• Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Default font size
Home About Us Equipo Sur South-North Encuentro El Salvador - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates
El Salvador - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates PDF Print E-mail

2010 Encuentro Country Updates


Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS)

What is the situation of militarization in your country, with emphasis on how it is related to the United States?

Twenty years ago, the country was plunged into a civil war that left more than 75,000 dead, and in which the Army, together with its five repression groups and its death squads, staged most of the massacres and forced disappearances. In the Peace Accords signed in 1992, it was established that public safety should be guaranteed only by the National Civil Police (Policiá Nacional Civil, PNC). The Civil War was covered by U.S. interests, with all their dollars and direct intervention.

After 20 years of rule by the right-wing ARENA party, which ruled the country from 1989 to 2009, a strong possibility of alternative power arose, and so it is that the President, Mauricio Funes, elected with 51.32% of votes during March 2009 elections, is the first leftist President. He visited President Obama on March 9, 2010, after nine months in power. In November of 2009, the U.S. armed forces donated 10 Humvee vehicles to El Salvador.

With respect to security, the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) has been working in El Salvador since 2005 on two bases, Santa Tecla and Comalapa, within the Academy of Public Security (Academia de Seguridad Pública, ANSP). The training focuses on transnational crimes, human rights and the rule of law, with emphasis on drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and other financial crimes. The agreement also has an immunity clause.

Furthermore, several sources have asked to see the ILEA curriculum of studies through multiple means but with no luck, such that the only thing clear is that the number of PNC attending courses has increased.  As detailed by Miguel Sevillano, an ANSP instructor: "With regards to the ILEA, it defines its own courses and the dynamics of their implementation. Then it informs its counterparts and partner institutions, to which it sends invitations directly. The ILEA has its own budget and its presence at our bases is temporary, and we are now benefiting as ANSP more because we are being invited to all their courses, something that did not happen previously because of the little interest that the previous directors had in training Academy staff. But when a new director took charge, the first thing I suggested was that we should take advantage of that resource which we had at our fingertips but were not taking advantage of; so that we have a presence there."

The Narcotics Monitoring Center (Centro de Monitoreo Antinarcóticos, CMA), has been operating in the country since 2000 out of the El Salvador International Airport in Comalapa. Also, since 2009, they have been operating crewless airplanes, also known as drones. In El Salvador, the Comalapa military base is known as an FOL, which is a relatively small base that is used for satellite monitoring and to provide support to large bases, specifically the one in Manta, Ecuador. This staff has access to government ports and aerial spaces.

The issue of security is one of the greatest problems, and one of the greatest issues of public concern is crime, issues that the media and private business have used to lobby the executive branch to send the armed forces into the streets.

The military has been providing public security since last November 2009, for a period of six months, a period that was then renewed last May and now includes the safety of certain prisons, in a decree that will be effective for one year. The military is present in the prisons in order to prevent prisons from becoming offices for the planning of criminal acts, according to the President.

Some 4,500 troops performed public security work, and beginning in May there were more than 7,500. Between January 1 and June 13, 2010, 1,972 murders were recorded. Furthermore, extortion is primarily affecting micro and small businesses, and any family that is merely suspected of receiving remittances.

"I have the conviction that the capacity, commitment and willingness of the Salvadoran soldier are essential to begin to overcome the problem of insecurity in our country," said Funes, who at least until he became president, presented himself as a progressive, left-wing option.

The armed forces are not organized, or prepared, or designed to guard the prisons according to the agreements that came about through the process of demilitarization.

In addition, through the justification of the repressive use of force as a measure to end high crime rates, the continued existence of the ILEA is basically guaranteed, as sold under anti-gang issues, but with very little attention paid to organized crime or to transparency. In total, 14 military bases threaten Latin America and the Caribbean, showing us how we are closely watched from any angle. While we think that we are in an era of change, little or nothing has been heard about the meeting of police in El Salvador at the ILEA, at the Management Development Program for Law Enforcement (Programa de Desarrollo Gerencial para el Cumplimiento de la Ley, LEMDP017), this June 14-23, 2010.  Here again the main ingredient in the "Fight against Terrorism" is secrecy: who is involved? Just for a change, they are unknown. Who is paying for this course, transportation and everything else? The same people...who forever have destabilized our Latin America.

On the issue of security and how this country would be handled when we have a "leftist government", things are not clear. The atmosphere of hope and euphoria is mixed with a rebuff of mistrust, which is coupled with all the propaganda distributed by the media which had and continue to have a strong influence.

A major problem at this point, which still has not been repaired, is the Amnesty, which has closed the possibility of bringing to justice criminals of repression, massacres, and forced disappearances. In this administration of "Change", no changes are foreseen. Also, Chancellor of the Republic Hugo Martinez dismissed the possibility of the repeal on the grounds that it is not necessary for there to be investigations of certain serious crimes. (06-14-2010)

During this first year of the Funes administration, there have been changes in some ministries, including a series of mistakes, but between them they have exposed a gap between the Funes cabinet and the FMLN party, which brought Funes to power. In this regard, the destruction and loss of legitimacy and the exposed separation allows for a series of possibilities to thwart change. It also increases the fragility of the current political situation, which in turn creates the possibility of an overthrow.

What actions can we take together to confront this situation, and thereby contribute to a culture of peace and sovereignty in our countries?

At this Encuentro, it would be ideal to form teams by region that would serve as sort of micro-networks, which would provide a rapprochement and flow of information that would allow us to know how neighboring countries are doing, to then have an understanding of the area, in micro-regions.

Our base would be the Internet and telephone calls. We could set precedents during anniversaries of the different massacres in Latin American nations (massacres of which, terribly, there are many), working with local organizations to request investigation and punishment. "For those that defend this crime, I request punishment," Pablo Neruda.

Besides having a motto each year to identify us, we could work under the same banner of solidarity People to People, where each country re-vindicates its struggle.


Contact us

SOA Watch
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

phone: 202-234-3440
email: info@soaw.org