In a major cabinet shakeup, El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes has effectively removed all high-ranking members of his public security cabinet who are linked to the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). Their replacements, including several high-ranking military officers, indicate a disturbing trend toward the militarization of El Salvador’s public security force, which has remained a civilian agency since the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords twenty years ago. Many of the officers assuming leadership of these “civilian” security posts were trained by the US at the infamous combat training facility for Latin American military, the School of the Americas (SOA), in Ft. Benning, Georgia.
In November, Manuel Melgar, the Minister of Public Security, was forced to retire; he was quickly replaced by a recently retired Army General, David Mungía Payés. At the end of December, Funes fired Eduardo Linares, director of the State Intelligence Agency, also a member of the FMLN. Most recently, on Monday January 23, Funes fired Carlos Ascencio, the Director of the National Civilian Police (PNC) and promptly named Francisco Ramón Salinas as the new director; Salinas had retired as an army general only hours beforehand. Click here for more background on the cabinet changes.
CISPES shares the concern of our allies in the Salvadoran social movement and in the FMLN that these decisions were influenced by the United States, especially in light of the impending implementation of several US security programs in El Salvador, including the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), to which the US has pledged over $200 million, and the Partnership for Growth. Military influence is rising quickly across Central America, from the election of General Pérez Molina as President in Guatemala to a proposed constitutional amendment in Honduras to empower the military with independent policing duties and authorities.
Take action today to denounce US support for the re-militarization of El Salvador and Central America!
1. Send an email to Roberta Jacobson, interim Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs to demand that the US stop financially and politically supporting militarization in El Salvador and Central America.
2. Sign a petition to President Funes in El Salvador expressing your concern about his recent appointments and expressing your support for human rights.
3. Call Melanie Bonner at the State Department’s El Salvador desk at (202) 647-4161 to denounce US support for militarization in El Salvador!
Sample call script: I am calling to express serious concern about recent US intervention in El Salvador. Specifically, I am concerned that the US pressured President Funes to replace members of his security cabinet with top-ranking military officials who have been trained by the US as a condition for receiving security aid. I am opposed to the US replicating the disastrous and devastating model it has imposed in Colombia and Mexico in Central America, including having the military play an active role in public security. I urge you to direct all the US security aid to El Salvador towards prevention and rehabilitation instead of further militarization.