ARENA named formed president Alfredo Cristiani as the head of the party late last week. Cristiani, whose family is part of the 14 families who make up the oligarchy, was elected President of El Salvador in 1989, marking the beginning of ARENA's twenty-year rule over the country. His presidency was marred by scandal and corruption. In 1989, the Salvadoran army shot and murdered six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and the housekeeper's teenage daughter at their residence in the Central American University. Recently, the Center for Justice and Accountability filed a criminal case in Spain against Cristiani and fourteen members and former members of the Salvadoran military for their involvement in crimes against humanity and state terrorism. In January of this year, a Spanish judge formally charged Cristiani and the members of the military for their roles in the murders of the Jesuits and the women.
The naming of Cristiani to ARENA's party leadership came just ten days after current President Tony Saca announced that a former president of El Salvador would not take over party leadership. However, many party members blame Saca for ARENA's loss in the recent presidential election to the FMLN and for "using the party for his own particular interests." In a veiled criticism of Saca, Cristiani emphasized the importance of "returning to the party's roots."
*Photo: Cristiani speaks as Rodrigo Ávila and Tony Saca listen behind him. Photo from El Faro.
- Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator