El Salvador Also Commemorates November 11

This open letter was written by Toronto-based FMLN activist Rene Salazar and first posted to the organization Barrio Nuevo’s internal list, and then later circulated through Facebook. H/t to BASICS for this.

In Canada and much of the Commonwealth, today is a day to remember the many tragedies of war.  In El Salvador, today is also a day to commemorate.

Twenty-one years ago, all of the FMLN’s military fronts launched their largest general offensive, one that reached for the first time the streets and neighbourhoods of the capital’s elite.  The offensive was impressive for its degree of organization and effectiveness.  It challenged the Salvdaorean government’s claims that the FMLN insurgency had no popular base and was in its final stages.  Just as the Berlin Wall and “communism” had fallen so would the FMLN, claimed the right-wing ARENA

government of the time.  That FMLN combatants were able to reach and hold key sectors of San Salvador shocked the Salvadorean state and its US benefactor to the point that the Salvadorean military committed one of its most infamous and egregious terrorist acts.  Five days after the start of the offensive, US-trained Salvadorean military special forces murdered six Jesuit professors, their assistant, and her teenage daughter on the lawn of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University.  Why were the Jesuits targeted?  For several years, the professors’ penchant for speaking truth to power was a thorn in the side of a repressive Salvadorean state.  That was El Salvador, and that – only one of too many atrocities – demonstrates the need for the FMLN popular insurgency.

After the Salvadorean military ruthlessly resorted to bombing the working class neighbourhoods held by the combatants in the capital, the FMLN eventually retreated to its rural strongholds.  Despite failing to achieve its ultimate objective (taking power), the FMLN general offensive of 11 November 1989 was of vital importance in furthering the peace process and establishing a minimal democracy in the country.  The Salvadorean government could no longer deny the FMLN’s organizational capacity and significant popular support.  The guerrilleros were going nowhere, so the negotiated political solution the FMLN had pushed from the onset of the war was the only way out.

So, as we remember today, perhaps we can also dedicate a few thoughts to that offensive twenty-one years ago, to the 80,000 Salvadoreans who died in twelve years of war, and to all those martyred for their commitment to justice.

In remembrance,


PS: Here you’ll find an excellent interview of Antonio Cardenal Caldera (Comandante Jesús Rojas), an FMLN (FPL) commander who was killed in a military ambush in 1991.


Posted on November 11, 2010, in Anti-War & Anti-Imperialism, Imperialism & Colonialism, Latin America, Radical History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on El Salvador Also Commemorates November 11.

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