El Salvador

To enlage click onto photo repeat to shrink

Photo Source


El Salvador is a small, Central American country bordered by Honduras, Guatemala and the Pacific Ocean.  In recent years, it has been plagued by violence and poverty due to over-population and class struggles.  The conflict between the rich and the poor of the country has existed for more than a century.
The indigenous population of El Salvador were the Pipils people.

1524 The Indigenous population was crushed by Spain and El Salvador became a Spanish colony. El Salvador came under the direct control of the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

1776 Spain encompassed all of its territories in south eastern South America to create one large colony called the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plate.

1810 The King of Spain was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte.

5th November 1811 El Salvador fought its 1st battle against Spain trying to break free and gain its independence.

15th September 1821 A military junta lead by the captain-general in Guatemala declared independence from Spain for the provinces of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua San Salvador and Chiappas. Conflict followed in the territory’s incorporation into the Mexican empire under Creole general Agustin de Iturbide.

1st July 1823 The United Provinces of Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and San Salvador) gained its independence from Mexico. The United Provinces of Central America had been formed between the five Central American states that were under the control of General Manuel Jose Arce. However, the union was later dissolved by 1840.

1839 to 1840 The Liberals of the United Provinces of Central America under leader Francisco Morazan were defeated in a civil war led by Rafael Carrera. The confederation was dissolved into 4 component states, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

1840 El Salvador became fully independent following the dissolution of the United Provinces of Central America.

16th April 1854 El Salvador was badly destroyed by an earthquake.

1859 to 1863 President Gerardo Barrios introduced coffee growing to the area.

13th October 1930   Shafik Handal who later became the head of the Salvadoran left, was born to immigrant Palestinian parents from Bethlehem in the city of Usulutan.

23rd January 1932 The El Salvador army killed 4,000 protesting farmers, during the suppression of a peasant uprising led by Agustine Farabundo Marti.

1942 to 1945 Jose Arturo Castellanos (d.1977 at 86) a Salvadoran diplomat in Geneva, gave citizenship certificates to over 40,000 Jews during the Holocaust in the Second World War. In 2010 Israel named him posthumously as one of the "Righteous Among the Nations."

1960 The Central American Common Market was set up by a treaty between El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and later Costa Rica. However, it fell apart by the end of the decade.

1961 The Right-wing National Conciliation Party (PCN) came to power after a military coup.

27th June 1969 Honduras and El Salvador broke off diplomatic relations with each other due to a soccer match. El Salvador and Honduras went on to fight what became known as the 4-day "Soccer War". Following the eviction of thousands of Salvadoran illegal immigrants from Honduras. Rival fans vented their long-simmering tensions on each other during World cup qualifying soccer matches. It’s estimated that some 3,000 people died during the 4-day conflict.

20th February 1972 El Salvador held presidential elections. The blatancy of fraud employed to maintain the PCN in power outraged and disillusioned many Salvadorans, including members of the armed forces. Leftists protested the election fraud.

25th March 1972 A group of young army officers, led by Colonel Benjamin Mejia, launched a military coup. Their immediate goal was the establishment of a "revolutionary junta." It seemed clear, however, that the officers favoured the installation of Jose Duarte as president.

1972   Shafik Handal (1930-2006) became leader of the Salvadoran Communist Party.

10th May 1975 Leftist poet and novelist Roque Dalton (b.1937) was executed by a group of commandos. In 2010 his relatives petitioned prosecutors to file homicide charges against two ex-rebel commanders, who they claimed participated in the decision to kill the writer.

1977 Guerrilla activities by the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) intensified amid reports of increased human rights violations by government troops and right wing death squads. General Carlos Romero was elected president.

In February 1977 another fraudulent election made General Carlos Humberto Romero president of El Salvador as more than two hundred peaceful protesters were killed; the Catholic Church boycotted his inauguration. In June the White Warriors' Union accused Catholics in El Salvador of promoting Communism and threatened to kill all the Jesuits in the country, distributing leaflets inciting, "Be a Patriot! Kill a Priest!" Since several priests had already been assassinated by death squads, the US warned President Romero; the US Congress began holding hearings on religious persecution in El Salvador. Over the next few months the Romero government was condemned for human rights violations by reports from Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the US State Department. The Legal Aid office of Archbishop Oscar Romero found that 727 people had been killed by death squads in 1978 and 1979.

On October 15, 1979 General Humberto Romero's government was overthrown by a coup of young officers. They formed a ruling junta, and a few weeks later the Carter administration announced that it would send "nonlethal" military aid to El Salvador.

1979 to 1981 Around 30,000 people were killed by army backed right-wing death squads.

1979 Guerrilla warfare broke out in the cities and countryside amid government repression.

1979 General Romero was ousted in a coup lead by reformist officers who installed a military-civilian junta, however this failed to curb army backed political violence.

In January 1980 a struggle for power resulted in the civilians resigning as the right-wing General Jose Guillermo Garcia gained the upper hand, though Christian Democrats joined his junta.

In February the banks of El Salvador were nationalized, and land reform was decreed; but death-squad killings escalated. On the 17th Archbishop Oscar Romero wrote a letter to President Carter warning him,
“Your government's contribution,instead of favouring the cause of justice and peace in El Salvador, will surely increase injustice here and sharpen the repression that has been unleashed against the people's organizations fighting to defend their most fundamental rights”.

The archbishop explained that neither the junta nor the Christian Democrats were governing the country, because the armed forces had the political power and used it unscrupulously to repress the people and defend the oligarchy. Therefore Romero asked Carter to prohibit all military aid to El Salvador and not let the US intervene in any way so that the people's organizations could resolve the crisis, and he cited the statement by the bishops of Latin America recognizing the right of self-determination of their peoples.
After Attorney General Mario Zamora sued Roberto D'Aubuisson for libel for having accused him of collaborating with guerrillas, Zamora was assassinated. D'Aubuisson was generally recognized as a leader of ORDEN death squads in the 1970s under General Medrano.

After the October 1979 coup Major D'Aubuisson had been forced out of the army; but he began accusing "Communist traitors" on television so that troops would kill them. After Zamora's death, many Christian Democrats withdrew from the government in protest and formed a new party called the Popular Social Christian Movement; but on March 9 the Christian Democrat Jose Napoleon Duarte joined the ruling junta.
In his last sermon the day before he was assassinated while saying mass on March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero made this dramatic plea,

“I would like to make a special appeal to the men of the army, and specifically to the ranks of the National Guard, the police and the military. Brothers, you come from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, "Thou shalt not kill."No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order.

The church, the defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination.

We want the government to face the fact that reforms are valueless if they are to be carried out at the cost of so much blood. In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God, stop the repression”.

About 30,000 people attended Romero's funeral; gunshots and explosions caused panic, resulting in the death of thirty and injuries to hundreds. Three days after Romero's death USAID granted $13 million to El Salvador and on April first the US House Appropriations Committee approved $5.7 million in military aid. That month the Frente Democratico Revolucionario (FDR) formed in El Salvador as the political party allied with the rebels.

24th March 1980 Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, one of El Salvador's most respected Roman Catholic Church leaders, was shot to death by gunmen as he celebrated Mass in San Salvador. Human rights campaigner Oscar Romero was also assassinated. In 1993 a United Nations sponsored truth commission determined that the assassination was ordered by a former army major and Major Roberto D'Abuisson, founder of the Nationalist Republican Alliance party (ARENA). D’Abuisson (d.1992) was also credited with founding the national death squads. In 2004 a California federal judge found Alvaro Rafael Saravia, a retired Salvadoran air force captain living in Modesto California, liable in the slaying of Archbishop Romero and ordered him to pay $10 million in damages.   

April 1980 Army Major Roberto d’Aubuisson (d.1992) founded the rightist Republican Nationalist Alliance.

On May 7, 1980 the progressive Col. Adolfo Majano discovered a plot by the extreme right led by D'Aubuisson, who was arrested with 23 others. One week later six hundred Salvadoran peasants fleeing into Honduras were massacred at the Rio Sumpul by troops from both El Salvador and Honduras. After right-wing supporters chanted "Communist" outside the home of US ambassador Robert White, D'Aubuisson was released. On June 26 soldiers stormed the National University and killed fifty as the government closed the university. In October the Salvadoran army killed 3,000 peasants in Morazan, and more US military advisors secretly arrived in El Salvador. Five rebel groups joined together to form the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN).

After Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States, he assured Salvadoran business leaders that he would resume military aid. Six FDR leaders in San Salvador were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. On December 4 the bodies of Maryknoll sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel, and missionary Jean Donovan were found near the airport after they had been raped and murdered by soldiers of the National Guard. The next day President Carter suspended aid to El Salvador. After the third junta disbanded as Duarte became provisional Pr esident of El Salvador, Carter restored economic aid.

11th September 1980 Soldiers in search of leftist rebels in Santa Rosita killed Dolores Soriano (19) and 16 of her neighbours. Soriano was also six months pregnant.

2th December 1980 Three American nuns and a lay worker were abducted, raped and shot in San Salvador. Nuns Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, and lay worker Jean Donovan were raped and shot by guardsmen. The murders occurred as the US began a 10 year $7 billion aid effort to prevent left-wing guerrillas from coming to power.

3rd December 1980 Peasants discovered the bodies of nuns Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, and lay worker Jean Donovan and buried them.

4th December 1980 The bodies of the four American nuns slain two days earlier were unearthed. Colonel Edgardo Casanova was the military commander of the area at the time. Five national guardsmen were later convicted of the killings, and sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 1998 the guardsmen admitted that they were acting on orders from above.

13th December 1980 Christian Democrat Jose Napoleon Duarte was named the president of El Salvador’s new government.

1980 El Salvador instituted agricultural reform and the Finca El Espina coffee plantation was confiscated from the Duenas family and given to their workers, who formed a cooperative. The Duenas received $4 million in compensation.

1980 The Salvadoran Communist Party, led by Shafik Handal (1930-2006), merged with four other leftist groups into the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN.

1980 to 1992 The civil war raged during which security forces had been blamed for killing 40,000 civilians with torture commonplace. It was later reported that the US had pumped $1.5 million a day into the fight "to make El Salvador safe for democracy."

1981 France and Mexico recognise the FMLN as a legitimate political force. The US continued to assist El Salvadoran government whose army continued to back right-wing death squads throughout the county.

On January 5, 1981 three agrarian reform advisors, two from the United States, were shot to death in San Salvador. Concerned that President-elect Reagan would intervene, the FMLN tried to launch a final offensive before he took office; but the popular organizations had been so devastated by the death squads that a general strike failed. On January 14 Carter's National Security Council approved $5.9 million in lethal aid to El Salvador.

7th January 1981 An operational and planning assistance team (OPAT) arrived in El Salvador to provide assistance in protecting the harvest from the guerrillas. By the end of the Carter Administration, nineteen US military advisors had been deployed there.

The capable and outspoken US ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, was fired by the new Secretary of State Alexander Haig within a week after Reagan's inauguration. In February the Reagan administration issued a White Paper claiming that Salvadoran guerrillas were receiving arms and training from Cuba and Nicaragua; they proposed $25 million in additional military aid to El Salvador with 26 more advisors. By June the US press had refuted virtually every point of the White Paper. On March 9 Reagan signed a Presidential finding authorizing CIA covert operations to support the government of El Salvador with $19.5 million, ostensibly to interdict arms supplies coming from Nicaragua and Honduras.

19th February 1981 The US State Department called El Salvador a "textbook case" of a Communist plot.

2nd March 1981 The United States planned to send 20 more advisors and $25 million in military aid to El Salvador.

25th March 1981 The US Embassy in San Salvador was damaged when gunmen attacked the building firing rocket propelled grenades and machine guns.

10th December 1981 Hundreds of people were killed in the El Salvadoran village of El Mozote by an elite US-trained army battalion. In 1991 the office of Maria Julia Hernandez (1939-2007) published the first investigation into El Mozote. In 1992, under a United Nations sponsored Truth Commission, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team found 143 skeletons, 131 of which belonged to children under 12. The bullet cartridges showed they were manufacture in Lake City, Mo.

1981 El Salvador’s FMLN was recognised by France and Mexico recognised it as a legitimate political force, while the US was criticised for aiding the military government, whose army backed the right-wing death squads.

1981 It was reported by a former US diplomat that a dozen suspected leftist Salvadorans were thrown from a plane to their deaths.

In January 1982 the US began training Salvadoran troops at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning. To keep aid going to El Salvador the Reagan administration had to certify that it was making progress on human rights. This finding was immediately refuted in the press by numerous human rights organizations. The Salvadoran Communal Union (UCS) complained that at least ninety officials of peasant organizations had been killed in 1981. Amnesty International reported human rights violations on a "massive scale." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americas Watch argued there were hundreds of politically motivated murders, torture, and mutilation by paramilitary forces. The Washington Post and the New York Times reported extensively on the El Mozote massacre. Relatives of the four murdered churchwomen complained that the Salvadoran government had covered up the case and had not tried anyone for their murders. Dozens of those in the US Congress were so appalled that they sponsored a resolution to declare the certification null and void. A Newsweek poll found that 89% of those familiar with US policy said that the United States should not send troops to El Salvador.

Roberto D'Aubuisson had founded the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) that drew policies from the 1980 platform of the US Republican Party. The US ambassador Deane Hinton warned that a victory by the right-wing ARENA party in the upcoming election could be a disaster; so the CIA spent two million dollars to help the Christian Democrats. In the March 1982 election about 85% of El Salvador's eligible voters cast ballots. The Christian Democrats won 24 of the sixty seats in the Assembly; but the rest were taken by five rightist parties with ARENA getting 19 seats and the PCN fourteen. Ambassador Hinton persuaded the parties not to challenge the election results nor block agrarian reform and warned them that if they elected D'Aubuisson president, US aid may stop. Despite opposition by ARENA, the Christian Democrat Alvaro Magaña was elected President, though D'Aubuisson became the leader of the Constituent Assembly, which in May suspended the agrarian reform.

1982 Extreme right-wing National Republican Alliance (Arena) won parliamentary elections marked by violence.

28th March 1982 Voters in El Salvador went to the polls for a constituent assembly election that resulted in victory for the Christian Democrats, led by President Jose Napoleon Duarte.

29th April 1982 Alfredo Magana was elected president of El Salvador.

1982 Three police officers arrested six university students, held them in a clandestine prison and tried to kill them. The officers became fugitives in October 1996 when faced with the accusations.

1982 Ten police officers were involved in the killing of a Nicaraguan mechanic and a Honduran farmer suspected of transporting arms to the rebels in El Salvador. They were charged with the murders in July 1995.

In July 1982 the Reagan administration had to certify El Salvador's human rights record again and argued that the 1,573 political murders in the first half of the year were less than the year before, though the number was more than the previous six months. In October leaders of the FDR and FMLN offered to negotiate without preconditions by sending a letter that was delivered to President Magaña by Archbishop Rivera y Damas. That month Ambassador Hinton warned the US-Salvadoran Chamber of Commerce that the "Mafia" that was murdering innocent civilians and Americans must be stopped. After guerrilla commandos destroyed most of the Salvadoran air force at the Ilopango air base in late January 1983, President Reagan used his emergency powers to send $55 million in military aid to El Salvador without congressional approval.

In January 1983 President Reagan issued his third certification of human rights progress in El Salvador, and on April 27 he spoke to a joint session of Congress urging them to support his anti-Communist effort in Central America, arguing, "The national security of all the Americas is at stake in Central America."3 In late May assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs Thomas Ender and Ambassador Hinton were both replaced for trying to get the Salvadorans to stop human rights violations. In June a hundred US military advisers began training Salvadoran troops in Honduras.

6th April 1983   Melida Anaya Montes ("Comandante Ana Maria"), Salvadoran FMLN guerrilla leader, was killed in Nicaragua, where many Salvadoran guerrillas took refuge under its leftist government. In 2007 her body was exhumed and buried in her homeland.

In July, Reagan certified El Salvador's human rights record again even though no one had been brought to trial for the deaths of the churchwomen or the agrarian workers, and in November the President vetoed a bill that would have continued the certification requirements.

On October 25, 1983 US Marines and Army Rangers invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada, where a military coup led by the Marxist deputy prime minister Bernard Coard had taken power on October 13; that government and resisting Cuban workers were removed as Reagan argued that US medical students had to be protected.

For the fiscal year of 1984 the US Congress gave the Reagan administration a third less military aid for El Salvador than they requested, but the $64.8 million was still more than twice that of the previous year.

On December 11 Vice President George Bush visited President Magaña but in a toast warned him, "Your cause is being undermined by the murderous violence of reactionary minorities,"4 and he denounced the "cowardly death squads."

25th March 1984 Jose Napoleon Duarte (1925-1990), a Christian Democrat political moderate, was elected president of El Salvador following 5 years of military rule.

On March 25, 1984 Salvadorans voted for president, and a runoff was scheduled for May between Christian Democrat Duarte and D'Aubuisson of ARENA. During the congressional recess in April, President Reagan invoked his emergency powers to send $32 million in military aid to El Salvador. Meanwhile the CIA spent $2.1 million covertly to back Duarte, using the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a Venezuelan Institute, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). D'Aubuisson's friend Jesse Helms learned of it and complained on the Senate floor, and death threats were made against US ambassador Thomas Pickering. Duarte won the election and promised to end the death squads, implement reform, and negotiate peace with the guerrillas. This was enough to persuade the US House of Representatives to vote 212-208 to resume military aid. After a Salvadoran jury convicted five former National Guardsmen of killing the four church women, Congress was more willing to pass aid for El Salvador. The Reagan administration managed to compile $196.6 million for the war in El Salvador in 1984, and $123.25 million was authorized for 1985.

19th June 1985 Four off duty US Marines and nine others were killed at a sidewalk restaurant in the Zona Rosa section of San Salvador. Pedro Antonio Andrade Martinez (aka Mario Gonzalez), a Marxist guerrilla, was one of the reputed masterminds of the massacre. Andrade later became an informant for the CIA and sought US asylum. Andrade was later deported from the US in 1997.

1986 Duarte began a quest for a negotiated settlement with the FMLN.

1986 A large earthquake hit El Salvador. The US government provided $60 million in emergency aid and $98 million in reconstruction funds.

26th October 1987 Herbert Anaya Sanabria, the head of Salvadoran Human Rights Commission, was assassinated by death squads.

1987 Under a conservative El Salvador government the Supreme Court ruled that the Finca El Espina coffee plantation had been illegally expropriated from the Duenas family and should be returned.

In March 1988 the ARENA party won control of El Salvador's National Assembly. Peace-loving senators Mark Hatfield and Tom Harkin tried to hold back half of El Salvador's military aid for six months so that they would negotiate an end to the war; but their amendment was stopped in committee after dying Duarte sent a message from Walter Reed Hospital. ARENA candidate Alfredo Christiani was elected president in March 1989. In November the guerrillas launched a major offensive but could not get the support they wanted in the capital San Salvador. The military reacted to this by sending out death-squads against journalists, clerics, relief workers, and intellectuals, murdering six Jesuit priests and two women at the Central American University on November 16. The US Congress responded to these developments by cutting the military aid for 1990 in half. In the 1980s the US had given El Salvador nearly $4 billion in overt aid.

13th February 1989 The Salvadoran army attacked the Encuentros hospital where they raped and killed patients.

19th March 1989 Alfredo Cristiani of the right-wing ARENA party was elected president of El Salvador, defeating Fidel Chavez Mena of the Christian Democratic Party.

1989 FMLN attacks intensified as another Arena candidate Alfredo Cristiani was voted president in elections widely believed to have been rigged.

October 1989 The CIA station in San Salvador began providing the Salvadoran security forces with money to the resettled Marxist guerrilla turned informer, Pedro Antonio Andrade Martinez (aka Mario Gonzalez), in the US. He had been recently captured and became a highly paid informer for the Salvadoran armed forces. Information from Andrade later led to the capture, torture or disappearance of some 200 guerrillas.

In 1996 he was arrested in the US for failure to renew his visa. In 1997 the Clinton administration sought to deport him.

16th November 1989 Six Jesuit priests and two other people were slain by uniformed gunmen at the Jose Simeon Canas University in an attack later blamed on army troops. Later 19 Salvadoran soldiers, trained at the US Army School of the Americas, were linked to the killing. In 2006 US police in Los Angeles arrested a Salvadoran ex-lieutenant convicted of killing the 6 Jesuits. In 2009 a Spanish judge opened an investigation into 14 ex-Salvadoran military officials and considered indicting them over the killings. In 2009 the 6 Jesuits were decorated with the country's highest honour.

23rd November1989 Lucia Barrera de Cerna, a housekeeper who said she had witnessed the slaying of six Jesuit priests and two other people at the Jose Simeon Canas University in El Salvador, was flown to the US under heavy security.

26th November 1989   El Salvador broke off relations with Nicaragua after a plane loaded with weapons was shot down in El Salvador.

1989 El Salvador’s right-wing ARENA party began to be supported by the US government.

1989   El Salvador military officers Colonel Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, director of the National Guard and Gen’l. Jose Guillermo Garcia, the minister of defence, retired to Florida. In 2002 a Florida jury found Casanova and Garcia responsible for torture and atrocities committed in 1983 and ordered payment of $54.6 million to 3 victims living in Florida. [see El Salvador Dec 4, 1980]

1989 Lori Helene Berenson, an American, began work in El Salvador as the personal secretary to Leonel Gonzalez, top commander of the FMLN guerrillas. She stayed for about 4 1/2 years and then moved to Peru.

7th January 1990 The president of El Salvador, Alfredo Cristiani, said in a nationally broadcast address that military men two months earlier had massacred six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter.
23rd February 1990 Former Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte died aged 64.

In April 1990 representatives of the FMLN and the El Salvador government met at Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations. The next month the US House adopted the Moakly-Murtha amendment that cut military aid in half again unless the FMLN refused to negotiate or got weapons from abroad or murdered civilians. In July an important accord on human rights was reached by the FMLN and the El Salvador government.

After a US helicopter was shot down in January 1991, the Bush administration restored the extra military aid. In October the FMLN agreed to disarm when they were promised major reforms in the government and economic improvements such as land reform. Finally at the very end of UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar's term on the last day of 1991, a peace agreement was made. The United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL) successfully monitored the peace accord and supervised elections in 1994. The UN also mediated an end to 36 years of civil war in Guatemala in 1996. Altogether the low-intensity wars of the 1980s had killed more than two hundred thousand people in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, resulting in more than two million refugees.

1990   Adam Kufeld published “El Salvador.” He had made 8 trips to the country as a photographer between 1985-1989.

1990 The US House of Representatives voted to cut aid to El Salvador by 50%.

1991 An El Salvador government commission decided to return a swath of the Finca El Espina land to the Duenas family and that 865 acres be turned into a reserve. The 550 families of the cooperative that acquired the land in 1980 were to be left with 700 acres of the poorest, driest land.

31st December 1991 The FMLN who by now had been recognised as a political party and the government agreed to sign a United Nations sponsored peace accord aimed at ending 12 years of civil war.

16th January 1992   Officials of the government of El Salvador and rebel leaders signed a pact in Mexico City ending 12 years of civil war that had left at least 75,000 people dead.

24th January 1992 A judge in El Salvador sentenced an army colonel and a lieutenant to 30 years in prison for their part in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. 
December 1992 A peace treaty was signed between leftist rebels and the El Salvador government. The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front became legal and described itself as social democratic. The Peace Accords introduced reforms to give land to ex-combatants of the FMLN and the military. The National Civilian Police replaced the National Police.

1992 The new US Embassy was completed. Plans for the structure had been drawn up way back in 1984.

1992 After the guerrillas demobilised the Communist Party kept guerrilla leader Jose Louis Merino’s network of safe houses intact and continued to kidnap for ransom. In 2008 Merino, a dominant force in the FMLN was implicated in helping Colombia’s FARC contact two Australia arms dealers.

1992 Army Major Roberto d’Aubuisson, founder of the rightist Republican Nationalist Alliance (ARENA), died at age 48.

15th December 1992 Marked the official end of the internal conflict.

14th March 1993 An independent United Nations sponsored commission released a report blaming the bulk of atrocities committed during El Salvador's civil war on the country's military.

25th October 1993 Guerrilla leader Francisco Velis (FMLN) was murdered.

30th October 1993 Guerrilla leader Hernan Heleno Castro was murdered.

1993 Along with the peace accord El Salvador President Alfredo Cristiani reprivatised the banks. Along with a tight circle of friends, they secretly called themselves “The Apostles,” and controlled all of the biggest institutions in the country.

1993 A broad amnesty was given to all combatants of the 1980-1992 El Salvador civil wars.

1993 A very high interest pyramid scheme milked some $35 million from thousands of middle-class investors. The ARENA government of President Cristiani did not stop it or prosecute those responsible.

In 1993 a United Nations Truth Commission report concluded that Colonel Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, director of the National Guard and brother of Edgardo, and General Jose Guillermo Garcia, the minister of defence, had organised an official cover-up. Both men were granted residence in the US. 3 of the 5 convicted guardsmen were released in 1998 due to prison overcrowding. In 1999 families of the victims filed suit against Casanova and Garcia who were living in Florida. In 2000 a federal jury cleared the 2 retired generals. In 2002 a Florida jury found Casanova and Garcia responsible for torture and ordered payment of $54.6 million to 3 victims living in Florida.

1993 The Government declared an amnesty for those implicated by United Nations sponsored commission in human rights atrocities.

20th March 1994   El Salvador held its first presidential election following the country's 12-year-old civil war. Armando Calderon Sol of the ARENA party led the vote, but needed to win a run-off to achieve the presidency.

1994 Arena candidate Armando Calderon Sol was elected president.

1994   There were 7,673 people murdered in this year according to the El Salvador attorney general’s office.

9th August 1995   A Boeing 737 belonging to Guatemala’s Aviateca airline hit the Chichontepec volcano in El Salvador on a flight from Miami and killed all 65 on board.

1995   Some 40 El Salvadorian citizens banded together to form the Patriotic Movement. Their first project was the 1996 exchange program of Goods for Guns.

1995 A pilot CARE program surveyed all El Salvador ranches under joint title to former guerrillas in order to establish specific ownership to improve development. It grew to a $26 million program by 1998.

1995 There were 7,877 people murdered in this year according to the El Salvador attorney general’s office.

1996   In San Salvador the two largest street gangs signed a peace accord that ended four years of vicious street warfare. The Catholic Church mediated between the members of the MS gang and the M-18 gang.

19th March 1996 An Emergency Anti-Crime Law was approved by President Armando Calderon Sol. Its language called for all Salvadorans charged with crimes abroad to be locked up and re-educated.

20th March 1996 Four teenage members of a youth gang were summarily executed in the provincial capital of Santa Ana.

21st March 1996 A case against narcotics traffickers was dropped when the judge learned that the evidence, 46 lbs. of cocaine, had disappeared from police headquarters.

23rd March 1996 Eight police officers opened fired on citizens in a rural hamlet and killed four people including an 11-year-old boy. The incident began when the police tried to buy beer from a store after being told that it was closed for the night.

September 1996 The Goods for Guns project began and in 2 weeks collected 1,262 weapons and 14,580 units of ammunition.

1996 There were 6,792 people murdered in this year according to the El Salvador attorney general’s office.

9th February 1997 It was reported that developers wished to convert part of the Finca El Espino land in El Salvador to a $100 million luxury development while farmers wished to maintain coffee growth and the government sought a park.

22nd February 1997 It was reported that the Clinton administration was seeking to have the former El Salvador rebel, Pedro Antonio Andrade, deported as a terrorist.

1997 The FMLN made progress in parliamentary elections. Leftist Hector Silva was elected mayor of San Salvador.

16th March 1997   Elections for mayors in 262 El Salvador cities and for the 84-member unicameral Legislative Assembly was scheduled. The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) party was a front-runner. Hector Silva of the Democratic Convergence Party won the mayoral elections for San Salvador. He ran under a coalition led by the FMLN.

June 1997 A Credi Club bank scandal involved the disappearance of $11 million in depositor’s savings.

14th July 1997 Regulators seized Financiera Insepro, which collapsed and left more than 1000 account holders demanding justice. The $15 million bank failure led to a call for US investigators and 5 prominent business leaders were jailed.

July 1997 Roberto Mathies Hill was arrested on fraud charges for having milked at least $115 million from depositors in a complex financial shell game.

16th November 1997 It was reported that 22 murders a day occur in El Salvador. Vehicles in the capital had increased fivefold in 5 years and the garbage dump in San Salvador was full. The opposition FNLN now controlled 45% of the country.

1997 Castellanos Moya (b.1957), Honduras-born Salvadoran writer, authored Revulsion. Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador” (El asco, Thomas Bernhard en El Salvador), a barbed monologue against everything Salvadoran.

16th January 1998 Israel Job Pineda, a fisherman in La Herradura, was shot and killed by a pirate intruder. Pirates had become a growing threat to the local shrimp fisherman. Police later arrested nine fishermen linked to the attack.

1st June 1998 It was reported that just 2% of the forest remained in El Salvador, a country that was once completely covered by forest.

12th July 1998 Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador agreed to join forces to build a $2 billion railroad network to link Central America with Mexico.

22nd October to 9th November 1998 Hurricane Mitch was one of the Caribbean's deadliest storms ever, causing at least 9,000 deaths in Central America. The storm hit Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica, and Costa Rica. Later reports put the death toll in Honduras to 6,076. In Nicaragua the deaths reached 4,000, in Guatemala it was157, and in El Salvador it was 222. The storm parked over Honduras and it rained for 6 days straight.  Aid of $66 mil was ordered from the US, $8 mil from the EU, $11.6 mil from Spain along with pledges from other countries and private organizations.

1998 El Salvador police records indicated that 115 officers were killed during the year.

6th March 1999 It was reported that extermination squads in El Salvador were killing gang members at the rate of 1-2 a week.

7th March 1999 Presidential elections were scheduled. FMLN candidate Facundo Guardado was expected to lose to ARENA candidate Francisco Flores (39). Flores and his Republican National Alliance won with about 52% of the vote.

March 1999 The Deputy police commissioner was killed by a hail of bullets in San Vicente province as she left a restaurant after dinner with friends.
June 1999 Francisco Flores (39) took office and included in his cabinet Mauricio Sandoval as the national police commissioner. Sandoval was implicated in the 1989 murders of 6 Jesuits when he ran a pro-government radio network which allegedly instigated the murders. Crime was a national concern with the annual murder rate at 128 per 100,000.

September 1999 Salvadoran authorities opened the floodgates to save the hydroelectric dam on the Lempa River. Massive flooding left 13 people dead.

3rd October 1999 Flooding in Central America left 21 dead in Honduras, 10 dead in Nicaragua, and 11 dead in El Salvador and thousands were forced to flee their homes.

January to February 2001 A massive earthquakes killed 1,200 people and rendered another one million homeless.

July 2002 A US court held two retired US-based Salvadoran army generals responsible for civil war atrocities, and ordered them to compensate victims who brought case against them.

August 2003 360 Salvadoran troops were despatched to Iraq.

December 2003 El Salvador along with Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala - agreed on a free-trade agreement with the US. The government ratified the pact in December 2004.

March 2004 Arena candidate Tony Saca won a presidential election.

March 2005 A OAS human rights court voted to re-open an investigation into the 1981 massacre of hundreds of peasant farmers in the village of El Mozote, regarded as one of the worst atrocities of the civil war.

October 2005 Thousands fled as the Ilamatepec volcano, also known as Santa Ana, erupted. Day’s later scores of people were killed as Tropical Storm Stan sweep through the country.

March 2006 El Salvador was the first Central American country to implement a regional free trade agreement with the US.

April 2006 El Salvador and neighbouring Honduras inaugurate their newly-defined border. The countries had fought over the disputed frontier during 1969.

January 2007 21 inmates were killed in a riot at a maximum-security prison west of the capital.

February 2007 Three members of the governing Arena party were murdered in Guatemala. There were suspicions that an organised crime syndicate was behind the killings.

January 2008 More than 400 judges held a street protest over corruption allegations made against four of their colleagues.

January 2009 The former FMLN rebel movement emerged as the largest party during parliamentary elections, although they fell short of a majority, it was seen as a preparation for presidential elections to be held in March.

February 2009 The ruling party Arena won the largest number of places in local elections despite polls favouring the opposition FMLN.

March 2009 Former Marxist rebel Mauricio Funes of the FMLN party won the presidential election, marking the first time in two decades that a leftist president had been voted in.

June 2009 Mauricio Funes was sworn in as president, and the country Restored diplomatic relations with Cuba.

November 2009 More than 140 people were killed and thousands left homeless in mudslides and floods.

June 2010 Fourteen people were killed in two separate attacks by suspected gang members on public buses in the capital, San Salvador, on the same day.

Data in this colour are direct quotes taken from articles by Sanderson Beck

Further articles of interest