factors weighing against them, members of the two leading parties in the FDR coalition began to return from foreign exile to organize and possibly to compete in the 1989 presidential elections. Ruben Zamora Rivas, the leader of the Popular Social Christian Movement (Movimiento Popular Social Cristiano--MPSC), and Guillermo Manuel Ungo Revelo, head of the National Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario--MNR), returned to El Salvador in November 1987. Wearing body armor beneath their suits, the two made several public appearances and were interviewed on Salvadoran radio and television stations. The groundwork for their dramatic reappearances had been established by other, less prominent members of their parties who had returned to assess the political climate prevailing under the Duarte government.

In December 1987, the MPSC and MNR announced that they were forming a political coalition that would also include the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata--PSD), a small leftof -center party established in 1986. The new grouping was dubbed the Democratic Convergence (Convergencia Democratica--CD). Many observers felt that the CD was set up in order to contest the legislative and municipal elections of March 1988. The CD's announcement in January of that year that it would not field candidates put an end to such speculation and bought the coalition additional time to contemplate its strategy for the 1989 elections. Public statements by Ungo and Zamora shed little light on their intentions in this regard. In one such statement, Ungo denied that the CD was intended to function as an electoral coalition. Zamora adhered closely to the FMLN line in a December 1987 statement in which he advocated the creation of a "transitional government" prior to the holding of general elections. Nevertheless, in March 1988 the MPSC began the process of legal inscription as a political party under the procedures established by the Electoral Code; subsequent press reports also indicated that electoral participation had been approved by the leadership of the FMLN.

Although Ungo and Zamora denied any possibility of a split between the FDR and the FMLN, there were definite signs of uneasiness between the two groups. Most of the open disagreements involved the FMLN's continued advocacy and employment of terrorism as a political instrument. The FDR leaders particularly disagreed with the kidnapping of Duarte's daughter and the June 1985 murder of thirteen people, including six United States citizens, in San Salvador. The return of MPSC and MNR members and their possible participation in the established electoral process was seen by some as another manifestation of the growing strains within the FMLN-FDR alliance.

El Salvador - Other Parties

The 1985 crisis within the ranks of Arena produced a splinter party that initially referred to itself as Free Fatherland (Patria Libre). It was led by D'Aubuisson's 1984 running mate, Hugo Barrera Guerrero, a prominent businessman. The early prospects for the party, which subsequently changed its name to the Liberation Party (Partido Liberacion--PL), seemed promising. A number of observers felt that a center-right, probusiness party could pick up much of the support that Arena seemed to have lost in the 1984 and 1985 elections. The PL, however, was unable to compete with Arena on an organizational basis and fared poorly in the 1988 elections, coming away without a single seat in the Legislative Assembly.

There were several other small political parties that ran candidates in the 1988 elections but failed to garner any seats in the Legislative Assembly. One of these was the Salvadorn Authentic Institutional Party (Partido Autentico Institucional Salvadoreno--PAISA), the conservative PCN splinter party. Another small conservative party was the Authentic Revolutionary Party (Partido Autentico Revolucionario--PAR). Democratic Action (Accion Democratica--AD) was a moderate party that supported Duarte and the PDC in the 1984 elections but subsequently differed with the government's economic policies and assumed a more independent stance. Rounding out the field was the extreme right-wing Popular Orientation Party (Partido de Orientacion Popular--POP).

El Salvador - Interest Groups

Private Enterprise

Members of the private business sector relied on a number of organizations to articulate their positions on economic and political issues. These organizations served as pressure groups, injecting themselves regularly into the political arena through criticism of government policies, the actual or threatened shutdown of business and industry, and behind-the-scenes lobbying with politicians. The leading private enterprise organizations were the National Association of Private Enterprise (Asociacion Nacional de la Empresa Privada--ANEP), the Association of Salvadoran Industrialists (Asociacion Salvadorena de Industriales--ASI), the Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Camara de Comercio e Industria de El Salvador), the Salvadoran Coffee Growers Association (Asociacion Cafetalera de El Salvador--ACES), and the Association of Coffee Processors and Exporters (Asociacion de Beneficiadores y Exportadores de Cafe-- Abecafe). Their membership was drawn from the economic elite, and their leadership consistently advocated a reduction in government involvement in industry, the reprivatization of coffee exports and foreign trade in general, no increase in taxes on business (usually referred to as "the productive sector"), no extension of the agrarian reform, and reductions in government spending.

Most economic issues usually found the private enterprise organizations aligned on one side and labor and peasant organizations on the other, with the Duarte government somewhere in between, attempting to mediate between the two blocs. This was especially true with regard to agrarian reform. The private enterprise organizations, particularly the coffee growers' associations, opposed agrarian reform from its inception in 1980. They were unable to prevent implementation, however, because of a shift in the political climate that brought too many other actors, including the PDC, the reformist military, and the United States, down on the side of some measure of reform. Denied their first preference in the matter, the private sector groups went on to advocate limitations on the terms of the reforms. These were enacted by the Constituent Assembly and incorporated into the 1983 Constitution. By the late 1980s, the line taken by the private sector reflected that espoused by Arena, namely, that the reforms should not be rescinded but should be made more efficient.

Private-enterprise organizations provided the most significant opposition to the Duarte government's 1986 economic austerity package. From the businessmen's point of view, the most offensive aspect of the package was the so-called "war tax" on all income above US$20,000 with revenues derived from the tax to be applied directly to the war effort against the leftist guerrillas. In this as in other matters, the private sector groups worked in concert with Arena. While arenero legislators boycotted sessions of the Legislative Assembly in an effort to deny the PDC a quorum, the private-enterprise organizations called for a shutdown of business and industry on January 22, 1987. The business strike was quite effective, closing a reported 80 percent of Salvadoran stores, factories, and professional and nonprofessional services. Although impressive, this demonstration of economic power by the private sector had no immediate effect on government policy. The issue eventually was rendered moot, however, in February 1987 when the war tax was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The January 1987 strike was but another chapter in a long history of confrontation between the private sector and the PDC. Bitterly opposed to Duarte's election in 1984, the ASI publicly denounced Duarte and his party as adherents to the same ideology as that of the FMLN. The PDC, according to the industrialists, differed only in its "method and strategies" for achieving socialism. Although he responded to the attacks in kind during the campaign, Duarte attempted after his election to reassure business leaders that he was not antagonistic to private enterprise. The agendas of the PDC and the private sector were too divergent, however, and attitudes generally were hardened between the two as economic conditions failed to improve and the insurgency ground on interminably.

El Salvador - Labor and Campesino Groups

Although labor confederations have existed for decades in El Salvador, their political input has been limited by their small membership--officially, only nonagricultural workers have been allowed to organize--and by the exclusionary nature of the political system. Under military rule, the only unions with influence were those with ties to the armed forces or its associated ruling party. The political ferment that began to make itself felt in the late 1970s, however, was reflected in the labor movement. The real and pressing grievances of workers and peasants, who began to organize into unsanctioned interest groups of their own, led them to enlist in the growing number of unions affiliated with the so-called mass organizations or popular organizations. These organizations took a much more militant, antigovernment line than did the old, established labor unions. Ultimately, the leaders of the mass organizations, supportive of the revolutionary goals of the FMLN, were more concerned with the promotion of their political agenda than with the attainment of better wages and working conditions for the rank and file. By the early 1980s, strikes, demonstrations, and protests by these groups had contributed to an atmosphere of uncertainty, instability, and political polarization in El Salvador. In the violent right-wing backlash that followed, members of moderate, prodemocratic, nonconfrontational unions were murdered along with the militant supporters of the mass organizations. This repression--both official and unofficial--temporarily removed labor groups as participants in the political arena. The situation began to change as democratic institutions evolved in the wake of the 1982 Constituent Assembly elections.

Duarte won the presidency with the support of a number of groups in Salvadoran society who felt that their interests could best be served by the extension of economic reform. Most of these groups--middle-class professionals, small business people, labor unions, and peasants--also believed that a just resolution to the civil conflict was a necessary prerequisite to economic reactivation. In terms of numbers, the most important of these sectors were the labor and peasant organizations. In February 1984, Duarte signed a "social pact" with the major centrist grouping, the Popular Democratic Unity (Unidad Popular Democratica--UPD). This agreement called for the full implementation of agrarian reform, government support for union rights, incorporation of union and peasant leaders into the government, and continued efforts to curtail human rights violations and to end the civil conflict.

From the point of view of labor and peasant groups, the Duarte government failed to follow through on the pledges made under the social pact, and, as a result, the UPD began to unravel. In early 1984, the UPD had been the leading labor and peasant grouping in both numbers and influence. It was an umbrella group made up of the country's leading labor federation- -the Federation of Unions of the Construction Industry and Kindred Activities, Transportation, and Other Activities (Federacion de Sindicatos de la Industria de la Construccion, Similares, Transporte y de Otras Actividades--Fesinconstrans); its largest peasant group, the Salvadoran Communal Union (Union Comunal Salvadorena--UCS); and three smaller groups. In August 1984, some three months after Duarte's election, the leadership of the three smallest UPD affiliates called a press conference to denounce Duarte for his lack of compliance with the social pact. Leaders of Fesinconstrans and the UCS, who were not consulted before or included in the press conference, publicly dissociated themselves from the statements made there. This incident precipitated a political and ideological split within the labor movement that showed little sign of abating by the late 1980s.

Documents seized by government forces after a shootout with a rebel group in April 1985 shed some light on the leadership crisis within the UPD. According to the documents, three union leaders (although not named, they were presumed by most analysts to be the leaders who called the 1984 press conference) were collaborating clandestinely with the FMLN and were receiving bribes to assume a confrontational stance with the government. The coordination of actions among the FMLN, leftist unions, and certain militant human rights and refugee groups seemed to be confirmed by another cache of rebel documents seized in April 1987. Whatever the motivation, the split in the UPD leadership prompted the more moderate leadership of Fesinconstrans and the UCS to explore the possibility of establishing a new labor confederation. This organization, christened the Democratic Workers' Confederation (Confederacion de Trabajadores Democraticos--CTD), was founded in December 1984. In March 1986, the CTD and the UCS joined with a number of other labor and peasant groups to form the National Union of Workers and Peasants (Union Nacional de Obreros y Campesinos--UNOC). UNOC characterized itself as a labor organization supportive of the moderate political left; it advocated the continuation of the democratic process in El Salvador as well as the political incorporation of workers and the making of improvements in their quality of life.

The leaders of the more militant and radical labor and peasant groups almost simultaneously established a parallel umbrella group to UNOC, dubbing it the National Union of Salvadoran Workers (Union Nacional de Trabajadores Salvadorenos-- UNTS). It included the remaining members of the UPD, several established leftist labor groups, some of which maintained ties to the World Federation of Trade Unions, a front group of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; a peasant organization known as the National Association of Peasants (Asociacion Nacional de Campesinos--ANC); and a leftist student group, the General Association of Salvadoran University Students (Asociacion General de Estudiantes Universitarios Salvadorenos--AGEUS). Although it claimed that its membership rivaled that of the 350,000-strong UNOC, most observers agreed that the UNTS represented only 40,000 to 50,000 members at most.

President Duarte, the armed forces, and representatives of the United States maintained that the UNTS was penetrated and controlled by the FMLN. This allegation was not universally accepted, however. Whether coordinated with FMLN strategy or not, the actions of the UNTS appeared calculated to undermine the legitimacy of the Duarte government and to promote unrest and instability in urban areas, particularly San Salvador. UNTS affiliates staged numerous strikes, mainly in the capital, most of which were declared illegal by the government because the demands of the union leadership were judged to be more political than economic in nature. Some unions demanded the president's resignation as a condition of settlement. Many of the strikes were endorsed by the FMLN over the clandestine radio station Radio Venceremos operated by the guerrilla group known as the People's Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo-- ERP). The largest mass antigovernment demonstration organized by the UNTS took place in February 1986; estimates of the number of participants ranged from 7,000 to 12,000. A generally progovernment rally organized by UNOC the following month drew a considerably larger turnout, estimated at up to 65,000.

Although it opposed the militant strategy of the UNTS and supported the reforms decreed by the junta governments and maintained under the PDC, UNOC also displayed disillusionment with Duarte and his seeming inability to improve workers' standard of living or to wind down the insurgency. UNOC's influence, however, began to wane by 1985. This development was attributable mainly to internal leadership struggles within Fesinconstrans and the UCS. Ironically, the catalyst for these conflicts was found not in the failure of the social pact with the PDC but in its partial fulfillment. Labor and peasant leaders who had been appointed to government posts, mainly in the institutions administering agrarian reform and credit facilities, were exploiting the patronage potential of their positions to expand their personal following among the rank and file. Resentment over this tactic prompted challenges from union leaders and members who either felt excluded from the patronage process or who objected to the practice on ethical grounds. UNOC's lack of concerted involvement in the PDC legislative victory of 1985 lessened its influence with the government and perhaps made it easier for Duarte to follow the course of economic austerity that eventually drew fire from both the private sector and labor groups from across the political spectrum.

Just as the UNTS represented the militant leftist position among Salvadoran labor and peasant groups and UNOC affected a more moderate, center-left stance, there were also conservative labor groups still functioning in the late 1980s. The two leading organizations in this category were the General Confederation of Unions (Confederacion General de Sindicatos--CGS) and the National Confederation of Workers (Confederacion Nacional de Trabajadores--CNT). Their numbers were small--CGS membership was estimated at 7,000 in 1986--and their political influence correspondingly low. By 1988, however, as Arena took control of the legislative branch and seemed poised to win the presidency, the position of these conservative labor groups may well have been enhanced, if only because moderate organizations such as UNOC were all but certain to see their leverage with the government diminish considerably. The radical UNTS, which was condemned as a rebel front group even by the Duarte administration (although it seemed clear that the majority of rank-and-file UNTS members were not FMLN sympathizers), could look forward to little or no sympathy from an Arena government.

El Salvador - The Roman Catholic Church

The Salvadoran Roman Catholic Church has been affected by the country's political and social turmoil. During the tenure of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez as archbishop of San Salvador (1977-80), the positions of the church, as expressed by Romero, drifted in favor of those activist Roman Catholics who advocated liberation theology. By the time of his assassination in March 1980, Romero had become the leading critic of official and unofficial repression in El Salvador. Judging by the content of his weekly homilies, some observers felt that his moral outrage over abuses committed by armed forces personnel and death squad forces was drawing him closer to a public recognition of the legitimacy of armed struggle against the government.

Romero, however, never spoke for a majority of the Salvadoran bishops. The only other member of the hierarchy at the time who was known to harbor some sympathy for Romero's proliberationist views was Arturo Rivera y Damas. Rivera, who had been a leading candidate for the archbishop's position in 1977 but was passed over in favor of the reputedly more conservative Romero, was a critic of government and military human rights abuses, especially when they involved the persecution or murder of Roman Catholic clergy or lay workers. Under Romero, he occupied a swing position between the activist stance of the archbishop and the more conservative attitudes of the country's three remaining bishops. Although they readily endorsed condemnations of military repression, the three bishops differed sharply with the thrust of liberation theology, which they saw as excessively politicized. Their concerns for the role of the church under a leftist government were strengthened by the example of postrevolutionary Nicaragua, where the traditional church was viewed by the ruling party as a rival and was harassed by the state security and propaganda apparatus.

Rivera succeeded Romero as archbishop in April 1980. He began to take the sort of moderate political stance that most observers had expected of Romero. Rivera spoke out against abuses by all parties and refused to take sides in the civil conflict. He initially advocated the cessation of foreign military aid to both sides. By the late 1980s, however, the church's position on this point had softened somewhat, owing to the ideological intransigence of the FMLN and the seemingly indiscriminate deployment of antipersonnel mines by its forces. In line with the position of the Vatican, Rivera sought to eschew political advocacy in favor of moral suasion so as to render the church a viable mediator in the conflict.

Rivera and other representatives of the church, particularly San Salvador auxiliary bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez, have served as mediators in situations ranging from labor disputes to negotiations between the government and the FMLN-FDR. At President Duarte's request and with the acquiescence of the rebel leadership, Archbishop Rivera served as an intermediary throughout the fitful process of dialogue that began with the October 1984 meeting in La Palma. When that process broke down, the archbishop maintained contacts with both sides in an effort to keep tenuous lines of communication open.

By the late 1980s, the attitude of the Salvadoran hierarchy toward the guerrillas had hardened considerably. Public statements by Rivera and others condemned the insurgents' tactics in the field, their ideology, their political intransigence, and their efforts to disrupt the electoral process. The FMLN, in turn, denounced the bishops as tools of the "Duarte dictatorship" and questioned their fitness as objective mediators. Although they hinted that they might reject the church's participation in future negotiations, the leadership of the FMLN suggested in May 1988 that contacts between it and the Legislative Assembly be channeled through Rivera.

The church publicly supported the electoral process begun in 1982 and urged citizens to participate in it. At the same time, church spokesmen were quick to criticize the mudslinging nature of Salvadoran campaigning and urged politicians to stress substantive issues over personal attacks. Although they did not interject themselves as advocates or lobbyists, the bishops generally supported the reform programs initiated and maintained by the PDC government and opposed on moral grounds any effort by the elite to restrict or eliminate those reforms. In the tradition established by Romero, Rivera continued to condemn in his weekly homilies reported excesses by the military or security forces.

El Salvador - Mass Communications

By Central American standards, the Salvadoran media enjoyed a moderate freedom of expression and ability to present competing political points of view. They were not as restricted as the media in Nicaragua, but neither were they as diverse, pluralistic, and unrestricted as those of Costa Rica. Although the government did not exercise direct prior censorship, the owners of most publications and some broadcast media outlets exercised a form of self-censorship based either on their personal political conservatism, fear of violent retaliation by right- or left-wing groups, or possible adverse action by the government, such as refusal to renew a broadcast license.

Article 6 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression that does not "subvert the public order, nor injure the morals, honor, or private life of others." This language, taken directly from the 1962 constitution, was rendered meaningless by official and unofficial repression and left-wing terrorist action against the media and its practitioners in the early 1980s. With the post-1982 advent of a freely elected democratic system of government, however, and the accompanying decline in politically motivated violence, the climate under which the press and broadcast media operated began to improve.

This expansion in freedom of expression was not as evident in the print medium as it was in the broadcast media. Most newspapers were owned by conservative business people, and their editorial policies tended to reflect the views of their publishers rather than to adhere to the standards of objectivity normally expected in the North American or West European press. This did not mean, however, that the Salvadoran press was monolithically conservative. The weekly publication of the archdiocese of San Salvador, Orientacion, presented critical analysis of the political scene. Readily available publications emanating from the Central American University presented a generally leftist, antigovernment perspective on events. Small private presses also produced pamphlets, bulletins, and flyers expressing opinions across the political spectrum. The leading daily newspapers in the late 1980s were El Diario de Hoy, with a circulation of approximately 75,000; El Mundo, with approximately 60,000; and La Prensa Grafica, with approximately 100,000, all published in San Salvador.

Freedom of expression in print was best exemplified by the common practice of taking out paid political advertisements, or campos pagados. Most newspapers accepted such advertisements from all sources. Campos pagados were one of the few means of access to the print medium available to leftist groups such as the FMLN-FDR and other like-minded organizations. Campos pagados also were frequently employed by political parties, private sector groups, unions, government agencies, and other groups to express their opinions. The content of the advertisements was unregulated and uncensored. Their cost effectively limited their use to groups and organizations rather than to individuals.

The influence of the press was limited by illiteracy and the concentration of publishing in the capital. Radio did not suffer from these handicaps and consequently was the most widely utilized medium in the country. In 1985 Salvadorans owned an estimated 2 million radio receivers. Although the majority of the seventy-six stations on the air broadcast from San Salvador, the country's small size and the use of repeater stations meant that virtually all of the national territory was within broadcast range. There was only one government-owned radio station. Although the commercial stations tended to emphasize music over news programming, the representation of competing political viewpoints in news segments was becoming a common practice by the mid-1980s. In addition to the ERP's Radio Venceremos, the Farabundo Marti Popular Liberation Forces (Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion Farabundo Marti--FPL) operated a second clandestine station, Radio Farabundo Marti. Both stations served as propaganda organs of the FMLN.

According to many observers, television was the medium where increased political latitude was most evident. Television news crews covered press conferences held by diverse political groups, interviewed opposition politicians such as the FDR's Ungo and Zamora, and investigated allegations of human rights abuses by the military and security forces. Like radio stations, television stations enjoyed virtually complete coverage of the country. Television did not have the market penetration exhibited by radio, however, because of the higher cost of television receivers. A 1985 estimate placed the number of receivers at 350,000. There were six television channels operating in the late 1980s. Of these, two were government-owned educational channels with limited air time. The remaining four were commercial channels.

El Salvador - Relations with the United States

As the civil conflict intensified after 1981 and its effects rippled through the economic and political life of the nation, El Salvador turned toward the United States in an effort to stave off a potential guerrilla victory. The administrations of presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan responded to the Salvadorans' appeals, and by the mid-1980s government forces appeared to have the upper hand in the field.

Total United States aid to El Salvador rose from US$264.2 million in fiscal year (FY) 1982 to an estimated US$557.8 million in FY 1987. On average over this period, economic aid exceeded military aid by more than a two-to-one ratio. Economic aid was provided in the form of Economic Support Funds (ESF), food aid under Public Law 480 (P.L. 480), and development aid administered by the United States Agency for International Development (AID). ESF was intended to provide balance of payments support to finance essential non food imports. Assistance with food imports as well as the direct donation of foodstuffs was accomplished through the P.L. 480 program. Development aid covered a broad spectrum of projects in such fields as agriculture, population planning, health, education, and training. For FY 1987, regular non supplemental ESF appropriations totaled US$181.7 million, and combined food and development aid amounted to US$122.7 million. The regular FY 1987 appropriation for military aid was US$116.5 million.

This aid was crucial to the survival of the Salvadoran government and the ability of the armed forces to contain the insurgency. The situation amplified the personal importance of Duarte after his 1984 election to the presidency. Well known and respected in Washington, Duarte was able to foster a consensus within the United States Congress for high levels of aid as a show of support for the incipient democratic process in his country. These large aid allocations, in turn, promoted stability by deterring possible coup attempts by conservative factions of the military and other opponents of PDC rule. At the same time, the lifeline of aid also rendered El Salvador dependent to a large degree on the United States. A certain amount of popular resentment over this dependence was reflected in adverse reaction from some Salvadoran politicians, journalists, and other opinion makers to Duarte's October 1987 gesture of kissing the United States flag while on a visit to Washington. Some analysts also identified an element of anti-United States sentiment in Arena's March 1988 electoral victory.

El Salvador's dependence on United States support sometimes led to policy moves or public pronouncements that were perceived as responses to pressure from Washington. The 1986 economic austerity measures were one example. Another was Duarte's repeated call for the Nicaraguan government to negotiate with its armed opposition--the so-called contras--in spite of the president's public refusal to endorse the United States policy of aid to the contras. El Salvador also was quick to condemn Panamanian strongman General Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno for his February 1988 ouster of President Eric Arturo Delvalle; most Latin American countries were somewhat circumspect with regard to the Panamanian situation, not wishing to be seen as favoring United States intervention in that country. Some actions by the Salvadoran government were clearly and unequivocally influenced by direct United States pressure, such as Duarte's April 1987 decision to deny political amnesty to the convicted killers of six United States citizens and others in a June 1985 terrorist attack in San Salvador. By taking this action, Duarte averted the loss of US$18.5 million in economic aid.

Although the United States exerted significant influence over government policy in El Salvador, it did not enjoy the absolute control ascribed to it by leftist propaganda. In some areas, Washington's policy goals were frustrated by the intransigence of certain political actors. The obstruction of full implementation of agrarian reform by conservative legislators was one example; another was resistance among the officer corps to the introduction of counterinsurgency tactics. Perhaps the most vexing issue for United States policymakers was human rights. Despite an impressive statistical decline in the mid-1980s, political killings continued. These acts, perpetrated by both right-wing and left-wing groups, helped to feed the climate of violence that inhibited the institutionalization of the democratic process.

United States influence in El Salvador was also diminished temporarily by the 1986-87 revelations surrounding the so-called Iran-Contra Affair. The Reagan administration's preoccupation with these revelations, its loss of international prestige in connection with them, and the embarrassing disclosure of covert Salvadoran military involvement in the contra supply network all combined to lessen United States involvement in and influence over Salvadoran affairs. Many observers have seen evidence of waning United States influence in Central America in the Duarte administration's decision to sign the Central American Peace Agreement in August 1987 at Esquipulas, Guatemala, despite the last-minute announcement of an alternative peace plan by Reagan and United States speaker of the House of Representatives, James Wright.

Another point of contention between the two governments was United States immigration reform. By most estimates, there were some 500,000 Salvadorans residing illegally in the United States in the late 1980s. Modifications of the United States immigration law enacted in 1987 technically mandated the expulsion of illegals who had entered the country after 1982. Since the bulk of Salvadoran illegal immigration took place after that date, the new law threatened the majority of this population with repatriation. This prospect was worrisome to the Duarte government for two major reasons: such a large influx was certain to place added strain on employment and public services, already areas of serious concern for the government; and the return of Salvadorans resident in the United States meant the loss of dollar-denominated remittances regularly transmitted to family members who had remained behind in El Salvador. Estimates of the total amount of remittance income--a valuable source of foreign exchange for the economy--ranged as high as US$1.4 billion a year. Duarte's pleas for a Salvadoran exemption from the immigration reform were denied by the White House. Action to deport Salvadoran illegals, however, was held up pending consideration in the United States Congress of bills granting exemptions to Salvadoran and Nicaraguan immigrants.

Relations between the United States and El Salvador appeared to be entering a period of transition after the March 1988 elections. Under both the Carter and the Reagan administrations, United States policy had supported the centrist PDC as the surest path to the development of a functional democratic system. The decline of the PDC and the ascendancy of Arena called for some adjustment in that policy. Despite some marked anti-United States sentiment among the areneros, there were no early indications of potential friction between the United States and an Arena government. The nomination of Cristiani as the party's 1989 presidential candidate instead of the more controversial D'Aubuisson was seen by some observers as a conciliatory gesture toward Washington.

El Salvador - The Contadora Process

The Contadora negotiating process was initiated in January 1983 at a meeting of the foreign ministers of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama on Contadora Island in the Gulf of Panama. The idea of a purely Latin American diplomatic effort to stabilize the Central American situation and prevent either military confrontation between neighboring states or direct military intervention by the United States was attributed to then-president of Colombia Belisario Betancur Cuartas. These "Core Four" countries served as mediators in subsequent negotiating sessions among the five Central American states.

By September 1983, the negotiations had arrived at a consensus on twenty-one points or objectives. These included democratization and internal reconciliation, an end to external support for paramilitary forces, reductions in weaponry and foreign military advisers, prohibition of foreign military bases, and reactivation of regional economic mechanisms such as the Central American Common Market. The twenty-one points were incorporated into a draft treaty, or acta, one year later.

In September 1984, the Nicaraguan government took the other four government delegations by surprise with its call for the immediate signing of the acta as a final treaty. The governments of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica had been suspicious of Nicaraguan intentions throughout the negotiating process. This precipitous rush to finalize the process forced the four to reassess their positions and to examine more closely a document that they previously might have viewed as little more than a diplomatic exercise. The United States government, which had been advising the Salvadorans informally with regard to the negotiations, strongly recommended against signing the acta, citing its lack of adequate verification and enforcement provisions, its deferral of the issues of reductions in arms and foreign advisers, the freezing of United States military aid to El Salvador and Honduras, and the vagueness of the sections on democratization and internal reconciliation. Although Nicaragua's action had the effect of embarrassing the governments of the other four states and portraying Nicaragua before world public opinion as the only serious negotiator in the Contadora process, it ultimately succeeded in drawing the remaining four Central American states into closer consultation. This collaboration led to the October 1984 Act of Tegucigalpa in which the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica emphasized their commitment to the establishment of pluralistic democratic systems and their belief that simultaneous and verifiable arms reductions were a necessary component of this process. The Guatemalan government was represented in the discussions in the Honduran capital but declined to sign the resultant document.

Although improved verification procedures were negotiated, the talks bogged down by mid-1985. The Nicaraguan delegates rejected discussion of democratization and internal reconciliation as an unwarranted intervention in their country's internal affairs. The other four states maintained that these provisions were necessary to ensure a lasting settlement. Another major sticking point was the cessation of aid to insurgent groups, particularly United States aid to the contras. Although the United States government was not a party to the Contadora negotiations, it was understood that the United States would sign a separate protocol agreeing to the terms of a final treaty in such areas as aid to insurgents, military aid and assistance to Central American governments, and joint military exercises in the region. The Nicaraguans demanded that any Contadora treaty call for an immediate end to contra aid, whereas the core four countries and the remaining Central American states, with the exception of Mexico, downplayed the importance of such a provision. In addition, the Nicaraguan government raised objections to specific cuts in its military force levels, citing the imperatives of the counterinsurgency campaign and defense against a potential United States invasion. In an effort to break this impasse, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay announced in July 1985 that they were joining the Contadora process as a "support group" in an effort to resolve the remaining points of contention and achieve a comprehensive agreement.

Despite the combined efforts of the core four and the "support group," the Contadora process unofficially came to a halt in June 1986, when the Central American countries still could not resolve their differences sufficiently to permit the signing of a final treaty draft. Later that month, the United States Congress approved US$100 million in aid to the contras in spite of numerous requests from the Contadora group to refrain from such unilateral action. Although the core four and support group countries vowed to continue their diplomatic efforts and did convene negotiating sessions subsequent to the unsuccessful June 6 meeting in Panama City, the Contadora process was clearly moribund. The Central American states, with the exception of Nicaragua, resolved to continue the negotiating process on their own without the benefit of outside mediation.

El Salvador - The Arias Plan

Throughout the Contadora negotiations, El Salvador's objectives included the preservation of its military aid and assistance relationship with the United States; the resolution of the civil conflict on terms consistent with the 1983 Constitution--that is, through incorporation of the rebels into the established system rather than through a power-sharing arrangement; and a verifiable termination of Nicaraguan military and logistical aid to the FMLN insurgents. On the final point, the Salvadorans felt, along with the Hondurans and Costa Ricans, that the liberalization of the Sandinista-dominated government in Nicaragua was the surest guarantor of success. Given the unanimity of opinion among these three governments and the less emphatic but still supportive response of the government of Guatemalan president Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo, the regional consenus of opinion seemed to be that a streamlined, strictly Central American peace initiative stood a better chance of success than the by then unwieldy Contadora process.

The five Central American presidents had held a meeting in May 1986 in Esquipulas, Guatemala, in an effort to work out their differences over the revised Contadora draft treaty. This meeting was a precursor of the process that in early 1987 superseded Contadora. The leading proponent and architect of this process was the president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sanchez. After consultations with representatives of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and the United States, Arias announced on February 15, 1987, that he had presented a peace proposal to representatives of the other Central American states, with the exception of Nicaragua. The plan called for dialogue between governments and opposition groups, amnesty for political prisoners, cease-fires in ongoing insurgent conflicts, democratization, and free elections in all five regional states. The plan also called for renewed negotiations on arms reductions and an end to outside aid to insurgent forces.

The first formal negotiating session to include representatives of the Nicaraguan government was held in Tegucigalpa on July 31, 1987. At that meeting of foreign ministers, the Salvadoran delegation pressed the concept of simultaneous implementation of provisions such as the declaration of cease-fires and amnesties and the denial of support or safehaven for insurgent forces. This approach reportedly softened the attitude of the Nicaraguans, who had come to the meeting declaring opposition to any agreement that did not require a prior cutoff of foreign support to the contras.

The Tegucigalpa meeting paved the way for an August 6, 1987, gathering of the five Central American presidents in Esquipulas. The negotiations among the presidents reportedly were marked by blunt accusations and sharp exchanges, particularly between Duarte and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega Saavedra. Duarte's primary concern was Nicaraguan aid to the Salvadoran guerrillas, and he was reported to have pressed Ortega repeatedly on this issue. The Nicaraguan president's responses apparently reassured Duarte, who consented to sign the agreement. His decision to do so despite signals of disapproval from Washington reflected only in part the diminished influence of the Reagan administration in light of the Iran-Contra Affair; it was also a calculated move based on the Salvadoran president's belief that a more favorable treaty was not achievable. The final agreement, signed on August 7, called for the cessation of outside aid and support to insurgent forces but did not require the elimination or reduction of such aid to government forces. If they proved to be enforceable, these provisions would work to the benefit of the Salvadoran government and to the detriment of the FMLN, since the insurgents would be expected to forgo outside assistance while the government could continue to receive military aid from the United States. The agreement also urged dialogue with opposition groups "in accordance with the law" and was therefore compatible with the Duarte government's efforts and preconditions for negotiations with rebel forces. The Salvadorans were already in compliance with the sections calling for press freedom, political pluralism, and abolition of state-of-siege restrictions.

The Central American Peace Agreement, variously referred to as the "Guatemala Plan," "Esquipulas II," or the "Arias Plan," initially required the implementation by November 5, 1987, of certain conditions, including decrees of amnesty in those countries involved in insurgent conflicts; the initiation of dialogue between governments and unarmed political opposition groups or groups that had taken advantage of amnesty; the undertaking of efforts to negotiate cease-fires between governments and insurgent groups; the cessation of outside aid to insurgent forces as well as denying the use of each country's national territory to "groups trying to destabilize the governments of the countries of Central America;" and the assurance of conditions conducive to the development of a "pluralistic and participatory democratic process" in all the signatory states.

A meeting of the Central American foreign ministers held one week prior to November 5 effectively extended the deadline by interpreting that date as the requirement for initiation, not completion, of the agreement's provisions. The Salvadoran government, however, had already taken several steps by that time to comply with the agreement. Direct talks between the government and representatives of the FMLN-FDR held in October failed to reach agreement on terms for a cease-fire. The talks were broken off by the rebels, ostensibly in protest over the death squad- style murder of a Salvadoran human rights investigator. Duarte proceeded to declare a unilateral fifteen-day cease-fire to enable guerrilla combatants to take advantage of an amnesty program approved by the Legislative Assembly on October 27.

Overall compliance with the Arias Plan was uneven by late 1988, and the process appeared to be losing momentum. One round of talks took place between the Cerezo administration and representatives of the Guatemalan guerrilla front in Madrid, Spain, on October 6-7, 1987. President Cerezo discontinued this effort, however, claiming that the guerrilla representatives had taken an unrealistic and unreasonable bargaining position. The Nicaraguan government took a number of initial steps to comply with the treaty, such as allowing the independent daily La Prensa to reopen and the radio station of the Roman Catholic Church to resume broadcasting, establishing a national reconciliation committee that incorporated representatives of the unarmed opposition, and eventually undertaking cease-fire negotiations with representatives of the contras. The optimism engendered by the signature of a provisional cease-fire accord on March 23, 1988, at Sapoa, Nicaragua, however, had largely dissipated by July, when the government broke up a protest demonstration in the southern city of Nandaime, expelled the United States ambassador and seven other diplomats for alleged collaboration with the demonstrators, and again shut down La Prensa and the Catholic radio station. In El Salvador, although the FMLN-FDR had been persuaded by President Arias to accept the plan as the basis for negotiations with the Salvadoran government, neither side made any immediate effort to resume the direct talks broken off in October 1987. A definitive cease-fire, therefore, remained elusive. The Salvadoran government also maintained that the Sandinistas continued to provide aid and support to the FMLN. In January 1988, the Salvadorans protested before an international commission monitoring compliance with the treaty that the headquarters of the FMLN general command continued to function from a location near Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, that FMLN training and propaganda facilities continued to operate in Nicaragua, and that arms deliveries from Nicaragua to El Salvador persisted after the signing of the peace treaty on August 7. The effect of the PDC's political decline and Arena's higher government profile on the future course of the Arias Plan was unclear as the country approached the 1989 presidential elections.

El Salvador maintained normal bilateral diplomatic relations with the countries of Central America despite the strains of regional unrest, uncertainty over the intentions of the Sandinistas, and lingering disputes with Honduras. In the late 1980s, relations with Guatemala, governed by an ideologically compatible Christian democratic government, and with Costa Rica were stable. Differences with Nicaragua were rooted in basic ideological conflict, however, and appeared likely to persist. Although neighboring Honduras was experiencing a democratic transition not unlike that taking place in El Salvador, several points of contention prevented the full establishment of close and cooperative ties. The most intangible of these frictions was lingering ill will, especially between the two countries' respective military establishments, over the 1969 "Football War". Another dispute revolved around the future disposition of Salvadoran refugees residing in Honduras. In early 1988, there were an estimated 20,000 such refugees housed in a number of camps in Honduras, some of which were administered by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Despite ongoing security problems posed by the insurgency, a resettlement program initiated in 1986 by the Salvadoran government in cooperation with domestic and international relief agencies had assisted in the return of some 10,000 Salvadoran refugees. Complete repatriation from the camps, as advocated by the Honduran government, seemed to be contingent on a further winding down of the insurgency.

The main stumbling block in Salvadoran-Honduran relations, however, was the failure of the two countries to agree to a demarcation of their border. This dispute was another legacy of the 1969 war, although it also had deeper historical roots. Several agreements negotiated during the nineteenth century attempted to define the boundaries between the two states, but periodic disputes persisted. The 1969 war further complicated this situation, as Salvadoran troops pushed over a border that had never been firmly demarcated and briefly occupied Honduran territory. So contentious was the territorial dispute that a final peace treaty between the two countries was not signed until October 1980, and even then only 225 of the border's 343 kilometers were definitively delimited. The remaining disputed "pockets" (bolsones) along the border, along with island and maritime areas, were submitted to a joint border commission for resolution. At the end of its five-year mandate, the commission had not achieved agreement. Direct government-to- government talks also failed to resolve the issue. The dispute, therefore, was submitted to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, for adjudication. A decision was not expected until the late 1980s.

El Salvador - Bibliography

Anderson, Charles W. "El Salvador: The Army as Reformer." Pages
     70-91 in Martin C. Needler (ed.), Political Systems of
     Latin America. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1970.

Anderson, Thomas P. Matanza: El Salvador's Communist Revolt
     of 1932. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971.

Baloyra, Enrique A. El Salvador in Transition. Chapel
     Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982.

Caldera T., Hilda. Historia del Partido Democrata
     Cristiano. Tegucigalpa, Honduras: Instituto
     Centroamericano de Estudios Politicos, 1983.

Christian, Shirley. "The Other Side: El Salvador's Fractious,
     Frenzied Left," New Republic, 189, No. 3, October
     24, 1983, 13-15, 18-19.

Dickey, Christopher. "Expected Certification for El Salvador
     Based on Mixed Record," Washington Post, January
     21, 1983, A19.

Duarte, Jose Napoleon. Duarte: My Story. New York: G.P.
     Putnam's Sons, 1986.

Feinberg, Richard E. "Central America: No Easy Answers,"
     Foreign Affairs, 59, No. 5, Summer 1981, 1121-46.

Findling, John E. Close Neighbors, Distant Friends.
     (Contributions in American History, No. 122.) New York:
     Greenwood Press, 1987.

Flemion, Philip F. Historical Dictionary of El Salvador.
     (Latin American Historical Dictionaries, No. 5.) Metuchen,
     New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1972.

Harris, Kevin, and Mario Espinosa. "Reform, Repression, and
     Revolution in El Salvador," Fletcher Forum, 5, No.
     2, Summer 1981, 295-319.

Karnes, Thomas L. The Failure of Union: Central America,
     1824-1960. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
     Press, 1961.

Kincaid, A. Douglas. "Peasants into Rebels: Community and Class
     in Rural El Salvador," Comparative Studies in Society
     and History, 29, No. 3, July 1987, 466-94.

Leiken, Robert S. "The Salvadoran Left." Pages 111-30 in Robert
     S. Leiken (ed.), Central America: Anatomy of
     Conflict. New York: Pergamon Press, 1984.

Leiken, Robert S., and Barry Rubin (eds.). The Central
     American Crisis Reader. New York: Summit Books, 1987.

LeoGrande, William M., and Carla Anne Robbins. "Oligarchs and
     Officers: The Crisis in El Salvador," Foreign
     Affairs, 58, No. 5, Summer 1980, 1084-1103.

McColm, R. Bruce. "El Salvador's Guerrillas: Structure, Strategy,
     and . . . Success?" Freedom at Issue, No. 74,
     September-October 1983, 3-16.

McDonald, Ronald H. "El Salvador: The Politics of Revolution."
     Pages 528-44 in Howard J. Wiarda and Harvey F. Kline (eds.),
     Latin American Politics and Development. (2nd ed.)
     Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1985.

Montgomery, Tommie Sue. Revolution in El Salvador: Origins
     and Evolution. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1982.

North, Liisa. Bitter Grounds: Roots of Revolt in El
     Salvador. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill, 1985.

Rodriguez, Mario. Central America. Englewood Cliffs, New
     Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1965.

Schmidt, Steffen. El Salvador: America's Next Vietnam?
     Salisbury, North Carolina: Documentary, 1983.

Schulz, Donald E. "El Salvador: Revolution and Counterrevolution
     in the Living Museum." Pages 189-268 in Donald E. Schulz and
     Douglas H. Graham (eds.), Revolution and
     Counterrevolution in Central America and the Caribbean.
     Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984.

Simpson, Lesley Bird. The Encomienda in New Spain.
     (University of California Publications in History Series.)
     Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press,
     1929.

United States. Congress. 97th, 2d Session. Senate. Committee on
     Foreign Relations. Report of the U.S. Official Observer
     Mission to the El Salvador Constituent Assembly Elections of
     March 28, 1982. Washington: GPO, 1982.

------. Department of State. Communist Interference in El
     Salvador: Documents Demonstrating Communist Support of the
     Salvadoran Insurgency. Washington: February 23, 1981.

Webre, Stephen. Jose Napoleon Duarte and the Christian
     Democratic Party in Salvadoran Politics, 1960-1972.
     Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979.

White, Alastair. El Salvador. (Nations of the Modern
     World Series.) Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1982.

Woodward, Ralph Lee, Jr. Central America: A Nation
     Divided. (Latin American Histories Series.) New York:
     Oxford University Press, 1985.

El Salvador - The Economy

UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT IMPLEMENTED a major land reform in 1980, the most notable characteristic of El Salvador's economic structure was the unequal distribution of landownership. The economy was dominated by a few large plantations that produced cash crops, especially coffee, for export. The slow and difficult implementation of a sweeping three-phase land reform begun in 1980, however, considerably altered the pattern of unequal landownership.

El Salvador's economic development in the 1980s was hindered by a resource drain caused by the country's civil conflict, natural disasters, a lack of economic expertise, and adverse changes in the terms of trade. Consequently, by 1987 El Salvador's economic output barely equaled 80 percent of its 1978 level, and exports were only the third most important source of foreign exchange after foreign aid and remittances from Salvadorans living abroad. The most damaging of these factors was the civil conflict, particularly its impact on the country's infrastructure. By mid-1987 observers estimated that the total cost to the economy based on lost agricultural production, damaged infrastructure, and funds diverted from economic to military purposes was about US$1.5 billion.

El Salvador entered the 1970s as a relatively poor middleincome country with per capita income greater than that of Thailand and slightly less than that of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Malaysia and Costa Rica. Its overall level of development was roughly comparable to these countries as well, judging by such indicators as industrial contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), life expectancy, the cost of labor, and per capita income. El Salvador had one other important characteristic in common with these other four countries--a hard-working, productive, and motivated labor force. El Salvador's annual rate of investment growth (3.5 percent), however, lagged substantially behind the other four during the 1960s. During this decade, gross investment grew annually by 24 percent in South Korea, 16 percent in Thailand, 7.5 percent in Malaysia, and 7.1 percent in Costa Rica. El Salvador's inferior rate of investment growth continued and in some cases widened during the 1970s.

By 1982 Salvadoran development had fallen far behind that of South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and even Costa Rica. Industrial production hovered around 20 percent of GDP, whereas in the other countries it accounted for between 27 percent (Costa Rica) and 40 percent (South Korea). Salvadoran per capita income fell to about a third of South Korea's and Malaysia's, half of Costa Rica's, and 15 percent below that of Thailand. Making matters worse, El Salvador's terms of trade had deteriorated much more rapidly than had that of the other countries.

Between 1982 and 1986, El Salvador fell even further behind as it failed to diversify its exports away from agricultural commodities and into manufactured goods. In 1986 per capita GDP was almost half its level of 1977, and the country entered a period of disinvestment. As other middle-income countries appeared to be taking off, El Salvador was regressing.

El Salvador - GROWTH AND STRUCTURE OF THE ECONOMY

El Salvador's economy has always been highly dependent on a single agricultural export commodity. Following independence, indigo was the most important commodity to the Salvadoran economy and represented most of the country's exports. In the midnineteenth century, however, indigo was replaced in the European and North American markets by artificial dyes. Consequently, indigo producers were forced to seek alternative commodities that would permit them to maintain their level of earnings. Fortunately for El Salvador's wealthier landowners, the decline of indigo was concurrent with the rise in world demand for another crop that thrives in tropical climates--coffee. The coffee export sector dominated the Salvadoran economy by the 1870s.

During the 1950s and 1960s, coffee export earnings helped fuel the expansion of cotton and sugar cultivation (which subsequently became the country's second and third most important export crops, respectively) and financed the development of light manufacturing. In fact, in the years immediately following the Revolution of 1948, which reduced the direct political influence of the coffee interests, the taxes on coffee exports were increased tenfold in order to finance industrialization. These funds were used to develop the country's transportation infrastructure and electricity generation capabilities.

Light manufacturing developed rapidly in El Salvador during the 1960s, largely as a result of the establishment of the Central American Common Market (CACM). El Salvador's industrial development hitherto had been hindered by the absence of a domestic market for these goods. The small class of wealthy landowners generally preferred high-quality imports, while the large lower class lacked the disposable income to buy most manufactured goods. The CACM, however, improved this situation by expanding the market for Salvadoran goods through the elimination of intraregional trade barriers. As a result, the manufactured goods produced in El Salvador became more competitive in Honduras than those from the United States or other non-Central American countries. The CACM-stimulated industrial growth never threatened the predominance of coffee production within the Salvadoran economy, however. Moreover, the stimulus proved to be short lived because the CACM broke down in the 1970s.

The civil conflict and the disincentives inherent in some government policies disrupted coffee, sugar, and cotton production during the 1980s, resulting in a general lack of dynamism in the Salvadoran economy. GDP increased at a 4.3 percent annual rate between 1965 and 1978 but, reflecting the effects of civil unrest, declined by 23 percent between 1979 and 1982. The economy modestly expanded between 1983 to 1986, with average annual growth rates of about 1.5 percent. The country's total GDP equaled approximately US$4.6 billion in 1986. Real per capital GDP was approximately US$938.

During the 1960s and 1970s, gross capital formation increased by an impressive 6.6 percent annual rate, reflecting investor confidence and the positive effects of the CACM. Between 1980 and 1986, however, as investors reacted to the instability caused by the civil conflict, depreciation outstripped investment at an annual rate of 0.8 percent. Private outflows of capital slowed in 1987, resulting in a less drastic capital account deficit of US$34 million, less than a quarter of the outflow registered in 1986.

El Salvador`s economy expanded an estimated 2.5 percent in 1987, representing the largest single-year gain since 1978. This moderate improvement in the country's overall economic activity was primarily the result of a modest rebound in agricultural output and a substantial reactivation of construction activity led by the private sector. Gains in construction investment reflected efforts to replace structures damaged in the 1986 earthquake, which caused an estimated US$1 billion in damage to the country's buildings and infrastructure. Two additional sources of growth were transfer receipts (mostly from Salvadorans working in the United States) and official grants from the United States government. In 1987 net private transfers, or transfer receipts, accounted for over 4 percent of GDP, while grants or official transfers from the United States government represented 5 percent.

Although 1987 was the Salvadoran economy's most positive year since the beginning of the civil conflict, attempts to measure and judge the economy's health should compare the country's economic performance in 1987 with its most recent economic peak in 1978. Using this method to evaluate El Salvador's economy casts a less favorable light than the alternative year-to-year measurement. Although El Salvador's economy grew rapidly in 1987 compared with other years in the 1980s, real income was still almost 20 percent below its 1978 level.

One important but ominous indicator of future economic health was the low level of gross fixed capital formation in 1987, which remained substantially below the levels necessary to expand production capacity and generate productivity gains. Gross fixed capital formation, 14 percent of GDP in 1987, was at a level significantly below those experienced in the 1960s and 1970s.

Consumption expenditures increased by less than 1 percent in 1987, primarily because of an 8.7 percent drop in general government expenditures. Because the International Monetary Fund (IMF) supervised the economic stabilization program, the government was obligated to reduce its budget deficit. Also, because revenue sources consistently failed to close the gap between expenditures and revenues, the government was forced to reduce consumption expenditures in 1987.

El Salvador - Income Distribution

Moderate economic growth in 1987 did not make up for the uneven income distribution in El Salvador. Poorer segments of the population did not share in the modest gains of the economy in 1987. In the agricultural sector, for example, the minimum wage remained unchanged at c8 per eight-hour day; at the same time, inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, rose by 27 percent during the first half of 1987. Real wages in both the private and the public sectors continued their precipitous descent to 13.3 percent in 1987. In 1987 private sector monthly wages averaged approximately C889. Although no current measure of income distribution was available in mid-1988, the combination of negative wage gains and positive aggregate growth implied a worsening of income distribution between employers and labor.

El Salvador - Sectors of the Economy

An examination of GDP by sector confirmed that, despite a modest recovery in 1987, El Salvador's economy was still vulnerable. Even though most sectors showed some growth in 1987, all registered below their 1978 or 1979 peaks.

Thanks to improved weather conditions, the agricultural sector recovered in 1987 from its 1986 decline, rising 3.1 percent, which merely erased the sector's 3.1 percent loss in 1986. The importance of the agricultural sector, particularly coffee, in the economy cannot be overemphasized. In 1987, for example, despite a decrease in coffee production value attributable to lower international coffee prices, coffee still represented approximately 7 percent of GDP, 30 percent of agricultural output, and 60 percent of total exports. Coffee production recovered substantially, about 6 percent, in 1987 as a result of improved weather conditions and increased use of fertilizers. Fortunately, because most coffee was grown in the western part of the country, away from the civil conflict, production was unaffected.

Analysts believed that in the future the fate of El Salvador's coffee earnings would depend on both producer prices and government-imposed price or exchange controls. According to some estimates, producer prices might eventually decline to levels at or below the average cost of production. Such a decline in prices could have catastrophic consequences for the country in both the short term and the long term. A decline in coffee prices would limit the country's ability to earn foreign exchange, resulting in foreign exchange allocation problems. Foreign currency shortages would then exert upward pressure on prices. Unprofitable production could impede further investment in coffee production and eventually reduce the coffee industry's capacity to generate export surpluses.

Government policies had a major impact on the profitability of coffee production. Price controls and exchange rate policies pursued by the government of Jose Napoleon Duarte Fuentes during the early 1980s led many coffee growers to claim that coffee growing was unprofitable. Even in years of strong world prices, coffee growers were adversely affected by the exchange rate manipulation and price controls effected by the National Coffee Institute (Instituto Nacional de Cafe--Incafe). It was unclear, however, whether Incafe would continue to operate under a more conservative government.

Sugar and cotton, once important agricultural crops, accounted for less than 10 percent of agricultural value added in 1987 and less than 5 percent of total Salvadoran export earnings. Low world prices adversely affected sugar production and inhibited investments. Cotton production declined because of the armed conflict and low international prices. For example, in 1986 average production costs of cotton exceeded international prices.

During 1987 manufacturing accounted for about 15 percent of total value added and continued its consistent recovery. Nevertheless, the sector's estimated 2.7 percent growth left value added in manufacturing almost 10 percent below the 1980 level. The gradual recovery in manufacturing could be attributed to increased demand for food products, beverages, and nonmetallic products. In 1987 food processing and beverages represented more than half of the value added in the manufacturing sector.

The construction industry proved to be the economy's only bright spot in 1987, registering growth for the third consecutive year with 14 percent growth above 1986. Compared with 1979, however, activity remained low. Moreover, rapid growth in 1987 reflected efforts to replace the structures and units damaged in the 1986 earthquake rather than a general revival of the construction industry.

Services represented almost half of GDP in 1986. Like construction and manufacturing, service activity continued on an upward trend in 1987 after falling by almost 25 percent between 1978 and 1982. As in other areas, however, 1986 value added by services remained approximately 17 percent below its 1978 peak. Between 1970 and 1978, service output grew by 54 percent. With the slowdown in economic activity after 1978, services declined by 17 percent between 1978 and 1987.

Service activity was tied closely to prevailing trends in the economy and therefore didn't have the dynamism of agriculture and industry. Service activity was also oriented exclusively toward domestic markets and thus did not affect the country's external economic position. Services included transportation, commerce, insurance, health care, utilities, and other services provided by public enterprises.

El Salvador - The Labor Force

The Salvadoran labor force has been traditionally characterized as industrious, motivated, and reliable. Of new entrants to the labor force in 1986, it was estimated that 4 percent possessed executive, technical, or professional skills. Some 25 percent of all job seekers were classified as semiskilled , while 71 percent were unskilled laborers. The labor force was young, reflecting the demographic profile of the population; in 1985 more than 52 percent of workers were less than thirty years of age. The labor force remained largely agrarian and rural in the late 1980s.

Labor suffered because of a variety of economic and institutional circumstances: real wages declined, unemployment rose, and efforts to unify the fragmented labor movement were thwarted by the failure of President Duarte to implement promised labor reforms and by the polarization of union leadership. The negative trend for labor continued in 1987. The legal real minimum wage fell by 28 percent, and average real private sector and public sector wages dropped by 13.3 percent. Between 1983 and 1987, real wages declined by about one-third.

The Salvadoran Constitution details the right to organize unions and associations, but the establishment of "closed shops" (enterprises employing only union workers) was forbidden by law. The law also required the use of collective bargaining, conciliation, and arbitration before a strike could be called.

In 1986 there were approximately 150 recognized unions, employee associations, and peasant organizations, which represented 15 percent of the total work force. Although union membership stabilized in the 1980s, union activism fluctuated with prevailing economic and political conditions. For example, in 1982, while membership remained fairly constant in relation to past years, the number of workers involved in strikes fell from 13,904 in 1981 to just 373. In 1984 the number jumped to 26,111.

In 1987 the labor movement vocalized its frustrations as economic conditions stagnated and the civil conflict dragged on. Such frustrations were exacerbated by the perception that Duarte failed to implement the labor reforms he had promised during the 1984 presidential campaign. Labor leaders protested Duarte's failure to fulfill his end of the "social pact" after labor had put its weight behind him in exchange for pledges of increased inclusion of union members in the government and greater responsiveness to labor and peasant issues.

Between 1978 and 1984, private employment fell from 147,000 to 122,000, a 17 percent decline. Employment in the construction industry suffered the most during this period, declining almost 75 percent (see fig. ). Employment opportunities in 1987 continued the downward trend that began with the country's civil conflict. Although no official unemployment rates were available for 1986 or 1987, it is likely that counterbalancing forces stabilized the rate during these two years at the 1985 level, or 33 percent. First, the civil conflict continued to displace many workers and to limit employment growth. Second, the agricultural sector grew by 3.1 percent, recouping losses experienced in 1986. Finally, an estimated 2.5 percent economic growth rate in 1987 was insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate.

The impact of El Salvador's civil conflict was demonstrated in the evolution of the unemployment rate between 1978 and 1985. Over this period, the rate rose almost tenfold, from 3.1 percent to 33 percent. Labor's situation would have been even more grave without the emigration of an estimated 500,000 Salvadorans to the United States between 1978 and 1985. Remittances from workers abroad totaled US$350 million officially in 1987, although some estimates were as high as US$1 billion or more.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

Traditionally, the government has played an important role in the country's economy. This role increased substantially after 1979, provoking considerable controversy and fueling domestic political polarization. Economic policy was coordinated among the central and municipal governments and seventeen decentralized agencies, which included the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (Instituto Salvadoreno del Seguro Social--ISSS) and the Salvadoran Institute for Agrarian Reform (Instituto Salvadoreno de Transformacion Agraria--ISTA). Nine state-owned companies provided utility services to the Salvadoran public. In 1980 the government nationalized the marketing and export of coffee and sugar, two of El Salvador's most important export commodities. Since then, Incafe and the National Sugar Institute (Instituto Nacional de Az˙car--Inazucar) have acted as financial intermediaries between domestic producers and foreign markets. These bodies have been widely criticized by coffee and sugar producers because they imposed heavy export taxes and service charges that totaled some 50 percent of the sale price abroad.

Although considerable domestic criticism of the government's economic policy focused on the disincentives and inefficiency of land reform and the creation of Incafe and Inazucar, some critics maintained that another drawback of the government's economic policy was its failure to take into account the counterinsurgency effort. Many Salvadoran policymakers tended to accept the conflict as inevitable, calculating its effect only in terms of a shrinking growth rate. They apparently failed to assess a project's viability in the context of the civil conflict.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - Monetary and Credit Policies

Between 1979 and 1982, El Salvador experienced a 23 percent fall in real per capita GDP, a 35 percent decline in export earnings, and a sharp rise in its unemployment rate to an estimated 27 percent. External and internal imbalance convinced the government to stabilize the situation under the guidance of the IMF. The government targeted monetary growth and other areas and, according to the IMF, accomplished most of its goals. In 1986, after a moderate reactivation of the economy in 1984 and 1985, the government adopted a short-term adjustment program to correct remaining internal and external imbalances. This program included the following changes: unification of the exchange rate, exchange and import restrictions, a more aggressive export promotion program, new fiscal revenue-generating mechanisms, agrarian reforms, a macroeconomic and external debt management committee, and strict monetary policies to curb the country's accelerating inflation rate, a major goal of government policy.

The rate of inflation in El Salvador was determined largely by the conduct of monetary policy and by variations in exchange rates and wages. Because of a net decline in capital formation and a major devaluation of the colon, inflation doubled during the 1980s relative to the 1965-80 period. El Salvador maintained an average annual inflation rate of 14.9 percent between 1980 and 1986, compared with 7 percent per year between 1965 and 1980.

Throughout the 1980s, the government employed monetary aggregate targets, price controls, wage controls, and exchange rate freezes as mechanisms to avoid accelerated price increases. On January 1, 1981, following a surge in wholesale and consumer price inflation, the government decreed a price freeze on basic goods and services. Efforts by the Regulatory Supply Institute (Instituto Regulador de Abastecimientos--IRA) to control prices through market intervention had failed to arrest the price rises for certain necessities, and prices seemed to be out of control. The government's price freeze, in 1981 was accompanied by an intended six-month wage freeze, which actually lasted until the end of 1983. Over the 1981-83 period, real wages dropped by 29 percent in the private sector and 26 percent in the public sector.

In response to the increase in the number of transactions occurring in the parallel market as a result of the unofficial depreciation of the colon, 1985 price controls were relaxed. The result was a sudden increase in consumer price inflation from 12 percent to 22 percent, which by the end of 1985 had accelerated to a 32 percent annual rate.

When El Salvador unified its exchange rate in 1986, the price of some goods, such as oil derivatives, increased by 50 percent, while others, such as foodstuffs and clothing, held constant. Since 1986 some price controls have been lifted, allowing prices to reflect market forces. In 1986 inflation rose to 30 percent by year's end but declined to 27 percent in 1987. Continued wage controls through government intervention in employer-labor wage negotiations, an officially fixed exchange rate since 1986, and slow monetary growth ostensibly tamed the country's high inflation rate. Overall, the major results of the government's anti-inflation program were slower price inflation and real wage losses for workers.

The Central Reserve Bank of El Salvador (Banco Central de Reserva de El Salvador--BCR) set interest rates and rationed credit, generally targeting available capital for high-priority government projects. The Central Reserve Bank also regulated--and often executed directly--transactions involving foreign exchange, under a 1980 regulation to curb capital flight and control monetary supply. Small businesses, especially export businesses, were granted a majority portion of the credit, often at preferential low interest rates.

The Salvadoran government pursued restrictive monetary policies during 1987 to satisfy IMF recommendations for improving the Salvadoran balance of payments and for controlling inflation. By restricting credit to the private sector and to public enterprises, the government had hoped to curb demand, which in turn would have reduced imports and saved precious foreign exchange. In fact, despite the government's austerity program, imports increased by 9 percent in 1987. Furthermore, the government hoped to slow the monetary expansion that had tripled the money supply between 1979 and 1986 to 15 percent during 1987.

The government provided credit to the industrial sector through the National Industrial Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Fomento Industrial--Banafi), which was created in 1981 to replace the former Salvadoran Institute of Industrial Development (Instituto Salvadoreno de Fomento Industrial--Insafi). Banafi provided credit to promising new industries that were not able to obtain credit from other sources.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - The Banking System

Since 1980 the entire Salvadoran banking system has been owned and operated by the government. Under nationalization, the Central Reserve Bank, through the Operative Fund (Fondo Operativo), rationed foreign exchange to the commercial banks. The Central Reserve Bank assigned each commercial bank a maximum allowable balance of foreign exchange and required a weekly balance report. The Central Reserve Bank also covered foreign exchange deficits of the commercial banks but required that they transfer large surpluses to the Central Reserve Bank. In turn, these commercial banks agreed to disburse foreign exchange for imports on priorities set by the Central Reserve Bank in exchange for the services rendered. The highest priorities for foreign exchange disbursements included food, medical supplies, raw materials, and petroleum products, followed by intermediate goods, money for medical expenses and activities abroad, and debt servicing.

Prior to the nationalization of the banking sector, El Salvador had numerous private financial institutions that were called banks but that actually functioned like investment companies. Members, who had contracts with the companies, contributed funds on a regular basis and then used this capital as collateral. Some of the more important "banks" included the Investment and Savings Bank, the Credit and Savings Bank, the Commercial Farm Bank, and the Popular Credit Bank. The Popular Credit Bank had broader powers than the others and could accept time deposits and savings accounts, deal in foreign exchange, and extend letters of credit. The Salvadoran Coffee Company and the Salvadoran Cotton Cooperative also provided seasonal credit to their members. Their activities were not financed by deposits, but rather by loans from foreign banks (mostly United States institutions).

As a result of the civil conflict and the 1980 government decree nationalizing the banking system, many Salvadorans transferred their savings out of the country. Consequently, private savings fell from a 34 percent share of GDP in 1979 to a 32 percent share in 1980. Capital outflows, however, were heavier than this statistic would indicate because GDP fell by 8 percent in the same year. By 1982, nonetheless, private sector confidence in the banking system had been tentatively restored, and private savings increased to 39 percent of GDP. The increase was primarily attributed to a 1982 rise in interest rates, which provided an incentive for saving.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - The Tax System

Taxes, including sales, export, property, income, capital gains, profit, and stamp taxes (a 5 percent levy on goods and services), accounted for a 95 percent annual average of the Salvadoran government's revenue between 1976 and 1985. Tax revenue as a share of GDP increased from 11.6 percent in 1972 to 14.7 percent in 1986. Domestic sales taxes, representing 37 percent of total current revenue in 1986, were the most important source of revenue for the government. Taxes on international trade transactions provided an additional 27 percent of current revenue (two-thirds came from export duties), and taxes on income, profits, and capital gains provided 19 percent. Property taxes constituted only 5 percent of government revenue.

All residents, regardless of citizenship, were required to pay personal income tax, which was assessed according to a progressive scale, with a graduated minimum tax plus a percentage. In 1986 wage earners who garnered less than the equivalent of US$2,400 per year paid no income tax, while those whose income exceeded the equivalent of US$50,000 paid at a 60 percent rate. The maximum corporate tax was also set at 60 percent. In addition, businesses were subject to a net worth tax based on their net capital investment; the maximum rate of this levy was 2.5 percent.

The relative importance of export duties as a revenue source has been problematic for the government. Besides being unpopular among coffee producers, these taxes fluctuated with world coffee prices. In 1986, for example, government revenues rose by 57 percent, compared with 1985. Although higher income taxes, stamp taxes, and increased foreign aid also increased revenue in 1986, the size of the increase resulted largely from a jump in world coffee prices from US$1.43 per pound in 1985 to US$1.71 per pound in 1986. Conversely, when world coffee prices fell to only US$1.11 per pound in 1987, the Salvadoran government reported a fiscal deficit of US$160 million.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - Fiscal Policy and the Budget Process

Salvadoran law stipulated that fiscal budgets of the central government, the decentralized agencies, and public enterprises such as Incafe and Inazucar had to be approved by the Legislative Assembly. Budgets were generally approved for one fiscal year (FY) at a time. Special projects, such as those funded by the United States Agency for International Development (AID) and other foreign agencies, were considered extrabudgetary operations, however, and were not subject to legislative approval.

In nominal terms, government spending doubled between 1976 and 1982, from US$335 million to US$658 million. Government spending was stable relative to GDP, however; government expenditures represented 12.8 percent of GDP in 1972, compared with 12.9 percent in 1986. In 1986 the government maintained a surplus in its current account and an overall deficit equal to 5.4 percent of GDP.

The central government's fiscal deficit increased significantly as a share of GDP during the 1980s as compared with the 1970s. The deficit was 0.5 percent of GDP in 1976 but reached 3.4 percent in 1986. Most of the capital needed to cover the growing fiscal deficits between 1979 and 1987 was obtained from the Central Reserve Bank. The government could in fact cover about 85 percent of its annual fiscal deficit with financing from the Central Reserve Bank. In order to fund operations of public enterprises and additional development programs, however, the government had to rely heavily on foreign aid and international loans. The government owed only US$88 million to foreign creditors in 1970, but this indebtedness had increased to US$1.5 billion by 1986.

United States assistance greatly increased in importance to the Salvadoran economy during the 1980s. Between 1980 and 1986, the United States provided a total of US$2.5 billion in economic and military aid. This represented an increase of more than 3,000 percent over the US$7 million in economic, military, and development aid sent during the entire 1970-79 period. By 1987 United States assistance totaled US$608 million, larger than the fiscal budget of the Salvadoran government of US$582 million.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - Allocation of Government Expenditures

The allocation of government spending changed markedly after 1978, mainly as a result of the civil conflict. While expenditures on education and health fell as a share of total government spending, military spending rose dramatically.

Military

The percentage of total government expenditures on the Salvadoran military increased from 6.6 percent in 1972 to 28.7 percent in 1986. Most of this increase was a result of the country's civil conflict and the need to establish and maintain the 59,000-member armed forces and security forces. If one also considers the military's operating expenditures (wages and purchases of goods and services related to national security), military spending increased from 22.2 percent of all government outlays in 1980 to 47.3 percent in 1986.

The huge amounts spent on counterinsurgency were further underscored when one considers foreign military aid; as much as 75 percent of the US$2.5 billion in United States assistance between 1980 and 1986 may have been applied directly or indirectly to the war effort. A study released in late 1987 by the bipartisan Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus of the United States Congress alleged that aid targeted for "stabilization, restoration, and humanitarian needs" was being used instead to repair damage, thus freeing more of the Salvadoran budget for military expenditures. The caucus advocated stricter measures to ensure that aid was used to improve health care, nutrition, and education.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - Utilities and Communications

Most major utility companies in El Salvador were state owned and operated. These included the National Water and Sewerage Administration (Administracion Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados--ANDA), the National Telecommunications Administration (Administracion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones-- Antel), and the National Electric Company, known formally as the Rio Lempa Executive Hydroelectric Commission (Comision Ejecutiva Hidroelectrica del Rio Lempa--CEL). These companies, responsible for providing public services, operated fairly autonomously, even though their budgets were controlled by the Legislative Assembly. Government expenditures on economic services (including road construction and maintenance, communications facilities, and power plants and lines) declined from 29 percent of total expenditures in 1976 to only 12 percent in 1985. Spending on these services increased by 37 percent in nominal terms from US$98 million in 1976 to US$135 million in 1985; during the same period, government spending increased by 31 percent, from US$334 million to US$1.1 billion. In 1978 about 70 percent of these service-oriented expenditures went for the building and maintenance of roads, communications facilities, and power plants and lines. This share declined to 53 percent in 1986, largely because of increased spending on services to the agriculture sector and the fishing industry.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - Health, Education, and Entitlements

Historically, El Salvador's health care system has fallen short of the country's needs. The government's ability to provide adequate health care eroded during the 1980s because of the civil conflict's costliness and guerrilla attacks that destroyed many previously existing facilities. Spending on health care, as well as other social services, was supplanted by increases in military spending. Consequently, government spending on health services declined as a share of total expenditures from 10 percent in 1978 to 7.5 percent in 1986.

Nevertheless, compared with its performance earlier in the decade, health care improved in the mid-1980s, largely because of AID efforts. With AID assistance, the Salvadoran government circumvented drastic reductions in social services--despite cuts to these services in the fiscal budget--and progressed in a number of areas. Between 1984 and 1986, malaria cases declined from 62,000 to 23,500; officials from the Ministry of Public Health and Social Services were able to make 914 prenatal visits per 1,000 births in 1986, compared with 876 in 1984; health officials also increased distribution of oral rehydration packets (vital to reducing infant mortality) by 130 percent, from 650,000 in 1984 to 1.5 million in 1986.

Education's share of government expenditures declined, a side effect of the civil conflict, from 21.4 percent in 1976 to 14.5 percent in 1986. As a result, by 1986 over 1,000 schools had been abandoned.

Government spending on social security and welfare increased from US$11 million in 1976 to US$31 million in 1985, an increase in line with that for total government spending. Spending on housing and amenities, however, declined in nominal terms, from US$11 million in 1976 to US$6 million in 1985. This category included spending on sanitary services, which declined from US$800,000 in 1976 to US$200,000 in 1985, after dropping to a low of US$100,000 between 1979 and 1981.

El Salvador - ECONOMY - Public Enterprises

In El Salvador in the late 1980s, there were nine state-owned companies, the most important of were public utility companies, such as CEL, Antel, ANDA, IRA, and the Autonomous Executive Port Commission (Comision Ejecutiva Portuaria Autonoma--CEPA). IRA, which operated under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, was responsible for marketing imported or domestic foodstuffs, such as corn, rice, beans, and powdered milk. Some of these foods were sold in government stores at subsidized prices. The state also owned shares of the cement and textile industries. The establishment of the two state-owned marketing companies, Incafe and Inazucar, expanded the public sector significantly and increased public revenue at the expense of coffee and sugar producers.

Most state-owned companies turned a profit in the 1980s. Between 1980 and 1983, for example, state-sector profits increased from 0.8 percent to 1.7 percent of GDP. Some stateowned companies, however, tended not to adjust prices during inflationary periods. IRA regularly incurred large deficits by trying to provide affordable foodstuffs. IRA's deficits were generally covered by the central government. Most other stateowned companies financed their deficits abroad, or through loans from the Central Reserve Bank.

El Salvador - AGRICULTURE

Industry and agriculture were the most dynamic sectors of the economy during the 1965-80 period, growing each year by 5.3 percent and 3.6 percent in real terms, respectively. Between 1980 and 1986, the value of agricultural output dropped by an average 2.3 percent per year. This decline was influenced by a number of factors, among them guerrilla sabotage, the comparative inefficiency of farms created by the land reform program, and the ineffectiveness of many government policies. Despite the general decline of agricultural output, coffee, which generated half the country's export earnings in 1987, continued as the most important commodity produced in El Salvador.

The agricultural sector accounted for nearly 25 percent of GDP in 1987 and was responsible for about 80 percent of the country's export revenue. Although the number of people employed in agriculture increased from 3.5 million in 1970 to 5.7 million in 1986, the share of the economically active population employed in agriculture declined from 56 percent in 1970 to only 40 percent in 1986. After coffee, sugar and cotton were the most important agricultural commodities. Basic grains (wheat, rice, and corn) were also grown extensively, but for domestic consumption.

Despite the relative importance of agriculture to El Salvador's economy, absolute levels of production declined dramatically after 1979. Several factors, especially the civil conflict, were blamed for the decline. Guerrilla attacks on farms, processing plants, and infrastructure undermined efficiency, precluded investment, and intimidated laborers. The impact of the conflict varied, however, depending on the crop. For example, the geographical location of the most important coffee-growing area--the western sector of the country--insulated most coffee producers from the violence. In contrast, cotton production, centered in the eastern part of the country, was devastated by guerrilla activities.

<>The Land Tenure System
<>Coffee
<>Sugar
<>Cotton
<>Basic Grains
<>Livestock
<>Fisheries
<>Forestry

El Salvador - The Land Tenure System

Historically, landownership in El Salvador has been highly concentrated in an elite group of wealthy landowners. Most of the good arable land in El Salvador was located on large coffee plantations, while lower quality land was rented to peasants, who grew staple crops. Because these plots often failed to provide even a subsistence-level existence for them, the tenant farmers often worked as laborers for the coffee plantations as well.

During the colonial period, a certain tension existed between the hacendados--the owners of private plantations--and Indian communities that laid claim to, but did not always make productive use of, communal lands known as ejidos or tierras comunales. Although some encroachment by hacendados on Indian lands undoubtedly took place, this practice was not apparently widespread, mainly because the Spanish crown had supported the integrity of the Indian lands. After independence, however, the process of private seizure of communal lands accelerated, aided by the confusing and incomplete nature of the inherited colonial statutes dealing with the ownership and transfer of land. The rapid growth of coffee production in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led the government to formalize the favored status of private, export-oriented agriculture over subsistence farming through the passage of the legislative decree of March 1, 1879. This decree allowed private individuals to acquire title to ejido land as long as they planted at least 25 percent of that land with certain specified crops, most notably coffee and cocoa. Tierras comunales were formally abolished in February 1881; the abolishment of ejidos in March 1882 left private property as the only legally recognized form of land tenure.

During the twentieth century, the conflict over land tenure pitted commercial export-crop producers against campesinos who sought to raise subsistence crops--mainly corn--on land to which they rarely held legal title. Some campesinos worked under various rental and sharecropping arrangements; however, an increasing number functioned as squatters, with no claim to their land beyond their mere presence on it. This occupation of private and public lands was intensified by rapid population growth, the expansion of cotton production that removed further acreage from the total available for subsistence agriculture, and the expulsion of thousands of Salvadorans from Honduras following the 1969 war between the two countries.

As of 1988, the most recent agricultural census had been conducted in 1971, but data on the 1980 land reform program corroborates that extremely unequal land distribution patterns persisted throughout the 1970s. According to the 1971 agricultural census, 92 percent of the farms in El Salvador (some 250,500 in all) together comprised only 27 percent of all farm area. The other 73 percent of farmland was combined in only 1,951 farms, or 8 percent of all farms; these parcels were all over 100 hectares. Farms between 100 and 500 hectares represented 15 percent of El Salvador's cultivated area.

The land distributed under Phase I of the land reform program included the largest plantations--all those larger than 500 hectares. Phase I divided up 469 individual properties, with a combined area of 219,400 hectares, almost 18 percent of all Salvadoran farmland. Nearly 31,400 Salvadoran heads of household benefited directly from Phase I of the land reform; if family members are included, the beneficiaries totaled almost 188,200. Most of these lands were expropriated by the government and divided among 317 cooperatives. The government hoped that the economies of scale possible under a cooperative framework would keep the farms efficient.

The government guaranteed the former landholders that they would be compensated and had planned to pay them out of the cooperatives' earnings. However, because the cooperatives experienced major difficulties during their initial years, much of the compensation had to be paid by the government. According to a report released by the inspector general of AID in February 1984, the cooperatives established under Phase I of the land reform "had massive capital debt, no working capital, large tracts of nonproductive land, substantially larger labor forces than needed to operate the units, and weak management." By the end of 1985, only 5 percent of the 317 cooperatives formed under the land reform were able to pay their debts, in spite of US$150 million in assistance from AID. Many lacked capital to buy fertilizer, so yields steadily declined. Nevertheless, by the end of 1987 almost all Phase I compensation had been paid. The restrictions placed on Phase II by the Constituent Assembly greatly limited its effect on land tenure because of the small size of the plots. As of 1987, however, phase II of the agrarian reform program had not been implemented.

El Salvador - Coffee

Coffee has fueled the Salvadoran economy and shaped its history for more than a century. It was first cultivated for domestic use early in the nineteenth century. By mid-century its commercial promise was evident, and the government began to favor its production through legislation such as tax breaks for producers, exemption from military service for coffee workers, and elimination of export duties for new producers. By 1880 coffee had become virtually the sole export crop. Compared with indigo, previously the dominant export commodity, coffee was a more demanding crop. Since coffee bushes required several years to produce a usable harvest, its production required a greater commitment of capital, labor, and land than did indigo. Coffee also grew best at a certain altitude, whereas indigo flourished almost anywhere.

Unlike those of Guatemala and Costa Rica, the Salvadoran coffee industry developed largely without the benefit of external technical and financial help. El Salvador nonetheless became one of the most efficient coffee producers in the world. This was especially true on the large coffee fincas, where the yield per hectare increased in proportion to the size of the finca, a rare occurrence in plantation agriculture. The effect of coffee production on Salvadoran society has been immeasurable, not only in terms of land tenure but also because the coffee industry has served as a catalyst for the development of infrastructure (roads and railroads) and as a mechanism for the integration of indigenous communities into the national economy.

In the decades prior to the civil conflict of the 1980s, export earnings from coffee allowed growers to expand production, finance the development of a cotton industry, and establish a light manufacturing sector. After 1979, however, government policies, guerrilla attacks, and natural disasters reduced investment, impeding the coffee industry's growth. To make matters worse, after a price jump in 1986 world coffee prices fell by 35 percent in 1987, causing coffee exports to decline in value from US$539 million to US$347 million.

Government control of coffee marketing and export was regarded as one of the strongest deterrents to investment in the industry. In the first year of Incafe's existence, coffee yields dropped by over 20 percent. During each of the ensuing four years, yields were about 30 percent lower than those registered during the 1978-80 period. Although the area in production remained fairly constant at approximately 180,000 hectares, production of green coffee declined in absolute terms from 175,000 tons in 1979 to 141,000 tons in 1986; this 19 percent drop was a direct result of lower yields, which in turn were attributed to decreased levels of investment. According to the Salvadoran Coffee Growers Association (Asociacion Cafetalera de El Salvador--ACES), besides controlling the sale of coffee, Incafe also charged growers export taxes and service charges equal to about 50 percent of the sale price and was often late in paying growers for their coffee.

Coffee growers also suffered from guerrilla attacks, extortion, and the imposition of so-called "war taxes" during the 1980s. These difficulties, in addition to their direct impact on production, also decreased investment. Under normal conditions, coffee growers replaced at least 5 percent of their coffee plants each year because the most productive coffee plants are between five and fifteen years old. Many coffee growers in El Salvador, in an effort to avoid further losses, neglected to replant.

Although most coffee production took place in the western section of El Salvador, coffee growers who operated in the eastern region were sometimes compelled to strike a modus vivendi with the guerrillas. During the 1984-85 harvest, for example, the guerrillas added to their "war tax" demand a threat to attack any plantation they thought underpaid workers. They demanded that workers receive the equivalent of US$4.00 per 100 pounds picked, a US$1.00 increase over what was then the going rate. The fact that growers negotiated with the guerrillas--while the government looked the other way--demonstrated the continuing importance of coffee export revenue to both the growers and the government.

El Salvador - Sugar

Sugar was the most dynamic of all agricultural commodities during the 1980s, showing increases in production and amount of area cultivated. Salvadoran farmers devoted 42,000 hectares to sugar production in 1986, compared with 33,000 hectares in 1979. Production rose from 2.7 million tons in 1979 to 3.2 million tons in 1986, after peaking at a record 3.4 million tons in 1984. Despite rising production, however, sugar producers still experienced problems. World sugar prices crashed from US$0.085 per pound in 1983 to US$0.04 per pound in 1984 and did not begin to recover until late 1987.

El Salvador - Cotton

Salvadoran farmers did not produce much cotton until after World War II, when several technological developments combined to facilitate farming on the coastal lowlands. One of these was the increased availability of drugs to combat malaria and yellow fever; another was the production of cheap chemical insecticides (insect infestation being the major obstacle to high cotton yields in El Salvador); and yet another was the development during World War II, when imports of cloth and clothing dried up, of a domestic textile industry. During the 1950s, cotton production increased fifteenfold. Production was boosted still further in the 1960s by the completion of the Carretera Litoral, the coastal highway running almost the length of the country.

Although it was one of the country's top sources of export revenue in the 1960s and 1970s, cotton was the major economic casualty of the civil conflict, virtually disappearing as an export commodity during the 1980s. The value of exports fell precipitously, from US$87 million in 1979, to US$56 million in 1983, and to only US$2.3 million in 1987. Many plantations in the eastern part of the country were abandoned as a result of the violence, while other plantations affected by the land reform shifted production to other crops. Those farms that continued to operate reported declining yields and a virtual cessation of investment and replanting. The cultivated area devoted to cotton declined from 82,000 hectares in 1979 to only 27,000 hectares in 1986, a drop of almost 70 percent. Production of seed cotton declined from 169,000 tons in 1979 to 55,000 tons in 1986.

El Salvador - Basic Grains

During the late 1970s, the Salvadoran government shifted the emphasis of agricultural policy away from traditional export commodities toward increased production of staple crops for domestic consumption. Food security, defined as the ability to produce enough food domestically, was a goal of the government in the 1980s, but one that proved increasingly elusive. The area under cereals cultivation declined from 422,000 hectares in 1979 to 390,000 hectares in 1986 because farms located in conflict zones were abandoned. The shortfall was made up by an increase in imports. Salvadoran food imports totaled only 75,000 tons in 1974; by 1986, however, this figure had risen to 212,000 tons. In response to the insurgency, food aid was increased. In 1974-75, for example, El Salvador received only 4,000 tons of food aid; by 1985-86 this figure had risen to 278,000 tons.

Maize production declined steadily from 517,000 tons in 1979 to 391,000 tons in 1986. The area for maize cultivation also declined from 281,000 hectares to 243,000 hectares, while yields shrank from 1.8 tons per hectare to 1.5 tons per hectare. Rice production, however, remained fairly steady. Salvadoran farmers maintained approximately 15,000 hectares in rice from 1979 to 1986 (rising to 17,000 hectares in 1985); harvests rose from 56,000 tons in 1979 to 69,000 tons in 1985, only to drop to 53,000 tons in 1986. Sorghum production and cultivation also declined slightly. In 1979 farmers devoted 126,000 hectares to the cultivation of sorghum, compared with 119,000 hectares in 1986. Sorghum harvests declined from 145,000 tons in 1979 to 135,000 tons in 1986.

El Salvador - Livestock

Cattle raising accounted for some 10 percent of the value added in agriculture for 1986. The cattle population dropped from 1,317,000 head in 1979 to only 1,010,000 head in 1986. Salvadoran farmers raised only 400,000 pigs in 1986, an 11 percent decline from 1979. The declines in production were attributable to widespread overslaughtering--a result of the land reform, which caused some large landowners to slaughter their livestock and sell them rather than lose them to the cooperatives--smuggling, to avoid export taxes, and the effects of the civil conflict.

El Salvador - Fisheries

El Salvador's fishing industry, although responsible for only 0.1 percent of GDP, produced the fourth largest source of export revenue for the country in 1986. In 1987 the fishing industry consisted of two main sectors, a modern, capital-intensive shrimp fishery, and a small artisanal fishery. Of the two, the shrimp industry was the big money-maker, with shrimp exports totaling 3,700 tons in 1986, valued at US$18.4 million. Shrimp fishermen caught an annual average of about 5,400 tons from 1980 through 1987, up from the 3,000 to 4,000 tons caught each year during the 1960s and 1970s. The abundant shrimp resource supported both a modern shrimp fleet and an artisanal shrimp fishery.

In 1981 the government established the Center for Fisheries Development (Centro de Desarrollo Pesquero--Cendepesca) to develop the fishing industry. Cendepesca regulated the industry and promoted its expansion through such devices as tax credits on the importation of machinery, fishing boats, and inputs for processing and exemptions of five or ten years on municipal and income taxes for companies devoted to fishing. Cendepesca also tried to manage the shrimp fishery (to prevent overfishing) through required registration and licensing of shrimp boats. Cendepesca repeatedly sought to impose a closed season during shrimp reproduction periods, but these efforts were thwarted by powerful lobbyists in the face of opposition from major shrimp companies. Consequently, there was a fear that overfishing would deplete stocks, a development that could reduce the shrimp catch and have a major impact on the country's export earnings.

El Salvador also had an embryonic shrimp culture industry. According to an AID feasibility study, El Salvador has 5,000 hectares of land particularly well suited for shrimp farming. By the end of 1987, however, only four small shrimp farms were operating in El Salvador.

The government also tried with a US$50 million loan from France to establish a major tuna fishery. The funds were used to build a large tuna port, complete with processing facilities, at La Union, already a major shrimp fishing port. The project was completed in 1981 but was never initiated because of the government's poor management of the vessels and the project. The Salvadoran government, which purchased two large tuna seiners for operation in 1981 and 1982, reported meager catches because of technical difficulties. By 1985 the facilities at La Union had languished, and the government was unable to sell the vessels. The weakness of the Salvadoran tuna industry became clear in September 1986 (and again in August 1988) when the Salvadoran government ignored the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act, an act that requires tuna exporters to the United States to report their efforts to reduce concomitant porpoise mortalities. Consequently, the United States embargoed Salvadoran tuna in September 1986 and again in 1988.

El Salvador - Forestry

El Salvador's forestry industry developed rapidly after 1969, when the "Football War" cut off shipments of lumber from Honduras, a primary supplier. The lumber industry was encouraged by the developing paper and wood pulp production industries and the ongoing traditional furniture industry. By the mid-1980s, however, El Salvador was once again highly dependent on wood imports. Lumber imports in 1985 totaled US$36.7 million, compared with US$13 million in 1974, while lumber exports reached US$6.6 million in 1985, compared with only US$400,000 in 1974.

El Salvador - INDUSTRY

The creation of the CACM fostered development of industry in El Salvador during the 1960s by reducing intraregional trade barriers, which increased aggregate demand for manufactured goods. The Salvadoran and Guatemalan manufacturing sectors benefited from and conversely suffered the most when the CACM lost momentum after the 1969 Salvadoran-Honduran war. During the 1980s, however, industrial output, affected by guerrilla attacks on power plants and by reduced investor confidence, also suffered declines by an average of 0.7 percent each year between 1980 and 1986.

Manufacturing of consumer goods predominated in the industrial sector. About 50 percent of manufactured goods produced were either food products or beverages. Intermediate goods, such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals, increased in importance during the 1970s but still constituted only about 15 percent of manufacturing output in 1986. El Salvador also had small industries that produced tobacco products, petroleum products, clothing, textiles, wood products, and paper products. Construction was the second leading contributor to the industrial sector, but its contribution to GDP was considerably less than that of manufacturing.

El Salvador - Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry developed slowly. In 1950, when manufacturing accounted for about 7 percent of GDP, it comprised mostly cottage industries. Of the fourteen larger manufacturing firms (with more than 100 employees), thirteen were located in San Salvador and produced mainly textiles, tobacco, and beverages; most of the smaller firms manufactured clothing, shoes, furniture, and wood or straw products.

The development and manufacturing industries was slowed by a shortage of reliable year-round labor--most Salvadorans worked seasonally as agricultural laborers--and an even more acute lack of skilled workers. In 1952, however, when the government offered tax breaks to small businesses, industry grew almost 5 percent a year from 1955 to 1958. During this period, cement, chemical, and transportation equipment industries began. The intermediate goods sector was much more dynamic than the capital goods sector; with the development of modern chemical, pharmaceutical, and petroleum product industries, it grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s. The production of machinery and transport equipment remained fairly stable in terms of its share of the value added for total Salvadoran manufactured goods, rising from 3 percent of total value added in 1970 to 4 percent in 1985.

By 1960 the manufacturing sector represented 14.6 percent of El Salvador's GDP, the highest percentage of any Central American country at the time. The creation of the CACM boosted the rapid development of manufacturing firms in El Salvador throughout the 1960s. By 1965, following three years of 12 percent average annual growth, manufacturing represented 17.4 percent of GDP. Between 1961 and 1970, value added in manufacturing increased (in nominal terms) from US$89.2 million to US$194.1 million.

The manufacturing sector received a temporary setback because of the 1969 war with Honduras, which disrupted CACM trade. Even the CACM's share of Salvadoran exports fell from 40 percent in 1968 to 32 percent in 1970. Nevertheless, manufacturing output increased by a modest 3.9 percent in 1969. Following the war, however, foreign investment replaced CACM trade as the engine of growth for the Salvadoran manufacturing industry.

During the 1970s, manufacturing was the most dynamic segment of the Salvadoran economy, growing by an impressive 16.8 percent yearly between 1971 and 1978. Consumer goods (especially foodstuffs, textiles, clothing, and shoes) continued to be the most important products. Because of the CACM's decline, El Salvador was forced to seek new export markets like the United States, which in the 1970s imported over 20 percent of the country's food exports and almost 35 percent of its exports of beverages and tobacco products. El Salvador also sought export markets for textiles and other light manufactures in the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). The project was not competitive, however, because of poor product quality and outmoded manufacturing techniques and expensive foreign materials. Eventually Japan and West Germany became important export markets for the bulk of El Salvador's nonedible raw materials, fats, and oils.

Because foreign investors funneled their capital to industries producing intermediate goods these industries increased in importance relative to consumer goods during the 1970s. As a result, El Salvador increased the percentage of its exports of manufactured goods exported to industrialized countries. In 1965 over 90 percent of Salvadoran manufactured exports went to other developing countries (primarily CACM states), but by 1986 about 87 percent were being shipped to industrialized countries. Overall exports of manufactured goods increased (in real terms) from US$32 million in 1965 to US$170 million in 1986.

During the 1980s, the manufacturing sector, buffeted by the chaos of the civil conflict, labor unrest, declining investor confidence, and world recession, experienced a major decline. Aside from the generalized capital flight spurred by political instability, the second most damaging effect of the conflict, after guerrilla sabotage of the electrical grid, was attacks on factories.

The industries hit hardest by guerrilla attacks were those producing nontraditional capital goods such as transportation equipment, intermediate goods such as metal products and machinery, and capital-intensive consumer goods such as electric appliances. Traditional industries (foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, wood products, and furniture) were least affected because their factories tended to be smaller and thus less subject to guerrilla attacks. These industries also had welldeveloped domestic markets and consequently were less affected by the 1980-82 world recession. Exports of manufactured goods declined by 48 percent in value and almost 80 percent in volume between 1979 and 1982, mainly as a result of lower shipments of chemicals, textiles, clothing, and petroleum products.

Labor unrest became a major contributing factor in declining manufacturing output. But it is unclear whether or not there is a direct relationship between guerilla activity and that unrest. There were, however, eighty-six strikes in 1979, involving almost 23,000 workers, compared with only one strike, involving 700 workers, in 1975.

El Salvador - Other Leading Industries

The construction industry was one of the most dynamic in El Salvador during the 1970s. Value added increased from US$50 million in 1977 to US$80 million in 1978 but then declined precipitously, reaching a low of US$17 million in 1980. The industry reported only moderate growth in the early 1980s. Also, the number of workers employed in construction declined by over 75 percent between 1980 and 1986, from 13,100 workers to only 3,100.

Paradoxically, despite the industry's general decline, the number of building permits issued tripled between 1979 and 1984. The increase, however, went for housing; the number of permits issued for the construction of factories or other commercial buildings dropped from 320 in 1979 to only 35 in 1984. It is unclear, however, whether or not all the approved buildings were actually built. When the October 1986 earthquake prompted massive capital inflows for reconstruction, however, the construction industry grew by 14 percent in 1987 and stimulated the economy's 2 percent increase in GDP that year.

El Salvador's mining industry was first established in the late nineteenth century when Charles Butters, who had pioneered the cyanide process for mineral separation, opened several gold mines. Two of his gold mines (San Sebastian and Divisadero) were highly productive; the San Sebastian mine by itself yielded US$16 million worth of gold between 1908 and 1928. Mining declined significantly by the early 1930s because world gold and silver prices dropped and costs rose. Mining, which generated only a fraction of GDP in 1987, has not played an important role in the Salvadoran economy since. El Salvador also has deposits of silver, copper, iron ore, sulfur, mercury, lead, zinc, and limestone; of these, only gold, silver, and limestone were mined in 1987, and only in limited amounts.

El Salvador - Government and Politics

SINCE THE REFORMIST COUP of 1979, El Salvador has experienced wrenching political turmoil as numerous actors, movements, and forces contended for the right to shape the country's future. By the late 1980s, the most extreme of these forces--the oligarchic elite and the Marxist-Leninist guerrilla forces--appeared to have lost some of their previous influence, as a still-tentative democratic process continued to evolve amid trying circumstances. The United States loomed large in this process as the country's major source of economic and military aid and assistance and the most enthusiastic foreign supporter of its democratic efforts. Despite consistent support from Washington and a certain amount of progress in human rights and economic reform, many problems remained intractable, and the overall political situation was still volatile and, to some extent, unpredictable. The conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance underscored this fact by capturing a surprising legislative majority in the March 1988 elections.

Although the system established by the Constitution of 1983 was functional, some observers questioned its legitimacy because it excluded the Salvadoran left from the political process. As the 1989 presidential elections approached, however, these claims lost some of their validity in the face of the return to El Salvador of such opposition figures as Guillermo Manuel Ungo Revelo and Ruben Zamora Rivas, the establishment of the Social Democratic Party and the possibility, however dubious, of a settlement between the government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front-Revolutionary Democratic Front within the framework of the Central American Peace Agreement signed in Esquipulas, Guatemala, on August 7, 1987 (the so-called Arias Plan).

Observers were reluctant to predict the odds of successful implemention of a genuine democratic system in El Salvador, a country with no real democratic tradition to draw on, where economic conditions were tenuous at best and where a destructive and divisive insurgent conflict wore on with no resolution in sight. It was clear, however, that the El Salvador of the late 1980s was different from the El Salvador of the 1970s and that further change was inevitable, even if the exact nature of that change remained uncertain.

<>CONSTITUTIONAL BACKGROUND
The Constitutions of El Salvador, 1824-1962

<>The Constitution of 1983
<>GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS
The Executive
<>The Legislature
<>The Judiciary
<>The Military
<>Local Government
<>POLITICAL DYNAMICS
Electoral Procedures
<>The Electoral Process
<>Political Parties
Christian Democratic Party
<>Nationalist Republican Alliance
<>National Conciliation Party
<>Left-Wing Parties
<>Other Parties
<>Interest Groups
Private Enterprise
<>Labor and Campesino Groups
<>The Roman Catholic Church
<>Mass Communications
<>Relations with the United States
<>The Contadora Process
<>The Arias Plan

El Salvador - CONSTITUTIONAL BACKGROUND

The Constitutions of El Salvador, 1824-1962

El Salvador has functioned under fifteen constitutions since it achieved independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century. The vast majority of these documents were drafted and promulgated without the benefit of broad popular input or electoral mandate. The nature of the country's elite-dominated political system and the personalistic rule of presidents drawn from either the oligarchy or the military accounted for the relatively short life span of most of these documents. Some of them were drafted solely to provide a quasi-legal basis for the extension of a president's term, whereas others were created to legitimize seizures of power on an ex post facto basis.

The first Salvadoran constitution was produced in 1824. It declared El Salvador independent as a member of the United Provinces of Central America. The dissolution of the United Provinces necessitated the promulgation of a new constitution in 1841 as El Salvador emerged as an independent republic in its own right. The 1841 constitution was a liberal document that established a bicameral legislature and set a two-year term for the nation's president with no possibility of reelection. The latter feature contributed directly to the demise of the document in 1864, when President Gerardo Barrios dispensed with it and extended his term by legislative decree.

That same year, Barrios replaced the 1841 constitution with one that, not surprisingly, increased the presidential term to four years and allowed for one reelection. This issue of presidential tenure proved to be a major point of contention for the next two decades. The 1871 constitution, drafted by resurgent liberal forces, restored the two-year term, prohibited immediate reelection, and strengthened the power of the legislative branch. This document too, however, fell victim to individual ambition when President Santiago Gonzalez replaced it with the constitution of 1872, which restored the four-year term. Similarly, the constitution of 1880 was used to extend the term of President Rafael Zaldivar. The four-year term was retained in the constitution of 1883, but presidential tenure was reduced to three years in the constitution of 1885. The latter document, although it never formally came into force, owing to the overthrow of Zaldivar by Francisco Menendez, was nonetheless an influential piece of work, primarily because it formed the basis for the constitution of 1886, the most durable in Salvadoran history.

The constitution of 1886 provided for a four-year presidential term with no immediate reelection and established a unicameral legislature. Some limits on presidential power were incorporated, most notably the stricture that all executive decrees or orders had to comply with the stated provisions of the constitution. This constitutional litmus test of executive action was, at least in theory, a significant step toward an institutionalized governmental system and away from the arbitrary imposition of power by self-serving caudillos. The constitution of 1886 showed remarkable staying power by Salvadoran standards, remaining in force in its original form until January 1939. It was reinstated in amended form after World War II. The 1939 constitution that filled the wartime gap was designed by President Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez to ensure his uninterrupted rule; it increased the presidential term from four to six years. Martinez's effort to extend his rule still further by inserting a provision for the one-time legislative election of the president was one of several grievances fueling the public unrest that drove him from office in 1944.

The wartime constitution was revised in that same year. Although technically titled the Reforms of 1944, this document is also sometimes referred to as the Constitution of 1944. It was supplanted in 1945 by yet another charter, the constitution of 1945, which endured for only one year. The 1886 constitution, in amended form, was reinstated in 1946. These changes reflected the political uncertainty that prevailed in El Salvador between the termination of Martinez's long tenure as president and the advent of the military-led Revolution of 1948.

The constitution that grew out of the Revolution of 1948, under which Oscar Osorio was elected president, was the constitution of 1950. It retained a unicameral legislature and changed the name from National Assembly to Legislative Assembly. The 1950 charter also restored a six-year presidential term with no immediate reelection and, for the first time, granted Salvadoran women the right to vote.

A Constituent Assembly appointed by the military-civilian junta and headed by Colonel Julio Adalberto Rivera drafted a document that was promulgated as the constitution of 1962 but that was basically quite similar to the 1950 constitution. Relatively long lived by Salvadoran standards, it was not superseded until 1983, by which time the personal and political guarantees of the constitution had been suspended by a state of emergency.

El Salvador - The Constitution of 1983

The Political Setting

The sixty-member Constituent Assembly elected in March 1982 was charged with producing a new constitution. This new document was expected to institutionalize, although perhaps in modified form, the reform measures taken by the various junta governments after 1979; it was also to serve as the master plan for a system of representative democratic government. In addition to crafting the structure of that government, the Constituent Assembly was responsible for issuing a schedule for presidential elections.

A majority of the members, known as deputies, of the Constituent Assembly represented conservative political parties. All told, conservative parties had drawn approximately 52 percent of the total popular vote. The moderate Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democrata Cristiano--PDC) had garnered 35.5 percent. These results equated to twenty-four seats for the PDC and thirty-six seats for a loose right-wing coalition made up of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista--Arena), the National Conciliation Party (Partido de Conciliacion Nacional--PCN), Democratic Action (Accion Democratica--AD), the Salvadoran Popular Party (Partido Popular Salvadoreno--PPS), and the Popular Orientation Party (Partido de Orientacion Popular--POP). Representatives of these five parties issued a manifesto in March 1982 decrying both communism and Christian democratic communitarianism and declaring that both ideologies had been rejected by the people by way of the ballot box. The coalition leaders suggested that they were preparing to limit Christian democratic influence on the drafting of the constitution and to exclude the PDC from participation in the interim government that was to be named by the Constituent Assembly.

The original exclusionary aims of the rightist coalition, however, were never completely fulfilled. During its existence, from April 1982 through December 1983, the Constituent Assembly came under pressure from a number of sources, most significantly from the United States government and the Salvadoran military. United States envoys from both the White House and Congress pressed Salvadoran political leaders to incorporate the PDC into the interim government and to preserve the reform measures, particularly agrarian reform. At stake was the continuation of United States aid, both economic and military, without which El Salvador would have been hard pressed to sustain its democratic transition in the face of growing military and political pressure from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front--Revolutionary Democratic Front (Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional- Frente Democratico Revolucionario--FMLN-FDR), the leftist guerrilla (the FMLN) and political (FDR) opposition groups that unified in 1981 in an effort to seize power by revolutionary means. El Salvador's military High Command (Alto Mardo) recognized this reality and lent its considerable influence to the cause of continued PDC participation in government. The Christian Democrats had been brought into the junta governments at the urging of reformist officers; by 1982 the PDC and the military had come to a practical understanding based on their shared interest in maintaining good relations with the United States, expanding political participation, improving economic conditions for the average Salvadoran, and fending off the challenge from the Marxist left. Realistically, the last objective was preeminent and encompassed the other three. Lesser influence was exerted on the deputies by popular opinion and demonstrations of support for specific reforms. For example, campesino groups staged rallies outside the Constituent Assembly's chambers to press their demand for continuation of the agrarian reform decrees.

The actual drafting of the constitution was delegated by the Constituent Assembly to a special commission composed of representatives of all the major political parties. The assembly agreed to reinstate the 1962 constitution with only a few exclusions until a constitution was produced and approved. At the same time, the deputies voted to affirm the validity of the decrees issued by the junta governments, including those that enacted agrarian, banking, and foreign commerce reforms. Having reestablished a working legal framework, the assembly voted itself the power to act as a legislature through the passage of constituent decrees.

Since it could not serve as both the legislative and the executive branch, the Constituent Assembly was required to approve the appointment of a provisional president. Many observers believed that Arena leader Roberto D'Aubuisson Arrieta, who was elected president of the assembly on April 22, 1982, was the most likely candidate. D'Aubuisson's reputed ties with the violent right wing, however, militated against him. It was reported that the United States and the Salvadoran High Command lobbied persuasively against D'Aubuisson's appointment, mainly on the grounds that his negative image outside El Salvador would complicate, if not preclude, the provision of substantial aid from Washington. Apparently swayed by this argument, the members of the Constituent Assembly appointed Alvaro Magana Borja, a political moderate with ties to the military, to the post on April 26. In an effort to maintain a political equilibrium, Magana's cabinet included members of all three major parties-- Arena, the PDC, and the PCN.

Despite its defeat on the issue of the provisional presidency, Arena continued to hold the balance of power in El Salvador through its leadership of the conservative majority in the Constituent Assembly. The areneros (members or adherents of Arena) vented their frustration with the political process primarily in the area of agrarian reform. In May 1982, Magana proposed a partial suspension of Phase III of the reform, the Land to the Tiller program, for the 1982-83 harvest season in order to avoid agricultural losses occasioned by the transfer of land titles. The Arena-led coalition in the assembly seized on this proposal and expanded it to include some 95 percent of Phase III landholdings. This action was interpreted by interested parties both in El Salvador and abroad as a bid by the right to eliminate agrarian reform and to encourage the eviction of land recipients, a process that was ongoing at the time, although its extent was difficult to quantify; it led directly to a limitation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Congress on military and Economic Support Funds (ESF) aid to El Salvador. Although Arena's most important domestic constituency--the economic elite-- continued to advocate the limitation if not the elimination of agrarian reform, it was clear that such efforts in the Constituent Assembly would have negative repercussions. The failure of Arena's leadership to take this fact into account and its seeming inability--or unwillingness--to seek compromise and accommodation on this and other issues contributed to its eventual loss of influence among center-right assembly delegates and the military leadership.

In August 1982, in an effort to bring the areneros under control and to prevent them from sabotaging not only the reforms but perhaps the entire fledgling democratic system, Magana, apparently at the strong urging of the military chiefs and the United States, brought together representatives of Arena, the PDC, and the PCN to negotiate a "basic platform of government." In what became known as the Pact of Apaneca, the parties agreed on certain broad principles in the areas of democratization, the protection of human rights, the promotion of economic development, the preservation of economic and social reforms, and the protection of the country's security in the face of the violent conflict with leftist insurgent forces. Organizationally, the pact established three commissions: the Political Commission to work out a timetable and guidelines for future elections, the Human Rights Commission to oversee and promote improvements in that area, and the Peace Commission to explore possible resolutions of the civil conflict. The guidelines established by the pact eased the chaotic governmental situation to some degree; they were also significant in that they brought Arena into a formal governmental association with more moderate actors, such as the PDC, and committed the areneros, at least in principle, to the preservation of some degree of reform.

The pact did not put an end to infighting among the political parties, however. Magana, lacking a political power base or constituency beyond the good will of the military, found it frustrating to try to exert authority over his cabinet ministers, particularly those drawn from the ranks of Arena. This conflict came to a head in December 1982, when Magana dismissed his health minister, an arenero, for refusing to comply with the president's directives. Arena party leadership advised the minister to reject the president's action and to retain his post. This proved to be a miscalculation on the part of Arena, as Magana went on to have the dismissal approved by a majority of the Constituent Assembly. Again in this instance, the behind-the- scenes support of the military worked in favor of the provisional president and against Arena.

The damage done to Arena's prestige by the dismissal of the health minister was compounded by the party's efforts to influence the appointment of his successor. Magana proposed a member of the small, moderate AD for the post. The areneros, particularly Constituent Assembly president D'Aubuisson, saw this (not without justification) as an effort to diminish their influence in the government and sought to defeat the appointment through parliamentary maneuvering. They succeeded only in delaying approval, however. Furthermore, after the vote the assembly amended its procedures to limit the power of the assembly president.

Arena was not the only party to see its standing diminish after the signing of the Pact of Apaneca. The PCN delegation in the Constituent Assembly suffered a rupture immediately after the signing of the pact, as nine conservative deputies split from the party to establish a bloc they dubbed the Salvadoran Authentic Institutional Party (Partido Autentico Institucional Salvadoreno- -PAISA). This move left the assembly more or less evenly split between conservative and centrist deputies.

The special commission charged with drafting the constitution finished its work in June 1983. At that time, it reported that it had reached agreement in almost all respects. Two major exceptions, however, were agrarian reform and the schedule and procedure for presidential elections. These issues were left to the Constituent Assembly to resolve.

Of all the constitutional provisions debated in the Constituent Assembly, those dealing with agrarian reform were the most contentious. In light of the decline in the Arena coalition's standing and influence and the corresponding gains of the PDC and its moderate allies, eliminating the reforms altogether was ruled out. The conservatives retained enough clout, however, to limit the provisions of the original decrees. Their major victory in this regard was the raising of the maximum allowable landholding under Phase II of the reform from 100 to 245 hectares, an action that addressed the concerns of some well- to-do landowners but that put a crimp in redistribution efforts by reducing the amount of land subject to expropriation. After the 1982-83 suspension, the Constituent Assembly twice extended Phase III of the reform; the government accepted applications for title under this phase until July 1984.

Aside from the sections dealing with agrarian reform, the draft constitution was approved by the Constituent Assembly without an excess of debate. One exception was the article dealing with the death penalty. The version finally approved by the assembly endorsed capital punishment only in cases covered by military law when the country was in a state of declared war. These restrictions effectively eliminated the death penalty from the Salvadoran criminal justice system. Consideration of the draft document by the full Constituent Assembly began in August 1983; the final version was approved by that body in December. The effective date of the Constitution was December 20, 1983. The Constituent Assembly, having completed its mandate, was dismissed at that point, only to be reconvened on December 22 as the Legislative Assembly. The membership of the body remained the same.

The Document

The Constitution of 1983 is in many ways quite similar to the constitution of 1962, often incorporating verbatim passages from the earlier document. Some of the provisions shared by the two charters include the establishment of a five-year presidential term with no reelection, the right of the people to resort to "insurrection" to redress a transgression of the constitutional order, the affirmation (however neglected in practice) of the apolitical nature of the Salvadoran armed forces, the support of the state for the protection and promotion of private enterprise, the recognition of the right to private property, the right of laborers to a minimum wage and a six-day work week, the right of workers to strike and of owners to a lockout, and the traditional commitment to the reestablishment of the Republic of Central America.

The Constitution consists of 11 titles, subdivided into 274 articles. Title One enumerates the rights of the individual, among them the right to free expression that "does not subvert the public order," the right of free association and peaceful assembly for any legal purpose, the legal presumption of innocence, the legal inadmissibility of forced confession, and the right to the free exercise of religion--again, with the stipulation that such exercise remain within the bounds of "morality and public order."

Title One, however, also specifies the conditions under which constitutional guarantees may be suspended and the procedures for such suspension. The grounds for such action include war, invasion, rebellion, sedition, catastrophe (natural disasters), epidemic, or "grave disturbances of the public order." The declaration of the requisite circumstances may be issued by either the legislative or the executive branch of government. The suspension of constitutional guarantees lasts for a maximum of thirty days, at which point it may be extended for an additional thirty days by legislative decree. The declaration of suspension of guarantees grants jurisdiction over cases involving "crimes against the existence and organization of the state" to special military courts. The military courts that functioned from February 1984 until early 1987 under a suspension of guarantees (or state of siege) were commonly known as Decree 50 courts, after the legislative decree that established them.

According to the Constitution, all Salvadorans over eighteen years of age are considered citizens. As such, they have both political rights and political obligations. The rights of the citizen include the exercise of suffrage and the formation of political parties "in accordance with the law" or the right to join an existing party. The exercise of suffrage is listed as an obligation as well as a right, making voting mandatory. Failure to vote has technically been subject to a small fine, a penalty rarely invoked in practice.

Voters are required to have their names entered in the Electoral Register. Political campaigns are limited to four months preceding presidential balloting, two months before balloting for legislative representatives (deputies), and one month before municipal elections. Members of the clergy and active-duty military personnel are prohibited from membership in political parties and cannot run for public office. Moreover, the clergy and the military are enjoined from "carry[ing] out political propaganda in any form." Although military personnel are not denied suffrage by the Constitution, the armed forces' leadership routinely instructed its personnel to refrain from voting in order to concentrate on providing security for polling places.

Title Five defines the outlines of the country's "Economic Order." As noted, private enterprise and private property are guaranteed. The latter is recognized as a "social function," a phrase that may function as a loophole for the potential expropriation of unproductive land or other holdings. Individual landowners are limited to holdings of no more than 245 hectares but may dispose of their holdings as they see fit. The expropriation of land may be undertaken for the public benefit in the "social interest" through legal channels and with fair compensation.

Amendment of the Constitution is not a simple procedure. Initial approval of an amendment (or "reform") requires only a majority vote in the Legislative Assembly. Before the amendment can be incorporated, however, it must be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the next elected assembly. Since legislative deputies serve three-year terms, an amendment could take that long or longer to win passage into law.

El Salvador - GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS

The Constitution of 1983 affirms the Salvadoran government as republican, democratic, and representative, as had the constitution of 1962. The government is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The military, although not a constitutional branch of government per se, exerts considerable influence over the country's governance and serves as the most immediate representative of the government for many Salvadorans, particularly those in rural areas and in the zones most affected by the insurgency.

The Executive

The executive branch is made up of the president of the republic, the vice president, ministers and vice ministers of state, and their subordinate officials. The president must be Salvadoran by birth, over thirty years of age, of good character, and a member of a legally recognized political party. The president is elected by direct popular vote, serves a five-year term, and may not run for reelection. Several categories of individuals are proscribed from seeking the office of president: anyone who has held the office of president for more than six months prior to the beginning of a presidential term; the spouse or relatives to the fourth degree of consanguinity of said officeholder; anyone who had held the office of president of the Legislative Assembly or president of the Supreme Court of Justice for one year prior to the beginning of a presidential term; anyone who has held the post of minister, vice minister, or head of an official autonomous institution for the same one-year period; or any professional member of the military who is or has been on active duty during a three-year period prior to the beginning of a term. The same restrictions apply to those holding the offices of vice president or designado (the two individuals designated by the legislature as next in line after the vice president for presidential succession).

The powers of the president are circumscribed to some extent by the Constitution. The president requires the approval of the Legislative Assembly in order to leave the country. He is required to report to the assembly upon request on any subject except secret military strategy. In addition, the president can be declared physically or mentally incapacitated by a two-thirds vote of the assembly.

The president is charged with the "direction of foreign relations" and is designated the commander in chief of the armed forces. He is required to report to the Legislative Assembly within the first two months of each year on developments within the country and the government during the course of the previous calendar year (the Salvadoran "state of the union" address).

Ministers and vice ministers are named and removed by the president. They are required to be Salvadoran by birth and over twenty-five years of age. Together with the president and vice president, the Council of Ministers (or cabinet) produces the government plan--the projected requirements of the government for the coming year--and proposes a budget to the assembly at least three months before the beginning of the fiscal year.

El Salvador - The Legislature

The legislature is a unicameral body known as the Legislative Assembly. Its members are referred to as deputies (diputados). They are elected every three years according to a system of proportional representation. The assembly elected in March 1988 was composed of sixty deputies and sixty alternates (suplentes).

There is no restriction on the reelection of deputies. To serve in this capacity, however, one must be a Salvadoran by birth and over twenty-one years of age. Those prohibited from seeking election to the assembly include the president and vice president of the republic, government ministers and vice ministers, active-duty military personnel, and relatives of the president within the fourth level of consanguinity or the second level of affinity. Elected deputies, however, may serve as ministers or vice ministers, heads of official autonomous institutions, or chiefs of diplomatic missions. Such individuals do not participate in the business of the assembly but may be reintegrated into that body at the conclusion of their service in such a post.

The powers of the Legislative Assembly are considerable. It is the body that determines the statutory laws of El Salvador. It has the power to levy taxes, to ratify or reject treaties negotiated by the executive branch with foreign governments or international organizations, and to regulate the civil service. The assembly also wields the power of the purse as the body that approves the national budget in its final form. Perhaps just as important in a political sense is the assembly's power to place individuals, through a majority vote, in the following posts: president (chief justice) and magistrates of the Supreme Court, president of the Central Electoral Council, president and magistrates of an independent government auditing body known as the Court of Accounts (Corte de Cuentas), the attorney general, and the procurator general. By naming to these positions members of parties or factions opposed to the president, the Legislative Assembly can (and has, in some instances) impede the workings of government to a significant degree. The assembly also has the power to declare war, ratify peace treaties, and grant amnesty for political offenses or common crimes.

Legislation may be introduced not only by deputies but also by the president, by way of his ministers; the Supreme Court, in the case of laws pertaining to the judiciary; and local municipal councils, with regard to municipal taxation. A presidential veto of a law passed by the Legislative Assembly may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of that body. The executive may raise objections to a law on constitutional grounds; in such a case, the Supreme Court serves as the arbiter. If a law submitted to the Supreme court by the president is ruled to be constitutional, the president is compelled to sign it into law.

El Salvador - The Judiciary

The judicial branch of government is headed by the Supreme Court of Justice. The number of magistrates on the Supreme Court is not stipulated in the Constitution but is determined by other statutes. Magistrates are required to be Salvadoran by birth, more than forty years of age, and lawyers who have practiced for at least ten years or who have served as judges in a chamber of second instance for six years or on a court of first instance for nine years. Clergymen are prohibited from serving as magistrates. The president of the Supreme Court directs the business of the Supreme Court and functions as the head of the judicial branch. Magistrates are appointed by the Legislative Assembly to fiveyear terms.

The Supreme Court is divided into three chambers, or salas. The Constitutional Chamber (Sala de lo Constitucional), composed of the Supreme Court president and four other magistrates, rules on the constitutionality of laws and hears cases involving the invocation of amparo (restraint against the infringement of an individual's rights) or of habeas corpus. The remaining chambers of the Supreme Court, the Civil Chamber and the Criminal Chamber, serve as the last level of appeal in these legal categories.

Below the Supreme Court are the chambers of second instance, or courts of appeal. Each chamber is composed of two magistrates, who hear appeals of decisions handed down in the courts of first instance. There were fourteen chambers of second instance in 1986. The courts of first instance hear both civil and criminal cases; there were some eighty-seven such courts in 1986. The broadest level of the legal system is the justice of the peace courts. Numbering approximately 193 in 1986 and located throughout the country, the justice of the peace courts decide only cases involving misdemeanors and minor civil suits.

El Salvador - The Military

The constitutional role of the Salvadoran armed forces is spelled out in Title Six, Chapter Eight of the Constitution. The military is charged with maintaining a representative democratic form of government, enforcing the no-reelection provision for the country's president, guaranteeing freedom of suffrage, and respecting human rights. The armed forces as an institution is defined as "essentially apolitical" and obedient to established civilian authority.

It should be borne in mind that such documents tend to reflect ideals and goals for conduct, not the prevailing state of affairs at the time of their drafting. In the late 1980s, the Salvadoran armed forces was an evolving institution attempting to deal simultaneously with a left-wing insurgency and the institutionalization of a democratic form of government while also seeking to deflect what it perceived as threats to its internal cohesion. One such threat was the potential investigation and possible prosecution of officers on human rights charges, many of them connected with the prosecution of the war against the guerrillas, although such action was rendered less likely by the amnesty approved by the Legislative Assembly in 1987 as well as by the political ascendancy of Arena. Given its history, the heightened importance of its role in dealing with the insurgents, and its interest in preserving its institutional integrity, the Salvadoran military certainly exerted political influence, particularly in areas of policy directly related to national security. Indeed, the armed forces was expected by all political actors in the country to play a role in the country's affairs, and its power and influence were accepted by all those participating in the democratic system.

Since the political influence of the armed forces, usually exerted through the High Command, was exercised largely behind the scenes, it was in many ways difficult to measure. There were indications, however, that the military was attempting to cooperate with civilian democratic leaders. The minister of defense and public security, General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, accompanied President Jose Napoleon Duarte Fuentes to the October 1984 meeting with representatives of the FMLN-FDR in La Palma. General Vides also appeared before the Legislative Assembly a number of times at the request of that body to testify on military issues. Both the air force, by restricting aerial bombing, and the security forces, by showing restraint in dealing with radical demonstrators in San Salvador, followed directives laid down by the president. Perhaps the best evidence of military restraint under the emerging democratic system was the fact that, as of late 1988, the High Command had made no move to overthrow the existing government by force, despite several reported appeals from Salvadoran political factions to do so.

Another important development with regard to the military's political role concerned its relationship with other actors, particularly the elite and the political parties. By supporting a government headed by a Christian democratic president and assisting in the implementation of agrarian reform measures, the armed forces demonstrated in the 1980s that their previous ties with the elite, particularly the agrarian elite, no longer compelled them to resist almost every form of social and political change. The dissociation by the military from direct institutional support of any political party--in contrast to its virtual control of the PCN during the 1960s and 1970s--also enhanced the armed forces' political independence.

El Salvador - Local Government

El Salvador is divided into fourteen administrative divisions called departments, the equivalent of states in the United States. Each department is administered by a governor appointed by the president. An alternate for each governor is also designated. Governors must be Salvadoran by birth, over twenty-five years of age, and residents of their department for at least two years prior to their appointment.

Below the departmental level, El Salvador is divided into 261 municipalities (or municipios, the equivalent of counties in the United States). Each municipio is governed by a municipal council composed of a mayor (alcalde), a legal representative (sindico), and two or more council members (regidores). The number of regidores is determined by the population of the municipio. Members of the municipal councils must be more than twenty-one years of age and residents of the municipio in which they serve. Directly elected, municipal officials serve three-year terms and may be reelected. Municipios are not all of equal size but are required to have a population of at least 10,000; municipal boundaries are determined by the Legislative Assembly.

The powers of local government are circumscribed by those of the central government. Because department governers are appointed by the president, their independence is questionable. Despite their status as elected representatives, the powers of municipal officeholders are also limited in certain key areas. The most glaring example is taxation. Although the municipal councils are allowed to suggest local taxes and tax rates, only the Legislative Assembly has the power to actually levy taxes. Therefore, all funds utilized by the councils are appropriated and disbursed by the assembly, although such funds are earmarked in the budget and are not incorporated into the central government's general fund. Among the duties relegated to the municipal councils under the Salvadoran Municipal Code are the holding of town meetings (cabildos abiertos) at least once every three months. The council is enjoined from acting against the majority opinion expressed at the cabildos abiertos. The municipal councils also grant legal recognition (personalidad juridica) to communal associations in their municipios. The councils are required to meet periodically with representatives of the communal associations and to consult with them on the appointment of representatives to advisory and other local commissions. The councils also issue local ordinances and regulations.

El Salvador - POLITICAL DYNAMICS

Electoral Procedures

Electoral procedures in El Salvador are governed by the Electoral Code, which was updated by the Legislative Assembly in January 1988. The system it established is in some ways cumbersome and open to abuse but adheres closely to electoral procedures followed in most Latin American countries.

The organization in charge of administering electoral procedures is the Central Electoral Council (Consejo Central de Elecciones), which consists of three members and three alternates elected for five-year terms by the Legislative Assembly. Nominees for the council are drawn from the ranks of the leading political parties or coalitions, as determined by the vote totals in the most recent presidential elections. The president of the Central Electoral Council serves as the chief administrator and the ultimate authority on questions of electoral procedures.

In order to cast their votes, all citizens are required to obtain from the Central Electoral Council an electoral identification card (carnet electoral) certifying their inscription in the national Electoral Register. The carnet electoral is presented at the individual's polling place and is the only form of identification accepted for this purpose. The card must bear the voter's photograph, signature (if literate), and right thumbprint. The carnet electoral is valid for five years from the date of issue.

The issuing of carnets electorales and the related maintenance of the Electoral Register are the most cumbersome aspects of the electoral system, particularly in rural areas where voters' access to their municipal electoral boards frequently is impeded by poor transportation and the effects of the insurgent war. Rural voter registration has also been hampered by direct and indirect coercion by the guerrilla forces, who have described national elections as a sham and a component of a United States-designed counterinsurgency strategy. These and other factors, including a general disenchantment with the electoral process based in large part on the failure of the government to end the insurgency and improve economic conditions, contributed to a gradual decline in voter turnout during the 1982-88 period. Whereas some 80 percent of the electorate turned out for the Constituent Assembly balloting in 1982, only an estimated 65 percent voted in the first round of presidential balloting in March 1984. This was followed by turnouts of approximately 66 and 60 percent in the 1985 and 1988 legislative and municipal elections, respectively.

The Central Electoral Council, in coordination with its departmental and municipal electoral boards, determines the number and location of polling places. This process is to be completed at least fifteen days prior to balloting. Although the Electoral Register and final vote tallies are processed at least partially by computer, paper ballots are utilized at the polling places. Ballots are deposited in clear plastic receptacles to reduce the possibility of fraud. All political parties are entitled to station a poll watcher at each balloting site to reduce further the opportunity for vote manipulation.

Polling places are open from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M., at which time the officials at each site begin the preparation of an official record of the results. This record includes a preliminary vote count by party, an inventory of ballots issued to the polling place (the discrepancy between ballots issued and ballots used is not to exceed 300), and accounts of challenges received and any unusual incidents or occurrences during the course of the voting. Poll watchers scrutinize the record's preparation and are entitled to a copy of the final product. As a result, political parties frequently are able to issue preliminary electoral results well in advance of the official tally.

These records from the polling places are forwarded to the local municipal electoral board, where a record for the entire municipio is prepared. The municipal voting records are conveyed to the Central Electoral Council by way of the departmental electoral boards. The council conducts the final scrutiny of the records; this process must be undertaken no later than forty-eight hours after the closing of the polls. Copies of voting records are also provided to the office of the attorney general as a further safeguard against tampering.

In the case of presidential elections, the Central Electoral Council can declare a winner only if one ticket receives an absolute majority of all votes cast. If no one party or coalition receives such a majority, as happened in the March 1984 elections, the council is required to schedule within thirty days a runoff election between the two leading vote-getters. The declaration of winners in legislative balloting is less direct; here, voters cast their ballots for parties more than for individuals, since seats in the Legislative Assembly are allotted to registered candidates roughly on a proportional basis according to the departmental vote totals of their party or coalition. Municipal elections are more straightforward, with the winners decided according to their showing in the municipal vote tallies.

The protracted insurgent war exerted pressure on the government to adjust its electoral procedures. In areas where guerrilla control prevented the establishment of polling places, voters were urged to cast their ballots at the nearest secure location. Some polling places in departmental capitals were required to have on hand electoral records for rural voters who had relocated from war zones. In some towns, so-called national polling stations were set up to accommodate displaced voters from other departments. These stations were required to have on hand electoral registration data for the entire country. Guerrillaengineered transportation stoppages, attacks on public buildings, and sabotage of the electrical system impeded voting as well, especially in rural areas. Indeed, many of these actions were undertaken with the specific intention of deterring voters from participation.

In addition to overseeing elections, the Central Electoral Council is also charged with the official recognition of political parties. Initial petitions to the council for the formation of a party require the support of at least 100 citizens. This group then is granted sixty days to secure the signatures of at least 3,000 citizens and submit them to the council. If all the signatures are verified, the party is then granted legal recognition, referred to as inscription (inscripcion). The party's inscription can be revoked if it fails to receive at least 0.5 percent of the total national vote cast in a presidential or legislative election, or if the party fails to participate in two consecutive elections. Parties are allowed to form coalitions at the national, departmental, or municipal levels without forfeiting their separate inscriptions.

Political campaigns are underwritten to some extent by the state through the provision for "political debt." The Electoral Code stipulates that each party can expect to receive reimbursement according to the following formula: C10 for each valid vote cast for the party in the first round of a presidential election, C6 for each vote in legislative elections, and C4 for each vote in municipal elections. All parties are eligible for payment, regardless of their showing at the polls.

El Salvador - The Electoral Process

From March 1982 to March 1988, Salvadorans went to the polls five times to cast their ballots for members of the Constituent Assembly (later converted to the Legislative Assembly), the president, deputies of the Legislative Assembly, and municipal officials. This flurry of electoral activity was occasioned by the transition to a functional representative system of government, a decidedly new experience for Salvadorans.

The first round of the 1984 presidential election was held on March 25. Some 1.4 million Salvadorans went to the polls. Although eight candidates competed, most voters cast their ballots for the representative of one of the three leading parties, the PDC's Duarte, Arena's D'Aubuisson, or the PCN's Francisco Jose Guerrero Cienfuegos. The results were not immediately decisive. Duarte received 43 percent of the vote, D'Aubuisson 30 percent, and Guerrero 19. This necessitated a runoff election on May 6 between Duarte and D'Aubuisson. Despite entreaties from Arena, Guerrero declined to endorse either candidate. It is doubtful that his endorsement would have made much difference in the balloting, given Duarte's relative popularity and D'Aubuisson's reputed connections with right-wing violence and the disapproval of his candidacy by the United States government. It was reported in the United States press after the election that the United States Central Intelligence Agency had funneled some US$2 million in covert campaign aid to the PDC. Nevertheless, the results of the runoff were surprisingly close, with Duarte garnering 54 percent to D'Aubuisson's 46 percent. Some observers criticized the presidential election on the grounds that it excluded parties of the left, such as those represented by the FDR. Political conditions at that time, however, were not favorable to participation by such groups. If nothing else, the inability of the government to provide for the physical security of leftist candidates militated against their inclusion in the electoral process.

The 1985 legislative and municipal elections were carried overwhelmingly by the PDC. The party achieved an outright majority in the Legislative Assembly, increasing its representation from twenty-four to thirty-three seats, and carried over 200 of the country's municipal councils. Arena and the PCN joined as a two-party coalition for these elections in an effort to secure a conservative majority in the assembly. The terms of the coalition, whereby Arena agreed to split evenly the total number of seats won, resulted in a political embarrassment for D'Aubuisson's party, which took 29 percent of the total vote but was awarded only one more seat (thirteen to twelve) than the PCN, which had drawn only 8 percent of the vote. PAISA and AD also won one seat apiece.

The style of Salvadoran political campaigning bore little resemblance to that of the United States and other institutionalized democracies. Personal verbal attacks between competing candidates and parties predominated in the media, campaign literature, and at public rallies. Debate on specific issues was largely eschewed in favor of emotional appeals to the electorate. It was therefore not uncommon to hear candidates and leaders of the PDC refer to Arena as a "Nazi-fascist party," whereas areneros openly denounced Christian Democrats as "communists." One of Arena leader D'Aubuisson's favorite campaign embellishments was to slash open a watermelon with a machete; the watermelon, he told the crowds, was like the PDC--green (the party color) on the outside but red on the inside. This dramatic, personalistic type of appeal highlighted the lack of institutionalization of the Salvadoran democratic system, the intensity of emotion elicited by the political process, and the polarizing effect of the ongoing struggle between the government and leftist insurgent forces. Observers reported, however, that Arena spokesmen toned down their appeals during the 1988 legislative and municipal elections in an effort to project a moderate, responsible image.

El Salvador - Political Parties

By 1988 El Salvador had a number of inscribed political parties participating in the democratic process. Only three, however, had significant followings: the PDC, Arena, and the PCN.

Christian Democratic Party

The ideological position of the Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democrata Cristiano--PDC) was more liberal than that of most Christian democratic parties elsewhere in Latin America or in Western Europe. In the Salvadoran context, taking into account the existence of radical leftist groups such as those constituting the FMLN-FDR, the PDC could be characterized as a party of the center-left. The party was born out of the frustration of urban middle-class professionals who felt themselves excluded from the political process in El Salvador. From its founding in 1960 until the early 1980s, the party and its leaders showed considerable tenacity and staying power in the face of right-wing repression, the adamant refusal of the economic and political elite (with the backing of the military) to allow broad-based popular participation in government, and the eventual defection of some of its members to the radical left, in the form of the FDR. The year 1979 was a turning point for the Christian Democrats, as it was for the country as a whole. Party leaders' participation in the junta governments established after the reformist coup gave them an opportunity to organize and prepare to participate in the democratic process initiated in 1982. Their involvement also attracted the support of the United States. Despite its failure to win a majority of the seats in the 1982 balloting for the Constituent Assembly, the PDC nonetheless emerged from that election as the leading political party in the country, a position it went on to demonstrate in the 1984 and 1985 elections.

The PDC reached the peak of its power after the 1985 elections. At that point, Duarte was still a popular figure. The party's absolute majority in the legislature was seen by him and his fellow Christian Democrats as a mandate for the continuation and extension of reforms. The opposition was weakened and divided. Resentment among the areneros over their unsuccessful coalition with the PCN provoked a rupture between the two conservative parties. Subsequently, the PCN became more supportive of the PDC and its political program.

Duarte and his party used their control of the executive and legislative branches to further the agrarian reform program first established by decree in 1980, to draft a new Electoral Code, to approve an amnesty for political prisoners, and to pass additional economic reform measures. The momentum that had seemed so compelling in the wake of the March elections, however, was eroded by events and was eventually lost in the tumult of politics and insurgency. Perhaps the first of the blows to the PDC's position was the kidnapping of the president's daughter, Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran, in September 1985. This incident preoccupied Duarte personally, so that his support within the armed forces weakened, and a leadership vacuum developed in both the government and the PDC.

Another major dilemma for the PDC government was the direction of a war-ravaged economy. Although it could be justified on an economic basis, Duarte's 1986 package of austerity measures drew political fire from most major interest groups. The associated currency devaluation, always a controversial step, was especially unpopular. The impression that the president implemented the austerity measures largely in response to pressure from the United States also did little to enhance his prestige or that of the party.

For most Salvadorans, the civil conflict and its attendant violence were the problems of uppermost concern, especially insofar as pocketbook issues such as inflation, standard of living, and employment were seen as closely related to the war against the leftist guerrillas. Duarte's personal popularity was boosted after the October 1984 meeting in La Palma with representatives of the FMLN-FDR; a war-weary population began to believe that a resolution to the conflict might be in sight. These optimistic expectations, however, were dampened considerably as the negotiating process bogged down and stalled. The kidnapping of Duarte's daughter further hardened the president's attitude and rendered the prospect of a negotiated settlement during his administration highly unlikely. Although the majority of Salvadorans had little sympathy for the FMLN, Duarte's failure to achieve peace nonetheless undermined his popularity and diminished the public perception of the PDC as a viable mediator between the extremes of left and right.

Another issue that tarnished the reputation of the PDC was corruption. Rumors and allegations that had become common in El Salvador came to a head in March 1988 with the publication of an article in the New York Times indicating that as much as US$2 million in United States economic aid might have been embezzled. One of the individuals named in the article was an associate of Alejandro Duarte, the president's son. Although the president himself was never linked with corrupt practices of any kind, the apparent failure of other members of the PDC to resist the temptations of office was a blow to the image of a party that had throughout its history protested and decried the abuses of power perpetrated under previous governments.

The post-1985 decline in the fortunes of the PDC government closely paralleled a general popular disillusionment with the democratic process. By 1987 polls conducted by the Central American University Jose Simeon Canas showed that slightly over three-quarters of the electorate felt that no existing political party represented their interests. Of those respondents who did express a party preference, only 6 percent identified with the PDC and 10 percent with Arena.

Given the lack of clearly demonstrable progress in the economic, political, and security spheres, most observers correctly predicted that the PDC would lose its legislative majority in the March 1988 elections. The scale of that loss, however, was greater than most had anticipated. The final official vote count yielded thirty Legislative Assembly seats for Arena, twenty-three for the PDC, and seven for the PCN. Arena's leaders initially protested the results, claiming that they had captured at least thirty-one seats and thus a majority in the legislature. The protest was rendered academic in May 1988, when a PCN deputy switched his party allegiance to Arena. A September 1988 ruling by the Supreme Court awarded the contested seat to Arena, raising its majority to thirty-two. In a stunning turnaround, the Christian Democrats had dropped eleven seats in the assembly and lost more than 200 municipal races to Arena. A particularly sharp blow to PDC pride was the loss of the mayoralty of San Salvador, a post the party had held continuously since Duarte's election as mayor in 1964. Ironically, Duarte's son Alejandro was the PDC candidate who was forced to concede defeat to the Arena candidate, Armando Calderon Sol.

The internal cohesion of the party had begun to erode well before the 1988 elections. While Duarte was struggling to deal with affairs of state, his own party was polarizing into two personalistic, competitive factions. One of these factions was led by Julio Adolfo Rey Prendes, a longtime party member and associate of Duarte's. The other faction supported Fidel Chavez Mena, a younger technocrat who had disrupted a seemingly harmonious and supportive relationship with Duarte by opposing him for the 1984 presidential nomination. Rey Prendes's faction was commonly known as "the Ring" (La Argolla) or "the Mafia." The latter designation, used by members of the faction themselves, perhaps reflected Rey Prendes's reputation as a backroom political wheeler-dealer. Chavez's followers were referred to as institucionalistas or simply as chavistas.

Through his accumulated power within the party, Rey Prendes was able to influence the nomination of PDC legislative candidates in the 1988 elections. These deputies served as his political power base. The chavistas, although frozen out of the nominations to the Legislative Assembly, rallied to have their man nominated for president at a party convention in June 1988, but only after an earlier convention dominated by members of the Rey Prendes faction was ruled invalid by the Central Electoral Council. Not surprisingly, the earlier convention had nominated Rey Prendes as the party's standard bearer.

Judging by his public inaction in the matter, Duarte awoke fairly late to the trouble in his own party. In an effort to settle the conflict between the two contentious factions, the president proposed in April 1988 that both Rey Prendes and Chavez renounce their campaigns for the presidency in favor of a unity candidate, Abraham Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a founding member of the PDC who had run unsuccessfully for president in 1967. The fact that Duarte's attempt at reconciliation was rejected immediately by both factional leaders demonstrated the president's diminished status and authority among the party's ranks.

The decline in the fortunes of the PDC was tragically and almost symbolically accentuated by the announcement in June 1988 that President Duarte was suffering from terminal liver cancer. The illness might have explained to some extent Duarte's faltering leadership of both the government and his party. In any case, the announcement seemed to punctuate the end of an era in Salvadoran politics.

El Salvador - Nationalist Republican Alliance

The nature of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista--Arena) as a political force in El Salvador was the object of some debate as it moved toward becoming a ruling party with its 1988 electoral victory. Some observers characterized Arena as the institutional representative of the "disloyal right," meaning those conservative forces that played the game of democracy while privately harboring preferences for authoritarian or even dictatorial rule and a restoration of the absolute political preeminence of the elite. Others felt that after a rocky beginning, Arena had moderated and extended its ideology beyond simplistic, reflexive anticommunism and was ready to assume the role of a conservative party that would support private enterprise and be willing to accept some economic reforms in response to popular demands.

The fortunes of Arena, like those of the PDC, were cyclical in nature. Although the 1982 Constituent Assembly elections yielded the party a leading role in that body, subsequent elections appeared to reflect a growing public rejection of the extremist image of Arena and its leader, D'Aubuisson. The nadir of the party's influence was reached after the 1985 elections and the unsuccessful coalition with the PCN. Much of the blame for the party's electoral defeats fell on the shoulders of D'Aubuisson. In an effort to moderate the party's image, D'Aubuisson was persuaded to step down as party president in October 1985. He was replaced by Alfredo Cristiani Buckhard, a member of a prominent coffee-growing family. Although Cristiani, who in May 1988 was designated the party's 1989 presidential nominee, subsequently went on to project a less hyperbolic public image for the party, D'Aubuisson was nevertheless retained as an "honorary president for life," and he continued to serve as a charismatic drawing card at public rallies and as a party spokesman in the media. San Salvador mayor Calderon Sol also emerged from the 1988 elections as a leading figure in the party.

Arena's journey from obstructionist opposition to apparent majority status was attributable to a number of factors. With its support from private enterprise and large agricultural interests, Arena enjoyed a distinct advantage in funding over its rivals. Along with superior liquidity came superior organizational and propaganda capabilities. Although its elitist supporters were the most influential, Arena's base of support also incorporated significant numbers of rural peasants and, particularly in the March 1988 elections, the urban poor. The party consistently drew some 40 percent of the peasant vote, reflecting the basic conservatism of this voting bloc as well as the ingrained appeal of strong caudillo leadership and a visceral response to the party's promises to prosecute more forcefully the war against the guerrillas. Arena also benefited from the intractable nature of the country's problems and the PDC's apparent inability to cope successfully with the challenge of governing a country torn by violence and instability.

Arena also reportedly counted a significant percentage of the military officer corps as sympathizers with its views, particularly the party's call for a more vigorous prosecution of the counterinsurgent war. D'Aubuisson, a 1963 graduate of the Captain General Gerardo Barrios Military Academy, apparently maintained contacts not only with members of his graduating class (tanda) but also with conservative junior officers. It was reported by some observers that D'Aubuisson's behind-the-scenes appeals from 1984 to 1988 were intended to foment a rightist coup d'etat against the PDC government. After the party's March 1988 electoral victory, such a drastic method of taking power appeared to be ruled out by Arena's seemingly bright prospects in the 1989 presidential race.

Although Arena's surprisingly strong showing in the 1988 elections was to a great extent a rejection of the PDC, it also seemed to reflect a hardening of public attitudes, particularly with regard to the conflict between the government and the leftist guerrillas. Whereas Duarte and his party had drawn support among the electorate at least in part by promising to end the fighting through negotiations, Arena suggested that the more effective approach was to step up military efforts in the field. This approach seemed to have the greatest appeal among the residents of conflict zones in the north and east of the country, where resentment of the protracted fighting ran high. Some urban middle-class voters, once strong supporters of the PDC, also reportedly responded favorably to this hard-line position.

Another aspect of Arena's appeal revolved around nationalism and rejection of foreign interference in Salvadoran affairs. Some areneros bitterly resented the perceived favoritism shown the PDC by the United States and blamed much of their party's misfortune from 1984 through 1988 on manipulation by the norteamericanos. Some party spokesmen such as Sigifredo Ochoa Perez, a flamboyant retired army colonel elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1988, extended their criticism beyond the political sphere into the arena of military tactics, publicly criticizing the role of United States military advisers in formulating counterinsurgent strategy. Cristiani also spoke out against such United States-backed innovations as the switch to small-unit tactics and suggested that an Arena government would move to abandon them. The seeming inability of the armed forces to resolve the insurgency by military means appeared to sharpen the public's receptiveness to these criticisms.

The most immediate advantage gained by Arena through its control of the Legislative Assembly was its ability to dictate the appointment of candidates to important government posts, such as magistrates of the Supreme Court and the attorney general of the republic. The party's legislative agenda was uncertain in mid-1988, but it seemed to entail some tinkering with land reform provisions, such as changing the titling procedure for cooperatives; easing the tax and regulatory burden on the private sector, especially the coffee industry; restoring private banking; and, perhaps, reprivatizing the foreign trade procedures.

El Salvador - National Conciliation Party

The National Conciliation Party (Partido de Conciliacion Nacional--PCN) was the dominant political party in El Salvador during the 1960s and 1970s, when it was closely associated with the military. Although its level of popular support was all but impossible to quantify because of institutionalized electoral fraud, the PCN had supporters among both the elite and the rural population, especially in areas where the armed forces served as the primary governmental presence. The party's showings in the 1982 Constituent Assembly elections and the first round of the 1984 presidential elections were respectable; it was Guerrero's almost 20 percent total that forced the voting to a runoff between Duarte and D'Aubuisson. From that point on, however, the PCN's support at the polls declined steadily. This appeared to be a by-product of the democratic transition in El Salvador. Under a system allowing open electoral competition, the military shifted its support to the party best positioned to ensure continued aid from the United States and to provide some measure of stability to the government. Until 1988 this party was the PDC. Deprived of its military connection, the PCN was left to fend for itself in a new and unfamiliar scheme of things. Given the polarizing tendencies of Salvadoran politics, parties without a mass base or superior organization tended to be marginalized. This clearly seemed to be the case with the PCN in the wake of the 1988 elections.

During its years in power, the PCN was a rightist party that implemented limited and controlled reform in an effort to placate nonelite sectors, such as the peasantry and the urban middle class. The image of the party, however, was tarnished severely by the harsh repression undertaken by the military and the so-called "death squads" in response to growing popular unrest in the 1970s. When the armed forces turned to the PDC in 1980 in an effort to lend legitimacy to the post-1979 junta governments, the separation of the PCN from the military was begun. Unfortunately for the PCN, however, the association between the two was strong in the public mind. Although this lingering perception may have helped the party among some rural voters, overall it was judged a liability by most observers. In response to this perceived image problem, the PCN in the mid-1980s was attempting to moderate its policy positions, adopt a social democratic platform, and reach out to labor and peasant groups. Any support that the PCN might pick up from these sources was expected to come at the expense of the PDC.

El Salvador - Left-Wing Parties

The major representative of the political left in El Salvador was the Revolutionary Democratic Front (Frente Democratico Revolucionario--FDR), a grouping of social democratic parties and the remnants of some of the "popular organizations" that led antigovernment protests in the late 1970s. Up to and including the elections of 1988, the left had been excluded from the electoral process. The most frequently cited impediment to leftist participation was right-wing violence. This was certainly a very valid consideration in the early 1980s, when the level of human rights violations was extremely high.

By the mid-1980s, however, political violence had declined considerably, rendering the possibility of leftist participation more plausible. Such an eventuality was complicated considerably by the direct association of the FDR with the violent, rejectionist left as represented by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional-- FMLN). The leadership of the FMLN clung to the position that the only legitimate elections would be those undertaken after the conclusion and implementation of a power-sharing arrangement between the government and the FMLN-FDR. Participation in elections held in the absence of such an agreement only served to legitimate what the insurgent commanders described as a puppet government of the United States. This extremism and intransigence by its allies made problematic the FDR's full inclusion in the electoral process. Yet another consideration for the leftist parties was the potential for a weak showing at the polls and the loss of prestige and bargaining power that would entail.

Nevertheless, despite the numerous factors weighing against them, members of the two leading parties in the FDR coalition began to return from foreign exile to organize and possibly to compete in the 1989 presidential elections. Ruben Zamora Rivas, the leader of the Popular Social Christian Movement (Movimiento Popular Social Cristiano--MPSC), and Guillermo Manuel Ungo Revelo, head of the National Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario--MNR), returned to El Salvador in November 1987. Wearing body armor beneath their suits, the two made several public appearances and were interviewed on Salvadoran radio and television stations. The groundwork for their dramatic reappearances had been established by other, less prominent members of their parties who had returned to assess the political climate prevailing under the Duarte government.

In December 1987, the MPSC and MNR announced that they were forming a political coalition that would also include the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata--PSD), a small leftof -center party established in 1986. The new grouping was dubbed the Democratic Convergence (Convergencia Democratica--CD). Many observers felt that the CD was set up in order to contest the legislative and municipal elections of March 1988. The CD's announcement in January of that year that it would not field candidates put an end to such speculation and bought the coalition additional time to contemplate its strategy for the 1989 elections. Public statements by Ungo and Zamora shed little light on their intentions in this regard. In one such statement, Ungo denied that the CD was intended to function as an electoral coalition. Zamora adhered closely to the FMLN line in a December 1987 statement in which he advocated the creation of a "transitional government" prior to the holding of general elections. Nevertheless, in March 1988 the MPSC began the process of legal inscription as a political party under the procedures established by the Electoral Code; subsequent press reports also indicated that electoral participation had been approved by the leadership of the FMLN.

Although Ungo and Zamora denied any possibility of a split between the FDR and the FMLN, there were definite signs of uneasiness between the two groups. Most of the open disagreements involved the FMLN's continued advocacy and employment of terrorism as a political instrument. The FDR leaders particularly disagreed with the kidnapping of Duarte's daughter and the June 1985 murder of thirteen people, including six United States citizens, in San Salvador. The return of MPSC and MNR members and their possible participation in the established electoral process was seen by some as another manifestation of the growing strains within the FMLN-FDR alliance.

El Salvador - Other Parties

The 1985 crisis within the ranks of Arena produced a splinter party that initially referred to itself as Free Fatherland (Patria Libre). It was led by D'Aubuisson's 1984 running mate, Hugo Barrera Guerrero, a prominent businessman. The early prospects for the party, which subsequently changed its name to the Liberation Party (Partido Liberacion--PL), seemed promising. A number of observers felt that a center-right, probusiness party could pick up much of the support that Arena seemed to have lost in the 1984 and 1985 elections. The PL, however, was unable to compete with Arena on an organizational basis and fared poorly in the 1988 elections, coming away without a single seat in the Legislative Assembly.

There were several other small political parties that ran candidates in the 1988 elections but failed to garner any seats in the Legislative Assembly. One of these was the Salvadorn Authentic Institutional Party (Partido Autentico Institucional Salvadoreno--PAISA), the conservative PCN splinter party. Another small conservative party was the Authentic Revolutionary Party (Partido Autentico Revolucionario--PAR). Democratic Action (Accion Democratica--AD) was a moderate party that supported Duarte and the PDC in the 1984 elections but subsequently differed with the government's economic policies and assumed a more independent stance. Rounding out the field was the extreme right-wing Popular Orientation Party (Partido de Orientacion Popular--POP).

El Salvador - Interest Groups

Private Enterprise

Members of the private business sector relied on a number of organizations to articulate their positions on economic and political issues. These organizations served as pressure groups, injecting themselves regularly into the political arena through criticism of government policies, the actual or threatened shutdown of business and industry, and behind-the-scenes lobbying with politicians. The leading private enterprise organizations were the National Association of Private Enterprise (Asociacion Nacional de la Empresa Privada--ANEP), the Association of Salvadoran Industrialists (Asociacion Salvadorena de Industriales--ASI), the Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Camara de Comercio e Industria de El Salvador), the Salvadoran Coffee Growers Association (Asociacion Cafetalera de El Salvador--ACES), and the Association of Coffee Processors and Exporters (Asociacion de Beneficiadores y Exportadores de Cafe-- Abecafe). Their membership was drawn from the economic elite, and their leadership consistently advocated a reduction in government involvement in industry, the reprivatization of coffee exports and foreign trade in general, no increase in taxes on business (usually referred to as "the productive sector"), no extension of the agrarian reform, and reductions in government spending.

Most economic issues usually found the private enterprise organizations aligned on one side and labor and peasant organizations on the other, with the Duarte government somewhere in between, attempting to mediate between the two blocs. This was especially true with regard to agrarian reform. The private enterprise organizations, particularly the coffee growers' associations, opposed agrarian reform from its inception in 1980. They were unable to prevent implementation, however, because of a shift in the political climate that brought too many other actors, including the PDC, the reformist military, and the United States, down on the side of some measure of reform. Denied their first preference in the matter, the private sector groups went on to advocate limitations on the terms of the reforms. These were enacted by the Constituent Assembly and incorporated into the 1983 Constitution. By the late 1980s, the line taken by the private sector reflected that espoused by Arena, namely, that the reforms should not be rescinded but should be made more efficient.

Private-enterprise organizations provided the most significant opposition to the Duarte government's 1986 economic austerity package. From the businessmen's point of view, the most offensive aspect of the package was the so-called "war tax" on all income above US$20,000 with revenues derived from the tax to be applied directly to the war effort against the leftist guerrillas. In this as in other matters, the private sector groups worked in concert with Arena. While arenero legislators boycotted sessions of the Legislative Assembly in an effort to deny the PDC a quorum, the private-enterprise organizations called for a shutdown of business and industry on January 22, 1987. The business strike was quite effective, closing a reported 80 percent of Salvadoran stores, factories, and professional and nonprofessional services. Although impressive, this demonstration of economic power by the private sector had no immediate effect on government policy. The issue eventually was rendered moot, however, in February 1987 when the war tax was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The January 1987 strike was but another chapter in a long history of confrontation between the private sector and the PDC. Bitterly opposed to Duarte's election in 1984, the ASI publicly denounced Duarte and his party as adherents to the same ideology as that of the FMLN. The PDC, according to the industrialists, differed only in its "method and strategies" for achieving socialism. Although he responded to the attacks in kind during the campaign, Duarte attempted after his election to reassure business leaders that he was not antagonistic to private enterprise. The agendas of the PDC and the private sector were too divergent, however, and attitudes generally were hardened between the two as economic conditions failed to improve and the insurgency ground on interminably.

El Salvador - Labor and Campesino Groups

Although labor confederations have existed for decades in El Salvador, their political input has been limited by their small membership--officially, only nonagricultural workers have been allowed to organize--and by the exclusionary nature of the political system. Under military rule, the only unions with influence were those with ties to the armed forces or its associated ruling party. The political ferment that began to make itself felt in the late 1970s, however, was reflected in the labor movement. The real and pressing grievances of workers and peasants, who began to organize into unsanctioned interest groups of their own, led them to enlist in the growing number of unions affiliated with the so-called mass organizations or popular organizations. These organizations took a much more militant, antigovernment line than did the old, established labor unions. Ultimately, the leaders of the mass organizations, supportive of the revolutionary goals of the FMLN, were more concerned with the promotion of their political agenda than with the attainment of better wages and working conditions for the rank and file. By the early 1980s, strikes, demonstrations, and protests by these groups had contributed to an atmosphere of uncertainty, instability, and political polarization in El Salvador. In the violent right-wing backlash that followed, members of moderate, prodemocratic, nonconfrontational unions were murdered along with the militant supporters of the mass organizations. This repression--both official and unofficial--temporarily removed labor groups as participants in the political arena. The situation began to change as democratic institutions evolved in the wake of the 1982 Constituent Assembly elections.

Duarte won the presidency with the support of a number of groups in Salvadoran society who felt that their interests could best be served by the extension of economic reform. Most of these groups--middle-class professionals, small business people, labor unions, and peasants--also believed that a just resolution to the civil conflict was a necessary prerequisite to economic reactivation. In terms of numbers, the most important of these sectors were the labor and peasant organizations. In February 1984, Duarte signed a "social pact" with the major centrist grouping, the Popular Democratic Unity (Unidad Popular Democratica--UPD). This agreement called for the full implementation of agrarian reform, government support for union rights, incorporation of union and peasant leaders into the government, and continued efforts to curtail human rights violations and to end the civil conflict.

From the point of view of labor and peasant groups, the Duarte government failed to follow through on the pledges made under the social pact, and, as a result, the UPD began to unravel. In early 1984, the UPD had been the leading labor and peasant grouping in both numbers and influence. It was an umbrella group made up of the country's leading labor federation- -the Federation of Unions of the Construction Industry and Kindred Activities, Transportation, and Other Activities (Federacion de Sindicatos de la Industria de la Construccion, Similares, Transporte y de Otras Actividades--Fesinconstrans); its largest peasant group, the Salvadoran Communal Union (Union Comunal Salvadorena--UCS); and three smaller groups. In August 1984, some three months after Duarte's election, the leadership of the three smallest UPD affiliates called a press conference to denounce Duarte for his lack of compliance with the social pact. Leaders of Fesinconstrans and the UCS, who were not consulted before or included in the press conference, publicly dissociated themselves from the statements made there. This incident precipitated a political and ideological split within the labor movement that showed little sign of abating by the late 1980s.

Documents seized by government forces after a shootout with a rebel group in April 1985 shed some light on the leadership crisis within the UPD. According to the documents, three union leaders (although not named, they were presumed by most analysts to be the leaders who called the 1984 press conference) were collaborating clandestinely with the FMLN and were receiving bribes to assume a confrontational stance with the government. The coordination of actions among the FMLN, leftist unions, and certain militant human rights and refugee groups seemed to be confirmed by another cache of rebel documents seized in April 1987. Whatever the motivation, the split in the UPD leadership prompted the more moderate leadership of Fesinconstrans and the UCS to explore the possibility of establishing a new labor confederation. This organization, christened the Democratic Workers' Confederation (Confederacion de Trabajadores Democraticos--CTD), was founded in December 1984. In March 1986, the CTD and the UCS joined with a number of other labor and peasant groups to form the National Union of Workers and Peasants (Union Nacional de Obreros y Campesinos--UNOC). UNOC characterized itself as a labor organization supportive of the moderate political left; it advocated the continuation of the democratic process in El Salvador as well as the political incorporation of workers and the making of improvements in their quality of life.

The leaders of the more militant and radical labor and peasant groups almost simultaneously established a parallel umbrella group to UNOC, dubbing it the National Union of Salvadoran Workers (Union Nacional de Trabajadores Salvadorenos-- UNTS). It included the remaining members of the UPD, several established leftist labor groups, some of which maintained ties to the World Federation of Trade Unions, a front group of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; a peasant organization known as the National Association of Peasants (Asociacion Nacional de Campesinos--ANC); and a leftist student group, the General Association of Salvadoran University Students (Asociacion General de Estudiantes Universitarios Salvadorenos--AGEUS). Although it claimed that its membership rivaled that of the 350,000-strong UNOC, most observers agreed that the UNTS represented only 40,000 to 50,000 members at most.

President Duarte, the armed forces, and representatives of the United States maintained that the UNTS was penetrated and controlled by the FMLN. This allegation was not universally accepted, however. Whether coordinated with FMLN strategy or not, the actions of the UNTS appeared calculated to undermine the legitimacy of the Duarte government and to promote unrest and instability in urban areas, particularly San Salvador. UNTS affiliates staged numerous strikes, mainly in the capital, most of which were declared illegal by the government because the demands of the union leadership were judged to be more political than economic in nature. Some unions demanded the president's resignation as a condition of settlement. Many of the strikes were endorsed by the FMLN over the clandestine radio station Radio Venceremos operated by the guerrilla group known as the People's Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo-- ERP). The largest mass antigovernment demonstration organized by the UNTS took place in February 1986; estimates of the number of participants ranged from 7,000 to 12,000. A generally progovernment rally organized by UNOC the following month drew a considerably larger turnout, estimated at up to 65,000.

Although it opposed the militant strategy of the UNTS and supported the reforms decreed by the junta governments and maintained under the PDC, UNOC also displayed disillusionment with Duarte and his seeming inability to improve workers' standard of living or to wind down the insurgency. UNOC's influence, however, began to wane by 1985. This development was attributable mainly to internal leadership struggles within Fesinconstrans and the UCS. Ironically, the catalyst for these conflicts was found not in the failure of the social pact with the PDC but in its partial fulfillment. Labor and peasant leaders who had been appointed to government posts, mainly in the institutions administering agrarian reform and credit facilities, were exploiting the patronage potential of their positions to expand their personal following among the rank and file. Resentment over this tactic prompted challenges from union leaders and members who either felt excluded from the patronage process or who objected to the practice on ethical grounds. UNOC's lack of concerted involvement in the PDC legislative victory of 1985 lessened its influence with the government and perhaps made it easier for Duarte to follow the course of economic austerity that eventually drew fire from both the private sector and labor groups from across the political spectrum.

Just as the UNTS represented the militant leftist position among Salvadoran labor and peasant groups and UNOC affected a more moderate, center-left stance, there were also conservative labor groups still functioning in the late 1980s. The two leading organizations in this category were the General Confederation of Unions (Confederacion General de Sindicatos--CGS) and the National Confederation of Workers (Confederacion Nacional de Trabajadores--CNT). Their numbers were small--CGS membership was estimated at 7,000 in 1986--and their political influence correspondingly low. By 1988, however, as Arena took control of the legislative branch and seemed poised to win the presidency, the position of these conservative labor groups may well have been enhanced, if only because moderate organizations such as UNOC were all but certain to see their leverage with the government diminish considerably. The radical UNTS, which was condemned as a rebel front group even by the Duarte administration (although it seemed clear that the majority of rank-and-file UNTS members were not FMLN sympathizers), could look forward to little or no sympathy from an Arena government.

El Salvador - The Roman Catholic Church

The Salvadoran Roman Catholic Church has been affected by the country's political and social turmoil. During the tenure of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez as archbishop of San Salvador (1977-80), the positions of the church, as expressed by Romero, drifted in favor of those activist Roman Catholics who advocated liberation theology. By the time of his assassination in March 1980, Romero had become the leading critic of official and unofficial repression in El Salvador. Judging by the content of his weekly homilies, some observers felt that his moral outrage over abuses committed by armed forces personnel and death squad forces was drawing him closer to a public recognition of the legitimacy of armed struggle against the government.

Romero, however, never spoke for a majority of the Salvadoran bishops. The only other member of the hierarchy at the time who was known to harbor some sympathy for Romero's proliberationist views was Arturo Rivera y Damas. Rivera, who had been a leading candidate for the archbishop's position in 1977 but was passed over in favor of the reputedly more conservative Romero, was a critic of government and military human rights abuses, especially when they involved the persecution or murder of Roman Catholic clergy or lay workers. Under Romero, he occupied a swing position between the activist stance of the archbishop and the more conservative attitudes of the country's three remaining bishops. Although they readily endorsed condemnations of military repression, the three bishops differed sharply with the thrust of liberation theology, which they saw as excessively politicized. Their concerns for the role of the church under a leftist government were strengthened by the example of postrevolutionary Nicaragua, where the traditional church was viewed by the ruling party as a rival and was harassed by the state security and propaganda apparatus.

Rivera succeeded Romero as archbishop in April 1980. He began to take the sort of moderate political stance that most observers had expected of Romero. Rivera spoke out against abuses by all parties and refused to take sides in the civil conflict. He initially advocated the cessation of foreign military aid to both sides. By the late 1980s, however, the church's position on this point had softened somewhat, owing to the ideological intransigence of the FMLN and the seemingly indiscriminate deployment of antipersonnel mines by its forces. In line with the position of the Vatican, Rivera sought to eschew political advocacy in favor of moral suasion so as to render the church a viable mediator in the conflict.

Rivera and other representatives of the church, particularly San Salvador auxiliary bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez, have served as mediators in situations ranging from labor disputes to negotiations between the government and the FMLN-FDR. At President Duarte's request and with the acquiescence of the rebel leadership, Archbishop Rivera served as an intermediary throughout the fitful process of dialogue that began with the October 1984 meeting in La Palma. When that process broke down, the archbishop maintained contacts with both sides in an effort to keep tenuous lines of communication open.

By the late 1980s, the attitude of the Salvadoran hierarchy toward the guerrillas had hardened considerably. Public statements by Rivera and others condemned the insurgents' tactics in the field, their ideology, their political intransigence, and their efforts to disrupt the electoral process. The FMLN, in turn, denounced the bishops as tools of the "Duarte dictatorship" and questioned their fitness as objective mediators. Although they hinted that they might reject the church's participation in future negotiations, the leadership of the FMLN suggested in May 1988 that contacts between it and the Legislative Assembly be channeled through Rivera.

The church publicly supported the electoral process begun in 1982 and urged citizens to participate in it. At the same time, church spokesmen were quick to criticize the mudslinging nature of Salvadoran campaigning and urged politicians to stress substantive issues over personal attacks. Although they did not interject themselves as advocates or lobbyists, the bishops generally supported the reform programs initiated and maintained by the PDC government and opposed on moral grounds any effort by the elite to restrict or eliminate those reforms. In the tradition established by Romero, Rivera continued to condemn in his weekly homilies reported excesses by the military or security forces.

El Salvador - Mass Communications

By Central American standards, the Salvadoran media enjoyed a moderate freedom of expression and ability to present competing political points of view. They were not as restricted as the media in Nicaragua, but neither were they as diverse, pluralistic, and unrestricted as those of Costa Rica. Although the government did not exercise direct prior censorship, the owners of most publications and some broadcast media outlets exercised a form of self-censorship based either on their personal political conservatism, fear of violent retaliation by right- or left-wing groups, or possible adverse action by the government, such as refusal to renew a broadcast license.

Article 6 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression that does not "subvert the public order, nor injure the morals, honor, or private life of others." This language, taken directly from the 1962 constitution, was rendered meaningless by official and unofficial repression and left-wing terrorist action against the media and its practitioners in the early 1980s. With the post-1982 advent of a freely elected democratic system of government, however, and the accompanying decline in politically motivated violence, the climate under which the press and broadcast media operated began to improve.

This expansion in freedom of expression was not as evident in the print medium as it was in the broadcast media. Most newspapers were owned by conservative business people, and their editorial policies tended to reflect the views of their publishers rather than to adhere to the standards of objectivity normally expected in the North American or West European press. This did not mean, however, that the Salvadoran press was monolithically conservative. The weekly publication of the archdiocese of San Salvador, Orientacion, presented critical analysis of the political scene. Readily available publications emanating from the Central American University presented a generally leftist, antigovernment perspective on events. Small private presses also produced pamphlets, bulletins, and flyers expressing opinions across the political spectrum. The leading daily newspapers in the late 1980s were El Diario de Hoy, with a circulation of approximately 75,000; El Mundo, with approximately 60,000; and La Prensa Grafica, with approximately 100,000, all published in San Salvador.

Freedom of expression in print was best exemplified by the common practice of taking out paid political advertisements, or campos pagados. Most newspapers accepted such advertisements from all sources. Campos pagados were one of the few means of access to the print medium available to leftist groups such as the FMLN-FDR and other like-minded organizations. Campos pagados also were frequently employed by political parties, private sector groups, unions, government agencies, and other groups to express their opinions. The content of the advertisements was unregulated and uncensored. Their cost effectively limited their use to groups and organizations rather than to individuals.

The influence of the press was limited by illiteracy and the concentration of publishing in the capital. Radio did not suffer from these handicaps and consequently was the most widely utilized medium in the country. In 1985 Salvadorans owned an estimated 2 million radio receivers. Although the majority of the seventy-six stations on the air broadcast from San Salvador, the country's small size and the use of repeater stations meant that virtually all of the national territory was within broadcast range. There was only one government-owned radio station. Although the commercial stations tended to emphasize music over news programming, the representation of competing political viewpoints in news segments was becoming a common practice by the mid-1980s. In addition to the ERP's Radio Venceremos, the Farabundo Marti Popular Liberation Forces (Fuerzas Populares de Liberacion Farabundo Marti--FPL) operated a second clandestine station, Radio Farabundo Marti. Both stations served as propaganda organs of the FMLN.

According to many observers, television was the medium where increased political latitude was most evident. Television news crews covered press conferences held by diverse political groups, interviewed opposition politicians such as the FDR's Ungo and Zamora, and investigated allegations of human rights abuses by the military and security forces. Like radio stations, television stations enjoyed virtually complete coverage of the country. Television did not have the market penetration exhibited by radio, however, because of the higher cost of television receivers. A 1985 estimate placed the number of receivers at 350,000. There were six television channels operating in the late 1980s. Of these, two were government-owned educational channels with limited air time. The remaining four were commercial channels.

El Salvador - Relations with the United States

As the civil conflict intensified after 1981 and its effects rippled through the economic and political life of the nation, El Salvador turned toward the United States in an effort to stave off a potential guerrilla victory. The administrations of presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan responded to the Salvadorans' appeals, and by the mid-1980s government forces appeared to have the upper hand in the field.

Total United States aid to El Salvador rose from US$264.2 million in fiscal year (FY) 1982 to an estimated US$557.8 million in FY 1987. On average over this period, economic aid exceeded military aid by more than a two-to-one ratio. Economic aid was provided in the form of Economic Support Funds (ESF), food aid under Public Law 480 (P.L. 480), and development aid administered by the United States Agency for International Development (AID). ESF was intended to provide balance of payments support to finance essential non food imports. Assistance with food imports as well as the direct donation of foodstuffs was accomplished through the P.L. 480 program. Development aid covered a broad spectrum of projects in such fields as agriculture, population planning, health, education, and training. For FY 1987, regular non supplemental ESF appropriations totaled US$181.7 million, and combined food and development aid amounted to US$122.7 million. The regular FY 1987 appropriation for military aid was US$116.5 million.

This aid was crucial to the survival of the Salvadoran government and the ability of the armed forces to contain the insurgency. The situation amplified the personal importance of Duarte after his 1984 election to the presidency. Well known and respected in Washington, Duarte was able to foster a consensus within the United States Congress for high levels of aid as a show of support for the incipient democratic process in his country. These large aid allocations, in turn, promoted stability by deterring possible coup attempts by conservative factions of the military and other opponents of PDC rule. At the same time, the lifeline of aid also rendered El Salvador dependent to a large degree on the United States. A certain amount of popular resentment over this dependence was reflected in adverse reaction from some Salvadoran politicians, journalists, and other opinion makers to Duarte's October 1987 gesture of kissing the United States flag while on a visit to Washington. Some analysts also identified an element of anti-United States sentiment in Arena's March 1988 electoral victory.

El Salvador's dependence on United States support sometimes led to policy moves or public pronouncements that were perceived as responses to pressure from Washington. The 1986 economic austerity measures were one example. Another was Duarte's repeated call for the Nicaraguan government to negotiate with its armed opposition--the so-called contras--in spite of the president's public refusal to endorse the United States policy of aid to the contras. El Salvador also was quick to condemn Panamanian strongman General Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno for his February 1988 ouster of President Eric Arturo Delvalle; most Latin American countries were somewhat circumspect with regard to the Panamanian situation, not wishing to be seen as favoring United States intervention in that country. Some actions by the Salvadoran government were clearly and unequivocally influenced by direct United States pressure, such as Duarte's April 1987 decision to deny political amnesty to the convicted killers of six United States citizens and others in a June 1985 terrorist attack in San Salvador. By taking this action, Duarte averted the loss of US$18.5 million in economic aid.

Although the United States exerted significant influence over government policy in El Salvador, it did not enjoy the absolute control ascribed to it by leftist propaganda. In some areas, Washington's policy goals were frustrated by the intransigence of certain political actors. The obstruction of full implementation of agrarian reform by conservative legislators was one example; another was resistance among the officer corps to the introduction of counterinsurgency tactics. Perhaps the most vexing issue for United States policymakers was human rights. Despite an impressive statistical decline in the mid-1980s, political killings continued. These acts, perpetrated by both right-wing and left-wing groups, helped to feed the climate of violence that inhibited the institutionalization of the democratic process.

United States influence in El Salvador was also diminished temporarily by the 1986-87 revelations surrounding the so-called Iran-Contra Affair. The Reagan administration's preoccupation with these revelations, its loss of international prestige in connection with them, and the embarrassing disclosure of covert Salvadoran military involvement in the contra supply network all combined to lessen United States involvement in and influence over Salvadoran affairs. Many observers have seen evidence of waning United States influence in Central America in the Duarte administration's decision to sign the Central American Peace Agreement in August 1987 at Esquipulas, Guatemala, despite the last-minute announcement of an alternative peace plan by Reagan and United States speaker of the House of Representatives, James Wright.

Another point of contention between the two governments was United States immigration reform. By most estimates, there were some 500,000 Salvadorans residing illegally in the United States in the late 1980s. Modifications of the United States immigration law enacted in 1987 technically mandated the expulsion of illegals who had entered the country after 1982. Since the bulk of Salvadoran illegal immigration took place after that date, the new law threatened the majority of this population with repatriation. This prospect was worrisome to the Duarte government for two major reasons: such a large influx was certain to place added strain on employment and public services, already areas of serious concern for the government; and the return of Salvadorans resident in the United States meant the loss of dollar-denominated remittances regularly transmitted to family members who had remained behind in El Salvador. Estimates of the total amount of remittance income--a valuable source of foreign exchange for the economy--ranged as high as US$1.4 billion a year. Duarte's pleas for a Salvadoran exemption from the immigration reform were denied by the White House. Action to deport Salvadoran illegals, however, was held up pending consideration in the United States Congress of bills granting exemptions to Salvadoran and Nicaraguan immigrants.

Relations between the United States and El Salvador appeared to be entering a period of transition after the March 1988 elections. Under both the Carter and the Reagan administrations, United States policy had supported the centrist PDC as the surest path to the development of a functional democratic system. The decline of the PDC and the ascendancy of Arena called for some adjustment in that policy. Despite some marked anti-United States sentiment among the areneros, there were no early indications of potential friction between the United States and an Arena government. The nomination of Cristiani as the party's 1989 presidential candidate instead of the more controversial D'Aubuisson was seen by some observers as a conciliatory gesture toward Washington.

El Salvador - The Contadora Process

The Contadora negotiating process was initiated in January 1983 at a meeting of the foreign ministers of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama on Contadora Island in the Gulf of Panama. The idea of a purely Latin American diplomatic effort to stabilize the Central American situation and prevent either military confrontation between neighboring states or direct military intervention by the United States was attributed to then-president of Colombia Belisario Betancur Cuartas. These "Core Four" countries served as mediators in subsequent negotiating sessions among the five Central American states.

By September 1983, the negotiations had arrived at a consensus on twenty-one points or objectives. These included democratization and internal reconciliation, an end to external support for paramilitary forces, reductions in weaponry and foreign military advisers, prohibition of foreign military bases, and reactivation of regional economic mechanisms such as the Central American Common Market. The twenty-one points were incorporated into a draft treaty, or acta, one year later.

In September 1984, the Nicaraguan government took the other four government delegations by surprise with its call for the immediate signing of the acta as a final treaty. The governments of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica had been suspicious of Nicaraguan intentions throughout the negotiating process. This precipitous rush to finalize the process forced the four to reassess their positions and to examine more closely a document that they previously might have viewed as little more than a diplomatic exercise. The United States government, which had been advising the Salvadorans informally with regard to the negotiations, strongly recommended against signing the acta, citing its lack of adequate verification and enforcement provisions, its deferral of the issues of reductions in arms and foreign advisers, the freezing of United States military aid to El Salvador and Honduras, and the vagueness of the sections on democratization and internal reconciliation. Although Nicaragua's action had the effect of embarrassing the governments of the other four states and portraying Nicaragua before world public opinion as the only serious negotiator in the Contadora process, it ultimately succeeded in drawing the remaining four Central American states into closer consultation. This collaboration led to the October 1984 Act of Tegucigalpa in which the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica emphasized their commitment to the establishment of pluralistic democratic systems and their belief that simultaneous and verifiable arms reductions were a necessary component of this process. The Guatemalan government was represented in the discussions in the Honduran capital but declined to sign the resultant document.

Although improved verification procedures were negotiated, the talks bogged down by mid-1985. The Nicaraguan delegates rejected discussion of democratization and internal reconciliation as an unwarranted intervention in their country's internal affairs. The other four states maintained that these provisions were necessary to ensure a lasting settlement. Another major sticking point was the cessation of aid to insurgent groups, particularly United States aid to the contras. Although the United States government was not a party to the Contadora negotiations, it was understood that the United States would sign a separate protocol agreeing to the terms of a final treaty in such areas as aid to insurgents, military aid and assistance to Central American governments, and joint military exercises in the region. The Nicaraguans demanded that any Contadora treaty call for an immediate end to contra aid, whereas the core four countries and the remaining Central American states, with the exception of Mexico, downplayed the importance of such a provision. In addition, the Nicaraguan government raised objections to specific cuts in its military force levels, citing the imperatives of the counterinsurgency campaign and defense against a potential United States invasion. In an effort to break this impasse, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay announced in July 1985 that they were joining the Contadora process as a "support group" in an effort to resolve the remaining points of contention and achieve a comprehensive agreement.

Despite the combined efforts of the core four and the "support group," the Contadora process unofficially came to a halt in June 1986, when the Central American countries still could not resolve their differences sufficiently to permit the signing of a final treaty draft. Later that month, the United States Congress approved US$100 million in aid to the contras in spite of numerous requests from the Contadora group to refrain from such unilateral action. Although the core four and support group countries vowed to continue their diplomatic efforts and did convene negotiating sessions subsequent to the unsuccessful June 6 meeting in Panama City, the Contadora process was clearly moribund. The Central American states, with the exception of Nicaragua, resolved to continue the negotiating process on their own without the benefit of outside mediation.

El Salvador - The Arias Plan

Throughout the Contadora negotiations, El Salvador's objectives included the preservation of its military aid and assistance relationship with the United States; the resolution of the civil conflict on terms consistent with the 1983 Constitution--that is, through incorporation of the rebels into the established system rather than through a power-sharing arrangement; and a verifiable termination of Nicaraguan military and logistical aid to the FMLN insurgents. On the final point, the Salvadorans felt, along with the Hondurans and Costa Ricans, that the liberalization of the Sandinista-dominated government in Nicaragua was the surest guarantor of success. Given the unanimity of opinion among these three governments and the less emphatic but still supportive response of the government of Guatemalan president Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo, the regional consenus of opinion seemed to be that a streamlined, strictly Central American peace initiative stood a better chance of success than the by then unwieldy Contadora process.

The five Central American presidents had held a meeting in May 1986 in Esquipulas, Guatemala, in an effort to work out their differences over the revised Contadora draft treaty. This meeting was a precursor of the process that in early 1987 superseded Contadora. The leading proponent and architect of this process was the president of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sanchez. After consultations with representatives of El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and the United States, Arias announced on February 15, 1987, that he had presented a peace proposal to representatives of the other Central American states, with the exception of Nicaragua. The plan called for dialogue between governments and opposition groups, amnesty for political prisoners, cease-fires in ongoing insurgent conflicts, democratization, and free elections in all five regional states. The plan also called for renewed negotiations on arms reductions and an end to outside aid to insurgent forces.

The first formal negotiating session to include representatives of the Nicaraguan government was held in Tegucigalpa on July 31, 1987. At that meeting of foreign ministers, the Salvadoran delegation pressed the concept of simultaneous implementation of provisions such as the declaration of cease-fires and amnesties and the denial of support or safehaven for insurgent forces. This approach reportedly softened the attitude of the Nicaraguans, who had come to the meeting declaring opposition to any agreement that did not require a prior cutoff of foreign support to the contras.

The Tegucigalpa meeting paved the way for an August 6, 1987, gathering of the five Central American presidents in Esquipulas. The negotiations among the presidents reportedly were marked by blunt accusations and sharp exchanges, particularly between Duarte and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega Saavedra. Duarte's primary concern was Nicaraguan aid to the Salvadoran guerrillas, and he was reported to have pressed Ortega repeatedly on this issue. The Nicaraguan president's responses apparently reassured Duarte, who consented to sign the agreement. His decision to do so despite signals of disapproval from Washington reflected only in part the diminished influence of the Reagan administration in light of the Iran-Contra Affair; it was also a calculated move based on the Salvadoran president's belief that a more favorable treaty was not achievable. The final agreement, signed on August 7, called for the cessation of outside aid and support to insurgent forces but did not require the elimination or reduction of such aid to government forces. If they proved to be enforceable, these provisions would work to the benefit of the Salvadoran government and to the detriment of the FMLN, since the insurgents would be expected to forgo outside assistance while the government could continue to receive military aid from the United States. The agreement also urged dialogue with opposition groups "in accordance with the law" and was therefore compatible with the Duarte government's efforts and preconditions for negotiations with rebel forces. The Salvadorans were already in compliance with the sections calling for press freedom, political pluralism, and abolition of state-of-siege restrictions.

The Central American Peace Agreement, variously referred to as the "Guatemala Plan," "Esquipulas II," or the "Arias Plan," initially required the implementation by November 5, 1987, of certain conditions, including decrees of amnesty in those countries involved in insurgent conflicts; the initiation of dialogue between governments and unarmed political opposition groups or groups that had taken advantage of amnesty; the undertaking of efforts to negotiate cease-fires between governments and insurgent groups; the cessation of outside aid to insurgent forces as well as denying the use of each country's national territory to "groups trying to destabilize the governments of the countries of Central America;" and the assurance of conditions conducive to the development of a "pluralistic and participatory democratic process" in all the signatory states.

A meeting of the Central American foreign ministers held one week prior to November 5 effectively extended the deadline by interpreting that date as the requirement for initiation, not completion, of the agreement's provisions. The Salvadoran government, however, had already taken several steps by that time to comply with the agreement. Direct talks between the government and representatives of the FMLN-FDR held in October failed to reach agreement on terms for a cease-fire. The talks were broken off by the rebels, ostensibly in protest over the death squad- style murder of a Salvadoran human rights investigator. Duarte proceeded to declare a unilateral fifteen-day cease-fire to enable guerrilla combatants to take advantage of an amnesty program approved by the Legislative Assembly on October 27.

Overall compliance with the Arias Plan was uneven by late 1988, and the process appeared to be losing momentum. One round of talks took place between the Cerezo administration and representatives of the Guatemalan guerrilla front in Madrid, Spain, on October 6-7, 1987. President Cerezo discontinued this effort, however, claiming that the guerrilla representatives had taken an unrealistic and unreasonable bargaining position. The Nicaraguan government took a number of initial steps to comply with the treaty, such as allowing the independent daily La Prensa to reopen and the radio station of the Roman Catholic Church to resume broadcasting, establishing a national reconciliation committee that incorporated representatives of the unarmed opposition, and eventually undertaking cease-fire negotiations with representatives of the contras. The optimism engendered by the signature of a provisional cease-fire accord on March 23, 1988, at Sapoa, Nicaragua, however, had largely dissipated by July, when the government broke up a protest demonstration in the southern city of Nandaime, expelled the United States ambassador and seven other diplomats for alleged collaboration with the demonstrators, and again shut down La Prensa and the Catholic radio station. In El Salvador, although the FMLN-FDR had been persuaded by President Arias to accept the plan as the basis for negotiations with the Salvadoran government, neither side made any immediate effort to resume the direct talks broken off in October 1987. A definitive cease-fire, therefore, remained elusive. The Salvadoran government also maintained that the Sandinistas continued to provide aid and support to the FMLN. In January 1988, the Salvadorans protested before an international commission monitoring compliance with the treaty that the headquarters of the FMLN general command continued to function from a location near Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, that FMLN training and propaganda facilities continued to operate in Nicaragua, and that arms deliveries from Nicaragua to El Salvador persisted after the signing of the peace treaty on August 7. The effect of the PDC's political decline and Arena's higher government profile on the future course of the Arias Plan was unclear as the country approached the 1989 presidential elections.

El Salvador maintained normal bilateral diplomatic relations with the countries of Central America despite the strains of regional unrest, uncertainty over the intentions of the Sandinistas, and lingering disputes with Honduras. In the late 1980s, relations with Guatemala, governed by an ideologically compatible Christian democratic government, and with Costa Rica were stable. Differences with Nicaragua were rooted in basic ideological conflict, however, and appeared likely to persist. Although neighboring Honduras was experiencing a democratic transition not unlike that taking place in El Salvador, several points of contention prevented the full establishment of close and cooperative ties. The most intangible of these frictions was lingering ill will, especially between the two countries' respective military establishments, over the 1969 "Football War". Another dispute revolved around the future disposition of Salvadoran refugees residing in Honduras. In early 1988, there were an estimated 20,000 such refugees housed in a number of camps in Honduras, some of which were administered by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Despite ongoing security problems posed by the insurgency, a resettlement program initiated in 1986 by the Salvadoran government in cooperation with domestic and international relief agencies had assisted in the return of some 10,000 Salvadoran refugees. Complete repatriation from the camps, as advocated by the Honduran government, seemed to be contingent on a further winding down of the insurgency.

The main stumbling block in Salvadoran-Honduran relations, however, was the failure of the two countries to agree to a demarcation of their border. This dispute was another legacy of the 1969 war, although it also had deeper historical roots. Several agreements negotiated during the nineteenth century attempted to define the boundaries between the two states, but periodic disputes persisted. The 1969 war further complicated this situation, as Salvadoran troops pushed over a border that had never been firmly demarcated and briefly occupied Honduran territory. So contentious was the territorial dispute that a final peace treaty between the two countries was not signed until October 1980, and even then only 225 of the border's 343 kilometers were definitively delimited. The remaining disputed "pockets" (bolsones) along the border, along with island and maritime areas, were submitted to a joint border commission for resolution. At the end of its five-year mandate, the commission had not achieved agreement. Direct government-to- government talks also failed to resolve the issue. The dispute, therefore, was submitted to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, for adjudication. A decision was not expected until the late 1980s.





CITATION: Federal Research Division of the
Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.


TRY USING CTRL-F on your keyboard to find the appropriate section of text



Google
  Web
mongabay.com
travel.mongabay.com
wildmadagascar.org

what's new | rainforests home | for kids | help | madagascar | search | about | languages | contact

Copyright 2013 Mongabay.com