U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: El Salvador, April 1997
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of El Salvador
Area: 21,476 sq. km. (8,260 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.
Cities: Capital--San Salvador (pop. 1.4 million). Other cities-San
Miguel, Ahuachapan, Santa Ana, Sonsonate.
Terrain: Mountains separate country into three distinct regions-southern
coastal belt; central valleys and plateaus; and northern mountains.
Climate: Semitropical, distinct wet and dry seasons.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Salvadoran(s).
Population (1996): 5.8 million.
Annual growth rate (1996): 2.2%.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo 98%, indigenous 1%, Caucasian 1%.
Religion: Largely Roman Catholic, with growing Protestant groups
throughout the country.
Education: Free through ninth grade. Attendance (grades 1 - 9)--82%.
Literacy--75% among adults.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1993)--41/1,000. Life expectancy (1993 --
males 64 years, females 65 years.
Work force (approximately 2 million): Agriculture--27%, services--21%,
commerce--20%, manufacturing--19%, construction--7%, transportation and
Constitution: December 20, 1983.
Independence: September 15, 1821.
Branches: Executive--president and vice president.
Legislative--84-member Legislative Assembly. Judicial--independent
Administrative subdivisions: 14 departments.
Political parties represented in the legislature: Nationalist Republican
Alliance (ARENA), Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN),
National Conciliation Party (PCN), Christian Democratic Party (PDC),
Social Christian Renovation Party (PRSC), Democratic Convergence (CD),
Unity Movement (MU), Democratic Party (PD).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP: $10.9 billion.
Annual growth rate: 4.0%.
Per capita income: $1,974.
Agriculture (14% of GDP): Products--coffee, sugar, livestock, corn,
poultry, sorghum. Arable, cultivated, or pasture land--67%.
Industry (22% of GDP): Types--food and beverage processing, textiles,
footwear and clothing, chemical products, petroleum products,
Trade: Exports--$1.83 billion: coffee, sugar, textiles and shrimp.
Major markets--U.S. 49%, Central American Common Market (CACM) 26%,
European Union (EU) 18%. Imports--$3.27 billion: consumer goods,
foodstuffs, capital goods, raw industrial materials, petroleum.
Major suppliers--U.S. 51%, CACM 15%, EU 10%, Mexico 4.7%, Venezuela
Exchange rate (1996 avg.): 8.7 colones = U.S. $1.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
El Salvador's population numbers about 5.8 million; almost 90% is of
mixed Indian and Spanish extraction. About 1% is indigenous; very few
Indians have retained their customs and traditions. The country's people
are largely Roman Catholic--though Protestant groups are growing--and
Spanish is the language spoken by virtually all inhabitants. The capital
city of San Salvador has about 1.4 million people; an estimated 49% of
El Salvador's 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 Central Mexico. Early in their history, they became one
of the few Mesoamerican 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 Tazumal (near
Chalchuapa), San Andres (northeast of Armenia), and Joya De Ceren (north
The first Spanish attempt to subjugate this area failed in 1524, when
Pedro de Alvarado was forced to retreat by Pipil warriors. 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.
Independence 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. El
Salvador, fearing incorporation into Mexico, petitioned the U.S.
Government for statehood.
But in 1823, 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 year, the United Provinces of Central
America was formed of the five Central American states under Gen. Manuel
Jose Arce. When this federation was dissolved in 1838, El Salvador
became an independent republic.
El Salvador's early history as an independent state--as with others in
Central America--was marked by frequent revolutions; not until the
period 1900-1930 was relative stability achieved. The economic elite
ruled the country in conjunction with the military, and the power
structure was controlled by a relatively small number of wealthy
landowners, known as the 14 Families. The economy, based on coffee-
growing, prospered or suffered as the world coffee price fluctuated.
From 1932--the year of Gen. Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez's coup
following his brutal suppression of rural resistance--until 1980, all
but one Salvadoran President was an army officer. Periodic presidential
elections were seldom free or fair.
From Military to Civilian Rule
From the 1930s to the 1970s, authoritarian governments employed
political repression and limited reform to maintain power, despite the
trappings of democracy. During the 1970s, the political situation began
to unravel. In the 1972 presidential election, the opponents of military
rule 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 exiled. These events eroded hope of reform
through democratic means and persuaded those opposed to the government
that armed insurrection was the only way to achieve change. As a
consequence, leftist groups capitalizing upon social discontent gained
By 1979, leftist guerrilla warfare had broken out in the cities and the
countryside, launching what became a 12-year civil war. A cycle of
violence took hold as rightist vigilante death squads in turn killed
thousands. The poorly trained Salvadoran Armed Forces (ESAF) also
engaged in repression and indiscriminate killings. After the collapse of
the Somoza regime in Nicaragua that year, the new Sandinista government
provided large amounts of arms and munitions to five Salvadoran
On October 15, 1979, reform-minded military officers and civilian
leaders ousted the right-wing government of Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero
(1977-79) and formed a revolutionary junta. PDC leader Duarte joined 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 a new constituent assembly. 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, though, did not
satisfy the guerrilla movements, which had unified under Cuban auspices-
-while each retained their autonomous status--as the Farabundo Marti
National Liberation Front (FMLN).
Duarte won the 1984 presidential election against rightist 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.
In 1989, ARENA's Alfredo Cristiani won the presidential election with
54% of the vote. His inauguration on June 1, 1989, marked the first time
in decades that power had passed peacefully from one freely elected
civilian leader to another.
Ending the Civil War Upon his inauguration in June 1989, President
Cristiani called for direct dialogue to end the decade of conflict
between the government and 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 that year.
In early 1990, following a request from the Central American presidents,
the United Nations became involved in an effort to mediate direct talks
between the two sides. After a year of little progress, the government
and the FMLN accepted an invitation from the UN Secretary General to
meet in New York City. On September 25, 1991, the two sides signed the
New York City Accord. It concentrated the negotiating process into one
phase and created 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.
On December 31, 1991, the government and the FMLN initialed a peace
agreement under the auspices of then Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar.
The final agreement, called the Accords of Chapultepec, was signed in
Mexico City on January 16, 1992. A nine-month cease-fire took effect
February 1, 1992, and was never broken. A ceremony held on December 15,
1992, marked the official end of the conflict, concurrent with the
demobilization of the last elements of the FMLN military structure and
the FMLN's inception as a political party.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
El Salvador is a democratic republic governed by a president and an 84-
member unicameral Legislative Assembly. The president is elected by
universal suffrage and serves for a five-year term. Members of the
assembly, also elected by universal suffrage, serve for three-year
terms. The country has an independent judiciary and Supreme Court.
In March 1994, the first post-civil war elections were held with FMLN
participation, featuring simultaneous presidential, legislative, and
municipal races. ARENA won 39 seats in the Legislative Assembly, the
FMLN 21 seats, the PDC 18, the National Conciliation Party (PCN) four,
and the Democractic Convergence (CD) and Unity Movement (MU) one each.
(The FMLN and PDC caucuses subsequently split.) ARENA presidential
candidate Armando Calderon Sol faced FMLN-CD coalition candidate Ruben
Zamora in a runoff in April and won with 68% of the vote. UN observers
declared the elections free and fair. Armando Calderon Sol of the ARENA
party began his five-year term as President on June 1, 1994, and cannot
The March 1997 legislative and municipal elections were conducted in a
free and transparent manner, depite the fact that important electoral
reforms agreed to three years earlier were not in place, and voter
turnout barely reached 40%. The FMLN and opposition coalitions scored
impressive gains in both the assembly and throughout the country's 262
municipalities, capturing the mayoral seats in six of 14 departmental
capitals, including San Salvador. In the 1997-2000 assembly ARENA will
have 28 deputies, the FMLN 27, the PCN 11, and the PDC 7. Several small
centrist parties and coalitions will split the remaining 11 seats.
ARENA is El Salvador's leading political party. It was created in 1982
by Roberto D'Aubuisson and other ultra-rightists, including some members
of the military. His electoral fortunes were diminished by credible
reports that he was involved in organized political violence. Following
the 1984 presidential election, ARENA began reaching out to more
moderate individuals and groups, particularly in the private sector.
By 1989, ARENA had attracted the support of business groups, and Alfredo
Cristiani won the presidency. Despite sincere efforts at reform,
Duarte's PDC administration had failed to either end the insurgency or
improve the economy. Allegations of corruption, poor relations with the
private sector, and historically low prices for the nation's main
agricultural exports also contributed to ARENA victories in the 1988
legislative and 1989 presidential elections.
The 1989-94 Cristiani administration's successes in achieving a peace
agreement to end the civil war and in improving the nation's economy
helped ARENA, led by standard-bearer Calderon Sol, keep both the
presidency and a working majority in the Legislative Assembly in the
1994 elections. ARENA's legislative position was weakened in the 1997
elections, but it remains the country's single largest and best
organized political party.
In December 1992 the FMLN became a political party, composed of the
political factions of the wartime guerrilla movement, and maintained a
united front during the 1994 electoral campaign. The FMLN also came in
second in the legislative assembly races. Internal political
differences, however, among the FMLN's constituent parties led to the
breakaway of two of the FMLN's original five factions after the 1994
elections. Despite the defections, the FMLN was able to consolidate its
remaining factions and present itself as a viable option to ARENA. It is
the second-largest block in the new assembly and due to its strategic
control of the mayorships of many departmental cities, over 50% of
Salvadorans have an FMLN or coalition-led municipal government.
The right wing of the National Conciliation Party (PCN), which ruled the
country in alliance with the military from the 1960s until 1979,
maintains a small but steady electoral base. Its fortunes were recently
boosted by the addition of high-profile ARENA defectors and a
reinvigorated electoral showing in the assembly. Several other smaller
parties represented in Legislative Assembly in El Salvador fight for the
political center with limited success. The PDC, which had won more
municipal elections in 1994 than did the FMLN, continued to splinter.
Following the 1994 election, those opposed to the then party leadership
formed the Social Christian Renovation Party (PRSC). Subsequently, the
remaining PDC leadership split into two factions that battled each other
in court and before the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for most of 1996. The
CD, which had been the principal party of the left before the peace
accords, and the MU, a party based in the Salvadoran evangelical
movement, combined with the FMLN to elect a coalition candidate as mayor
of San Salvador.
Compliance With the Peace Accords
While many aspects of the accords have been largely implemented,
important components such as judicial reform remain incomplete. The
peace process set up under the Chapultepec Accords has been monitored by
the United Nations since 1991.
During the 12-year civil war, human rights violations by both left- and
right-wing forces were rampant. The accords established a Truth
Commission under UN auspices to investigate the most serious cases. The
commission reported its findings in 1993. It recommended that those
identified as human rights violators be removed from all government and
military posts, as well as recommending judiciary reforms. Thereafter,
the Legislative Assembly granted amnesty for crimes committed during the
war. Among those freed as a result were the ESAF officers convicted in
the November 1989 Jesuit murders and the FMLN ex-combatants held for the
1991 murders of two U.S. servicemen.
The peace accords also required the establishment of the Ad Hoc
Commission to evaluate the human rights record of the ESAF officer
corps. In 1993, the last of the 103 officers identified by this
commission as responsible for human rights violations were retired, and
the UN observer mission declared the government in compliance with the
Ad Hoc Commission recommendations.
Also in 1993, the Government of El Salvador and the UN established the
Joint Group to investigate whether illegal, armed, politically-motivated
groups continued to exist after the signing of the peace accords. The
group reported its findings in 1994 stating that death squads were no
longer active but that violence was still being used to obtain political
ends. The group recommended a special National Civilian Police (PNC)
unit be created to investigate political and organized crime and that
further reforms be made in the judicial system. The government created
the PNC's Organized Crime Investigation Unit (DICO) and took other steps
in response to the report, although not all the group's recommendations
have been implemented.
The peace accords provided for the establishment of a Human Rights
Ombudsman's Office. Victoria Velasquez de Aviles succeeded Carlos Molina
Fonseca as Ombudsman in 1995.
In accordance with the peace agreements, the constitution was amended to
prohibit the military from playing an internal security role except
under extraordinary circumstances. Demobilization of Salvadoran military
forces generally proceeded on schedule throughout the process. The
Treasury Police and National Guard were abolished, and military
intelligence functions were transferred to civilian control. By 1993--
nine months ahead of schedule--the military had cut personnel from a
wartime high of 63,000 to the level of 32,000 required by the peace
accords. By early 1997, ESAF strength stood at less than 17,000
(including uniformed and non-uniformed personnel). A purge of military
officers accused of human rights abuses and corruption was completed in
1993 in compliance with the Ad Hoc Commission's recommendations. Clear
institutional guidance from the Minister of Defense proscribing the
military from any political involvement in the electoral process was
clearly followed in the March 1997 elections.
National Civilian Police
The new civilian police force, created to replace the discredited public
security forces, deployed its first officers in March 1993 and was
present throughout the country by the end of 1994. As of late 1996, the
PNC had over 10,500 officers. The United States, through the Department
of Justice's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance
Program (ICITAP), has led international support for the PNC and the
National Public Security Academy (ANSP), providing over $28 million in
non-lethal equipment and training since 1992.
The PNC faces many challenges in building a completely new police force.
With common crime rising dramatically since the end of the war, over 110
PNC officers had been killed in the line of duty by late 1996. PNC
officers have also arrested a number of their own in connection with
various high-profile crimes.
Both the Truth Commission and the Joint Group identified weaknesses in
the judiciary and recommended solutions, the most dramatic being the
replacement of all the magistrates on the Supreme Court. This
recommendation was fulfilled in 1994 when an entirely new court was
elected. The process of replacing incompetent judges in the lower
courts, and of strengthening the attorney general's and public
defender's offices, has moved more slowly. The government continues to
work in all of these areas with the help of international donors,
including the United States. Action on peace-accord driven
constitutional reforms designed to improve the administration of justice
was largely completed in 1996 with legislative approval of several
amendments and the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code--with broad
Over 35,000 eligible beneficiaries from among the former guerrillas and
soliders who fought the war received land under the Peace Accord-
mandated land transfer program which ended in January 1997. The majority
of them have also received agricultural credits. The international
community, the Salvadoran Government, the former rebels, and the various
financial institutions involved in the process continue to work closely
together to deal with follow-on issues resulting from the program.
Principal Government Officials
President--Armando CALDERON Sol
Vice President--Enrique BORGO Bustamante
Minister of Foreign Relations--Ramon GONZALEZ Giner
Ambassador to the United States--Ana Cristina SOL
Representative to the OAS--Mauricio GRANILLO
Representative to the UN--Ricardo Guillermo CASTENEDA Cornejo
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.
The Salvadoran economy continues to benefit from a commitment to a free
economy and careful fiscal management. The impact of the civil war on El
Salvador's economy was devastating; from 1979 to 1990, losses from
damage to infrastructure and means of production due to guerrilla
sabotage as well as from reduced export earnings totaled about $2.2
billion. But since attacks on economic targets ended in 1992, improved
investor confidence has led to increased private investment. Rich soil,
moderate climate, and a hard-working and enterprising labor pool
comprise El Salvador's greatest assets.
Much of the improvement in El Salvador's economy is due to free market
policy initiatives launched by the Cristiani government in July 1989,
including the privatization of the banking system, reduction of import
duties, and elimination of price controls on virtually all consumer
products. The successor government of President Calderon Sol has
continued market liberalization, further reducing tariffs and enhancing
the investment climate through measures such as improved enforcement of
intellectual property rights. Perhaps its most significant achievement
has been the opening of the telecommunications and electrical sector to
competition, a step that establishes the framework for the privatization
of the telephone and electric companies set to begin in 1997.
The post-war boom in the Salvadoran economy began to fade in July 1995
after an abrupt shift in monetary policy was followed by a June increase
in the value added tax (VAT) and price hikes in basic public services.
The slowdown lingered into the new year and the Volume Index of Economic
Activity (IVAE) declined throughout the first half of 1996, led by a
dismal performance in the retail sector. Inflation remained stubbornly
higher than expected, reaching a 10% annual rate by July 1996. The slump
contributed to a larger-than-expected government deficit. Tax revenues
were down from early projections and expenditures were up, due to an
increase in teachers' salaries and government downsizing at the end of
1995 that required payment of a special severance package. Virtually
every sector lobbied for a sectoral stimulus package, including tariff
protection, tax cuts, and special credit lines. The government took
considerable criticism for its perceived neglect, but steadfastly
refused to intervene and spend the economy back to health.
The outlook improved toward the end of 1996. Key indicators, such as
industrial electrical consumption, cement consumption, and air cargo
traffic were all up. The IVAE index began to move up, but more
importantly, the retail sector showed improved performance in the third
and fourth quarters. Prices of basic foodstuffs fell in September and
October. Inflation for the year was projected at 9% and real GDP growth
was estimated at 4%.
In mid-1995, the government of El Salvador flirted briefly with the idea
of switching to a dollar economy, going a step further than the fixed
exchange rate proposed by the President. The government took a number
administrative steps that substantially increased the liquidity in the
economy and helped fuel 1995's boom. Following intense pressure from the
World Bank, the government made the political decision to abandon the
dollarization idea in early 1996. Subsequent tightening of the monetary
policy by the Central Bank contributed to the onset of what the
government called deceleration.
Fiscal policy has been the biggest challenge for the Salvadoran
Government. The 1992 peace accords signed committed the government to
heavy expenditures for transition programs and social services. Although
international aid has been generous, the government has focused on
improving the collection of its current revenues. A 10% value-added tax
(VAT), implemented in September 1992, was raised to 13% in July 1995.
The VAT is estimated to have contributed 54% of total tax revenues in
1996; collections in the first nine months of the year were up 21% over
1995, in part due to the rate increase, but also to improved collection
A multiple exchange rate regime that had been used to conserve foreign
exchange was phased out during 1990 and replaced by a free-floating
rate. The colon depreciated from five to the dollar in 1989 to eight in
1991, and in 1993 was informally pegged at 8.75 colones to the dollar.
Large inflows of dollars in the form of family remittances from
Salvadorans working in the United States offset a substantial trade
deficit and support the exchange rate. The monthly average of
remittances reported by the Central Bank is around $85 million, with the
total estimated at more than $1 billion for 1996. As of August 1996, net
international reserves equalled roughly four months of imports.
Foreign Debt and Assistance
El Salvador's external debt decreased sharply in 1993, chiefly as a
result of an agreement under which the United States forgave about $461
million of official debt. As a result, total debt service decreased by
16% over 1992. Total external debt went down from $2.245 billion in 1994
to approximately $2.2 billion in 1995 and did not rise significantly in
1996. Debt service fell correspondingly from 3.3% of GDP in 1994 to 3.0%
in 1996. El Salvador has eliminated all payment arrears, and its debt
burden is considered moderate.
The Government of El Salvador has been successful in obtaining
significant new credits from the international financial institutions.
Among the most significant loans are a second structural adjustment loan
from the World Bank for $52.5 million, another World Bank loan of $40
million for agricultural reform, a $20 million loan from the Central
American Bank for Economic Integration to be used to repair roads and a
$60 million Inter-American Development Bank loan for poverty alleviation
projects. Although official figures show relatively small and
diminishing aid flows, the total is probably larger. Significant amounts
come in through non-governmental organizations and are channeled to
groups not generally included in official statistics, such as political
parties, unions, and churches. Total non-United States Government aid
could be as high as $800 million in 1995 and 1996.
El Salvador historically has been the most industrialized nation in
Central America, though a decade of war eroded this position. In 1995,
manufacturing accounted for 22% of GDP. The industrial sector has
shifted since 1993 from a primarily domestic orientation to include free
zone (maquiladora) manufacturing for export. Maquila exports have led
the growth in the export sector and in the last three years have made an
important contribution to the Salvadoran economy.
El Salvador's balance of payments continued to show a net surplus.
Exports in 1996 grew 11% while imports declined, narrowing El Salvador's
almost 2-to-1 trade deficit. As in the previous year, the large trade
deficit ($1.5 billion) was offset by foreign aid and family remittances.
Private foreign capital continued to flow in, though mostly as short-
term import financing and not at the levels of previous years. The
Central American Common Market (CACM) continued its dynamic reactivation
process, now with most regional commerce duty-free. In September 1996,
El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras opened free trade talks with
Mexico. Although tariff cuts that were expected in July 1996 were
delayed until 1997, the Government of El Salvador is committed to a free
and open economy. President Calderon Sol has indicated that he expects
to implement a tariff regime between 0 and 6% for all traded goods by
Total U.S. exports to El Salvador reached $1.7 billion in 1995, while El
Salvador exported $844 million to the U.S. Salvadoran exports to the
U.S. are expected to grow in 1996 to $895 million. U.S. exports are
projected at $1.68 million. U.S. support for El Salvador's privatization
of the electrical and telecommunications markets has markedly expanded
opportunities for U.S. investment in the country. Over 300 U.S.
companies have established either a permanent commercial presence in El
Salvador or work through representative offices in the country. The
Department of State maintains a Country Commercial Guide for U.S.
businesses seeking detailed information on business opportunities in El
Agriculture and Land Reform
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.
At least 525,000 people--more than 12% of El Salvador's population at
the time and perhaps 25% of the rural poor--benefited from agrarian
reform, and more than 22% of El Salvador's total farmland was
transferred to those who previously worked the land but did not own it.
But when agrarian reform ended in 1990, about 150,000 landless families
still had not benefited from the reform actions.
The 1992 peace accords made provisions for land transfers to all
qualified ex-combatants of both the FMLN and ESAF, as well as to
landless peasants living in former conflict areas. The United States
undertook to provide $300 million for a national reconstruction plan.
This included $60 million for land purchases and $17 million for
agricultural credits. USAID remains actively involved in providing
technical training, access to credit and other financial services for
many of the land beneficiaries.
El Salvador is a member of the United Nations and several of its
specialized agencies; the Organization of American States (OAS); the
Central American Common Market (CACM); the Central American Parliament
(PARLACEN); and the Central American Integration System (SICA). It
actively participates in the Central American Security Commission
(CASC), which seeks to promote regional arms control. El Salvador also
is a member of the World Trade Organization and is pursuing regional
free trade agreements. An active participant in the Summit of the
Americas process, El Salvador chairs a working group on market access
under the Free Trade Area of the Americas initiative. El Salvador has
joined its six Central American neighbors in signing the Alliance for
Sustainable Development, known as the Conjunta Centroamerica-USA or
CONCAUSA to promote sustainable economic development in the region.
In July 1969, El Salvador and Honduras fought the 100-hour Soccer War
over disputed border areas and friction resulting from 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. 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. Although there have been tensions between
citizens on both sides of the border, the two countries have worked to
maintain stability, and signed an agreement in November 1996 to
establish a framework for negotiating the final disposition of citizens
and property in the affected areas. El Salvador and Honduras share
normal diplomatic and trade relations.
U.S.-Salvadoran relations remain close and cordial. U.S. policy toward
El Salvador seeks to promote:
The complete implementation of the peace accords; The strengthening of
El Salvador's democratic institutions, rule of law, judicial reform, and
civilian police; and, National reconciliation and reconstruction,
economic opportunity, and growth.
In FY1996, U.S. Government assistance to El Salvador was about $60
million, including $10 million of PL-480 (food assistance). Bilateral
aid in general has declined since the end of the war. The Salvadoran
government relies increasingly on loans from international lending
institutions to finance special projects.
In February 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher visited El
Salvador to sign an agreement providing $10 million to complete the Land
Transfer Program. In his address to the Legislative Assembly the
Secretary reiterated U.S. support for hemispheric commitments to
sustainable development and free trade. Continued U.S. and international
engagement has been instrumental in keeping the Salvadoran peace process
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Anne W. Patterson
Deputy Chief of Mission--John C. Dawson
USAID Mission Chief--Kenneth Ellis
Political Counselor--Gregory Sprow
Economic Counselor--Christopher Lynch
Public Affairs Officer--Cynthia Farrell-Johnson
The U.S. embassy in El Salvador is located at Final Blvd. Santa Elena,
Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad (tel.: 503-278-4444; fax: 503-278-6011).
Private sector U.S. ties to El Salvador are dynamic and growing.
Approximately 9,000 American citizens live and work full-time in El
Salvador. Most are private businesspersons and their families, but a
small and rapidly expanding number of American citizen retirees have
been drawn to El Salvador by favorable tax conditions. The embassy's
consular section provides the full range of visa, passport, federal
benefit, absentee voting, and related citizenship services to this
The American Chamber of Commerce in El Salvador is located at 87 Avenida
Norte No. 720, Apto. A, Colonia Escalon, San Salvador, El Salvador
(tel.: 503-223-3292; fax: 503-224-6856).
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION:
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the Caribbean
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: (202) 482-1658;(800) USA-TRADE
Fax: (202) 482-0464
Caribbean/Latin American Action
1818 N Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-7464 Fax: (202) 822-0075
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see Principal
Government Officials listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous
areas, are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a
country (see Principal U.S. Embassy Officials listing in this
publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's
World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov/; this site has a link to
the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
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