José Napoleón Duarte

Last updated
José Napoleón Duarte
Jose Napoleon Duarte 1987c.jpg
39th President of El Salvador
In office
June 1, 1984 June 1, 1989
Vice President Rodolfo Castillo
Preceded by Álvaro Magaña
Succeeded by Alfredo Cristiani
President of the Revolutionary Government Junta
In office
December 13, 1980 May 2, 1982
Vice President Jaime Abdul Gutiérrez
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolsihed
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
March 3, 1980 1982
Preceded by Héctor Miguel Hirezi
Succeeded by Fidel Chávez Mena
Mayor of San Salvador
In office
March 1964 1970
Succeeded by Carlos Rebollo
Personal details
Born
José Napoléon Duarte Fuentes

(1925-11-23)November 23, 1925
Santa Ana, El Salvador
DiedFebruary 23, 1990(1990-02-23) (aged 64)
San Salvador, El Salvador
Cause of death Stomach cancer
Resting placeCementerio Jardines del Recuerdo
San Salvador, El Salvador
Political party Christian Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Inés Durán de Duarte (died 2011)
Education Liceo Salvadoreño
Alma mater

José Napoleón Duarte Fuentes (November 23, 1925 – February 23, 1990) was a Salvadoran politician who served as President of El Salvador from June 1, 1984 to June 1, 1989. He was mayor of San Salvador before running for president in 1972. He lost, but the election is widely viewed as fraudulent. [1] Following a counter-coup in 1979, Duarte led the subsequent civil-military Junta from 1980 to 1982. He was then elected president in 1984, defeating ARENA party leader Roberto D'Aubuisson.

Contents

Supported by the Reagan Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency, his time in office occurred during the worst years of the Salvadoran Civil War which saw numerous abuses and massacres of the civilian population by the Salvadoran security forces and the death squads linked to them. [2] [3] [4]

Early life

Duarte was born in Santa Ana in the department of the same name. While he was studying at Liceo Salvadoreño in May 1944, he took part in the protests that brought down the twelve-year-old regime of then-President General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez. Other military regimes followed, and in 1945 he crossed the border into Guatemala to join the opposition in exile. Although he spoke no English at the time, his father enrolled him in the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, United States. In 1948, having worked doing dishes and laundry in order to support himself through his studies, he graduated with a degree in engineering before returning to an El Salvador uncomfortably transitioning to a democracy. He married his childhood sweetheart, Maria Inés Durán, with whom he had 6 children: Inés Guadalupe, Alejandro, Napoleón, María Eugenia, María Elena, and Ana Lorena. Duarte got a job in his father-in-law's construction firm and, at the same time, began teaching.

Political career

Mayor of San Salvador

In 1960, he became a founding member and Secretary General of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), which searched for a middle ground between the extreme right and the extreme left. Even as part of the United Democratic Party (PUD), the PDC failed to gain a seat in that year's National Congress elections. After boycotting the 1962 presidential elections, Duarte became Mayor of San Salvador in March 1964. He initiated the Adult Evening Schools helping a lot of adult workers to become technicians and also get high school diplomas. He supported emerging sectors of the economy and some redistribution of wealth.[ citation needed ] Duarte easily won the next two elections for mayor in March 1966 and March 1968.

After leaving office in 1970, he set up his own estate agency until he ran in the February 20, 1972 presidential election under a political grouping called the United National Opposition (UNO). He lost to Arturo Armando Molina in an election that was widely viewed as fraudulent, with Molina declared the winner even though Duarte was said to have received a majority of the votes; poll watchers claimed the real vote tally was 327,000 for Duarte and 318,000 for Molina. [5] [1] [6]

On March 25, 1972, a coup d'état was attempted by left-wing military officers who supported Duarte. The coup was suppressed and Duarte was arrested. He was subjected to torture. He was condemned to death for high treason, but international pressure forced Molina to grant him exile, which he obtained in Venezuela. Duarte got a job as an engineering advisor and became involved as a private investor in various construction projects. He was also given posts in the international Christian Democratic movement. In 1974, he returned to El Salvador, where he was promptly arrested and returned to Venezuela.

Junta leader

Duarte at a Christian Democratic Party press conference during the Salvadoran Civil War, 1982. Jose Napoleon Duarte.png
Duarte at a Christian Democratic Party press conference during the Salvadoran Civil War, 1982.

On October 15, 1979, a Revolutionary Government Junta (JRG) took control of El Salvador at the beginning of a full scale civil war. Duarte returned to El Salvador on March 3, 1980 and joined the Junta, becoming El Salvador's foreign minister.

Just weeks after joining the government, Duarte came to the attention of the U.S. public as spokesperson for the Junta following the assassination of Archbishop Romero on March 24, 1980. As an official source, he promoted a "blame on both sides" apologetic to explain the government's lack of resolve to investigate the assassination. [7]

On December 22, 1980, he became the head of state and of the Junta. The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) responded by launching an all out attack on the government on January 10, 1981, which resulted in the regime receiving immediate military aid and advisors from the United States of America.

With the arrival of the new US government of Ronald Reagan, Duarte became a symbol for "anti-communist" resistance in Central America although support for the FMLN from the Soviet Union has been questioned by Noam Chomsky. [2]

On March 28, 1982, elections were held to the National Congress in which Duarte's Christian Democratic Party (PDC) party gained 24 of the 60 seats, putting them in opposition against the combined strength of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party, which gained 19 seats, and the National Conciliation Party (PNC), which gained 14. On May 2, he handed over power to Álvaro Magaña, who had been chosen President by the National Congress. During his time at the head of the JRG, Duarte initiated land reform and nationalized certain industries such as sugar as well as denouncing human rights violations by the military and the FMLN alike. However, members of the military and affiliated death squad paramilitaries continued to carry out atrocities against the civilian population during his rule as the head of JRG, under the pretext of eliminating terrorists. The Salvadoran army received financial and material support throughout this period from the CIA, which also trained many of the squads, and arranged for arms supplies from Israel when Congress terminated direct CIA support. [2]

President (1984–1989)

Napoleon Duarte with U.S President Ronald Reagan. President Ronald Reagan at the state visit of Jose Napoleon Duarte.jpg
Napoleón Duarte with U.S President Ronald Reagan.

On March 25, 1984, in the 1984 presidential elections, Duarte (running as the PDC candidate), running along with Rodolfo Claramount Castillo, came in first with 43.4% of the vote. In the second round, on May 6, he won with 53.6% of the vote against the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) candidate, Roberto D'Aubuisson. The elections were marred by violence between the FMLN and Salvadoran military at and near the polling stations. As both candidates were known to have close links with wartime undemocratic factions, the US government spent approximately US$2 million to support the democratic process and prevent violence at the voting polls.[ citation needed ] However, some scholars of Central American History have suggested that the CIA was merely ascertaining that Duarte, the candidate favored by the USA, was elected. [2]

Duarte became President on June 1. He was determined to end the civil war by "dialogue without arms", and on October 15, 1984, in La Palma, Chalatenango, he met FMLN leaders face to face, which marked the beginning of the end of the civil war. His basic goal, he claimed, was to see the guerrillas disarm and then demobilize so that their members could be reincorporated into society. He argued that the issues that caused them to rise up in armed struggle had either been or were in the process of being resolved.[ citation needed ]

The FMLN demanded that the ARENA party be banned from participating in the political life of the country, making the dialogue between the two sides difficult. During 1985, Duarte tried to improve the image of the state by banning the Salvadoran Air Force from bombing civilian areas without presidential permission, creating an Investigative Commission to investigate political assassinations and persecuting the right-wing death squads that were alleged to be embedded in the state security services. However, this attempt largely failed to influence the excesses of the death squads.

On March 31, in the 1985 congressional elections, the PDC gained a majority with 33 seats. ARENA's loss of control in the Congress enabled Duarte to more easily achieve his goals. On September 10, 1985, Inés Guadalupe Duarte Durán and her friend, Ana Cecilia Villeda, arrived by car at the gates of a private university in San Salvador. They were followed in a van by two bodyguards assigned to protect them. As the two vehicles came to a stop, other vehicles positioned themselves so as to block traffic while a number of armed individuals killed the bodyguards and forced the two women into a truck. The two women were taken to a guerrilla camp.

Four days after the incident, the self-styled Pedro Pablo Castillo commando of the FMLN publicly announced that it was responsible for the abduction of the women. In spite of angering the military, Duarte's family was sent to the United States for their safety, and he began the negotiations for the release of Inés Duarte and Ana Cecilia Villeda.

Jose Napoleon Duarte with wife in the Netherlands in 1987 Jose Napoleon Duarte with wife 1987.jpg
José Napoleón Duarte with wife in the Netherlands in 1987

On October 24, after several weeks of negotiations in which the Salvadoran church and diplomats from the region acted as mediators in secret talks, Inés Duarte and her friend were released in exchange for 22 political prisoners. The operation also included the release of 25 mayors and local officials abducted by FMLN in exchange for 101 war wounded guerrillas, whom the government allowed to leave the country. The entire process of exchanging prisoners, which took place in various parts of the country, was carried out through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In a communiqué from the FMLN General Command broadcast by Radio Venceremos on the day Inés Duarte was released, the General Command assumed full responsibility for the operation and described the actions of the commando, including the killing of the bodyguards, as "impeccable". The abduction of Inés Duarte and Ana Cecilia Villeda was widely denounced as a violation of international law.

In 1986, Duarte's tax reform plans, bitterly opposed by ARENA, were judged unconstitutional. In August, he participated in the historic Esquipulas II agreement with other leaders to lay the groundwork for a firm and lasting peace in Central America, outlining the demobilization of the guerrilla groups in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. On October 5, 1987, a third dialogue began between the government and the FMLN, and on October 28, Congress passed an amnesty law, just two days after Herbert Anaya, the president of the special United Nations Human Rights Commission for El Salvador, was assassinated. Anaya's assassination was interpreted by some as a sign of disapproval of the peace process.

Jose Napoleon Duarte in 1987 Jose Napoleon Duarte 1987b.jpg
José Napoleón Duarte in 1987

Duarte was criticized by the Organization of American States and they demanded a deep investigation into Anaya's death. As a result, Duarte offered a reward of $10,000 and asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate. The National police arrested a suspect Jorge Alberto Miranda Arevalo who confessed that he acted as a look out for the gang. He said he was a member of one of the guerrillas groups "the ERP." He was judged and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Duarte was increasingly seen as powerless not only between the two opposing forces of left and right but also in terms of the US anti-communist political influence in the region. With corruption scandals, an economy in tatters, rumors of a right-wing coup and a civil war that did not appear to have a solution, the government became ineffective, unstable and unable to stop the indiscriminate violence and brutality. In the March 20 1988 elections, the PDC were soundly beaten by ARENA in a fair election.

In June 1988, Duarte was rushed to a military hospital in Washington, D.C., where he was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer and given between 6 months to a year to live. Both the diagnosis and prognosis became public knowledge. In spite of having to stay in the United States for surgery and chemotherapy, he refused to resign as President, and he was able to hand power over constitutionally to Alfredo Cristiani in June 1989. He died aged 64 in San Salvador on February 23, 1990.

Duarte: My Story

In his autobiography, Duarte wrote: "When the structures and values of Salvadoran society exemplify a democratic system, then the revolution I have worked for will have taken place. This is my dream". [8]

Related Research Articles

The history of El Salvador begins with several Mesoamerican nations, especially the Cuzcatlecs, as well as the Lenca and Maya. In the early 16th century, the Spanish Empire conquered the territory, incorporating it into the Viceroyalty of New Spain ruled from Mexico City. In 1821, the country achieved independence from Spain as part of the First Mexican Empire, only to further secede as part of the Federal of Central America two years later. Upon the republic's isolation in 1841, El Salvador became sovereign until forming a short-lived union with Honduras and Nicaragua called the Greater Republic of Central America, which lasted from 1895 to 1898.

Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front

The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front is one of the two major political parties in El Salvador.

The Chapultepec Peace Accords were a set of peace agreements signed on January 16, 1992, which brought peace to El Salvador ending the Salvadoran Civil War which started on October 15, 1979. The treaty established peace between the Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. It was signed in Chapultepec Castle, Mexico.

President of El Salvador

The president of El Salvador, officially known as the president of the Republic of El Salvador, is the head of state and head of government of El Salvador. He is also, by Constitutional Law, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of El Salvador. The office was created in the Constitution of 1841. From 1821 until 1841, the head of state of El Salvador was styled simply as Head of State.

2004 Salvadoran presidential election

A presidential election was held in El Salvador on Sunday, 21 March 2004. The Salvadoran people elected a new president, together with his vice-president, for a five-year term.

Roberto DAubuisson Salvadoran politician

Roberto D'Aubuisson Arrieta was a far-right Salvadoran soldier, politician and death-squad leader. In 1981, he co-founded and became the first leader of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and served as President of El Salvador's Constituent Assembly from 1982 to 1983. He was a candidate for President in 1984, losing in the second round to José Napoleón Duarte. After ARENA's loss in the 1985 legislative elections, he stepped down in favor of Alfredo Cristiani and was awarded the honorary post of party president for life. He was named by the UN-created Truth Commission for El Salvador as having ordered the assassination of then-Archbishop Óscar Romero in 1980.

Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador Three military dictatorships in El Salvador

The Revolutionary Government Junta was the name of three consecutive military dictatorships that ruled El Salvador between 15 October 1979 and 2 May 1982.

Álvaro Magaña

Álvaro Alfredo Magaña Borja was the President of El Salvador from 1982 to 1984.

Christian Democratic Party (El Salvador)

The Christian Democratic Party is a Christian democratic party in El Salvador. After being officially disbanded by the Supreme Court in 2011, it continued to work under the name of Party of Hope, before re-taking its original name in 2012.

Rubén Zamora

Rubén Ignacio Zamora Rivas is a social democratic politician in El Salvador.

Salvadoran Civil War 1979-1992 war between the government and revolutionaries in El Salvador

The Salvadoran Civil War was a civil war in El Salvador fought between the military-led junta government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) from 15 October 1979 to 16 January 1992. A coup on October 15, 1979, was followed by killings of anti-coup protesters by the government and of anti-disorder protesters by the guerrillas, and is widely seen as the start of civil war.

Herbert Anaya

Herbert Ernesto Anaya Sanabria was the president of the NGO Human Rights Commission of El Salvador (CDHES). He was assassinated on October 26, 1987 close to his home. Herbert Anaya was the fourth leader of CDHES to be murdered or "disappeared" during the 1980s, none of these cases being satisfactorily resolved. Early in 1993 Anaya's son was shot and wounded when armed men tried to intercept the car of his widow Mirna Perla de Anaya.

Salvador Sánchez Cerén

Salvador Sánchez Cerén is a Salvadoran politician who served as the 45th President of El Salvador between 1 June 2014 and 1 June 2019. He took office on 1 June 2014, after winning the 2014 presidential election as the candidate of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). He previously served as Vice President from 2009 to 2014. He was also a guerrilla leader in the Civil War and is the first ex-rebel to serve as president.

Constitution of El Salvador El Salvadors Current Constitution (1983)

The current constitution of El Salvador was enacted in 1983 and amended in 2003. The 1983 constitution of El Salvador is similar to that of 1962, often incorporating verbatim passages from the earlier document. The constitution consists of 11 titles, subdivided into 274 articles.

Military dictatorship in El Salvador 1931–1979 military regime in El Salvador

The Salvadoran military government, officially known as the Republic of El Salvador, and simply known as El Salvador, was the period of time in Salvadoran history where the Salvadoran Armed Forces governed the country for almost 48 years from 2 December 1931 until 15 October 1979. The authoritarian military dictatorship limited political rights throughout the country and maintained its governance through rigged and fixed elections.

2012 Salvadoran legislative and local elections

Legislative and local elections were held in El Salvador on 11 March 2012 to choose 84 members of the legislative assembly and 262 mayors. The election was carried out by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The opposition Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) narrowly defeated the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and its ally Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA).

Truth Commission for El Salvador

The Truth Commission for El Salvador was a restorative justice truth commission approved by the United Nations to investigate the grave wrongdoings that occurred throughout the country's twelve year civil war. It is estimated that 1.4 percent of the Salvadoran population was killed during the war. The commission operated from July 1992 until March 1993, when its findings were published in the final report, From Madness to Hope. The eight-month period heard from over 2,000 witness testimonies and compiled information from an additional 20,000 witness statements.

The 1979 Salvadoran coup d’état was a military coup d'état that occurred in El Salvador on 15 October 1979. The coup, led by young military officers, bloodlessly overthrew military President Carlos Humberto Romero and sent him into exile. The National Conciliation Party's firm grasp on power was cut, and in its place, the military established the Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador (JRG). The junta was composed of two military officers and three civilians.

Death squads in El Salvador were right-wing paramilitary groups acting in opposition to Marxist-Leninist guerrilla forces, most notably of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, and their allies among the civilian population before, during, and after the Salvadoran Civil War. The paramilitaries committed the vast majority of murders and massacres during the civil war and were heavily aligned with the United States-backed government.

El Paraíso massacre Massacre in El Salvador in 1982

The El Paraíso massacre was a massacre that occurred near the town of El Paraíso in Chalatenango, El Salvador, on 17 March 1982. During the massacre, soldiers from the Atonal Battalion attacked and killed four Dutch journalists and a disputed number of guerrillas from the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

References

  1. 1 2 Pace, Eric (February 24, 1990). "Jose Napoleon Duarte, Salvadoran Leader In Decade of War and Anguish, Dies at 64". The New York Times . Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Chomsky, Noam (1985). Turning the Tide . Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. pp.  16–28, 109–27. ISBN   9780896082663.
  3. Grandin & Joseph, Greg & Gilbert (2010). A century of Revolution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 3–4, 391.
  4. Wood, Elizabeth (2003). Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  5. "El Salvador". Lcweb2.loc.gov. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  6. "CNN Cold War – Profile: Jose Napoleon Duarte Fuentes". CNN. Archived from the original on 2008-04-15. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  7. New York Times, "5,000 in San Salvador Take Part in a March for Murdered Prelate", 27 March 1980.
  8. Duarte: My Story, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1986 ISBN   0-399-13202-3.
Political offices
Preceded by
Álvaro Magaña
President of El Salvador
June 1, 1984–June 1, 1989
Succeeded by
Alfredo Cristiani