El Salvador. In January, six members of the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional) formed their own Social Democratic bloc in Congress after being excluded from the party. According to Countryaah website, national day of El Salvador is every September 15. The leader of the group, FMLN’s former presidential candidate Facundo Guardado, declared that the group will cooperate with the Christian Democratic Party. The drop-off means that the FMLN is no longer the largest party in Congress.
A strike by doctors and healthcare workers erupted at the end of the year in protest of the government’s plans to privatize parts of the healthcare sector, despite President Francisco Flores already promising to scrap the plans. The government calls it a political strike and refers to the scrutiny of a proposal by San Salvador Mayor Héctor Silva to set up a special reform committee whose mission is to find alternative reform measures.
Statistics show that 90% of El Salvador’s vegetation has disappeared; 2/3 of the land was plagued by soil erosion or used for inefficient farming, while only 2% of the original forests were still present. 90% of the country’s rivers were heavily polluted by wastewater and chemicals; more than half of the population did not have access to clean drinking water.
An agreement concluded in May 1995 between ARENA and Partido Democrático – a breakaway party from FMLN – allowed an increase in VAT from 10 to 13%. This increase was tried to explain the need for financial resources to finance land reform, infrastructure projects and an overhaul of the electoral and justice system.
The National Police Force proved unable to deal with the problems of organized crime, which according to. the national press, was statistically responsible for offenses once an hour. The government deployed 5,000 soldiers to intensify patrol on the highways and in the country zones. 3 officers were sentenced to belong to the paramilitary organization “Sombra Negra”. The army’s investigations also revealed an arsenal of weapons belonging to the organization “Los Benedictos,” whose leader had links to a network of criminal organizations throughout Central America.
A UN delegation posted to monitor compliance with the agreements between the former guerrillas and the government stayed in El Salvador from April to October. Protesters who believed to be bothered by the slowness in fulfilling the peace agreements, including the land grant and the payment of compensation to the war veterans, occupied in August 1996, the main streets and public buildings in San Salvador. In May, Partido Democrático withdrew its support for ARENA, after which the ruling party no longer had a majority in parliament.
In March 1997, the opposition party FMLN achieved an important victory in the local elections, partly by winning the mayor post in the capital, in addition to conquering all major cities in the province. In the simultaneous parliamentary elections, ARENA captured 33.3% of the vote and 28 seats in parliament, while the FMLN sat at 32.1% and gained 27 seats. The turnout was just 40%.
The Supreme Court decreed that the Orlando de Sola businessman should be reinstated as the chief executive of the electricity and telecommunications company; he had been dismissed in December 1997. The Supreme Court held that the dismissal, which had been decided following disagreements between President Calderón Sol and de Sola over the sale of a TV station, had been groundless and otherwise illegal.
A report from the Inter-American Development Bank, published in March 1998, estimated that 25% of annual economic growth disappeared as a result of crime.
Like other Central American countries, El Salvador was hit hard when Hurricane Mitch hit the region in the first week of 1998. Several hundred were killed and about 28,000 lost their homes.