Leftwing president’s choice of general to serve as justice minister angers his ruling party allies
Paulo Paranagua Tuesday 6 December 2011 13.59 GMT
For the first time since the civil war, which left 75,000 dead or missing in El Salvador between 1980 and 1992, a former member of the military has been asked to restore law and order. Last month Mauricio Funes, the country’s first leftwing president since the end of the conflict, swore in retired general David Munguia Payes, previously the defence minister, as the new minister of justice and public security.
The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), the former Marxist guerrilla organisation and now the ruling party, condemned the decision. Human rights campaigners and magistrates joined in the protest, maintaining that his appointment was a violation of the almost 20-year-old peace agreement, which banned the military from law enforcement and set up a national civilian police force.
With 16 murders a day, El Salvador is vying with Honduras for the dubious distinction of the highest rate of homicides in the world. On the route from Colombia to Mexico, Central America is the prey of drug traffickers, and to make matters worse mara youth gangs have terrorised the country for the past decade. Continue reading