Elections and Events 1970-1979


Brockett 2005:  “The most important nonregime peasant organization in El Salvador during the 1970s was the Federación Cristiana de Campesinos Salvadoreños (FECCAS), which developed during the 1960s with the aid of church workers and the PDC” (pages 144-145).

McClintock 1998:  “In 1970…other dissidents from the PCS, as well as from Christian Youth and New Left groups, were also despairing of an electoral approach to social change.  Some of these leftists formed ‘El Grupo,’ which in 1972 evolved into the [ERP].  Relative to the leaders of the FPL, the founders of the ERP were younger, more middle class, and usually formerly affiliated with the Christian Democratic Party rather than with the PCS” (page 50).

Schroeder 1995:  “The FPL…split from the PCS in 1970 when the PCS still advocated peaceful means to power” (page 42).


Anderson 1981:  “At the end of January 1970, the tension along the border [with Honduras] again erupted into large-scale fighting” (page 132).  “A national agrarian reform conference had been held in January 1970 with representatives of all factions.  The conference had called for land expropriation with compensation and an end to the ban on peasant unions.  This had, however, frightened the landed oligarchy, who clung with a feral tenacity to their lands and privileges; and they succeeded in blocking any attempt to turn the recommendation into legislation” (page 147).

Brockett 1998:  “The [PDC], the most dynamic popular force during this period, soon proposed an agrarian reform program that sought to create a rural middle class through the elimination of both latifundia and ‘minifundia’ (minifarms).  After gaining control of the legislative assembly, lawmakers favoring reform convened a National Agrarian Reform Congress in early 1970.  Although it failed to include peasant interests, the assembly was otherwise broadly representative” (page 132).

Durham 1979:  “(T)he First National Congress of Agrarian Reform [was] held in 1970 by the Legislative Assembly.  Nevertheless, official action was delayed until 1975 when the assembly created the Salvadorean Institute of Agrarian Transformation (ISTA)” (page 166).

Johnson 1993:  “Because of the electoral inroads made by the opposition parties, especially the PDC, the PCN was increasingly pressured to respond to the winds of reform.  This pressure crested with the revolt of a broad coalition of opposition and PCN deputies in the National Assembly that convened the Agrarian Reform Congress in 1970.  This Congress put the plight of the landless and the poor on the national political agenda and made it the most important campaign issue for the 1972 presidential election” (page 120).

Webre 1979:  “(T)he National Agrarian Reform Congress [is] scheduled to meet in San Salvador January 5-10, 1970” (page 126).  “The congress set large propertied interests openly and frankly on the defensive in a way very few events—among obvious exceptions, the violence of 1932—ever had.  It showed that opposition parties could work smoothly together with elements of the PCN to promote progressive ideas…Symptomatic of the increasing polarization of Salvadoran politics was the enthusiastic participation of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the National Agrarian Reform Congress…In El Salvador as elsewhere in Latin America, the hierarchy’s abandonment of its traditional role as defender of privilege led to acts of physical intimidation against the clergy” (page 130).  “The task of choosing Duarte’s successor [as mayoral candidate] fell to the PDC’s national convention in January, and the name of virtually every senior party leader came under consideration” (page 132).  “Particularly beneficial to the regime was a timely renewal of border provocations between El Salvador and Honduras.  By the end of January, Salvadoran papers were full of reports of gunfire and expulsions—all very reminiscent of the immediate prewar period” (page 134).

White 1973:  “During the Agrarian Reform Congress of 1970…, the [Catholic] church representatives publicly declared the firm support of the Church for an uncompromising land reform” (page 211).

Williams 1997: “In January 1970, the legislative assembly convened a national congress on agrarian reform, which President Sánchez Hernández addressed in no uncertain terms: land reform should be discussed frankly and openly and land reform could not be postponed any more” (page 79).


Anderson 1981:  “In a second clash [with Honduras] on 5 February, four Salvadorean troops were reported killed.  These incidents led to renewed negotiation” (page 132).

March 8: congressional and municipal election

Anderson 1981:  “The problems of El Salvador in the seventies were of such magnitude that a drastic change in leadership seem[ed] inevitable; but the PCN in fact showed a remarkable talent for holding on to the reins of power…The municipal and legislative elections of 1970 had even seen the PCN dramatically increase its share of the government, through the usual methods of force and fraud in rural areas” (page 142).

Anderson 1988: Gives mayoralties and seats won by PDC.  PPS loses all its mayoralties (page 77).

Brockett 1998:  “Significant legislative action [on land reform] was precluded, however, by the victory of the government party, the [PCN], in the legislative elections of March 1970” (page 132).

Brockett 2005:  Reformers fared “more poorly in the elections of 1970, most likely the result of renewed tensions with Honduras, coming just a short time after the recent brief ‘Soccer War’ between the two countries” (page 232).

Caldera T. 1983: “Todos estos factores influyeron de manera desastrosa en la popularidad del PDC, ya que para las elecciones legislativas y municipales de 1970, estos bajaron de 19 a 14 diputados y de tener 80 alcaldías en su poder a tener tan solo 8.  En estos comicios surgieron de nuevo maniobras fraudulentas, a tal punto que estas elecciones se consideraron un verdadero retroceso en relación con las últimas que se habían efectuado” (pages 23-24). 

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 4 1970:  For the March 8, 1970 elections for the Legislative Assembly gives the characteristics of parliament, the electoral system, the general political considerations and conduct of the elections, and statistics (pages 57-58). 

Eguizábal  1982?: “A pesar de las maniobras oficiales de intimidación y de fraude, en las elecciones de 1970, los tres partidos que conformaron más adelante la Unión Nacional Opositora (UNO)...obtuvieron más de la tercera parte de los votos.  La oposición empezaba a hacer sentir su fuerza” (page 86). 

Haggerty 1990: Gives seats and municipalities lost by the PDC in this election (page 27).

Lamperti 2006:  “In the non-presidential election of 1970 the ruling [PCN] regained considerable lost ground—in the popular vote, in the number of seats it held in the National Assembly, and especially in controlling city governments” (page 102).

Montgomery 1995: “(N)ational elections reduced the opposition’s seats in the National Assembly from almost half to barely a third” (page 62).

Webre 1979: “In addition to the Christian Democrats and the PCN, three other parties participated in the 1970 election” (page 135).  “The outcome of the March 8 election was calamitous for the heretofore optimistic opposition parties.  The damage was particularly serious in the municipal races” (page 136).  Gives numbers of  municipalities won by PDC, PCN,  PPS, and UDN and seats won by PDC (page 136).  Discusses the election (pages 136-138).

White 1973: The MNR “lost all its representation…in the elections of 1970, and seems unlikely ever to achieve the degree of success attained by the PAR in its final period.  The reason is that after an internal split, full control over the party was taken by a group of democratic socialist intellectuals, unwilling to adopt the somewhat populist political style apparently necessary under present circumstances for gaining mass support” (page 203).  “In the elections for the Legislative Assembly and municipal councils held on 8 March 1970, the PCN was credited with nearly 60 percent of the total votes cast, while its nearest competitor, the PDC, gained 28 per cent, UDN 6 per cent, PPS 5 per cent, and MNR 1 ½ per cent.  The PCN won 34 of the 52 seats in the Legislative Assembly, compared with 32 in 1966 and only 27 in 1968; and won control of all but seven of the 261 municipalities; these seven went to the PDC, compared to the eighty which the Christian Democrats had won in 1968.  The only cause for opposition rejoicing was the PDC’s retention of control over the municipality of San Salvador.  These results, reversing the previous trend toward the progressive weakening of the official party’s electoral position, are fully attributable to the victory in the war against Honduras, with the prestige it brought the army, and in general to the sentiment of solidarity with the government against the outsider” (page 205).  “Direct fraud appears to have been gradually reduced to what are now low levels in El Salvador…There has been no property or educational qualification for voting since 1883, for men over twenty-one years old; but then it is precisely the persons of poorest education who still provide the greatest electoral support of ‘oficialismo,’ and universal suffrage has normally been of advantage to the sitting government” (page 206).

Williams 1997: Gives percent of vote and seats won by PCN, seats won by PDC, and municipalities won by PCN (page 79).


Allison 2006:  “In 1970, the ‘Fuerzas Populares de Liberación—Farabundo Martí’ (FPL)…, El Salvador’s oldest guerrilla group, was formed.  Many of the FPL’s initial recruits were members of Christian base communities and union activists who had suffered under the repression of the government’s security forces.  The FPL supported a prolonged popular war based on the Chinese experience--meaning that they would focus on gaining momentum and support in the countryside before moving to the city” (page 54).

Anderson 1988:  “In 1970 a group of young Communists, dissatisfied with the conservative stance taken by their party under its new secretary general, Shafik Jorge Handal, had broken away under the former secretary general, Salvador Cayetano Carpio, and formed the “Fuerzas Populares de Liberación’ (FPL) to prepare for eventual armed struggle” (page 79).

Brockett 2005:  “Leaving the communist party in 1970, in April [Cayetano Carpio] formed with six other activists the Fuerzas Populares de Liberación (FPL), a Marxist-Leninist organization dedicated to a prolonged popular war strategy” (page 83).

McClintock 1998:  “Until 1970, the Communist Party of El Salvador (Partido Comunista de El Salvador, PCS) was the only significant Marxist group in the country” (page 48).  “In 1970, the leader of the PCS, Salvador Cayetano Carpio, argued to the party’s central committee that the PCS should abandon the traditional Soviet approach to revolution—the development of popular consciousness through peaceful participation in the electoral process…(H)e advocated ‘military struggle’ as well as ‘mass struggle.’  When he did not prevail, he withdrew from the party; Shafik Handal…became head of the PCS...After Carpio left the PCS in 1970, he and six other dissidents formed the [FPL]…Rejecting participation in the Salvadoran electoral process,…the FPL advocated a prolonged popular war strategy (‘guerra popular prolongada’)” (page  49). 


Williams 1997: Amendments to the electoral law were introduced in the congress “hindering the operation of opposition parties” (page 81).


Baloyra 1982:  Sánchez “signed the [agrarian reform] bill into law in November” (page 45).


White 1973:  “General José (‘Chele’) Medrano, Chief of the National Guard, was dismissed from this and all posts in December 1970” (page 108).


Baloyra 1982:  The PPS “candidate, Chele Medrano, a hero of the war with Honduras and former commander of the national guard, had organized a Frente Unido Democrático Independiente (FUDI) in early 1971” (page 47).

Brockett 2005:  “Conflict between ANDES and the government was again central to Salvadoran politics throughout much of 1971” (page 8).  “(A) number of those turning to armed struggle…chose…to join a new movement, the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), which had formed in 1971.  Many of ERP’s members came out of the left wing of the [PDC] rather than the communist party” (page 83).

Dunkerley 1985:  “(D)isgust at the PCN’s confused meanderings led an important faction of the oligarchy based around the Salaverría family of Ahuachapán to sponsor the strong ultra-right campaign of the ‘Frente Unido Democrático Independiente’ (FUDI), led by General Medrano” (page 84).

Johnson 1993:  “(I)n response to President Sanchez’ passivity to the Agrarian Reform Congress, conservative members of the PCN, along with the founder of ORDEN, General Jose Medrano, founded an extremely conservative party, the ‘Frente Unido Democratico Independiente’ (FUDI).  Highly nationalistic…, FUDI contained all the ideological and tactical elements that would come to characterize much of the political right in the 1970s and 1980s:  hysterical anticommunism, extreme ‘laissez faire’ economics, an emphasis on order, an unmitigated rejection of any reform and resort to violence as a key weapon of intimidation.  FUDI helped to cement the deadly alliance between some large conservative landowners and the security forces that spawned the death squads” (page 121).

McElhinny 2006:  “Most agree that inequality, especially land inequality, was a root cause of the Salvadoran conflict…In 1971, 86% of El Salvador’s 270,000 farmers had access to less than five hectares of land.  At the same time, some of the wealthiest landowning families…owned 22,764 hectares…Those with access to the best and most extensive farmland also controlled commodity and credit markets, the sale of imported inputs, agro-processing and export contracts…The struggle for land against an increasingly repressive landed elite was a central dimension to the civil war” (page 53).

Wade 2003:  “As a result of [the return of Salvadorans from Honduras after the 1969 war] between 1961 and 1971 the number of landless families doubled from 19.8 percent to 41.1 percent of the population…In the early 1970s landless agricultural workers in El Salvador had the lowest income levels in Central America and more than 83 percent of the rural population lived below the poverty line” (page 45).

White 1973:  “An ‘ad hoc’ right-wing organization was formed to advance [Medrano’s] candidature for the Presidency, the ‘Frente Unido Democrático Independiente’” (page 253).


Anderson 1981:  “(A) new meeting [between El Salvador and Honduras] was scheduled for 20 May 1971 to make proposals on reopening telephone communications and the Pan-American Highway” (page 133).


Anderson 1981:  “The UNO offered the ruling clique its first real challenge since 1961 and at a time when the fortunes of the government, thanks to the collapse of the MCCA, were very low.  To make matters worse for the rulers of El Salvador, the UNO came up with an exciting and dynamic candidate, José Napoleón Duarte, the Christian Democratic mayor of San Salvador and the most popular political figure in the country” (page 143).

Baloyra 1982:  “The severe losses that they suffered in the 1970 assembly race had a sobering effect on the opposition parties, and in September 1971 they formed an opposition coalition, the Unión Nacional Opositora (UNO), which included the PDC, the MNR, and the Unión Democrática Nacionalista (UDN)” (page 46).

Ladutke 2004:  “In the midst of increasing repression, the Christian Democrats formed the National Opposition Unity coalition with two leftist parties for the 1972 elections” (page 24).

Wade 2003:  “In September 1971 the PDC joined a coalition with two other left-wing parties, the [MNR] and the [UDN].  Together the three parties formed the [UNO] to participate in the 1972 elections, selecting José Napoleón Duarte, the popular mayor of San Salvador, as their presidential candidate” (pages 38-39).

Walter 2000a:  Describes the emergence of the UNO (pages 535-536).

Whitfield 1994:  “A coalition of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats…(MNR), and an electoral front for the illegal Communist Party…(UDN), had drawn together in the National Opposition Union (UNO) to campaign for the presidency of San Salvador’s popular Christian Democratic mayor, Napoleón Duarte, against President Sánchez Hernández’s handpicked successor, Molina” (page 50).


Anderson 1981:  “For El Salvador 1972 was one of those great historical turning points the true significance of which lay precisely in the fact that history had failed to turn on schedule.  The fraudulent election and unsuccessful coup produced a general disillusion and disenchantment with the two ‘normal’ methods of effecting change” (page 145).

Brockett 1998:  “A major plank in the platform of…[UNO] was agrarian reform…The election campaign followed several years of increasing popular organizing…(T)he landed elite and its rightist allies decided to field their own candidate, General Medrano, who had recently been dismissed as commander of the national guard for allegedly planning a coup” (page 133).

Brockett 2005:  Duarte’s “victory in the 1972 presidential election looked possible, especially as a coalition was formed with the smaller social democratic [MNR], which provided his vice presidential running mate, Guillermo Ungo.  The communist PCS also was part of this Unión Nacional Opositora (UNO) coalition through a small party it participated in, the Unión Democrática Nacionalista (UDN).  Radical though they might be ideologically, university students in 1972 threw their energies and hopes into the electoral process” (page 75).

Dunkerley 1985:  “Threatened from both sides, Sánchez Hernández lost no time in protecting the candidacy of Molina in traditional style.  Duarte’s increasingly exuberant campaign tour was attacked and an aide shot dead, UNO broadcasts were sabotaged and control of the voting booths secured by government supporters” (page 85).

Dunkerley 1988:  UDN “contributed towards unprecedentedly broad support for the new electoral alliance, the [UNO], which fielded Duarte and MNR leader Guillermo Ungo as candidates against Colonel Arturo Molina for the PCN” (page 360).  “Although Molina was also challenged from the right, in the shape of General José Alberto Medrano, patronized by some of the most reactionary elements of the landed bourgeoisie, the UNO campaign compelled the PCN apparatus to go to exceptional lengths to ensure the victory of its candidate” (page 361).

El Salvador.  Presidencia.  Departamento de Relaciones Públicas 1972:  “Pocas veces en la historia del país se había desarrollado una campaña política tan reñida.  Los partidos políticos hicieron uso de todos los medios de propaganda para dar a conocer sus lineamientos ideológicos y los programas de labores que se proponían ejecutar en caso de salir airosos en los comicios, gozando todos ellos de amplias libertades y garantías en el desenvolvimiento de su labor proselitista.  La libre expresión del pensamiento en la prensa, la radio, la televisión, y en las plazas públicas, fue una de las características más esenciales en que se desarrolló la acción de los partidos contendientes” (page 5).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report March 28, 1991:  “In 1972, the MNR joined the Christian Democrats and the Marxist Union Democrata Nacionalista (UDN) in an alliance, the Union Nacional Opositora (UNO), which put up Jose Napoleon Duarte as its presidential candidate and Ungo as his running mate” (electronic edition).

McClintock 1998:  “Under [Shafik] Handal, in…1972…the PCS joined the Christian Democratic Party and the [MNR] in an electoral coalition.  The [PCS] was never large, numbering only about one hundred fifty members in 1972” (page 49).  “For the first time in El Salvador, in 1972 the political opposition believed that it would win the presidential election.  The [PDC], the social democratic MNR, and the communist UD allied under the banner of the…Unión Nacional Opositora…The governing PCN had been hurt politically by the outbreak of the war with Honduras and its aftermath.  For the political opposition, the 1972 elections were a long-awaited moment” (pages 104-105).

McClintock 1998:  “”(I)n 1972 [El Grupo] evolved into the Revolutionary Army of the People (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo, ERP)” (page 50).  “After the death of the original leader of the ERP, Sebastián Urquilla, Joaquín Villalobos emerged as the group’s leader” (page 51).

Walter 2000a:  Describes events leading up to the election (pages 535-537).

Williams 2003:  “(O)n the right, Sánchez Hernández’s talk about the need for agrarian reform convinced recalcitrant elements of the landed oligarchy and some hard-line officers to put up their own candidate, thus siphoning votes away from the PCN” (page 308).

February 20: presidential election (Molina / PCN)

Anderson 1981:  “In the election of 20 February 1972, there were two other candidates besides Duarte and Molina.  One was ‘Chele’ Medrano, representing a small splinter group from the PCN; and the other was José Antonio Rodríguez Porth of the extremely right-wing Partido Popular Salvadoreño.  Neither of these candidates was taken seriously.  Duarte was another story.  The early returns from San Salvador and other urban centers put him clearly ahead in the race.  Something had to be done, and it was, in rural areas beyond the scrutiny of poll watchers from the opposition” (page 143).

Anderson 1988: “In the balloting it appeared that Duarte easily outdistanced the colorless Colonel Molina by 72,000 votes, but the electoral commission took charge and declared Molina ahead by some 100,000 votes” (page 77).

Baloyra 1982:  “Early totals from outlying areas had Colonel Arturo A. Molina, the PCN presidential candidate, ahead with 54 percent of the vote, but as returns from the urban areas started to pour in, the UNO closed the gap and apparently went ahead.  The government stopped announcing partial results and declared its candidate the winner the day after the election” (page 47).

Bland 1992: “1972 was a critical year for democracy in El Salvador.  The blatant electoral fraud perpetrated again by the military to maintain its control convinced many Salvadoran democrats that peaceful change was impossible and substantially weakened the position of those who continued to believe that reform could occur” (page 168).

Booth 2006:  “When the PDC’s Duarte apparently won the 1972 presidential election, the military answered the oligarchy’s call.  The regime threw out the election results, installed rightist Col. Arturo Armando Molina as president, and then arrested, tortured, and exiled the defrauded candidate” (page 98).

Bowdler 1974: “Voter registration and total votes cast by department, 1972" (page 172).  Gives provisional returns as reported by the government and by the opposition, final official returns by party, total votes cast by all parties, and total registered voters. 

Brockett 1998:  “The military was prepared to protect the system from the threats of reformism and popular mobilization.  When Duarte’s share of the vote started to gain on that of the government’s candidate, radio announcement of the returns was discontinued; when it resumed the government’s candidate, Colonel Arturo Molina, had won…The consequences of the fraud were tremendous; in particular, many UNO supporters decided that the electoral process was not a viable instrument for social change under present circumstances in their country.  Instead, other strategies would have to be developed” (page 135).

Brockett 2005:  “Reformers regrouped, focusing on the 1972 elections, especially for the presidency…How different subsequent Salvadoran history would have been had the right played fair…But the ruling military and economic elites were in a state of alarm at the growing mass mobilization…It is hard to overstate the importance of the 1972 electoral fraud for subsequent Salvadoran events” (page 232).

Caldera T. 1983:   “Los del PCN habían previsto que la UNO obtendría más de ciento cincuenta mil votos y ellos obtendrían aproximadamente la misma cantidad.  Fue así como a través de asaltos a las juntas departamentales, robo de urnas y anulación de papeletas que estaban a favor de la UNO, el PCN colocó irregularmente más de cien mil votos ‘ganando’ a duras pena, las elecciones presidenciales” (page 24).

Castro Morán 2005:  “En 1972 se llevaron a cabo los comicios electorales.  El Consejo Central de Elecciones, bajo la presidencia del abogado José Vicente Vilanova, comenzó a dar los resultados del sufragio.  Pronto se hizo evidente el triunfo de la oposición.  Quien tenía la información de primera mano era el Presidente…El resultado adverso lo tomó por sorpresa.  Después de una reprimenda a sus candidatos, se trasladó al Estado Mayor para organizar el fraude.  El Dr. Vilanova dejó de dar resultados y un silencio ominoso habló elocuentemente de lo que estaba sucediendo” (page 179).

CUDI 1982: Gives number of registered voters, and number and percent who voted (page 581).

Dunkerley 1985:  “(T)he first returns of the presidential poll gave UNO an overwhelming 62,000-vote lead in the capital, with national returns at 54 per cent.  On the day after the vote there was a complete radio blackout on the election followed by an announcement from the electoral commission that Molina had won by 9,844 votes, a mere 1.3 per cent of the total number cast.  The president-elect, aware that the scale and openness of the fraud could not be brazened out as before, generously offered a recount, but Duarte and Ungo insisted upon completely fresh elections and threatened a general strike if they were not forthcoming” (page 85).

Dunkerley 1988:  “(T)he official party resorted to prohibiting media coverage of the count once early returns showed the opposition to have a 62,000 vote lead in the capital and some 54 per cent of the poll at the national level.  The next public announcement to be made was that Molina had won by 9,844 votes or just 1.3 per cent of the total” (page 361).

Eguizábal 1984: “Después de las elecciones presidenciales de 1972, para mantener su hegemonía, la alianza establecida entre la oligarquía agro-exportadora y el ejército tuvo que ir vaciándose de contenido hasta cerrar definitivamente el espacio político representativo, a pesar del elevado costo que dicha opción tenía desde el punto de vista internacional” (page 17).  “El Salvador: resultados electorales 1972" (page 27).  Gives for each party the number of presidential votes, legislative votes, and seats won, and mayoralties won by UNO.

El Salvador, año político 1971-72 1973: Gives number of voters registered for the election (1,119,699)  and explains that this number is 300,000 less than the number registered in 1970 because all eligible citizens had to re-register to vote in the 1972 election (page 53).  Gives votes for PCN, UNO, FUDI, and PPS reported by the CCE and UNO in various sources over a period of several days (pages 56-58).  Gives numerous tables showing votes as reported by the CCE and UNO, reflecting discrepancies and anomalies in the reporting (pages 62-76).  A selection of the major tables follows.   “Resultados oficiales elección presidencial dados por CCE (25 febrero, 1972)” (page 63).  Gives by department the votes for the four parties.  “Cuadro 8" (page 64) gives votes by departments for the PCN and UNO as reported by the CCE and as recorded by UNO.  “Resultados oficiales de las elecciones presidenciales” (page 85).  Gives for each department registered voters, votes for each of the four parties, null votes, abstentions, total votes cast, number of registered voters who didn’t vote, and percent this constitutes of registered voters. 

El Salvador 1982 1982: “Resorting to fraud, the army altered the election results and installed the PCN candidate” (page 30).

El Salvador.  Presidencia.  Departamento de Relaciones Públicas 1972:  Has many photographs and descriptions of voting in each department.  Gives votes for PCN, UNO, PPS, and FUDI (page 6).  “El 20 de febrero de 1972 tuvo lugar, en la República de El Salvador, la mayor demostración de madurez política de que haya dado ejemplo el pueblo cuzcatleco.  Cerca de un millón de ciudadanos, por primera vez en la historia del país, concurrieron a las urnas electorales para depositar, libremente y con toda tranquilidad, los votos que elegirían al Presidente y Vicepresidente de la República para el quinquenio 1972-1977” (page 9).  “Resultado de la votación para elecciones de presidente y vice-presidente de la república.  20 de febrero de 1972” (page 31).  Gives by department the votes for each party, null votes, abstentions, total votes cast, registered voters, and percent that voted.

Haggerty 1990:  “Poll watchers for UNO claimed that the final tally nationwide was 327,000 for Duarte and 318,000 for Molina.  Tabulations were suspended by the government, however, and a recount was initiated.  The official results of that count placed Molina ahead of Duarte by 10,000 votes.  The selection of the president thus was relegated to the assembly, where the PCN majority affirmed Molina’s tainted victory after a walkout by opposition deputies” (page 29).

Herman 1984: “In spite of some extraordinary efforts by the government’s ballot box stuffers, it appeared momentarily that the UNO slate had won the February 22nd election when the Central Election Board in San Salvador issued a statement that UNO had prevailed by some 6,000 votes.  The victory was short-lived, however, as a three-day news blackout was followed by a carefully revised set of figures giving victory once again to the PCN” (page 99).

Johnson 1993:  “The 1972 elections proved to be a watershed in Salvadoran history.  Challenged by a coalition on the left, and the PPS and FUDI on the right, the official party was forced to resort to massive fraud to stay in power” (pages 121-122).

Klaiber 1998:  “The 1972 elections created many expectations among reformist groups.  But the army manipulated the elections and imposed its own official candidate, Colonel Arturo Molina” (page 169).

Krauss 1991:  “Duarte sensed an historic opportunity to run for president in 1972 on a unity ticket with Communist and Social Democratic parties” (page 67).

Latin American regional reports.  Caribbean & Central America report March 28, 1991:  “UNO won but was prevented from forming a government by the military with both Duarte and Ungo going into exile” (electronic edition).

LeoGrande 1980: “The opportune time for a ‘centrist solution’ to El Salvador’s socioeconomic ills came in 1972 when the Christian Democrats stood at the summit of their popular support.  By all informed accounts, the PDC won the 1972 presidential election.  The PCN was able to snatch victory from the jaws of electoral defeat only through blatant fraud and brutal suppression of the resulting protests” (page 1087).

Lindo-Fuentes 2007:  “By all accounts, Duarte won, but the army was not ready to relinquish power.  It resorted to blatant fraud, cracked down on Christian Democratic supporters, and even arrested and tortured Duarte.  The government declared the official candidate, Colonel Arturo Armando Molina, the winner.  Although this crackdown thwarted the Christian Democrats, the governing party’s legitimacy was also undermined” (page 91).

McClintock 1998:  “When it became clear that the UNO coalition was leading the early returns in the 1972 election, the military government stopped media coverage of the results.  The next announcement was that the official party’s candidate, Colonel Arturo Molina, had won by 1.3 percent” (page 105). 

Montgomery 1995: Gives the votes for the top two candidates as reported by UNO (Duarte wins) and by the CCE (Molina wins) (pages 64 and 279).

Schooley 1987: Gives CCE’s varying accounts of voting (page 53).

Ulloa 1991:  Son “notorios los fraudes electorales que hizo el PCN en 1972, cuando las fuerzas de oposición, integradas en la Unión Nacional Opositora, postularon como candidato a la presidencia al ingeniero José Napoleón Duarte y a la vice-presidencia, al doctor Guillermo Manuel Ungo, quienes resultaron electos por una abrumadora mayoría, situación que no fue reconocida por el Consejo Central de Elecciones” (page 19).

Wade 2003:  “Despite the fact that Duarte was leading in the polls when radio election coverage was terminated, the final tally favored the PCN.  According to official reports, the PCN won 334,600 to the UNO’s 324,756 while the UNO’s tally attributed 317,535 to the PCN and 326,968 to the UNO…The 1972 presidential elections, and the accompanying electoral fraud, was a watershed event in Salvadoran politics…The 1972 elections demonstrated…that reform through elections was unattainable. The electoral option was essentially removed from the bargaining table.  It was in this environment that popular mobilization and repression intensified” (page 39).

Walter 2000a:  Discusses the election (pages 537-539).

Webre 1979: “The political crisis that effectively ended El Salvador’s experiment in openness in 1972 resulted from the fact that the government party very nearly lost the presidential election that year” (page 141).  “Painful options:  the elections of 1972” (pages 141-183).  Gives CCE and UNO vote counts (page 171).  Gives official figures released in recount of votes (page 172).  Gives number of votes in San Salvador for UNO and PCN (page 173).

White 1973: “In the presidential election of 20 February 1972 the official party candidate won by only the narrowest of margins…The difference, 9,844 votes or 1.3 per cent of those cast, was so small that it is very reasonable to suppose that the amount of direct electoral fraud carried out in provincial areas on behalf of the official candidate could have been decisive in assuring his victory” (page 252).  Gives the two presidential candidates with the votes they received.  Discusses the election (pages 253-254).

Whitfield 1994:  “Making much of the presence of the UDN on the ticket, rabid anticommunism, intimidation, and harassment of the UNO during the campaign matured into blatant fraud on election day itself.  When the administration of the fraud broke down and a UNO victory was announced, a news blackout was imposed and Molina and the ruling PCN emerged victorious” (page 50).

Williams 1997: “The fact that the PCN faced a strong challenge on both the left and the right did not bode well for its chances on election day.  Consequently, the regime began to tamper with the electoral system in order to guarantee the triumph of its presidential, legislative, and municipal candidates.  First, the electoral council decided to hold the election for president two weeks before the scheduled date, when voting for all public offices was to have taken place.  In this manner, if Molina failed to win an absolute majority, the legislative assembly would still be under the control of the PCN when it convened to choose the next president” (pages 80-81). Describes the election and reporting of results, with the final report giving Molina 10,000 more votes than Duarte.  With no absolute majority the election goes to congress where the PCN majority (the opposition walks out) ratifies Molina by a vote of 31 to 0 (page 82).

Wood 2000:  “(W)hen press reports indicated that José Napoleón Duarte (the presidential candidate for a coalition of parties that included the PDC) was developing a lead in the 1972 elections, the military suspended press coverage and in short order proclaimed the PCN the victor” (page 230).

February 25

Anderson 1981:  “The final count put Molina in the lead by a hundred thousand votes; but because it was a four-way race, he did not have the absolute majority of votes required by the Constitution, which presented no problem, as the Assembly was controlled by the PCN and duly certified Molina the winner.  It had been a scare for the colonels, and one they had no desire of repeating” (page 143).

Baloyra 1982:  “On 25 February a hastily convened Legislative Assembly elected Molina, who had only obtained a plurality of the vote, over the objections of opposition deputies, who walked off in protest” (page 48).

Dunkerley 1985:  “Caught off-balance once again, the PCN quickly convened the National Assembly and had Molina ratified ten days early in a ceremony boycotted by all other parties and badly attended by the regime’s own deputies, many of whom could not be ferried to the capital in time” (page 85).

El Salvador.  Presidencia.  Departamento de Relaciones Públicas 1972:  “Como en las elecciones presidenciales ninguno de los candidatos obtuviera mayoría absoluta de votos, la Asamblea Legislativa, de acuerdo con el numeral 5o. del Artículo 47 de la Constitución Política y el Artículo 142 de la Ley Electoral, proclamó al Coronel Arturo Armando Molina y Dr. Enrique Mayorga Rivas, como Presidente y Vice-Presidente de la República, respectivamente, en elección de segundo grado, que tuvo efecto el 25 de febrero de 1972.  Esta designación se basó tanto en los citados preceptos, como en que los candidatos postulados por el PCN alcanzaron superioridad numérica en los comicios del 20 de febrero sobre los candidatos de la UNO, que quedaron en segundo lugar en la confrontación electoral” (pages 5-6).

Krauss 1991:  “Duarte and his leftist allies swept to victory over two right-wing candidates (including General Medrano), but the election board declared Col. Arturo Molina, the official army candidate, the victor.  Salvadorans knew the election was fixed, but the Nixon White House remained silent.  Washington was unhappy with Duarte’s Marxist allies and unwilling to endanger relations with the Salvadoran armed forces” (page 67).

Leistenschneider 1980:  “La Asamblea Legislativa de la República de El Salvador declaró electo al Nuevo Presidente Coronel Arturo Armando Molina.  La Asamblea lo eligió con 31 votos de los Diputados pecenistas” (page 237).

Ulloa 1991:  “En aquella época no existía el sistema de balotaje y por no haber alcanzado la mayoría necesaria ninguno de los dos partidos (UNO y PCN), la elección del Presidente quedó en manos de la Asamblea Legislativa, por entonces dominada por una mayoría pecenista” (page 19).

March 12: congressional and mayoral election

Baloyra 1982:  “The UNO…asked voters to deface their ballots in the upcoming legislative assembly election of 12 March.  This paid off in San Salvador, where the number of null votes from defaced ballots exceeded the combined total for the PCN and the PPS.  Under Salvadoran law the election had to be nullified, and the departmental electoral board ordered a new election on 22 March” (page 48).

Caldera T. 1983:   “(L)a dirigencia de la UNO le comunicó a su militancia que anularan la papeleta correspondiente a San Salvador, ya que había una disposición en la ley que señalaba que si más de la mitad de la votación era nula la eleción quedaba sin efecto.  La respuesta de la población fue sorprendente...Sin embargo, el Consejo Central de Elecciones sostuvo que las votaciones sólo podían anularse a petición de un partido contendiente, y como la UNO no había participado en la elección para diputados en la capital, no tenía por lo tanto, derecho a pedir nulidad” (page 25).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 6 1972:  For the March 12, 1972 elections for the Legislative Assembly gives the reason for elections, the characteristics of parliament, the electoral system, and statistics (pages 43-44). 

Dunkerley 1985:  “Two weeks later the PCN romped home in the congressional and municipal elections, in which UNO campaigned for defaced ballot papers which, if they outnumbered valid votes, would invalidate the poll.  This tactic failed although in San Salvador 75,000 papers were found to be spoilt against 70,000 cast for non-UNO candidates” (page 85).

El Salvador, año político 1971-72 1973: “Cuadro 30" (page 102).  Gives votes as reported by the CCE in the 1972 presidential and congressional elections in the department of San Salvador.  “Resultado de la votación para diputados a la asamblea legislativa y concejos municipales, 12 de marzo de 1972" (page 104).  Gives by department the votes in the congressional and mayoral elections for PCN, UNO, FUDI, and PPS, the null votes and abstentions in each election, and the registered voters.  Gives the total votes for the country in each election and the number of seats won by each party.

El Salvador 1982 1982: “(T)he PCN-controlled Consejo Central de Elecciones (CCE) disqualified the UNO assembly slate for San Salvador, the largest department and the one in which UNO had greatest support, and at least three other departments” (page 30).  Gives seats won nationwide by the UNO.

El Salvador.  Presidencia.  Departamento de Relaciones Públicas 1972:  “El 12 de marzo siguiente, se efectuaron simultáneamente las elecciones de 52 diputados y 261 Concejos Municipales de toda la República, con la postulación total o parcial, en diferentes ciudades y poblaciones, de candidatos de los partidos mencionados.  En ciertos departamentos o localidades no concurrieron a la arena electoral los candidatos de algunas de las citadas agrupaciones políticas.  Unicamente el Partido de Conciliación Nacional presentó sus aspirantes a diputados y a miembros de los cuerpos edilicios en toda la República…Las cifras anteriores, señalan el triunfo contundente que el PCN obtuvo en las elecciones de diputados y miembros de los concejos municipales” (page 6).  Gives number of municipalities and seats won by PCN, UNO, PPS, and FUDI.  “Los nuevos miembros del Congreso y gobiernos municipales fueron elegidos para ejercer durante el período de 1972 a 1974.  Los diputados tomaron posesión, el 1o de junio; y los concejos municipales, el 1o de mayo” (page 27).  “Resultado de la votación para diputados a la asamblea legislativa y concejos municipales 12 de marzo de 1972" (page 33).  Gives by department the total votes for congress and for mayoralties won by the four parties, the null votes and abstentions in congressional and mayoral elections, and the registered voters.  Gives total country votes cast in the congressional and mayoral elections and the seats won by each of the four parties.

Montgomery 1995: “(T)he CCE disqualified on technicalities UNO Assembly slates in the six largest departments in the country” (page 63).  “Duarte and the UNO then called on voters in the Department of San Salvador to deface their ballots in the Assembly elections” (page 64).  Gives number of null votes and total votes.

Walter 2000a:  “Los resultados de la elección legislativa y municipal arrojaron resultados abrumadoramente favorables al PCN.  El partido en el gobierno ganó el 75% de las diputaciones y 242 de las 261 alcaldías a nivel nacional.  Obviamente, no faltaron las denuncias de fraude e intimidación” (page 539).  Gives additional details.

Webre 1979:  “Basing its actions upon legal technicalities and formalities, the CCE tossed out the UNO’s assembly slates in the departments of San Salvador, San Miguel, Usulután, Sonsonate, La Unión, and San Vicente” (page 169).  Gives seats and municipalities won by UNO (page 174).  After the presidential election UNO “began a campaign to convince its supporters in San Salvador to deface their assembly ballots in protest against the UNO’s exclusion from the race there.  Under the Salvadoran electoral law, officials counted defaced ballots as null votes.  Any election in which null votes outnumbered the total number of valid votes was itself theoretically null and required a new election” (page 173).   Gives number of null votes cast in San Salvador department and valid votes received by the PCN and PPS together (page 174-175).  The UNO demands that the election be nullified, the departmental electoral board invalidates the election, but the PCN appeals, and the CCE reverses the lower body’s ruling and declares the results official (pages 175-176).

White 1973: Gives number of seats won by each party (page 259).

Williams 1997: UNO’s ballot-defacing campaign in San Salvador (where it has been disqualified) results in the majority of the votes cast being null (page 85).  Gives number of votes cast and number that were null (page 217).

March 25

Anderson 1981:  “Sánchez Hernández and Molina now knew who their enemies were and had a good chance at cleaning house.  Prominent persons compromised by the coup could now be exiled, and this list included such threats to the regime as Duarte and Fabio Castillo.  They remained outside the country until the coup of October 1979…(T)he government [used] the incident as a pretext for martial law and for getting rid of a number of undesirable persons in the army, the unions, and in politics” (page 144).

Brockett 2005:  “Teachers were among the major activists behind the center-left coalition’s efforts and major targets of the repression that followed.  For many, more contentious forms of struggle now appeared the only viable direction” (page 9).

Dunkerley 1985:  “Over 100 people had died and several hundred were wounded; the entire country was put under martial law and large numbers of political prisoners taken…With a good deal of help from its friends in CONDECA, the PCN had survived, but the experience of the 1972 elections meant that the already very tightly circumscribed rules of the game had been changed for good” (page 86).

Dunkerley 1988:  “(A) faction of the army’s officer corps staged a coup on 25 March” (page 361).  “As a badly beaten Duarte was put on a plane into exile it became evident that the rules of the game established by the PCN and the military high command in the early 1960s had not so much been altered as clarified:  elections could be contested but not won by the opposition” (page 362).

El Salvador, año político 1971-72 1973: Describes in detail the attempted coup, which results in Duarte’s being imprisoned, tortured, and sent into exile (pages 109-138).

Haggerty 1990: “The blatancy of the fraud employed to maintain the PCN in power outraged and disillusioned many Salvadorans, including members of the armed forces.  One faction of the officer corps, a new Military Youth, attempted to take direct action” (page 29).

Krauss 1991:  “The fixed election was unpopular even among some officers in the armed forces.  Army mavericks rebelled in protest but met the resistance of the conservative air force and army troops in the western provinces…With the democratic option closed, revolution became inevitable” (pages 67-68).

White 1973:  “A few weeks were spent by the opposition in contesting the result [of the presidential election] and claiming fraud; then, at dawn on 25 March, the commander of a garrison in the capital, Colonel Benjamín Mejía, led an attempted ‘coup’ on behalf of Duarte.  President Sánchez Hernández was taken prisoner for a few hours, and Duarte announced the formation of a triumvirate to rule provisionally.  However, the air force and other garrisons in the provinces remained on the side of ‘oficialismo,’ and by the end of the day had restored the ‘status quo’ in an action costing an estimated hundred lives, with a thousand wounded” (page 252).  “(T)hings can never be quite the same after this election.  The basis of the régime was that voting in the provinces could be kept sufficiently massively behind the official party to outweigh the far greater popularity of the opposition in the capital; and the massive rural vote for the government was only possible because of massive interference with political communication.  At the 1972 election, the opposition showed that it had already all but overcome this huge obstacle” (page 253).


Allison 2006:  “The ‘Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo’ (ERP)…formed in 1972…Unlike the other insurgent groups, the ERP consisted of a large middle class and female following.  While the FPL supported a prolonged popular war, the ERP believed that [it] was important for the people to experience the failure of reformism before they would accept and support mass insurrection” (page 54).

Dunkerley 1985:  “The ERP was set up in 1972 by radicalised Christian Democrats who, in line with the PDC’s natural constituency, came overwhelmingly from middle-class, professional and petty bourgeois backgrounds…(T)his group unhesitatingly accepted into its ranks and elevated to its leadership Roque Dalton García, the country’s most famous poet, essayist and historian” (page 92).


Castro Morán 2005:  “El 10 de julio de 1972 en un ataque preparado antes de la toma de posesión, [Molina] ordenó asaltar con tropas y helicópteros la Universidad de El Salvador” (page 183).

Leistenschneider 1980:  “(E)l 1o de julio de 1972 entregó el Mando Supremo el General Fidel Sánchez Hernández al Coronel Arturo Armando Molina” (page 237).  “Vice-Presidente, Dr. Enrique Mayorga Rivas” (page 242).

McClintock 1998:  “(I)n the aftermath of the fraudulent 1972 election, Marxist groups espousing violent alternatives grew dramatically, especially among students at the National University of El Salvador.  The FPL began to operate as a guerrilla organization immediately after the fraud, and the ERP was also formed soon afterward.  In an effort to quell the unrest at the university, it was atacked in July 1972 by military tanks and airplanes” (page 105).

Walter 2000a:  “El 10 de julio, a menos de dos semanas de su inauguración, Molina ordenó el allanamiento de la Universidad…bajo el pretexto de que había caído en manos del Partido Comunista” (page 542).

Webre 1979:  “On July 19, explaining that the institution ‘had fallen into the hands of the Communists,’ Molina secured a decree from the Legislative Assembly abrogating the university’s organic law and ordered troops to occupy the central campus in San Salvador as well as the outlying regional centers in Santa Ana and San Miguel.  Authorities arrested a number of administrators, professors, and students, deported the foreigners among them, and exiled many of the Salvadorans.  The university remained closed for more than a year and when it reopened in September, 1973, it did so under tight governmental control with a government-appointed rector” (page 185).  “The university itself was only the outward symptom of a greater cancer in Salvadoran society, conservatives charged…The time had come for forceful action.  Clandestine right-wing sources began to advocate a campaign of ‘sanitation’ against Communists wherever they might appear” (page 186).

Whitfield 1994:  “On July 19…the National University suffered a military intervention…Eight hundred people were arrested…and on July 22 the rector Rafael Menjívar and fourteen other staff members were forcibly bundled into an airplane and taken to Nicaragua.  The university would remain closed for more than a year” (page 50).


Brockett 2005:  “The FPL’s first public action came on August 22, 1972, when it set off a bomb at the Argentine embassy” (page 83).


Dunkerley 1985:  The FPL “spent two years in absolute clandestinity before it announced its existence in September 1972 after the death of a number of its members in combat.  The establishment of the ‘Fuerzas Populares de Liberación-Farabundo Martí’ (FPL) was, therefore, a rather belated but none the less important landmark in the development of the Salvadorean revolutionary left.  It was to remain the largest, most consistently radical and influential force on the left over the ensuing decade” (page 91).

Dunkerley 1988:  Salvador Cayetano Carpio “along with other prominent cadres set up the ‘Fuerzas Populares de Liberación—Farabundo Martí’ (FPL), publicly established late in 1972” (page 370).


Anderson 1981:  “(I)n the period between the two elections, a novel method of exerting political pressure had begun to assert itself:  guerrilla terrorism.  The movement began in the summer of 1973, when a group of four left-wing guerrilla fighters robbed the Bank of London and Montreal in central San Salvador” (page 145).

Baloyra 1982:  “The political defeat of the moderates in 1972 compromised reformism and destroyed the new center emerging in Salvadoran politics, leaving a radical situation with two basic characteristics.  One was the disappearance of political intermediaries between the government and major social groups and classes; the other was the more direct confrontation between the latter and a military increasingly unable to manage social conflict peacefully.  With their electoral options preempted by systematic fraud, opposition political parties could make only token participatory attempts in elections that were increasingly meaningless.  Their main purpose was no longer to try to reach power through elections but to demonstrate the dictatorial nature of the government” (page 49).

Johnson 1993:  President Molina “created the ‘Instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria’ (ISTA), placing it under the jurisdiction of the maverick Minister of Agriculture, Enrique Alvarez, a member of Salvador’s oligarchy” (page 151).

Mahoney 2001:  “In the early 1970s, still before the FMLN revolutionary alliance had coalesced, guerrilla opposition movements developed in the countryside.  These movements emerged following the fraudulent 1972 presidential election when the military manipulated the vote count to deny José Napoleón Duarte, a popular civilian candidate, an electoral victory.  After this election and a military crackdown on the University of El Salvador and urban shantytown dwellers, guerrilla warfare intensified in several areas of the country.  The military responded by expanding the presence of death squads and paramilitary organizations in the countryside.  The most notable case was ORDEN, a right-wing paramilitary/parapolitical organization that encompassed thousands of members and was openly backed by the military” (page 242).


Brockett 2005:  “As peasants became more assertive, new grievances were created.  Many participants in a successful May 1973 strike by 1,600 laborers supported by church workers at the La Cabaña sugar mill near Aguilares were later fired and had trouble finding work elsewhere or even fields to rent” (page 146).


Eguizábal 1982?:  Molina llamó a un “Seminario de Reforma Agraria, pero, esta vez, no en la Asamblea, sino directamente para los oficiales de las Fuerzas Armadas.  Del seminario no resultaron medidas concretas; la aparición de las primeras acciones guerrilleras por esta época parecen haber obligado a las autoridades a dar prioridad a las cuestiones de ‘seguridad nacional,’ sobre aquellas de ‘transformación nacional’” (page 86).

Lamperti 2006:  “At the end of August 1973, a ‘National Seminar on Agrarian Reform’ was held for officers of the armed forces” (page 116).


Lamperti 2006:  “Enrique Alvarez resigned as Minister of Agriculture on October 10, 1973 [after agrarian reform measures were delayed indefinitely]” (page 117).


Anderson 1981:  “(O)n 24 November…revolutionaries sealed off a downtown street in the capital and calmly proceeded to rob a gun store of fifty pistols and automatic weapons” (page 145).


Booth 2006:  “Beginning with the public assassination of opposition legislator and labor leader Rafael Aguinada Carranza in 1974, death squads assassinated and kidnapped dissidents, Catholic social activists, and priests” (page 102).

Brockett 2005:  “ANDES was one of the groups involved in the formation in spring 1974 of the first of the mass organizations.  Through the Frente de Acción Popular Unificada (FAPU), teachers were brought together with organized groups of peasants, students, and workers, as well as the communist party and religious workers” (page 9). 

McClintock 1998:  “As early as 1974, the ERP chose the eastern department of Morazán as its regional stronghold.  Relative to the other leftist organizations, the ERP was slow to build an allied popular organization” (page 50).

Wade 2003:  “Unions became highly politicized…as members were increasingly subject to repression.  As repression increased, the lines between membership in unions/grassroots organizations and guerrilla movements blurred.  In 1974 FECCAS and [ANDES], two of the country’s most prominent unions, joined to create the [FAPU], an umbrella union organization that enveloped unions across sectors.  Shortly after, FECCAS and ANDES left the FAPU to form the [BPR], one of the largest popular organizations with links to the FPL” (page 41).

Webre 1979:  The 1974 “elections, the first since the troubles of 1972, took place in an extremely tense political climate.  Brazen acts of political terrorism in the capital—including an armed attack upon the offices of the CCE—indicated that some elements of the opposition had no further interest in electoral politics” (page 187).

Wood 2003:  “In 1974, the Alas brothers called a national meeting of ‘campesino’ organizations, university groups, and trade unions in Suchitoto to protest the high cost of living and the imminent displacement of hundreds of families due to the construction of the Cerrón Grande dam” (page 91).  “The Suchitoto meeting in 1974 was one of the first national meetings attended by both rural and urban organizations.  Coordination across organizations deepended in the following months” (page 92).

March 10:  congressional and mayoral election

Anderson 1981:  In “the legislative and municipal elections of March 1974…the PCN used a great deal of coercion to gain an almost total victory” (page 145).

Anderson 1988: “In the mayoral and legislative elections of 1974, the PCN helped itself to 36 of the 52 Assembly seats, allowing the UNO 15, although the PDC continued to hang onto a few mayoralties, including that of San Salvador” (page 78).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 8 1974:  For the March 10, 1974 elections for the Legislative Assembly gives the purpose of elections, the characteristics of parliament, the electoral system, the general political considerations and conduct of the elections, and statistics (pages 49-50). 

Herman 1984: “In March 1974 UNO ran a full slate of candidates for the municipal and legislative elections, but this time the Central Election Board simply announced the victory of the official party, the PCN, without bothering to post the results” (page 102).

Lamperti 2006:  “The 1974 voting for city governments and national assembly delegates was again marked by fraud, even more blatant than it had been two years before.  (San Salvador, where the Christian Democrats easily won the race for mayor, was an exception)” (pages 131-132).

Montgomery 1995: No official statistics were published, gives seats won by UNO and PCN (page 67).

Walter 2000a:  “Las elecciones legislativas y municipales de 1974 también estuvieron plagadas de denuncias por parte de la UNO de incidentes de violencia e irregularidades, especialmente en las zonas rurales, donde diversos centros de votación fueron ocupados y las urnas secuestradas por los grupos de ORDEN y las escoltas militares” (page 546).

Webre 1979: “Electoral manipulation was even more obvious in 1974 than it had been in 1972; the government never got around to publishing official returns, but it claimed the PCN had captured thirty-six seats to the UNO’s combined total of fifteen and the FUDI’s one.  The UNO lost three of the twenty municipalities it held from 1972, although it retained for the sixth time the capital city.  Few people took these results seriously” (page 187). 

Williams 2003:  “In spite of fraud, the PDC-led UNO coalition decided to compete in the 1974 legislative and municipal elections” (page 308).


Anderson 1981:  “In April 1974 the FPL shot and killed the secretary of the presidency, Raymondo Pineda Rodrigo” (page 146).


Brockett 2005:  “Three mass organizations formed between 1974 and 1978.  The first was the Frente de Acción Popular Unificada (FAPU), which appeared in spring 1974.  A broad coalition centered around the Federación Cristiana de Campesinos Salvadoreños (FECCAS), it united these peasants with urban groups, including students, trade unions, teachers (ANDES), the communist party, and religious workers.  The idea for FAPU was born at a march held by these groups in Suchitoto on May 1, 1974, with the organization activated on June 21” (page 88).  “By linking peasants to urban leftist groups, such as students and teachers, FAPU brought new resources and support to organizing efforts in the countryside” (page 145).


Anderson 1981:  “Major clashes between peasant groups on one side and the security forces and ORDEN on the other had been the rule since November 1974, when there was a massacre of peasants at Cayetana which sparked a wave [of] bombings against government installations by the ERP and FPL” (page 150).

Brockett 2005:  “On other occasions during this period, the reaction to contentious peasants went beyond intimidation to violence. Most notably, in November 1974, peasants who were occupying private land further to the southeast near La Cayetana (San Vicente), were evicted, with seven killed, thirteen disappeared, and over a dozen arrested” (page 146).

Webre 1979:  The Cayetana “incident in particular contributed to the further extreme polarization of Salvadoran politics.  A young progressive priest led a crowd of ten thousand peasants in a protest demonstration before the Casa Presidencial…Following the La Cayetana incident, El Salvador’s bishops began to speak out more regularly and more loudly in condemnation of social inequities and of the use of the state’s repressive apparatus in the service of landholding interests” (page 188).


Anderson 1981:  “The concentration of wealth and especially wealth in land continued to increase after the war [with Honduras].  By 1975 8 per cent of the population controlled 50 per cent of the total wealth of the country, while 58 per cent of the people earned no more than $9.60 a month.  Of the rural population, a mere 7 per cent had aggrandized 81.3 per cent of the total land.  In terms of arable land, the concentration was even more pronounced, with 2 per cent of all farms owning 56.5 per cent of the total.  While wages remained low, prices were rising at 60 per cent a year” (pages 141-142).

Baloyra 1982:  “Molina…increased the minimum wage for agricultural workers [and] initiated a timid program of agrarian reform in 1975 by setting aside 150,000 acres of government-controlled land in San Miguel and Usulután” (page 55).  “In 1975 the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Anticomunista de Guerras de Eliminación (FALANGE) emerged, promising to exterminate all ‘Communists’ and their allies and denouncing bishops, priests, deputies, and even military officers” (page 64).

Brockett 2005:  “ANDES again was involved with the formation of a second mass organization, the Bloque Popular Revolucionario (BPR)” (page 9).  “By early 1975…FECCAS broke from its alliance with FAPU, becoming part of the [BPR] when it emerged later in the year.  This brought FECCAS into a strategic alliance with the more radical peasant group, the Unión de Trabajadores del Campo (UTC), also a BPR affiliate” (page 145).

Dunkerley 1985:  The first of the “independent right-wing terror squads…set up in 1975, was the FALANGE (‘Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional – Guerra de Exterminación’), which promised the extermination of ‘all communists and their collaborators’” (page 103).

Ladutke 2004:  “This period…saw the emergence of the right-wing death squads that would play a very prominent role in...the coming war.  The state sought to conceal its responsibility for murders and abductions through the use of groups such as the White Warriors’ Union.  Nonetheless, these paramilitary organizations maintained clandestine links to official security forces” (page 25).  The “attacks on the church were clearly intended to silence the progressive sector’s expression on behalf of the rights of the poor” (page 26).

Lindo-Fuentes 2007:  PCS party leaders “in 1975 reaffirmed their commitment to delayed insurrection and defended such tactics as forming electoral alliances with nonradical political parties” (page 208).

McClintock 1998:  “In 1975, the FPL established an alliance with the [BPR], a popular organization that included many unionized teachers, students, and peasants among its members” (page 50).

Wade 2003:  “By 1975 para-military organizations and death squads, such as the [FALANGE] and ‘Mano Blanca’, patrolled the countryside with the explicit goal of exterminating ‘communists,’ whether they be priests, students, unions leaders, peasants, or progressive politicians.  Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, former Chief of Intelligence, was instrumental in the development of these groups.  His relationship with a group of wealthy businessmen, collectively known as the [FAN], ensured their financing” (pages 42-43).

Williams 1997a:  “The dramatic growth of Pentecostalism in El Salvador after the mid-1970s is undoubtedly related to the deepening political and economic crisis that plunged the country into a unending cycle of violence and despair.  The crisis enveloping Salvadoran society affected every Salvadoran family to some degree” (page 183).


Allison 2006:  “(T)he ‘Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional’ (FARN or RN),…grew out of a division within the ERP in 1975.  Similar to the ERP…it pursued a military strategy of urban warfare” (page 54).

Brockett 2005:  “A third organization of the armed left later broke away from the ERP in 1975, when the ERP leadership murdered its best-known member, Roque Dalton, folowing dissension over strategy.  Those forming the Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional (FARN) agreed with Dalton’s critique of the ERP that its focus was too much on armed action and not enough on political work with the masses” (pages 83-84).

Dunkerley 1985:  Roque Dalton is shot on May 10, 1975 (page 94).  “Such was the outrage in response to news of the event that only the emphatic intervention and mediation of the FPL stopped a complete bloodbath…The assassination of Dalton, whose prestige was paralleled only by that of Cayetano Carpio, was enormously damaging to the ERP” (page 94).

Dunkerley 1988:  In early 1975, the historian and poet Roque Dalton is “submitted to a most cursory and cynical pretence of ‘revolutionary justice’ [by members of the ERP] and summarily executed…(A) sizeable faction of the organization left to establish ‘Resistencia Nacional’ (RN; sometimes known as ‘Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional or FARN)” (page 371).

McClintock 1998:  “Along with heads of the ERP, [Joaquín Villalobos] approved the 1975 assassination of Roque Dalton, El Salvador’s leading contemporary poet and an internationally renowned Marxist intellectual.  Dalton was arguing that the ERP’s strategy should not be exclusively military and that greater attention to political mobilization was necessary.  Dalton was charged with treason by the ERP leadership and executed.  Protesting the murder, a sizable number of members withdrew from the ERP to form the Resistencia Nacional (RN).  Agreeing with Dalton’s criticism of the ERP, the RN put a major emphasis on political action; its allied political organization was considered second only to the BPR in size.  The RN’s guerrilla organization was named the…Fuerzas Armadas de Resistencia Nacional, FARN” (page 51).

Schroeder 1995:  “(T)he RN, initially a faction within the ERP, split off after the assassination of its intellectual leader, Roque Dalton, by Joaquin Villalobos, leader of the ERP” (page 42).

Whitfield 1994:  Dalton’s “followers broke with the ERP to form a new organization, the FARN (the Armed Forces of National Resistance, often known simply as the RN), which advocated closer ties to the increasingly mobilized Salvadoran people as it criticized the overly militaristic bent of the ERP” (page 61).

Wood 2003:  “In 1975, the ERP moderated its militaristic vision after its leaders murdered one of its most prestigious members, well-known poet Roque Dalton, having incorrectly suspected him of being a CIA spy.  This catastrophic event resulted in the split of the ERP and the exit of many of the more moderate intellectuals to found a rival guerrilla organization, the National Resistance” (page 103)


Baloyra 1982:  “The creation of the ISTA brought about one of the most intense confrontations between the reformist faction of the military and enlightened elements of the industrial bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and the traditional oligarchy…on the other” (page 55).

Brockett 1998:  “The desperate need for agrarian reform intensified during the 1970s, but the regime’s only response was minor, and even that was aborted.  The government created [ISTA] in 1975” (page 133).

Dunkerley 1988:  (U)nder the supervision of Agriculture Minister Enrique Alvarez, proposals for the rural sector were pursued with unexpected vigour, leading to the establishment in June 1975 of the ‘Instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria’ (ISTA)…This was in itself a highly disturbing development for the landed bourgeoisie” (page 373).  

Durham 1979:  ISTA “was established to carry out a modest program of agrarian reforms (called ‘Transformations’ for political reasons), as promised by President Arturo Armando Molina in his inaugural address of 1972” (page 166).


Anderson 1981:  “(E)very plan the government made for improving the image of El Salvador seemed to end in disaster.  In July of 1975 the country played host to the…’Miss Universe’ pageant, spending 1.5 million dollars on it at a time when people were dying of hunger on the streets of the capital.  The opposition had a field day with this, and on 30 July there were massive demonstrations which resulted in a good deal of killing by the security forces” (page 146).

Brockett 2005:  “Students at the [Santa Ana] branch of the national university marched on July 25, protesting both [the Miss Universe pageant and a local beauty contest].  Four days later, they returned to the streets of Santa Ana with a larger march of some three thousand.  It was broken up by police…A student-led march of about two thousand in the capital on July 30, in protest of the events the day before in Santa Ana, as well as more generally against the government, was attacked by security forces.  At least fifteen were killed, dozens more injured, and many arrested.  President Molina, though, charged the marchers with a communist plot to subvert his government” (page 77).

Ladutke 2004:  “The Salvadoran government responded to growing unrest with increasing repression designed expressly for the purpose of silencing political expression.  One important landmark occurred when the National Guard opened fire on University of El Salvador students protesting against government spending on the 1975 Miss Universe pageant.  At least thirty-seven students were killed, with dozens left unaccounted for” (page 25).

Webre 1979:  “The climax of the confrontation between government and students occurred in late July…These events came at a time when political violence was becoming more intense and kidnappings and assassinations more frequent on both extremes of the ideological spectrum.  The opposition parties and the Roman Catholic hierarchy roundly condemned the shootings” (page 189).


Brockett 2005:  “The BPR presented itself as formed during the National Cathedral occupation following the July 30, 1975 massacre of the largely student marchers at the time of the Miss Universe pageant.  The BPR also presented itself as an autonomous movement, uniting individual groups that still retained their individual identities and purposes” (page 89).

Webre 1979:  “(A) sullen crowd of as many as fifty thousand capitalites walked in procession on August 1 to honor the memory of the fallen…The Defense Ministry claimed that the demonstrators had initiated the violence of July 30.  President Molina blamed the incident on Communist subversion and ‘revealed’ what he discribed as a master conspiracy on the part of the Salvadoran Communist party to seize political power—ignoring as was customary, all the evidence of a deep split between the moderate PCS and the younger radicals in the guerrilla movements” (pages 189-190).  Gives details.  “Early in August, a manifesto appeared from a group calling itself the…Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Anti-comunista de Guerras de Eliminación, FALANGE…(T)he FALANGE promised to exterminate all Communists and their collaborators in Salvadoran society…Local speculation linked the FALANGE variously to rightist elements within the military, to powerful landholding families, and to multinational corporate interests” (page 191).

Whitfield 1994:  “The spontaneous reaction to the students’ massacre took much of San Salvador by surprise.  After a memorial mass the following day a diverse group of student, labor, and ‘campesino’ associations calmly took possession of the city’s cathedral…After a drawn-out and inconclusive series of negotiations…the occupants emerged from the cathedral on August 5 to announce the formation of a broad front for the masses, the ‘Bloque Popular Revolucionario’ (Popular Revolutionary Block), BPR or ‘Bloque,’ as it was almost always known” (pages 61-62).

Wood 2003:  “The BPR was soon the largest popular organization in the country, capable of mobilizing tens of thousands of Salvadorans, even, on occasion, hundreds of thousands…This mobilization of ‘campesinos,’ workers, and students met with increasing repression on the part of the state security forces.  Particularly targeted were those elements of the Church that were seen as having encouraged ‘campesino’ mobilization” (pages 92-93).


Allison 2006:  “The ‘Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos’ (PRTC)…was formed in 1976 and operated primarily in the capital of San Salvador.  The PRTC initially formed because of its dissatisfaction with the strategies and performances of the already existing guerrilla groups” (page 54).

Baloyra 1982:  “The suppression of moderate parties advocating incremental reforms through electoral means brought about a radicalization of the opposition and an increased polarization of the political process.  To counter this, President Arturo Molina tried to implement a modest program of agrarian reform during 1975-76, which he hoped would ease tensions and increase the legitimacy of his government.  The oligarchy resisted this so ferociously and effectively that Molina was not only defeated in the initiative but rendered unable to select his successor” (page 2).

Brockett 2005:  “The violent left fragmented even further in early 1976 with the formation of the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (PRTC) out of a FARN faction” (page 84).

Dunkerley 1985:  “In 1976 FALANGE changed its name to the ‘Unión Guerrera Blanca’ (UGB, Wjite Wariors’ Union)” (pages 103-104).

Lamperti 2006:  “(I)n 1976, the Central Electoral Council refused even to register the majority of the UNO (the opposition coalition) mayoral and legislative candidates…Faced with a prearranged defeat, UNO decided not to participate at all in the rigged election in order to deny it the appearance of legitimacy” (page 132).

March 14:  congressional and mayoral election

Anderson 1981:  “A second fraudulent legislative and municipal election in March of 1976 also contributed to harming the image of the government, especially since the ruling PCN generously awarded itself every single seat in the legislature and every mayorship in the country.  Seeing this new fraud shaping up, the UNO had tried to withdraw its candidates from the races, to leave the PCN with a hollow victory” (page 147).

Anderson 1988:   The results of the mayoral and legislative elections of 1974 “so discouraged the UNO members that they were divided over participation in the 1976 elections for the same offices.  At last, they decided to withdraw from the ballot, an action that greatly displeased President Molina…Subsequently, he refused them permission to withdraw, thus forcing them to participate in the elections.  With the UNO urging nonparticipation and fraud being rampant, it is hardly surprising that the [PCN] took every seat in the legislature and every mayoralty” (page 78).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 10 1976:  For the March 14, 1976 elections for the Legislative Assembly gives the purpose of elections, the characteristics of parliament, the electoral system, the general political considerations and conduct of the elections, and statistics (pages 91-92). 

Herman 1984: “In 1976 the UNO coalition refused to participate in the local elections after some of their candidates were threatened by right wing paramilitary groups, and after the electoral boards had disqualified more than two-thirds of their slates” (page 102).

Montgomery 1995: UNO nominated no candidates (page 67).

Ni elecciones ni elegidos 1976:  “El pasado 14 de marzo tuvo lugar en El Salvador la votación para elegir diputados a la Asamblea Legislativa y alcaldes para los diversos municipios de la República.  De hecho, a la votación sólo acudió el [PCN], partido en el poder, mientras que la [UNO], coalición formada por el [PDC], el [MNR] y la [UDN], hizo público su retiro de los comicios desde finales de febrero” (page 81).  “(A)l desaparecer la alternativa, desapareció uno de los pocos vestigios de democracia formal que aún quedan en nuestro país.  Otra consecuencia inmediata es la absorción, por parte del Partido oficial, de la Alcaldía de San Salvador.  Es evidente que el Gobierno Central ha ambicionado largamente el control de este Municipio que, en El Salvador, representa un no despreciable centro de poder; pero también es evidente que el voto popular le ha sido repetidas veces adverso.  Ahora, el PCN se apodera de esta alcaldía con el voto de una minoría de capitalinas…Finalmente, una última consecuencia inmediata—de efectos imprevisibles—es que la oposición legal va a quedar marginada, por lo menos en los próximos años, respecto a cualquier mecanismo del aparato del Estado” (page 85).

Walter 2000a:  “Para los comicios de 1976, las condiciones resultaron tan desfavorables para la oposición que desistió de participar del todo” (page 546).

Webre 1979: “(T)he Legislative Assembly and municipal elections of 1976 [were] elections from which, for the first time since 1962, the opposition parties abstained ‘en masse.’  The opposition’s action came in protest against massive manipulation on the part of the government as well as against ‘reforms’ to the electoral law designed to make it more difficult to qualify candidates.  The refusal to participate on the part of the member parties of the UNO meant one more formal expression of discredit with respect to the electoral process; it also meant that the PDC, MNR, and UDN surrendered without a struggle every public office they held, including the municipality of San Salvador” (page 174).


Anderson 1981:  “The land reform scheme of 1976 was to be carried out through the Instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria (ISTA), which had been founded the previous year…This was really no more than a pilot project, a trial balloon, in fact, to test the atmosphere for land reform.  If President Molina wondered what the oligarchy would think of this, he soon found out.  Opposition quickly surfaced from the Asociación Nacional de la Empresa Privada (ANEP) and from FARO, which [are] actually two organizations, the agricultural federations of the eastern and western regions…ANEP was able to mobilize the entire strength of the private sector against the government’s proposal, which it maintained was unconstitutional and ill conceived” (page 148).

Dunkerley 1988:  When in 1976 “ISTA published a plan to transfer to 12,000 peasant families some 60,000 hectares belonging to 250 landlords in Usulután and San Miguel, glowering suspicion rapidly mutated into a pugnacious anti-government campaign...Molina was obliged to back down four months after the measure was announced” (pages 373-374).

Durham 1979:  “A second decree was issued on June 29, 1976, creating the First Project of Agrarian Transformation, a program that proposed the redistribution of some 59,000 hectares in a cotton-growing region selected for this purpose by a team of OAS experts…The announcement of the project stirred immediate controversy in El Salvador…(T)he large landowners from the project area and allies from other areas quickly formed a protest group called FARO” (page 166).

Lindo-Fuentes 2007:  “President Molina…proposed a modest land reform in 1976…The idea behind the land reform was that large landowners would be forced to sell part of their properties to the government, which in turn would distribute small plots to landless peasants.  Molina promoted his scheme as an ‘insurance policy’ against social upheaval and swore upon the army’s reputation that he would see the plan through to completion” (page 92).


Anderson 1988:   “(I)n August, the president took the country by surprise by launching a land-reform scheme designed to quell peasant protests…So great was the concentration of landholding that 60 percent of [arable] land was owned by a mere 100 families” (page 78).


Anderson 1981:  “By October 1976 the land reform scheme was dead, and so was any hope of ‘campesino’ support for the regime” (page 149).

Durham 1979:  “On October 19, after three months of heated debate, members of the Legislative Assembly bowed to the pressure, and so stiffly amended the [land reform] project as to annul it” (pages 166-167).

Krauss 1991:  Molina’s land reform efforts “ran into a violent reaction from the oligarchy.  Landowners charged that the government was turning Socialist, and Orden and death squads going by the names of the Falange and the White Warriors Union began murdering peasants.  With only lukewarm support from the [U.S.] Ford administration, Molina couldn’t stand up to the pressure, and he backtracked” (page 68).

Lindo-Fuentes 2007:  “The opposition succeeded and the land reform failed, exacerbating the longstanding frustrations of the rural poor. The defeat also radicalized middle-class reformist intellectuals, who were still angry over the electoral manipulation” (page 92).

Wood 2000:  “Perhaps the most dramatic instance of the hard-line coalition’s defeat of reformist efforts was its national mobilization against a reformist regime’s attempt at limited agrarian reform in 1976.  Despite assurances of compensation from the U.S. Agency for International Development, landlords throughout the targeted area worked together with national business organizations to defeat the proposed reform” (page 362).


Brockett 2005:  “At the national level, the pace and boldness of FECCAS-UTC activities mounted.  They presented several proposals in late 1976 to officials concerning rural wages and land rental prices.  When these overtures were rejected, simultaneous demonstrations were held in mid-November” (page 146).


Anderson 1988:   “Faced with an election that probably would be manifestly unfree, the UNO decided to pick a symbolic candidate, a hero of the Honduran war, Col. Ernesto Claramount Rozeville.  Claramount had no great political following, but he was known to be upright and courageous.  His candidacy frightened the PCN into extraordinary measures” (page 79).

Dunkerley 1985:  The FPL “restricted its operations first to selected bombings and then, increasingly, to executions of leading rightists.  This tactic was employed with spectacular success in the summer of 1977, when, within a matter of weeks, the FPL executed Mauricio Borgonovo, the Foreign Minister, ex-president Colonel Osmin Aguirre, the two senior military commanders in Chalatenango, and Dr Carlos Alfaro Castillo, the large landowner who had been appointed rector of the university.  This policy of ‘ajusticiamiento’ of reactionaries was also practised at local level and was preferred by the FPL to kidnapping” (page 92).  “(T)he regime…revised the electoral registers with an excess of efficiency for, as UNO pointed out when demanding another revision of the lists, whereas El Salvador’s population was growing at a rate of only 3.2 per cent, registered voters had risen by 11 per cent since 1972.  Over 150,000 of the new votes were ‘phantoms’, either dead, duplicated or simply dreamed up by PCN officials” (page 106).

Johnson 1993:  The “’Frente Agrario del Oriente’ (FARO) is formed in opposition to President Molina’s agrarian reform project of 1976-77” (page 185).

McClintock 1998:  “Under [Shafik] Handal, in…1977…the PCS joined the Christian Democratic Party and the [MNR] in an electoral coalition” (page 49).  “With Duarte still in exile, the UNO coalition’s standard-bearers were more mainstream than in 1972:  Colonel Ernesto Claramont, a respected retired military officer, was the presidential candidate and Antonio Morales Erlich, a conservative Christian Democrat, was the vice presidential candidate” (page 105).

Walter 2000a:  “Los partidos que constituían la UNO, pese a los amargos recuerdos de la cuestionada elección presidencial de 1972 y el cierre de los espacios políticos en las elecciones legislativas y municipales de 1974 y 1976, decidieron participar pero llevando, eso sí, a un militar como candidato a la presidencia, el Coronel Ernesto Claramount…Por su parte, las organizaciones populares de la izquierda hicieron un llamado a la abstención, con lo cual manifestaban su repudio a los procesos electorales y a los partidos políticos que todavía creían en esa opción” (page 555).

Whitfield 1994:  “By 1977 each of the three revolutionary groups would be backed by an umbrella-like popular organization bringing together the myriad of federations, unions, and associations evolving among students and workers in the cities and ‘campesinos’ empowered by the work of the Church in the countryside:  the FPL by the BPR, the RN by FAPU (Front for Unified Popular Action), and the ERP by the LP-28 (People’s Leagues of February 28).  Taken together the mass organizations constituted a popular movement that would be a defining characteristic of the revolution and war to come” (page 62).


Anderson 1981:  “In January 1977 the peasant movement found an unexpected and very powerful ally when the aged Archbishop Chávez of San Salvador retired to be replaced by Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero…Monsignor Romero was adamant that the social-justice doctrines of the Church…would be implemented in El Salvador.  He encouraged the ‘liberation theology’ of much of the younger clergy and made his weekly sermons from the National Cathedral an occasion for protest against the poverty and backwardness of his country” (page 149).

Williams 1997a:  “During the late 1970s, under the leadership of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a significant sector of the Catholic church adopted a position of prophetic denunciation, speaking out against the military regime’s human rights abuses and in support of far-reaching social transformation.  In response, the regime stepped up its persecution of church leaders, pastoral agents, and members of Christian base communities” (page 184).

February 20:  presidential election (Romero / PCN)

Anderson 1981:  “The candidate of the PCN was the former minister of war, Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero, while the UNO, with its major leaders all in exile, decided to go with a hero of the 1969 war, Col. Ernesto Claramount Rozeville.  The government planned this election as carefully as a military campaign, hooking up the PCN forces throughout the country by shortwave radio in order to assure that their candidate had the majority” (page 151).  Describes the fraud carried out by the PCN.

Brockett 1998:  “(T)he regime maintained itself in power by once again committing massive fraud in the presidential election of February 20.  Outside observers generally agreed that the slate put forth by the democratic opposition would have won the election had legality prevailed” (pages 136-137).

Byrne 1996: “The February 1977 elections were contested again by the ...UNO...whose 1972 victory was overturned by the military.  Once again the elections were marked by fraud--stuffed ballot boxes, intimidation of voters” (page 44).

Caldera T. 1983: “(P)rácticamente no hubo elecciones, ya que lo que se dio fue un asalto descarado a las urnas; las papeletas no se contaron, y en estas condiciones el PCN se atribuyó más de medio millón de votos, imponiendo a su candidato” (page 27).

Castro Morán 2005: “El 20 de febrero de 1977, llegó el día de las elecciones.  En la zona metropolitana había una asistencia masiva a las urnas.  Se notaron algunas irregularidades que hicieron esperar un fraude electoral normal.  Del interior del país llegaban noticias inquietantes…Desde temprano de la mañana las urnas se encontraban repletas con papeletas del partido oficial y se impidió la votación…ANEP proporcionaba apoyo a todo este fraude electoral…A media tarde, ya era evidente lo que estaba sucediendo.  No se trataba de un fraude electoral.  Se trataba de violencia a lo ancho y largo del país para impedir la votación, para rellenar urnas y alterar actas” (page 185).  Gives further details.

CUDI 1982: Gives number of registered voters and percent who voted (page 581).

Dunkerley 1985:   “(T)he government broke with established practice and placed all San Salvador’s 400 voting booths in an industrial fairground five miles outside the city centre, far from the ‘barrios’ inhabited by the working class.  UNO was again denied observer’s rights, the boxes were stuffed with PCN votes, paramilitary forces and troops were used to intimidate, assault and eject voters of a contrary frame of mind, and a radio network was set up to co-ordinate the PCN’s ‘campaign’.  The official result was that Romero beat Claramount by 812, 281 votes to 394,661.  At those voting stations where opposition observers had managed to maintain a presence, the vote ran 157,574 to 120,972 in Claramount’s favour” (page 106).

Dunkerley 1988:  “The elections of February 1977 fully confirmed the shift in forces that had taken place the previous autumn and seriously damaged the credibility of the electoralist opposition.  Responding to the new circumstances, UNO replaced Duarte and Ungo with Colonel Ernesto Claramount, a respected retired officer, and Antonio Morales Erlich, a conservative Christian Democrat, as its candidates.  This move…gained the support of reform-minded junior officers organized in the ‘Movimiento de la Juventud Militar’ (MJM)” (page 374).  “(T)he PCN improved upon its 1972 performance, creating 150,000 ‘phantom’ voters, situating all San Salvador’s 400 voting booths on the outskirts of the city far away from the working-class ‘barrios,’ and exploiting the outbreak of a number of industrial disputes to flood the capital with troops.  At the poll UNO was frequently denied observer’s rights, ballot boxes were stuffed, intimidation freely employed, and state radio coordination used to ensure Romero’s victory by 812,281 votes to Claramount’s 394,661” (page 375).

Herman 1984: “UNO officials intercepted military radio transmissions ordering ballot box stuffing, while UNO election officials were assaulted and evicted from polling areas.  According to credible witnesses, in the 16 voting districts where a more or less honest count was made, the UNO slate won by a three-to-one margin.  The Central Elections Council, however, announced that General Romero, the PCN candidate, was the winner by a three-to-one margin” (page 102).

Lindo-Fuentes 2007:  “In the presidential election of 1977, the army had to rely on even greater levels of fraud and violence to beat back the opposition.  A social explosion was looming” (page 92).

McClintock 1998:  “The government was more careful than in 1972 that the electoral ‘result’ would be the desired one:  150,000 nonexistent voters were created, all of San Salvador’s four hundred voting booths were situated on the outskirts of the city far from poor neighborhoods, opposition poll watchers were arrested or removed from numerous polling places, and ballot boxes were stuffed” (pages 105-106).

Wade 2003:  “The electoral fraud of 1972 was repeated in 1977 when PCN candidate Carlos Humberto Romero defeated UNO candidate, retired Colonel Ernesto Claramount.  Not surprisingly, voting irregularities were rampant” (page 43).

Webre 1979: “Opposition representatives were present to certify the results from only 920 of the country’s 3,540 boxes, nearly half in the capital area” (page 197).  Gives votes for UNO and PCN presidential candidates in those 920 boxes and official national total for each.

Williams 2003:  “For the 1977 elections, the PDC turned to a retired military officer, Colonel Claramount Rozeville” (page 308).

February 22

Lamperti 2006:  “On February 22, 1977, two days after the stolen presidential election, Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez became Archbishop of San Salvador, the highest office of the Catholic Church in the nation.  His appointment was disappointing to progressive elements in the Church, for Romero had been no friend of liberation theology or of Medellín.  He was chosen by the Vatican with the support of the Salvadoran elite in the belief that he was thoroughly conservative and would cause no problems between Church, government, and oligarchy” (page 139).

February 24

Dunkerley 1985:  “On 24 February, four days after the poll, the official result was confirmed.  Claramount, declaring that the legal path was now exhausted, led a march of some 40,000 UNO supporters into the capital’s main plaza and refused to move until the elections were annulled” (page 106).

February 28

Anderson 1981:  “A massive demonstration took place for a week in downtown San Salvador at the Plaza Libertad…Finally, on 28 February the government massed thousands of ORDEN volunteers and security forces, who savagely attacked the square, killing an estimated two hundred.  Colonel Claramount and some of his followers took sanctuary in the nearby cathedral, only to be routed out and arrested.  Claramount then joined Duarte, Castillo, and the rest of the exile community” (page 151).

Brockett 2005:  “With announcement of the fraudulent results, protesters occupied the central plaza in San Salvador; their numbers grew to around 15,000 after a week.  On February 28, police issued a warning to disperse and then assaulted the 1,500 to 2,000 protesters remaining in the plaza” (page 233).

Dunkerley 1985:  “The occupation of the plaza lasted over three days but failed to lead either to a general strike or the expected coup d’etat.  As in 1972, UNO was waiting for ‘something to happen’ while the workers were waiting for UNO to give a lead; it never did.  Early on the morning of 28 February, large numbers of troops cordoned off the plaza, where some 6,000 demonstrators were left…Claramount and a group estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000 took refuge in the Church of El Rosario…Eventually, at 4 p.m., the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador and the Red Cross organised a truce and guaranteed the evacuation of the plaza.  Claramount went into exile…At daybreak demonstrators returned to the city centre, burning cars and attacking government buildings.  The troops fired with intent to kill.  Some 200 people died” (page 107).

Wade 2003:  “To protest, Claramount and his supporters (a crowd that grew to 50,000 in a few days) gathered in the Plaza Libertad in San Salvador.  National police opened fire on the crowd killing dozens.  Claramount fled into exile” (page 43).

Walter 2000a:  “Los resultados electorales, anunciados cinco días después de los comicios por el Consejo Central de Elecciones, le dieron al General Romero una victoria aplastante:  812,281 votos contra 394,661 para el Coronel Claramount.  La UNO rechazó los resultados y procedió a presentar evidencias de fraude masivo” (page 555).


Anderson 1981:  “Father Grande had emerged as a leader of the peasant community.  In protest at this murder, the archbishop had all the churches of the country closed, except for the cathedral, where he celebrated a commemorative mass attended by over one hundred thousand people” (page 150).

Baloyra 1982:  “In March 1977, Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., an organizer of peasants in Aguilares, was killed” (page 64).  “In March 1977 relations between El Salvador and the United States reached a low point when the government of Molina rejected U.S. attempts to link military assistance to observance of human rights, refusing the aid altogether” (page 65).

Brockett 1998:  “Grande tried to maintain a separation between his religious work and political activities, but many of those affected by the teachings of his team became active in political organizations, especially FECCAS.  As popular mobilization grew, the right blamed the transformation on church people who espoused liberationist messages” (page 137).

Brockett 2005:  “The peasant organizations…switched to more aggressive tactics in the following months, occupying lands through the center of the country in the departments of San Salvador, La Paz, San Vicente, and Cuscatlán.  These invaded lands then became major sites of confrontation between the peasant organizations and the government across the next year or so.  For example, when the military invaded and occupied Aguilares and neighboring El Paisnal in March 1977, defiling its church and murdering the region’s leading activist priest, Father Rutilio Grande, among its objectives was the eviction of peasants from lands previously occupied in the area” (pages 146-147).

Dunkerley 1988:  “The death squads first acquired international renown for their attacks on the Church, and in particular the Jesuit order…The government fully subscribed to this view” (page 376).

Haggerty 1990: “United States military aid had been rejected by the Romero government in 1977 when the Carter administration sought to link disbursement to human rights compliance” (page 38).

Lamperti 2006:  “The satisfaction of conservatives with their new archbishop was short lived, for almost at once Romero seemed to undergo a conversion of, so to speak, Biblical proportions.  The apparent final straw was not the massacre of February 28, although that was related; rather, it was the murder on March 12 of a close friend [Father Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit]” (page 139).

Wood 2003:  “In 1977, Rutilio Grande, a Salvadoran Jesuit and the parish priest of Aguilares, was killed as part of a rightist campaign in which more than thirty priests were jailed, tortured, expelled, or assassinated” (page 93).


Baloyra 1982:  “The UGB…emerged in April, during the crisis over the Borgonovo kidnapping” (pages 64-65).

Lamperti 2006:  “In April 1977 the FPL captured the foreign minister of Colonel Molina’s government, Mauricio Borgonovo Pohl.  The kidnappers did not want money for his freedom; instead they demanded the release of 37 political prisoners…Molina refused to negotiate” (page 141).


Anderson 1981:  “On May 17 two thousand army troops and Guardia, aided by ORDEN, stormed the Aguilares area.  They evicted peasants from lands they had been sharecropping around Paisnal and shot down fifty peasants…Hundreds more were arrested and of these many simply ‘disappeared’ forever…On the day before the invasion of Aguilares, a diocesan priest, Father Alfonso Navarro, was murdered by the UGB in San Salvador because of his radical views” (page 151).

Baloyra 1982:  “In revenge [over the assassination of Mauricio Borgonovo by the FPL] the Unión Guerrera Blanca (UGB) took the life of Fr. Alfonso Navarro, a diocesan priest” (page 64).

Lamperti 2006:  “Borgonovo Pohl was assassinated on May 10” (page 141).


Baloyra 1982:  “(I)n June [UGB] issued a death threat against all Jesuits residing in El Salvador.  The escalating conflict between the church and the government had very profound consequences.  First, the deepening rift was one of the proximate causes in the deterioration of the Romero government…A second important consequence of the repression against Catholic activists was the public outcry abroad” (page 65).


Baloyra 1982:  “President Carlos Humberto Romero…[unleashed] the security forces and paramilitary assassination squads on his increasingly mobilized opposition.  Romero’s public order law and the excesses of his government attracted a lot of international attention.  Guerrilla groups and popular organizations emerged as the principal opposition to Romero.  Relations with the United States deteriorated considerably” (page 2).

Castro Morán 2005:  “El Gral. Romero, tomó posesión de la Presidencia de la República el 1 de julio de 1977, en forma totalmente ilegítima y arbitraria.  El compromiso que tenía con ANEP, como retribución a la ayuda financiera que le había proporcionado, era la de ofrecerle la máxima seguridad a sus miembros, tanto personal como a sus empresas” (page 189).

Leistenschneider 1980:  “General Carlos Humberto Romero (salvadoreño) gobierna como presidente del 1o de Julio de 1977…Vice-Presidente Dr. Julio Ernesto Astacio López” (page  249).

McClintock 1998:  “The 1977 ‘elections’ brought to power General Carlos Humberto Romero, who was more hard-line than his predecessor Molina.  Romero spurned all reformist measures and sought only to repress the nation’s increasingly militant popular organizations” (page 106).

Walter 2000a:  “El 30 de julio de 1977, el BPR organizó su primera marcha en San Salvador, la cual se desarrolló sin incidentes” (page 557).


Anderson 1981:  “The rector of the National University was also killed in September.  This perhaps made better sense in revolutionary terms; for the university, following the unsuccessful coup in 1972, had been placed under direct government control, and the rector was hated by the students for his repressive tactics” (page 146).

Brockett 2005:  “In September 1977, the Rector of the University of El Salvador was killed by the FPL” (page 87).


Anderson 1981:  “Because of the persistence of peasant unrest and guerrilla terrorism, the new president…decided that a stringent new law would be necessary.  This is the ‘ley de orden,’ of 24 November 1977.  In effect the ‘law of order’ set up a modified permanent state of seige, setting penalties for those who might ‘propagate, promote or make use of their personal status or position to spread doctrines…that tend to destroy the social order or the political and juridical organization established by the Political Constitution’…With such a sweeping law President Romero could take action against virtually anyone for anything” (page 152).

Baloyra 1982:  “The Public Order Law was practically a license to kill…(T)here was a stunning increase in acts of violence against an opposition which the Public Order Law had put in the category of subversive.  Under Romero, government violence reached epidemic proportions” (page 66).

Castro Morán 2005:  “Romero deseaba contar con un instrumento legal que le permitiera aplastar por la fuerza, todo reclamo, oposición o protesta popular.  La Asamblea Nacional Legislativa pecenista, fiel a sus deseos, se apresuró a dictar la ‘Ley de Defensa del Orden Público,’ desde todo punto de vista inconstitucional.  Esta Ley, vino a cerrar todas las válvulas de escape que podía tener el pueblo salvadoreño para manifestar su repudio al Gobierno” (page 189).  Gives details.

Dunkerley 1985:  “The law remained in force from December 1977 to March 1979, a period of constantly increasing repression which was met by continued guerrilla activity and worker and peasant resistance” (page 116).

Eguizábal 1982?: “Al cerrar toda posibilidad de protesta política institucionalizada, el régimen favoreció el desarrollo de la oposición política ilegal, controlada por organizaciones de extrema izquierda.  La oligarquía, por su parte, aterrorizada por los éxitos de esas organizaciones y por la incapacidad de los militares para eliminarla, empezó a tomar su defensa en manos propias.  Así es como aparecieron, en 1977, la Unión Guerrera Blanca y, poco tiempo después, MANO... Frente a la contestación violenta, el régimen respondió con la Ley de Defensa y de Garantía al Orden Público, adoptada en noviembre de 1977, por medio de la cual se suspendían legalmente todas las garantías individuales” (page 87).

Williams 1997: On November 25th Romero enacts the “Law for the Defense and Guarantee of Public Order, effectively giving the army and security forces carte blanche to wage their war against the popular organizations” (page 91).


Dunkerley 1988:  “This draconian law [Ley de Defensa y Garantía al Orden Público] remained in force from December 1977 to March 1979, providing legal cover for increased government violence” (page 377).


Anderson 1988:   Only the PCN and the PPS participate in the local elections of 1978 (page 78).

Baires Martínez 1994:  “El mayor Roberto D’Aubuisson pertenecía al sector de inteligencia de la Guardia nacional y en ese carácter recibió entrenamiento en Taiwan.  En 1978 fue designado jefe de la ANSESAL, una central nacional de inteligencia dependiente directamente de la presidencia de la república” (page 41).

Brockett 2005:  “(T)he Ligas Populares 28 de Febrero (LP-28) [was formed] in 1978…LP-28 clearly was formed by the ERP” (page 88).  “(T)he two peasant groups [FECCAS and UTC] merged in 1978 into the Federación de Trabajadores del Campo (FTC)” (page 145).

Mahoney 2001:  “By 1978, when the notoriously repressive administration of Carlos Humberto Romero was in power, paramilitary security forces had completed a transition from primarily repressing urban actors to primarily assaulting peasant organizations” (page 242).


Anderson 1981:  “The election massacre, the invasion of Aguilares and El Paisnal, and the ‘ley de orden’ now brought down upon the government two human rights missions from abroad.  One was from the OAS and…the other was an unoffical mission headed by Congressman Robert Drinan of the United States [a Jesuit priest]; and both arrived in January 1978.  Plainly worried about its image abroad, the government of El Salvador did its best to cooperate with both these investigations” (page 153).


Anderson 1981:  “A new major clash…occurred in late March of 1978 when ORDEN supporters tangled with members of the Bloque at San Pedro Perulapán” (page 153).

Brockett 2005:  “Protest activities by FECCAS-UTC often were met with violence by ORDEN.  A particularly notable example was the sequence of events that occurred at the end of March 1978 during Holy Week” (page 147).  Describes the events.

Durham 1979:  “In the years since the Soccer War, [FECCAS and UTC] have played an important role in the growing numbers of land invasions in rural areas.  One such invasion in the municipality of San Pedro Perulapán was violently repressed in March 1978 by the combined action of the Salvadorean armed forces and a rural rightwing paramilitary group called ORDEN.  The incident…dramatically emphasized the land problems that continue to confron the rural poor of El Salvador” (page 167).

March 12:  congressional and  municipal election

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 12 1978:  For the March 12, 1978 elections for the Legislative Assembly gives the purpose of elections, the characteristics of parliament, the electoral system, the general political considerations and conduct of the elections, and statistics (pages 63-64). 

Dada Hirezi 1978:  “El proceso electoral, que culminó con la votación del 12 de marzo pasado, no logró provocar en la ciudadanía el más mínimo enthusiasmo.  La indiferencia casi absoluta, reinó durante el período dedicado a la campaña política; la ausencia del electorado fue la característica el día de la votación; el desinterés con respecto a los resultados ha sido la tónica del período post-electoral…Para los partidos que habían constituido la UNO (PDC, MNR, UDN), las condiciones en que se realizaría la contienda electoral de este año los obligaron a negarse a participar en ella” (page  248).  “Los resultados obtenidos en un proceso electoral de esta naturaleza, interesan poco.  Los resultados obtenidos en un proceso electoral de esta naturaleza, interesan poco.  Las denuncias de fraude, de presiones a los votantes, de alteración de actas, etc., hechas por la mayoría de candidatos del PPS—y que no tuvieron eco en su directiva central—no sirven más que para dar la razón a quienes no creyeron que se llevaría a cabo un proceso electoral libre” (page 249).


Anderson 1988:  “FAPU, beginning a new tactic, seized the Red Cross headquarters at the end of December 1978, as well as the Mexican embassy, holding a total of 120 hostages and demanding the release of political prisoners and ‘desaparecidos’” (page 83).


Brockett 2005:  “Once the PCS embraced armed struggle in 1979, there were five armed organizations fighting to bring revolution to El Salvador” (page 84).

Dunkerley 1985:  “Late in 1979 the PRTC established the ‘Movimiento de Liberación Popular’ (MLP), the smallest of the popular organisations and formed too late to impose its individual stamp before the country slid into civil war” (page 102).

McClintock 1998:  “By the late 1970s the BPR was the largest leftist organization in El Salvador, numbering approximately sixty thousand, and it regularly coordinated mass demonstrations and strikes” (page 50).


Whitfield 1994:  “On January 20, 1979…the National Guard drove tanks straight through the closed gateway of a retreat house in San Antonio Abad, killing the young priest leading the retreat, Octavio Ortiz, and four of the teenage participants…Ortiz had been the first priest that [Monsignor] Romero had ordained and was the fourth of the eleven priests to be killed between 1977 and 1980” (page 119).


Anderson 1988:  “The pace of assassinations was…maintained, with the FPL killing the mayor of the second largest city, Santa Ana, and the Israeli honorary consul in the very month the ‘Ley de Orden’ was repealed” (page 83).

Baloyra 1982:  “Romero had to repeal the Public Order Law in February 1979 under intense pressure from the Carter administration, the Catholic church, international organizations, and even some elements of the Salvadoran private sector and military” (page 73).

Brockett 2005:  “Contentious activities…exploded when the Public Order law was removed at the end of February 1979.  Some of the top military wanted to continue the crackdown against the still growing threat from the left” (page 234).  Romero “revoked the Public Order Law under pressure from the Carter administration in the United States and moderate forces within El Salvador” (page 297).

Whitfield 1994:  The “hated Law of Public Order had been rescinded in February after the government suffered a highly critical report on its violations of human rights from the Organization of American States” (page 118).


Anderson 1988:  “In March 1979, there was a massive series of strikes, and the BPR launched a series of demonstrations on behalf of the strikers, often tangling with the security forces in the process” (page 83).

Dunkerley 1985:  March 1979:  “Strike movement leads to repeal of Law for the Defence of Public Order” (page 291).

Dunkerley 1988:  “The official restitution of constitutional guarantees in March 1979 had no effect on the incidence of violence” (page 378). 


Anderson 1988:  “In April, the government conducted an anti-‘Bloque’ sweep in Cuscatlán…In retaliation, the BPR occupied the Venezuela, Costa Rican, Panamanian, and Swiss embassies, while FAPU again seized the Red Cross headquarters.  They were soon forced to withdraw, and on 2 April, Facundo Guardado, the secretary general of the BPR, was arrested along with several other leaders of the movement…Immediately after the seizure of Guardado, his supporters occupied the cathedral of San Salvador, although they had no quarrel with the archbishop, in order to dramatize the arrest” (pages 83-84).


Baloyra 1982:  “In May the government organized a National Forum in a desperate attempt to ease tensions and tried to point to the next scheduled elections as a possible solution to the crisis” (page 73).

Brockett 2005:  “Mass contention—and state violence—dominated May 1979…On May 4, the BPR seized the embassies of Costa Rica and France, as well as the National Cathedral…The same day, guerrillas attacked rural security and paramilitary forces…The police opened fire on a BPR rally at the Cathedral on May 8…In response, over the next several days some 20,000 marched in protest, the BPR seized the Venezuelan embassy and then churches in at least five different towns” (page 297).  “These actions were followed once again by massacre.  On May 22, activists tried to bring supplies to the group occupying the Venezuela Embassy.  Police fired into the crowd of protesters outside the embassy…The next day, the FPL murdered the Minister of Education and his chauffeur in revenge.  The government slapped down a state of siege for the next two months” (page 298).

Crónica del mes.  Mayo 1979 1979:  “El asesinato del Ministro de Educación y del chofer que lo conducía, en la mañana del 23 de mayo, cerró el paso a la etapa anterior y a las posibilidades de un diálogo amplio.  Una prolongada reunión del Gabinete concluyó con la implantación del estado de sitio aprobado por la Asamblea Legislativa.  El estado de sitio no ha sido simplemente una medida de emergencia para una situación convulsionada.  Ha sido el triunfo de las fuerzas de derechas sobre la línea del Presidente, quien se ha resistido varias veces a aceptar las presiones que se lo exigían.  Ese triunfo ha exaltado a las derechas, que se disponen a implantar un régimen de terror.  Ha significado de hecho el abrir la puerta a los grupos extremistas y al terrorismo de derechas, que en las tres primeras semanas del mes se mantuvieron a la espectativa, sin intervenir ni pronunciarse.  Con la implantación del estado de sitio sin embargo, se ha desatado toda una campaña de terrorismo de derechas.  Por todo el país van siendo asesinados, o apareciendo sus cadáveres rematados y desfigurados, dirigentes de izquierda, del BPR, y principalmente de ANDES” (page 451).

Dunkerley 1988:  “In early May militants of the BPR occupied the metropolitan cathedral, several other churches, and some embassies and schools to demand the release of eight “Bloque’ leaders arrested by the regime.  Romero again responded…by reimposing martial law and authorizing the troops to fire on demonstrators outside the cathedral…Unlike similar events in 1977 the foreign media were now on hand” (page 379).

McClintock 1998:  “As late as May 1979…the PCS continued to extol the electoral process as the exclusive revolutionary path in El Salvador” (page 52).

Whitfield 1994:  “Trucks rolled into the cathedral square and disgorged police and guardsmen.  Before the demonstrators had time to register their presence, they had opened fire…The whole thing was filmed by a cameraman from CBS television.  As protests flooded in, the seriousness of the mistake became clear even to General Romero...El Salvador was becoming ungovernable” (page 119).


Whitfield 1994:  “Between January and June…there would be 406 people killed by the army, the security forces, and the paramilitary ORDEN (now a force of between 50,000 and 100,000 people) and 307 captured for political reasons” (page 118).


Baloyra 1982:  “In an attempt to engage the moderate opposition in a ‘dialogue’ with civilian members of the government…Romero lifted the state of siege on 24 July…But Romero refused to meet the conditions of the opposition, which included the dissolution of the death squads, a general amnesty, the return of exiles, an end to repression, and, in sum, a return to the rule of law.  Neither the PDC, the main quarry in Romero’s campaign, nor the church hierarchy participated in the ‘dialogue’…The fall of Anastasio Somoza, on 17 July 1979, marked a turning point in the Salvadoran crisis.  Shortly thereafter, Romero’s government began to disintegrate” (page 84).

Brockett 2005:  “(T)he Nicaraguan Revolution triumphed in mid-July in the face of tremendous regime violence, giving encouragement to Salvadoran challengers and increasing U.S. concerns that Romero was creating conditions for the same outcome in El Salvador” (page 298).


Baloyra 1982:  “In August, following the failure of Romero’s attempt at dialogue, the opposition organized its own caucus, the Foro Popular, which attracted the participation of an impressive array of organizations of different ideological persuasions” (page 85).  “The Foro Popular:  participants and platform” (page 87).

Cronología de sucesos relacionados con la crisis política de El Salvador 1982:  Agosto 2 “Es asesinado el Padre Alirio Napoleón Macias, el sexto de los religiosos muertos desde que asumió el poder el Presidente Carlos Humberto Romero.  [Agosto 16] El Presidente Romero, en un intento de variar su línea política, prometió celebrar elecciones verdaderamente libres y supervisadas por la OEA;…reformar la Ley Electoral; aceptar la renuncia de los miembros del Consejo Central de Elecciones…Elementos de extrema derecha del capital y de sectores del ejército consideraron que el nuevo programa de Romero es inaceptable, y que por ese camino se iba al comunismo” (page 344).


Anderson 1981:  “The kidnappings, assassinations, and bombings by the ERP, FPL, FARN, and other groups reached a new high in September 1979, encouraged by the fall of Somoza in Nicaragua” (page 154).

Brockett 2005:  “In September 1979, the brother of President Romero was murdered by the FPL” (page 87).

Cronología de sucesos relacionados con la crisis política de El Salvador 1982:  Septiembre 4 “El Dr. Guillermo Manuel Ungo da a conocer la Plataforma del Foro Popular, organismo integrado por los partidos MNR, PDC, UDN y las principales federaciones sindicales.  Están en este foro el PUCA y como observadores el FAPU y las LP-28” (page 344).

Dunkerley 1988:  “By early September the momentum of demonstrations, strikes, occupations, guerrilla attacks and almost ritual burning of buses—a favoured tactic of the Salvadorean left—had plainly brought the regime to the verge of collapse…Washington’s requests for Romero to resign met with no more response than had those directed at Somoza.  At the same time important forces of the left and centre took a leaf out of the FSLN’s book and complicated the political scene further still in setting up a new alliance [on September 20, 1979].  The ‘Foro Popular’ was in many respects similar to UNO, but in addition to the PDC and the MNR, it included the LP-28 and FENASTRAS as well as independent unions and professional associations in supporting a minimum programme for free elections, political pluralism, respect for human rights and economic reform.  The BPR, however, did not join, declaring 1980 ‘the year of liberation’” (page 380).

Walter 2000b:  “Una de las vías políticas para solventar la crisis que creó ciertas expectativas en Washington fue la creación del llamado ‘Foro Popular’ en septiembre de 1979, una alianza de partidos políticos (PDC, MNR, UDN), sindicatos (FENASTRAS) y organizaciones populares (LP-28) que propugnaban por un programa de reformas económicas, elecciones libres, pluralismo político y respeto por los derechos humanos.  El Foro estaría en disposición de negociar con el régimen, pero el presidente Romero se resistió a cualquier iniciativa de adelantar las elecciones o alterar las medidas contra las organizaciones de la izquierda radical” (page 570).

October 15:  government overthrown (first junta—October 15, 1979-January 3, 1980)

Baires Martínez 1994:  “Cuando se produjo el golpe del 15 de octubre de 1979, D’Aubuisson pasó a retiro y la ANSESAL fue disuelta; el mayor mantuvo, sin embargo, vinculaciones con un centenar de oficiales de las fuerzas de seguridad…La vinculación de ANESAL con ORDEN permitió a D’Aubuisson reconstruir, con relativa rapidez, una red de fervientes derechistas a escala nacional, y con fuerte implantación en las áreas rurales.  Los antiguos miembros de ORDEN hallaron así una inserción segura en un medio político particularmente turbulento, y en el que habían quedado desplazados del poder” (page 41).

Baloyra 1982:  “The bloodless coup of October 1979 was an attempt to inaugurate a government based on a new political model in El Salvador.  However, this attempt excluded the popular organizations, and this, viewed in the context of the last thirty years of Salvadoran politics, constituted a major strategic mistake, since it compromised the chances that the process of transition initiated then could result in a genuinely democratic outcome.  The new coalition could not be consolidated, nor could the Salvadoran political system regain its equilibrium, unless the economic power and the political influence of the oligarchy were neutralized and the role of the military institution redefined” (page 73-74).  “From the very moment of the coup the Right had embarked on a program to eliminate important figures in both the government and the opposition camps.  These efforts were intended to frustrate and demoralize the government, to make it more difficult for the PDC to remain in the junta, and further to alienate the opposition from the government.  More and more frequently, the tactic that the Right chose was the assassination of prominent figures” (pages 111-112).

Brockett 2005:  “On October 15, 1979, progressive junior military officers threw out the dictator.  Reaching out to civilian counterparts, they hoped that with reform together they could stop the polarization and the violence.  Instead of their hopes for civil peace, leaders of the new government found that the contention and violence of the 1970s was but a prelude to terrible tragedy.  The right played a major role in sabotaging the new government’s efforts.  So, too, did the radical left” (page 94).  “Persuaded that the junta was only a temporary stage prior to victory by the masses, the left fully utilized the political opening provided by the junta with constant contentious activities” (page 235).  “The reformist military group was not in control of the military as an institution—it was just the faction that got its plans for a coup in motion first.  Most powerful within the military were the moderate-conservative and the hard-right factions.  Their own coup plans frusturated, in the months that followed they further solidified their domination of the military, unleashing violence as necessary” (page 236).

Cáceres P. 1990:  “El punto de partida obligado para cualquier análisis de la situación salvadoreña actual y futura es el golpe de estado del 15 de octubre de 1979, momento coyuntural de singular importancia en la maduración de la crisis del sistema de dominación imperante” (page 333).  “El programa de la Junta Cívico-Militar que se instaló el 15 de octubre de 1979 tras derrocar al presidente general Romero pudo haber alterado el cauce de la protesta popular, que a esas alturas era crecientemente marcado por distintas organizaciones político-militares.  Al fracasar, tras un breve período de mes y medio, se definieron las condiciones bajo las que se desembocaría a una nueva situación que llega hasta el presente” (page 334).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 14 1980:  Following a coup d’etat on 15 October 1979, a revolutionary junta composed of two colonels and three civilians seized power in the country and, ‘inter alia,’ disolved the Legislative Assembly” (page 11).

Córdova Macías 1998: “The coup d’état of October 15, 1979, is an event that is crucial for understanding Salvadoran politics during the past fifteen years.  It marked the breakdown of the authoritarian regime that had ruled in prior decades and is the origin of the political transition” (page 142).

Dunkerley 1988:  “After 1979 the oligarchy was able to exploit both its influence over the military and growing US acquiescence to sabotage many of the reforms that the latter insisted and the former gradually accepted should at least be kept on the statute book and given prominence in public relations.  However, the scale of the crisis following the coup of October 1979 pushed the landed bourgeoisie into involvement in party politics for the first time in nearly fifty years” (page 351).  Describes the composition of the new government (pages 386-387).  “If on paper the regime assembled in the last weeks of October seemed to have all the trappings of a major new social pact, in practice it soon proved to be an unworkable confection.  This was less because it was, as Washington would persistently claim, besieged from right and left alike than because its rightist members refused to allow the government’s founding program to be put into effect, thus setting it on an inevitable collision course with the popular movement…The formal dissolution of ORDEN merely prompted its reincarnation under the title of the ‘Frente Democrático Nacional’” (page 387).

Eguizábal 1982?: “No hay duda de que la Proclama del 15 de octubre constituye el programa más radical que las fuerzas armadas le hayan propuesto jamás al país...Desde el punto de vista político, prometen elecciones libres, con la participación de partidos de todas las tendencias ideológicas” (page 89).

Gould 2008:  “On 15 October 1979 reformist elements in the military overthrew the rightist military regime, the most repressive since Martínez.  The civilian-military regime that took over the reins of government had a forceful reformist and democratizing agenda that offered tremendous hope to most Salvadorans, including those identified with the left.  But the regime proved unable to contain the paramilitary and military forces on the right, and some of the guerrilla groups responded with violent resistance” (page 264).

Haggerty 1990: “(I)n a climate of extreme violence, sharp political polarization, and potential revolution, yet another generation of young officers staged a coup in an effort to restore order and address popular frustrations” (page 34).  “The Carter administration had lost considerable leverage in El Salvador when the Romero government renounced United States aid in 1977.  The United States therefore welcomed the October 1979 coup and backed up its approval with an economic aid package that by 1980 had become the largest among Western Hemisphere recipients.  A small amount of military aid also was provided” (pages 41-42).

Johnson 1993:  “From late 1979 until the elections for a Constituent Assembly in 1982, there was virtually no input, dialogue, consultation or bargaining between the rulers and the ruled over the most important issues facing the country.  Instead, the state was nominally governed by three successive five-member ‘juntas.’  This dimension of the political crisis was symptomized by the popular mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans and the formation of new groups among all sectors of society as they sought to pressure the government” (pages 159-160).

Krauss 1991:  “Led by young officers, the new junta pledged both an end to repression and sweeping reforms, including a nationalization of the banks and a land redistribution designed to break the back of the oligarchy…It was El Salvador’s last hope—a compromise coalition government.  Within days of the coup, José Napoleón Duarte returned from his seven-year Venezuelan exile to lead his Christian Democratic party and prepare for the free elections promised by the junta” (page 70).  “Through late 1979 and 1980, there were actually two governments.  One was the junta, which was led by army moderates Col. Jaime Abdul Gutiérrez and Col. Adolfo Majano, along with a revolving-door assortment of civilians including Jesuit University rector Román Mayorga, social democrat Guillermo Ungo, and finally Duarte.  The second government consisted of a clandestine network that worked out of the intelligence branches of the security forces and the army.  While the junta called for dialogue with the left and army restraint in dealing with a plethora of pro-guerrilla union strikes, demonstrations, and land occupations, the shadow government was at work massacring protesters and leaders of the democratic left…This was the most crucial moment in modern Salvadoran history, as the moderates who survived in the junta struggled openly against both the far-right and the far-left.  The only actor who might have been powerful enough to propel events toward a centrist outcome was the Carter administration.  But unable to reconcile his human rights policy with a commitment to anticommunism, Carter waivered” (page 71).  “In its early days, the junta moved to abolish Orden and Ansesal and to cashier dozens of right-wing officers, including National Guard intelligence chief Maj. Roberto D’Aubuisson…D’Aubuisson [took] Ansesal’s files on the country’s leftists from the presidential house.  Those files, which the CIA had designed more than a decade before, would now be used to kill thousands of people and destabilize a junta that the Carter administration officially supported” (page 72).

Lindo-Fuentes 2007:  “Events around the rest of Central America heightened political tensions in El Salvador…The far right in El Salvador became all the more convinced that its hard-line defense was correct.  But a reformist faction in the Salvadoran Army believed that one final, massive reformist push could keep El Salvador from falling off the edge.  In October 1979 these reformist officers orchestrated a coup d’état with the support of progressive civilians.  This coup was the last-ditch effort to introduce needed reforms and deflect demands for revolutionary change.  Once again, stout resistance from conservative elements in the army doomed the effort” (page 92).

Mahoney 2001:  “In October 1979, in the wake of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, young military officers working actively with progressive civilian leaders overthrew the Romero administration.  The military-civilian junta that came to power was the first step in a long road toward civilian rule and the military’s return to the barracks” (page 242).

McClintock 1998:  “On 15 October 1979, General Romero was ousted, and El Salvador’s post-1948 political regime ended” (page 106).  “Between 1979 and 1982, various civilian-military juntas governed El Salvador” (page 107).  “The years 1979-82 were the period of most intense repression by the military and paramilitary in El Salvador.  Although the Christian Democratic Party was a nominal governing partner in most of the civilian-military juntas during this period, it appeared unable to moderate the behaviour of the Salvadoran military…Socorro Jurídico, the legal support group of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Salvador…estimated total civilian deaths at 1,000 in 1979, 9,000 to 10,000 in 1980, and 12,500 in 1981…The victims included political party leaders, members of the popular organizations, and peacefully demonstrating groups” (page 108).  “During this period, the Salvadoran military and civilian elites were reluctant to open the electoral process not only to Marxist-left participants but also to the Christian Democratics.  Death squads killed approximately 500 Christian Democratic Party members, including about seventeen mayors” (page 115).

Motley 1983: “The proclamation of the armed forces issued on October 15, 1979, within hours of the coup by reformist military officers...states as two basic goals: ‘To create an environment favorable for the carrying out of truly free elections within a reasonable period of time,’ and ‘To permit the organization of political parties of every ideology, in such a way as to strengthen the democratic system’” (page 2).

Paige 1997:  “On October 15, 1979, the coalition between the Salvadoran oligarchy and the military collapsed when young officers, faced with armed guerrilla groups and an upsurge of urban and rural protest, and terrified by the Nicaraguan revolution of the previous July, staged a military coup and initiated a series of reforms directed squarely at the institutional power of the coffee elite” (page 34).

Schroeder 1995:  “(T)he junta that followed the 1979 coup…faced serious opposition to its democratic intentions.  Salvadoran elites were split into three distinct camps over the desired regime type:  a return to military authoritarianism advocated by the right, revolutionary socialism desired by the left, and democracy by the moderates as represented by the civilian and some military members of the junta” (pages 35-36).

Wade 2003:  “The causes of the civil war are essentially fourfold:  1) historical socio-economic inequalities; 2) a declining economy in the late 1970s after a decade of growth; 3) increasing political repression by the state and parastatal organizations; and 4) the closing of political space for new actors by electoral fraud in 1972 and 1977…In October 1979 junior officers of the Armed Forces carried out a reformist coup against the Romero government.  The first junta consisted of two officers and three civilians, and incorporated members of the political opposition into various administrative positions” (page 46).

October 19

Dunkerley 1988:  “Colonels accept ‘Foro’ terms for joining government; economic and social reforms publicly declared” (page 383).

October 24

Dunkerley 1988:  “Popular demonstrations repressed with high casualties; LP-28 and FENASTRAS quit ‘Foro.’  BPR occupies ministries demanding immediate economic reforms, end to repression and dissolution of paramilitary forces” (page 383).

October 29

Brockett 2005:  “The new government’s inability to control military violence further alienated the left, such as on October 29, when the military attacked a demonstration, killing anywhere from twenty-four to seventy protesters and injuring as many” (page 236).


Brockett 2005:  “(T)he government’s inability to control contentious actions from the left, be they nonviolent or violent, further alienated the military and civilian right.  A truce brokered by Archbishop Oscar Romero in November brought a temporary respite of challenger activities” (pages 236-237).

Chronicle of parliamentary elections and developments 14 1980: The Minister of Justice declared on 1 November 1979 that the holding of legislative elections due to take place in March 1980 was postponed ‘sine die’” (page 11).

Dunkerley 1988:  “BPR occupations lifted upon declaration of 30-day truce.  Carter administration sends ‘non-lethal’ military equipment worth $205,000” (page 383).

Lamperti 2006:  The “ambassador of South Africa, Archibald Dunn [is] captured on November 28, 1979 by members of the FPL” (page 141).


Allison 2006:  “In December 1979, the FPL, RN and PCS established the ‘Coordinadora Político Militar’ (CPM)…as a first step in the direction of unity for the Salvadoran insurgents” (page 55).

Baires Martínez 1994:  “El Frente amplio nacional fue la primera organización cívica del futuro partido [ARENA].  En cierto modo, el frente amplio fue una respuesta de los sectores de la derecha a los ‘frentes de masas’ de la izquierda.  Encabezado por el general José Alberto Medrano y por el mayor D’Aubuisson, hizo su aparición en diciembre de 1979, responsabilizándose de la organización de dos manifestaciones contra la junta, los días 10 y 27 de diciembre” (page 42).

Baloyra 1982:  “Apparently, the FPL, the FARN, and the FAL agreed on some form of collaboration in December 1979” (page 161).

Dunkerley 1988:  “US sends military advisory team.  BPR-Junta truce ends, occupations, strikes and repression increase; 700 people killed in final 12 weeks of 1979.  Major economic reforms blocked by military and courts.  Civilians in regime demand military end repression and accept authority of junta [on December 27]” (page 383).  “The failure of the government throughout December to curtail the military’s repressive activities combined with the revelation that ministers had not been informed of a highly sensitive visit by a US military mission finally spurred the civilians in the regime to present the army with an ultimatum:  either the officer corps recognized the junta’s authority to give it orders or both the junta and the cabinet would resign” (page 388).

Johnson 1993:  “The ‘Ley Basica de Reforma Agraria,’ decreed on December 7, 1979 was the first major attempt since the 1882 abolition of communal lands to achieve fundamental changes in the ownership of land.  But unlike the land tenure patterns set in motion by the 1882 ‘Ley Agraria’ that did much to create El Salvador’s large landowners, the 1979 reform was designed to emasculate them” (page 192).  Describes the program.

McClintock 1998:  “In December 1979, the entire cabinet of the first civilian-military junta had resigned” (page 54).

Paige 1997:  “(T)he nationalization of coffee export in December…broke the power of the processing-export elite and reduced them to mere agents of the government” (page 34).

Schroeder 1995:  “Unable to control the armed forces or implement real reform, the civilian members of the junta and cabinet resigned.  The first to resign on December 19 were the minister of agriculture, Enrique Alvarez Córdova, and the minister of education, Salvador Samayoa.  Samayoa walked out of a press conference called to explain his resignation with an AK-47 and two masked gunmen to join the FPL” (page 37).

Wade 2003:  “In December 1979 the junta passed Decree 75, which nationalized the coffee export process and created the Instituto Nacional del Café (INCAFE) to manage these exports.  The oligarchy responded to the reforms by increasing levels of violent actions” (page 47).

Zamora 2003:  “En Diciembre de 1979…FPL, RN y PCS crearon la Coordinadora Político Militar, en un intento de adquirir un primer nivel de unidad.  El ERP no formó parte de este esfuerzo, porque la RN vetó su ingreso aduciendo la responsabilidad de aquella organización en el asesinato del poeta Roque Dalton…La exclusión del ERP, era algo que muy difícilmente podía mantenerse, dada la importancia militar de esta organización y, de hecho, en la proparación de la ‘Ofensiva General’, se le empezó a tomar en cuenta” (pages 50-51).