Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN)
The FMLN was formed as an umbrella group on October 10, 1980, from five leftist guerrilla organizations:
- the Fuerzas Populares de Liberación Farabundo Martí (FPL),
- People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP),
- the Resistencia Nacional (RN),
- the Partido Comunista Salvadoreño (PCS) and
- the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC).
The FMLN was one of the main participants in the Salvadoran Civil War. After peace accords were signed in 1992, all armed FMLN units were demobilized and their organization became a legal left-wing political party in El Salvador.
On March 15, 2009, the FMLN won the presidential elections with former journalist Mauricio Funes as its candidate. Two months earlier in municipal and legislative elections, the FMLN won the majority of the mayoralties in the country and a plurality of the National Assembly seats.
Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional
|Founded||October 10, 1980|
|Youth wing||Farabundo Martí Youth|
|International affiliation||São Paulo Forum,
|Seats in the Legislative Assembly||
31 / 84
85 / 262
|Central American Parliament||
8 / 20
Civil war and emergence
On December 17, 1979, in period of national crisis, the three dominant organizations (FPL, RN and PCS) of the Salvadoran left formed the Coordinadora Político-Militar. The CPM’s first manifesto was released on January 10, 1980, and the day after, the Coordinadora Revolucionaria de Masas was formed as a union of revolutionary mass organizations. CRM later merged with the Frente Democrático Salvadoreño to form the Frente Democrático Revolucionario.
It is alleged by the United States that some credit for the unity of the five organizations that formed the FMLN may belong to Cuba’s Fidel Castro, who facilitated negotiation between the groups in Havana in December 1979. However, neither the Cuban nor Soviet government were significantly responsible for forming FMLN, although it received some of its arms and supplies from the Soviet Union and Cuba. While all five groups called themselves revolutionaries and socialists, they had serious ideological and practical differences, and there had been serious conflicts, even including in some cases bloodshed, between some of the groups during the 1970s.
On May 22, 1980, the success of negotiations led to the union of the major guerrilla forces under one flag. The Unified Revolutionary Directorate (Dirección Revolucionaria Unificada) was created by the FPL, RN, ERP and PCS. DRU consisted of three Political Commission members from each of these four organizations. The DRU manifesto declared, “There will be only one leadership, only one military plan and only one command, only one political line.” Despite continued infighting DRU succeeded in coordinating the group’s efforts and equipped forces.
On October 10, 1980, the four organizations formed the Frente Farabundo Martí de Liberación Nacional (FMLN), taking the name of Farabundo Martí, the peasant leader during the 1932 Salvadoran peasant massacre. In December 1980, the Salvadoran branch of the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos broke away from its central organization and affiliated itself to FMLN. Thus the FMLN was composed of the following organizations at the time of the peace accords in 1992 (listed in the order of size):
- Bloque Popular Revolucionario (BPR), armed wing Fuerzas Populares de Liberación (FPL), “Farabundo Martí”
- Partido Comunista Salvadoreño (PCS), armed wing Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación (FAL)
- Partido de la Revolución Salvadoreña (PRS), armed wing Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo, ERP (El Salvador)
- Resistencia Nacional (RN), armed wing Fuerzas Armadas de la Resistencia Nacional (RN-FARN)
- Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC), armed wing Ejército Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos, (ERTC)
Youth organizations of FMLN at the time of armed struggle included:
Student unions (High Schools):
- MERS – Movimiento Estudiantil Revolucionario de Secundaria (BPR)
- BRES – Brigadas Revolucionarias de Estudiantes de Secundaria (MLP)
- LPS – Ligas Populares de Secundaria (LP-28)
- AES – Asociación de Estudiantes de Secundaria (PCS)
- ARDES – Acción Revolucionaria de Estudiantes de Secundaria (FAPU)
Student unions (Universities):
- AGEUS – Asociación General de Estudiantes de la Universidad de El Salvador
- FUERSA – Frente Universitario de Estudiantes Revolucionarios “Salvador Allende”
After the formation of the FMLN, the group organized its first major military offensive on January 10, 1981. During this offensive, the FMLN established operational control over large sections of Morazán and Chalatenango departments, which remained largely under guerrilla control throughout the rest of the civil war. Insurgents ranged from children to the elderly, both male and female, and most were trained in FMLN camps in the mountains and jungles of El Salvador to learn military techniques.
Another large FMLN offensive was in November 1989. In that offensive, the FMLN caught Salvadoran government and military off guard by taking control of large sections of the country and entering the capital, San Salvador. In San Salvador, the FMLN quickly took control of many of the poor neighborhoods until the military bombed their positions—including residential neighborhoods to drive the FMLN out. One of the most famous battles in San Salvador took place in the Sheraton Hotel ( ), where guerrillas and army soldiers battled floor by floor. The FMLN’s November 1989 offensive did not succeed in overthrowing the government. Many analysts pointed to the FMLN’s show of strength in the 1989 offensive as the turning point in the war, where it became clear that the government would not be able to defeat the FMLN militarily. Soon after the November 1989 offensive, the U.S. government started to support negotiations to end the civil war, whereas up to that point they had pursued a policy of military defeat of the FMLN. Since the U.S. government was the major funder of the Salvadoran government and military, it exercised considerable influence over the course of events. When the U.S. began to advocate negotiations instead of a military solution, a negotiated peace accord between the FMLN and the Salvadoran government was reached in fairly short order in 1992, despite a few incidents that could have marred the accord, such as the high-profile murder of the peace-seeking FPL commandante Antonio Cardenal, aka Jesus Rojas.