25th anniversary of FMLN

In the reporting of the natural disasters earlier this month, I failed to note the 25th anniversary of the founding of the FMLN. October 8, 2005 marked 25 years since 4 revolutionary organizations came together to form the Frente Farabundo Martí­ de Liberación Nacional. The FMLN faced off against the US-backed Salvadoran military for the next 12 years of civil war in the country. You can read more about the FMLN's history at Wikipedia or the web site of the FMLN.

Since the UN-brokered peace accords in 1992, the FMLN has never won the presidency, but it has enjoyed considerable electoral success in mayoral and National Assembly elections. The party won the largest share of seats in the assembly in the most recent elections in 2003, and has always held the mayorship of San Salvador and other important cities.

In 2005, however, the FMLN has seen defections from its ranks as a split between the hard-line, orthodox wing of the party and reformers becomes wider. First, two deputies in the assembly left the party in June, depriving the party of its ability to block passage of the budget. 400 members quit in July, and in September, San Salvador's mayor Carlos Rivas Zamora, quit the party after the hard-line orthodox leadership refused to support him.

As the FMLN moves into its next 25 years, its success may depend on its ability to be flexible, to allow diverse voices in the party, and to develop an agenda and rhetoric which does not remain trapped in reliving the Cold War.

For more on El Salvador's struggling democratic process, read David Holiday's insight-filled February 2005 article in Current History.