Background Note: El Salvador

PA Source: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs Description: Historical, Political and Economic Overviews of the Countries of the World Date: Feb, 15 19932/15/93 Category: Country Data Region: Central America Country: El Salvador Subject: Travel, History, International Organizations, Trade/Economics, Military Affairs, Cultural Exchange, State Department [TEXT]

Official Name:

Republic of El Salvador


21,476 sq. km. (8,260 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.
Capital--San Salvador (pop. 1.4 million). Other cities--Santa Ana, San Miguel.
Mountains separate country into three distinct regions: southern coastal belt; central valleys and plateaus; and northern mountains.
Semitropical, distinct wet and dry seasons.
Noun and adjective--Salvadoran(s).
Population (1992 est.):
5 million.
Annual growth rate (1992):
235 per sq. km. (635 per sq. mi.).
Ethnic groups:
Mestizo 89%, Indian 10%, Caucasian 1%.
Largely Roman Catholic, with growing Protestant groups throughout the country.
Years compulsory--6. Attendance--82%. Literacy--65% among adults.
Infant mortality rates--49/1,000 in 1990. Life expectancy rate (1990)--males 62 yrs., females 68 yrs.
Work force--(2.5 million):
Agriculture--40%. Services-- 27%. Industry--16%.
December 20, 1983.
September 15, 1821.
Executive--president and vice president. Legislative--84-member National Assembly. Judicial--independent (Supreme Court).
Administrative subdivisions:
14 departments.
Political parties:
Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), Christian Democratic Party (PDC), National Conciliation Party (PCN), Authentic Christian Movement (MAC), Nationalist Democratic Union (UDN), Social Democratic Party (PSD), National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), Popular Social Christian Movement (MPSC), National Solidarity Movement (MSN), Free People (PL). As a result of the peace agreement with the Government of El Salvador in 1992, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) guerrillas became a political party after disarming and demobilizing its forces.
Universal at 18.
Two turquoise blue horizontal stripes and a white middle; in the center, a coat of arms inscribed "1821," the year of independence from Spain.
GDP (1992 est.):
$5.1 billion.
Annual growth rate (1992 est.):
Per capita income:
Avg. inflation rate (1992):
10% of GDP. Products--coffee (30% of agricultural output), cotton, sugar, livestock, corn, poultry, sorghum. Arable, cultivated, or pasture land--67%.
19% of GDP. Types--food and beverage processing, textiles, footwear and clothing, chemical products, petroleum products.
Trade (1992 est.):
Exports--$683 million: coffee, sugar, cotton and shrimp. Partners--US 41%, EC 30%, Central American Common Market 10%, Japan 4%, Germany 2%. Imports-- $1.5 billion: consumer goods, food stuffs, machinery, autos, petroleum. Partners--US 41%, Guatemala 12%, Venezuela 7%, Mexico 7%, Germany 5%, Japan 4%.
Exchange rate (1992):
8.7 colones=$1.


About 90% of El Salvador's population are of Indian and Spanish extraction. Very few Indians have retained their customs and traditions. An estimated 58% of the population lives in rural areas.


Before the Spanish conquest, the area that is now El Salvador was made up of two large Indian states and several principalities. The indigenous inhabitants were the Pipils, a tribe of nomadic Nahua people long-established in Mexico. Early in their history, they became one of the few Meso- American Indian groups to abolish human sacrifice. Otherwise, their culture was similar to that of their Aztec neighbors. Remains of Nahua culture are still found at ruins such as San Andres (northeast of Armenia) and Tazumal (near Chalchuapa). The first Spanish attempt to subjugate this area failed in 1524, when Pedro de Alvarado was forced to retreat by Pipil forces. In 1525, he returned and succeeded in bringing the district under control of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which retained its authority until 1821 despite an abortive revolution in 1811. In 1821, El Salvador and the other Central American provinces declared their independence from Spain. When these provinces were joined with Mexico in early 1822, El Salvador resisted, insisting on autonomy for the Central American countries. Guatemalan troops sent to enforce the union were driven out of El Salvador in June 1822. In early 1823, Gen. Manuel Jose Arce's army was defeated by the Mexicans. Before this contest was decided, El Salvador, fearing incorporation into Mexico, petitioned the US Government for statehood. In February 1823, however, a revolution in Mexico ousted Emperor Augustin Iturbide, and a new Mexican Congress voted to allow the Central American provinces to decide their own fate. That same year, the United Province of Central America was formed of the five Central American states under Arce. When this federation was dissolved in 1838, El Salvador became an independent republic. As elsewhere in Central America, frequent revolutions have marked El Salvador's history as an independent state, although relative stability was achieved during the period from 1900 to 1930. The power structure was controlled by a relatively small number of wealthy landowners, known as "the 14 families." The economy, based on the cultivation of coffee, prospered or suffered as the world coffee price fluctuated. The economic elite ruled the country in conjunction with the military. From Gen. Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez's 1932 coup, following his brutal suppression of rural resistance, until 1980, every president, with the exception of one provisional executive who served 4 months, was an army officer. Periodic presidential elections were seldom free or fair. In July 1969, El Salvador and Honduras fought the brief "soccer war" over disputed border areas and friction caused over the 300,000 Salvadorans who had emigrated to Honduras in search of land and employment. The catalyst was nationalistic feelings aroused by a series of soccer matches between the two countries. Salvadoran forces penetrated as far as 29 kilometers (18 mi.) into Honduras. The two countries formally signed a peace treaty on October 30, 1980, which put the border dispute before the International Court of Justice. In September 1992, the court issued a 400-page ruling, awarding much of the disputed land to Honduras (see maps on next page). Currently, excellent diplomatic and trade relations exist between El Salvador and Honduras. During the 1970s, the political, social, and economic situation began to deteriorate. The military leadership created its own party, the National Conciliation Party (PNC), which nominated Colonel Arturo Molina in the 1972 presidential election. The opposition united under Jose Napoleon Duarte, leader of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). Amid widespread fraud, Duarte's broad-based reform movement was defeated. Subsequent protests and an attempted coup were crushed, and Duarte was exiled. These events eroded hope of reform through democratic means and persuaded many opponents of military rule that armed insurrection was the only way to achieve change. Leftist groups capitalizing upon social discontent gained strength and, by 1979, guerrilla warfare had broken out in the cities and the countryside. The cycle of violence accelerated as rightist vigilante "death squads" killed thousands. The poorly trained Salvadoran armed forces (ESAF) also engaged in repression and indiscriminate killings. The country's antiquated judicial system was unable to cope with the lawlessness. Opposition to the government's agrarian reform program engendered rural conflict. After the collapse of the Somoza regime in Nicaragua in 1979, the new Sandinista Government provided large amounts of arms and munitions to five guerrilla groups, and a military victory by the guerrillas appeared possible. On October 15, 1979, reform-minded military officers joined with moderate civilian leaders to undertake a peaceful revolution. In January 1980, progressive civilians joined them to form a revolutionary junta. Christian Democratic Party leader Jose Napoleon Duarte entered the junta in March 1980, leading the provisional government until the elections of March 1982. The junta initiated a land reform program and nationalized the banks and the marketing of coffee and sugar. Political parties were allowed to function again, and on March 28, 1982, Salvadorans elected 60 deputies to a constituent assembly. The election was observed by more than 200 international representatives and more than 700 members of the international press. All observers reported that the elections were free and fair. Following that election, authority was peacefully transferred to Alvaro Magana, the provisional president selected by the assembly. The 1983 constitution, drafted by the assembly, strengthened individual rights, established safeguards against excessive provisional detention and unreasonable searches, established a republican, pluralistic form of government, strengthened the legislative branch, and enhanced judicial independence. It also codified labor rights, particularly for agricultural workers. The newly initiated reforms, however, did not satisfy the guerrilla movements, which had unified under Cuban auspices as the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). The constituent assembly scheduled presidential elections for March 1984, while planning for legislative and municipal elections in March 1985. Jose Napoleon Duarte won the presidential election against Roberto D'Aubuisson of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) with 54% of the vote and became the first freely elected President of El Salvador in more than 50 years. Voters returned to the polls in 1985 and 1988 to vote in legislative and municipal elections. In March 1989, ARENA's Alfredo Cristiani won the presidential election with 54% of the vote. President Cristiani's inauguration on June 1, 1989, marked the first time in decades that power had passed peacefully from one freely elected civilian leader to another. In 1990, reform of the electoral system expanded the assembly from 60 to 84 deputies in order to broaden the base of representation from the smaller parties and increase the opportunity for the parties of the left to win office. In the March 1991 assembly election, the Nationalist Republican Party (ARENA), Christian Democratic Party (PDC), National Conciliation Party (PCN), the Democratic Convergence (CD) coalition, Authentic Christian Movement (MAC) and Nationalist Democratic Union (UDN) ran candidates for the 84 seats in Legislative Assembly as well as mayors and town councils in the nation's 262 municipalities. ARENA lost its majority in the Legislative Assembly but won 44% of the vote (39 deputies) and 177 municipalities. The PDC received 28% of the vote (26 deputies) and 69 municipalities. The election gave the CD eight deputies, the PCN nine, and the MAC and UDN one each.
Upon his inauguration in June 1989, President Cristiani called for direct dialogue between the government and the guerrillas. An unmediated dialogue process involving monthly meetings between the two sides was initiated in September 1989, lasting until the FMLN launched a bloody nationwide offensive in November 1989. In early 1990, following a request from the Central American presidents, the UN became involved in an effort to mediate direct talks between the two sides. The government and the guerrillas met under UN auspices in May and agreed to meet monthly to achieve a negotiated political solution to the conflict and to bring about the demobilization and reintegration of the FMLN December 1990, but little progress was made. In September 1991 the government, represented by President Cristiani, and the FMLN accepted an invitation from the UN Secretary General to meet in New York City to seek a resolution to issues creating an impasse in the negotiations. On September 25, the two sides signed the New York City accord. It concentrated the negotiating process into one phase in order to establish, before a cease-fire, the necessary conditions and guarantees for the reintegration of FMLN members into Salvadoran society within a framework of full legality. The two sides agreed to create the Committee for the Consolidation of the Peace (COPAZ), made up of representatives of the government, FMLN, and political parties, with Catholic Church and UN observers. The direct participation of President Cristiani and Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar was crucial to this breakthrough. On December 31, 1991, the government and the FMLN signed an agreement under the auspices of Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar. The final agreement, called the Accords of Chapultepec, was signed in Mexico City on January 16, 1992. The cease-fire took effect February 1, 1992, and was to last 9 months before the war would be declared officially ended.
Peace Process
The Chapultepec Accord included a 2-year timetable setting requirements for the completion of different aspects of the troop reduction accords. Most importantly, the cease-fire survived without a single violation. It ended on December 15, 1992, when the last elements of the FMLN military structure were demobilized. Most of the FMLN's declared arms inventory was destroyed by the end of the year. Concurrent with the dismantling of its military structure, the FMLN became a legal political party. World dignitaries, including UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and former Vice President Quayle, attended a December 15, 1992, ceremony marking these events. In March 1994, the FMLN will participate in elections which, for the first time, will feature simultaneous presidential, legislative, and municipal races. Many observers believe these elections will mark the de facto end of the Salvadoran peace process. The peace process has been monitored by the UN Mission to El Salvador (known by its Spanish acronym ONUSAL), which at its peak had close to 1,000 observers in the country. ONUSAL is divided into three contingents: human rights, military, and police. The UN is expected to maintain some type of presence in the country through the March 1994 elections. Demobilization of Salvadoran military forces generally proceeded on schedule throughout the process. By early January 1993, all but one of the immediate reaction battalions had been demobilized (with the final due to demobilize on February 8). The treasury police and national guard were abolished, and the intelligence service was transferred to civilian control. By February 1993, the military had lowered force levels from a wartime high of 63,000 to the level of 32,000 required in the Peace Accords; this was achieved 9 months ahead of schedule. President Cristiani began the required purge of military officers accused of human rights abuses and corruption in early January 1993; however, he has delayed the completion of the process. The training of the new civilian police began several months late with the opening of its academy in September 1992, but the establishment of the force continued otherwise on schedule. Cadets from the academy successfully served as temporary police in ex-conflict zones. The first academy class graduated at the beginning of February 1993, with an additional class to follow each month. These first classes will be deployed directly to ex-conflict zones. Land transfers proved to be a serious source of contention between the government and the FMLN in the early stages of the cease-fire, but an agreement brokered by the UN Secretary General in September established a three-phase program to transfer land to former guerrillas, their supporters, and former soldiers. By the end of 1992, the first phase was well underway with the second phase ready to begin.
Principal Government Officials
The Government of El Salvador is a democratic republic governed by the president and Legislative Assembly. Alfredo Cristiani of the ARENA party began his 5-year term as President on June 1, 1989, and cannot succeed himself. President--Alfredo Felix Cristiani Burkard Vice President--Jose Francisco Merino Lopez Minister of Foreign Relations--Jose Manuel Pacas Castro Ambassador to the United States--Miguel Angel Salaverria Representative to the OAS--Jose Roberto Andino Salazar Representative to the UN--Ricardo Castaneda El Salvador maintains an embassy in the United States at 2308 California Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-265- 9671). There are consulates in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco.


Political, historical, and cultural factors led to the endemic violence that El Salvador suffered beginning in the early 1980s. The commitment to social reform, the institutionalization of democracy, and the increased professionalism of the armed forces (ESAF) were the keys to the drop in violence in the mid-1980s. Despite the sincere efforts at reform by the Duarte Administration, its failures to improve the economy, allegations of corruption, and poor relations with the private sector disappointed many Salvadorans. Duarte's attempts to manage the country were hindered by a massive earthquake, guerrilla raids, and historically low prices for the nation's main agricultural exports: coffee, sugar, and cotton. These factors contributed to the ARENA victories in the 1988 legislative elections and the 1989 presidential elections. ARENA is the leading party of El Salvador's political right. It was organized in 1982 by Roberto D'Aubuisson and other ultra-rightists. His electoral fortunes were diminished by credible reports that he was involved in organized political violence. Following the defeat of D'Aubuisson in the 1984 presidential election, ARENA sought to moderate its image and reach out to other elements in society, particularly the private sector. By 1989, the party had attracted the support of business groups and had nominated Alfredo Cristiani--a moderate businessman and coffee grower--as its presidential candidate. ARENA was thus well positioned to benefit from popular discontent with the Duarte Administration. Along with ARENA and the Christian Democratic Party, several other vocal political parties play roles in Salvadoran democracy: the Democratic Convergence, nominally a coalition of three leftist parties but essentially a new name for the Popular Social Christian Movement, a party led by Ruben Zamora; the National Conciliation Party, created by the Salvadoran military and allied with ARENA in the assembly; and the National Solidarity Movement, a new party based in the Salvadoran evangelical movement. As a result of the peace agreement with the Government of El Salvador in 1992, the FMLN became a political party after disarming and demobilizing its forces. Labor unions, the universities, and the Catholic Church play major roles in the Salvadoran political system. Two main labor umbrella groups represent most of El Salvador's 300,000 organized workers. The Democratic National Union of Peasants and Workers (UNOC) represents some 250,000 workers, and its leadership is closely linked to the PDC. The National Union of Salvadoran Workers (UNTS) represents about 55,000 workers and other supporters. UNTS usually hews to the FMLN line in political matters, and four members of the UNTS executive committee became official founders of the FMLN political party. The National University of El Salvador (UES) has also been heavily influenced by the FMLN. UES was closed by the military from 1980 until 1984, when it was reopened by President Duarte; it also was closed for several months in the aftermath of the November 1989 offensive. A number of private universities, including the Jesuit-run University of Central America also operate in El Salvador. Since the late 1970s, when Archbishop Romero (assassinated in 1980) called for an end to repression and for social justice, the Catholic church has been a vocal and aggressive advocate of peace. The church mediated the 1984 dialogue between the government and the guerrillas, and the release of then-president Duarte's daughter, whom the guerrillas had abducted.
Human Rights
During the 12-year civil war, human rights violations by both left and right-wing forces were rampant. There were incidents of political killings, torture of detainees, arbitrary arrest, and forced recruitment by the ESAF. There were also cases of killings, kidnapings, abuse of non- combatants, intimidation of civilians, and forced recruitment by the FMLN. Right-wing death squads took advantage of this chaotic environment to engage in political assassinations. Many individuals and institutions acted with virtual impunity from a judicial system overwhelmed by the magnitude of the bloodshed and burdened with corruption. The United Nations reported a dramatic decline in political killings by all sides and other violations since 1991, and reports that the human rights situation in El Salvador continued to improve during 1992. This is largely a reflection of the cease-fire agreement of December 1991 and the commitment by the government and the FMLN not to derail the peace process. In part, the decline in human rights abuses also may reflect a growing commitment to judicial accountability in El Salvador. The government and the FMLN both express a commitment to end human rights abuses and are cooperating with a truth commission established under UN auspices to investigate and prosecute the most serious cases of human rights abuses during the civil war. Although many cases go unresolved, there is a growing commitment to prosecute human rights offenders. A sign of this improvement was the conviction of a high ranking military officer for the murder of six Jesuit priests, the priests' house-keeper, and her daughter in November 1989. An investigation by the US-trained and equipped Special Investigative Unit revealed the participation of an ESAF unit. On September 28, 1991, a jury found Col. Guillermo Bendavides guilty of having ordered the murders. Lt. Yusshi Rene Mendoza was convicted of ordering the murder of the house-keeper's daughter. Both received the maximum sentence- -30 years in prison. The jury apparently made a distinction between the ordering and the commission of the murders when it found seven lower-ranking soldiers not guilty of murder. Three lower-ranking officers each received 3-year prison sentences. Colonel Bendavides' conviction was the first of a high-ranking military officer for a human rights abuse. The FMLN also has begun to cooperate with the judicial process. On March 17, 1992, it surrendered two members of its ERP guerrilla faction, "Porfirio" (Fernan Hernandez) and "Aparicio" (Siberiano Fuentes), allegedly responsible for the murder of two US airmen who survived a crash after their helicopter was shot down on January 2, 1991, while on a non- combat flight over El Salvador. The FMLN turned over evidence in the case and maintained that the men turned themselves in voluntarily. The case is being tried in El Salvador. While these two cases represent a strengthening of judicial accountability in El Salvador, many other human rights abuses are not investigated fully.


The Salvadoran economy maintained positive growth in 1991 and 1992. Real gross domestic product grew by 3.5% in 1991 and by 4% in 1992, the highest rates in 12 years. Inflation increased to 20% in 1992. Disappointing agricultural performance, however, dampened the overall recovery. The contribution of coffee to the economy (30% of total agricultural output) fell, because of decreased yields, and low international prices which reduced the value of coffee exports overall. Rich soil, moderate climate, and a hard- working and enterprising labor pool comprise El Salvador's greatest assets. With the peace accords, there is hope that the economy will recover. Recently, El Salvador's development efforts have focused on non-traditional agricultural exports. El Salvador historically has been the most industrialized nation in Central America, though a decade of war has eroded this position. In 1992, manufacturing accounted for 19% of GDP and employed 16% of the work force. Based primarily in the capital city of San Salvador, the industrial sector is oriented largely toward domestic and Central American markets. Textiles, footwear and clothing, beverages, processed food, tobacco, wood and metal products, and chemical products are the principal manufactured goods. The war's impact was devastating. From 1979 to 1990, losses due to guerrilla sabotage totaled about $2.2 billion. Since attacks on economic targets declined significantly in 1991 and ended in 1992, the improved investor confidence should lead to increased private investment. Throughout the conflict, El Salvador's infrastructure remained serviceable, with adequate transportation and communications systems throughout the country. The improvement in El Salvador's economy is due to free market policy initiatives launched by the Cristiani Government in July 1989. Reforms included elimination of price controls on 240 consumer products; break-up of government and government-sanctioned monopolies in the export of coffee, sugar, and cotton; reduction of import duties; elimination of non-tariff barriers; adoption of a free-market exchange-rate system; maintenance of positive real interest rates; and deficit reduction. The government also has formulated a plan to privatize the banking system. In July 1992, after a long political struggle, the National Assembly passed a law establishing a 10% value-added tax. The Cristiani Government has launched a $81 billion national reconstruction program. The government remains dependent on foreign assistance to meet its public sector and balance-of- payments deficits. The most important source of external aid is official US assistance. In fiscal year (FY) 1991, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) administered a program of about $222 million. US aid in FY1992 amounted to $217 million. The amount proposed for FY1993 is $224 million. Since 1990, Cristiani's economic program has received strong support from international financial institutions. The International Monetary Fund approved a 12-month stand-by agreement which paved the way for a rescheduling of $135 million of its Paris Club debt with official creditors. The World Bank approved a $75 million structural-adjustment loan. In May 1991, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) members approved El Salvador's membership. Bilateral and multilateral donors are coordinating with the government for a national reconstruction assistance package worth more than $1 billion. Finally, in December 1992, the US Government reduced El Salvador's debt by 75%, from $617 million to $151 million, under provisions of the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative. In March 1992, El Salvador and Guatemala also signed a free trade agreement calling for common external tariff and export tax systems. This was a major step in efforts to push for genuine Central American economic integration. Similar agreements are expected to be negotiated with Honduras. Before 1980, a small economic elite owned most of the land in El Salvador and controlled a highly successful agricultural industry. About 70% of farmers were sharecroppers or laborers on large plantations. Many farm workers were under- or unemployed and impoverished. The civilian-military junta which came to power in 1979 instituted an ambitious land reform program to redress the inequities of the past, respond to the legitimate grievances of the rural poor, and promote more broadly based growth in the agricultural sector. The ultimate goal was to develop a rural middle class with a stake in a peaceful and prosperous future for El Salvador. The 1980 land reform program was comprised of three phases. Phase I expropriated all land holdings larger than 500 hectares and transformed them into cooperatives. The Salvadoran agrarian reform institute was charged with administering Phase I land. Phase II required owners to sell land in excess of 245 hectares to agricultural workers and their associations or to small farmers, but not to owners' relatives, within 3 years. The groundwork for this phase was laid in the December 1983 constitution. Implementing legislation was delayed until 1987, and little land has been expropriated under Phase II, but the vast majority of land- lords voluntarily sold land in excess of 245 hectares. The Phase III program allowed renters and sharecroppers to apply for titles for up to 7.5 hectares of land they had tilled in 1980, either individually or as members of cooperatives. More than 525,000 people (more than 12% of El Salvador's total population and perhaps 25% of the rural poor) have benefited from the agrarian reform, and more than 22% of El Salvador's total farmland has been transferred to those who previously worked the land but did not own it. By 1990, however, about 150,000 landless families had still not benefited from the agrarian reform actions. The peace accords require land transfers to ex-combatants of both the FMLN and ESAF, as well as to landless peasants living in former conflict areas. While strongly opposed to new land expropriations, the government is committed to facilitating the voluntary transfer of land. Thousands of these transactions have been financed through the US-assisted land bank.


El Salvador is a member of the United Nations and several of its specialized agencies and the Organization of American States (OAS). It is a member of the Central American Common Market (CACM) and actively participates in the Central American Security Commission (CASC), which seeks to promote regional arms control. It is also a member of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) and the Central American Integration System (SICA). In 1991, El Salvador and its Central American neighbors announced their interest in negotiating a regional free-trade agreement. El Salvador has played a constructive and activist role in the Esquipulas process, a regional effort to promote peace in Central America. The Government of El Salvador is firmly committed to a comprehensive agreement linking guarantees of security among the Central American countries to national reconciliation through democratization within each country.


US-Salvadoran relations traditionally have been cordial and close. US policy seeks to promote: -- The complete implementation of the peace accords; -- The strengthening of El Salvador's democratic institutions, rule of law, and judicial reform; -- National reconciliation and an end to the cycle of political violence; -- National reconstruction, economic opportunity, and growth; -- Support for the regional security objectives embodied in the Esquipulas II agreement.
Principal US Officials
Ambassador--vacant Charge d'Affaires--Peter F. Romero The US embassy in El Salvador is located at Final Blvd., Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatlan, San Salvador (tel. 503-78- 44-44, fax: 503-78-60-11).

Key Provisions of the Peace Accord

Military Reform
-- New armed forces doctrine stressing democratic values and prohibiting an internal security role, except under extraordinary circumstances. -- Evaluation and selection out of the officer corps by a commission composed of three civilians and two non-voting military officers. -- 50% reduction of military manpower by October 1993; national guard, treasury police, and all elite counter- insurgency battalions to be dissolved. -- New civilian intelligence service under the president's authority and legislative oversight. -- Paramilitary groups banned, civil defense forces dissolved, new military reserve system instituted, and forced recruitment ended.
National Civilian Police
-- New civilian police force for both urban and rural areas. -- Educational and other requirements for police personnel; preference for recruits with no direct involvement in the war to be trained at a new, independent police academy. -- Existing national police transferred from defense ministry to ministry of the presidency to carry out duties under UN monitoring until a new civilian force is phased in.
Judicial Reform
-- Independent national judicial council to foster a fair and independent judiciary. -- School for judicial training to improve professionalism of judges and other judicial officials. -- Creation of a human rights ombudsman. -- Charging the attorney general with conducting criminal investigations.
Electoral Reform
-- Special commission to study draft reforms to electoral code.
Social Issues
-- Government implementation of existing land reform (transfer land exceeding the constitutional limit of 245 hectares) under supervision of a special commission. -- Preference given to former combatants from both sides in distribution of state-owned land. -- Government to finance long-term, low-interest loans for land purchases. -- Moratorium on return of land illegally taken by the FMLN, after which those holding land may purchase it or be resettled.


Semitropical. The country has distinct wet and dry seasons. March and April are the hottest months, and the wet season is from May to November. San Salvador's climate is moderate.
A passport and a visa are required for entry to El Salvador. There are no airport visas or tourist cards available for last-minute entry. For additional information, travelers may contact the consular section of the embassy of El Salvador at 1010 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036, tel. 202-331-4032. Visas are free and can be issued for multiple entries over a 10-year period of validity. American citizens should register at the US embassy during a visit to obtain current information on travel, security in former conflict zones, crime, or health conditions.


Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC, February 1993 -- Editor: Peter A. Knecht Department of State Publication 7794 Background Notes Series -- This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. Contents of this publication are not copyrighted unless indicated. If not copyrighted, the material may be reproduced without consent; citation of the publication as the source is appreciated. Permission to reproduce any copyrighted material (including graphics) must be obtained from the original source.(###)