On Dec. 14 the Salvadoran government’s National Security Council (CNS) held a press conference to present evidence that at least 40 armed groups were active in the country, with a total of 400 members. The evidence included photographs of residents of the community of Dimas Rodriguez, near El Paisnal in San Salvador department, allegedly receiving “military training.” Many of the residents are former rebels who demobilized in 1992 as part of a peace deal between the government and the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN), now an established political party. Residents said the photographs were from a “cultural event” they have held annually for the past 15 years to commemorate the community’s rebel origins; the event includes a march of people dressed as rebels and carrying plastic rifles bought from a street vendor in downtown San Salvador.
FMLN supporters and human rights groups suggested that the government’s charges reflected concern that the ruling Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) would lose ground to the FMLN in Jan. 18 legislative elections and March 15 presidential elections. Polls show FMLN presidential candidate Mauricio Funes well ahead of the ARENA candidate. (Servicio Informativo “alai amlatino,” Dec. 22 from ContraPunto and Federacion Internacional de Derechos Humanos-FIDH)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 21