FMLN leader Schafik Handal dies of heart attack

Schafik Handal, the ex-guerilla commander who was the FMLN candidate for president of El Salvador in 2004, died of a heart attack today. Here is the report from Reuters:

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Former Salvadoran guerrilla commander and ex-presidential hopeful Schafik Handal died of a heart attack on Tuesday at the age of 75, his party said.

Handal was a senior member of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN, rebel group that fought a 12-year civil war with right-wing governments that ended in 1992.

Handal had a heart attack at San Salvador airport while returning from the weekend inauguration of new Bolivian President Evo Morales, FMLN officials said.

Once the Central American country's Communist Party leader, Handal headed the rebels' negotiating team during peace talks in the early 1990s.

Gray-bearded and feisty, he lost heavily to conservative Tony Saca at presidential elections in March 2004. The veteran leftist had promised to withdraw El Salvador's small troop contingent from Iraq.

His violent past and fears of damage to El Salvador's relations with the United States were blamed for the defeat.


Anonymous said…
I wonder if the altitude of La Paz had anything to do with his passing. Going from sea level (San Salvador?) to 3600 m and back again can be pretty stressful.
Anonymous said…
After spending much of the past summer in El Salvador my heart is broken with the news of Schafik. There I experienced tireless, top-priority committment of FMLN members and their families working tirelessly toward basic human rights and recognized need for social justice in El Salvador. I can only think that too many years of intense personal sacrifice was the index cause. The good thing is that he witnessed the changing political tide in Latino America. May his will and spirit embrace the people of El Salvador.
Anonymous said…
Everyone speaks of atrocities by the right wing government in El Salvador; however, completely omits the atrocities committed by the FMLN. Yes, there was the right-wing massacre of El Mozote; which was wrong, callous, and cowardly. But lts not forget the victims of the FMLN; the innocent victims of the mines, those kidnapped and murdered; the campesinos who chose not to pick sides, right nor left. Everyone seems to have a romantic notion of the revolution; perpetrated by Hollywood, ignorant people who idolize Handal are blinded to the self absorbed Jackal he truly was.
Our consolation, Handal will now answer to higher authority; this time, Handal doesn’t get to pick sides – His soul will either reside in the place of the righteous dead or the unrighteous dead.
And that’s the way I see it.