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article imageNew president of El Salvador is former rebel leader

By Ken Hanly     Jun 1, 2014 in Politics
San Salvador - Sanchez Ceren, 69, a former leader of the rebel Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front(FMLN) was sworn in as the president of El Salvador. He won the presidency in a close March runoff vote against his conservative opponent.
In his inaugural speech, Ceren promised that he would govern "for everybody" and said that he would fight corruption and violence. The FMLN was the main rebel umbrella group during the long civil war during which it is estimated that 75,000 people died. Thousands of people simply disappeared. The FMLN fought western-backed governments during the the 12-year conflict. Ceren was a school teacher before he joined the FMLN. The FMLN became a legal political party after peace accords in 1992. Even decades later the country is still deeply divided. Ceren is not the first FMLN candidate to win the presidency. Back in March of 2009 Mauricio Funes was elected president. However, Funes was a popular journalist and media figure. He had been a reporter during the civil war.
Corruption is rife within El Salvador. An arrest warrant was issued last month for former president Francisco Flores accused of using $10 million in public funds for his own personal use. Flores denies the charges. El Salvador has one of the world's highest murder rates often the result of gang warfare. Sanchez said that his priorities would be "security, employment and education."
Two Generals Carlos Casanova and Gen. Jose Garcia both residents of the US were found not responsible for a number of killings in El Salvador during the civil war in a suit brought by family members of some of those killed but the same generals were found guilty in another suit and the judgment was for more than $54 million in compensation. The two generals were subject to deportation proceedings in October of 2009 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement but as of May 2010 they still had not been deported. Hearings were still continuing in February of last year.
Americas Watch, a human rights group that monitors Latin America estimates that right-wing death squads linked to El Salvadorean security services killed up to 30,000 people during the civil war. In Spain, 20 former members of the military of El Salvador were charged with murder, crimes against humanity and terrorism. The judge overseeing the charges requested that US agencies declassify documents related to the killings of six Jesuit scholars , their housekeeper and her daughter in 1989 but were denied access. The judge wrote in his report: "The agencies in charge of making the information public have identified 3,000 other documents that remain secret and are not available; the reasoning given is that privacy is needed to protect sources and methods. Many of the documents, from the CIA and the Defense Department, are not available…"
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