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El Salvador: Political, Economic, and Social Conditions and U.S. Relations

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Congressional rept.

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Throughout the last few decades, the United States has maintained a strong interest in El Salvador, a small Central American country with a population of 7.2 million. During the 1980s, El Salvador was the largest recipient of U.S. aid in Latin America as its government struggled against the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front FMLN insurgency during a 12-year civil war. A peace accord negotiated in 1992 brought the war to an end and formally assimilated the FMLN into the political process as a political party. After the peace accords were signed, U.S. involvement shifted toward helping the government rebuild democracy and implement market-friendly economic reforms. Mauricio Funes of the FMLN was inaugurated to a 5-year presidential term in June 2009. Funes won a close election in March 2009, marking the first FMLN presidential victory and the first transfer in political power between parties since the end of El Salvadors civil war. Nine months into his term, President Funes has high approval ratings, but faces a number of political, economic, and social challenges. The National Assembly is fragmented, which means that Funes has to form coalitions with other parties to advance his legislative agenda. The U.S. recession has negatively impacted El Salvadors economy, increasing the countrys already widespread poverty. The countrys economic situation worsened considerably after Tropical Storm Ida hit in early November 2009. The storm caused 190 deaths, left 14,000 people homeless, and wrought millions of dollars in damage. Also, El Salvadors violent crime rates remain among the highest in the world. Maintaining close ties with the United States has been a primary foreign policy goal of El Salvadors successive governments, and will likely be a key focus for the Funes government as well. Although some Members of Congress expressed reservations about working with an FMLN administration, relations between El Salvador and the United States have remained friendly.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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