Saturday, February 11, 2006

El Salvador leader dies

The founder of El Salvador's Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN), 75-year-old Commander Schafik Handal, died from coronary failure Jan. 24. He had just returned to El Salvador from Bolivia where he was an honored guest at the inauguration of President Evo Morales. Handal, the son ofPalestinian immigrants, was instrumental in bringing together several left groups to form the FMLN guerrilla organization in 1980. FMLN struggle against aggression from the El Salvador military, fighting for their rights of equality (for the indigenous people and for women), education, food and shelter. Many held out in the rainforests of El Salvador, awaiting the day that the battle would be won and they could be free to return to their homes. A dozen years later, following peace accords in 1992, the organization transformed into a recognized political party. Running on a left program, Handel was theparty's presidential candidate in the 2004 elections, but he lost to the candidate of the far right wing ARENA party. Many of the rights that the guerillas had fought and died for have still not been granted.

For more info on FMLN, check out the documentary "Maria's Story."

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