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.