|Re-Militarization in El Salvador|
SOA Graduates Hold Top Posts
In a major cabinet shakeup, El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes has effectively removed all high-ranking members of his public security cabinet who are linked to the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). Their replacements, including several high-ranking military officers, indicate a disturbing trend toward the militarization of El Salvador’s public security force, which has remained a civilian agency since the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords twenty years ago. Many of the officers assuming leadership of these “civilian” security posts were trained by the US at the infamous combat training facility for Latin American military, the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC).In November 2011, Manuel Melgar, the Minister of Public Security, was forced to retire; he was quickly replaced by a recently retired Army General, David Mungía Payés (pictured above). At the end of December, Funes fired Eduardo Linares, director of the State Intelligence Agency, also a member of the FMLN. Most recently, on January 23, Funes fired Carlos Ascencio, the Director of the National Civilian Police (PNC) and promptly named Francisco Ramón Salinas as the new director; Salinas had retired as an army general only hours beforehand.
Many see the appointment of SOA-trained military officers to public security leadership positions as a serious challenge to democracy in El Salvador. There are also concerns within the Salvadoran social movement and in the FMLN that these decisions were influenced by the U.S.,
especially in light of the impending implementation of several US security programs in El Salvador, including the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), to which the US has pledged over $200 million, and the Partnership for Growth. Military influence is rising quickly across Central America, from the election of General Pérez Molina as President in Guatemala to a proposed constitutional amendment in Honduras to empower the military with independent policing duties and authorities.
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