ARENA or Nationalist Republican Alliance is a conservative right-wing Salvadoran political party. Since its creation, the ARENA political party has been one of the principal political forces in El Salvador.
ARENA or Alianza Republicana Nacionalista in Spanish was established in 1981 by Roberto D’Aubuisson, a career Salvadoran soldier.
To many Salvadorans, D’Aubuisson is a Salvadoran hero who fought against the FMLN guerillas. However, many other Salvadorans view D’Aubuisson as a murderer; he is credited with creating the Salvadoran death squads of the ’80s.
Furthermore, Roberto D’Aubuisson has been named as one of the principals who ordered the assassination of Monsenior Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez.
The right-wing political ARENA believes in a democratic and representative system of government that emphasizes individual rights, the family as the nucleus of society, and respect for private property.
The ARENA political party in 2020.
During its existence, the right-wing political party has always faced many challenges. Nonetheless, it has regularly managed to come ahead and have an influential presence in Salvadoran politics.
In 2020, in the run-up to the 2021 elections, ARENA faces the highest political challenge they have ever encountered. This time the obstacle is not the usual left-wing political party, FMLN. This time, the barrier is the new political party New Ideas and President Nayib Bukele.
The latest political polls reveal that, in the next elections, the right-wing political party will lose a significant percentage of its representatives in the Legislative Assembly. Right now, ARENA holds 37 of the 84 seats.
There are many reasons why ARENA has become so unpopular, those that stand out the most are the corruption charges against the former ARENA presidents. Also, the meetings of Norman Quijano and Ernesto Muyshondt with the gang leader, which were videotaped; and lastly, the popularity of President Nayib Bukele.
The ARENA leadership says that the elections are still a long way off and that they will do everything possible to keep the current 37 seats they have.
The 2021 political campaign will be an interesting one, mainly due to the presence of COVID-19 in El Salvador. Traditional politicians will have to adapt to new ways of campaigning.
Salvadoran ex-presidents belonging to ARENA.
Since the 1991 peace accords that ended the Salvadoran civil war, ARENA has been in control of the executive branch of government four times. Four of the last seven Salvadoran presidents were part of the ARENA political party.
Ex-president Elias Antonio “Tony” Saca. (2004 to 2009)
Elías Antonio Saca is a Salvadoran politician that was affiliated with the right-wing political party ARENA. Saca was president of El Salvador from June 2004 to June 2009; right now, Saca is serving a 10-year prison sentence for corruption and money laundering.
Tony Saca’s presidency is known for the vast amounts of money from public funds that disappeared. It is estimated that more than 200 million dollars of state funds vanished during this presidency.
The former president was charged on October 21, 2013, with corruption and money laundering. In March 2016, the Supreme Court of El Salvador ordered Tony Saca to be tried for unlawful enrichment. Then, on September 12, 2018, a Salvadoran court found him guilty and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Ex-president Francisco Flores. (1999 to 2004)
Francisco “Paco” Flores was a Salvadoran politician who served as President of El Salvador from June 1999 to June 2004. Flores, throughout his political career, was affiliated with the Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA.
During his tenure as president, Flores oversaw the replacement of the Salvadoran colon with the US dollar, as El Salvador’s official currency.
Flores has the distinction of being the first former Salvadoran president to be accused and tried on corruption charges.
In 2014, former President Francisco Flores was accused of pocketing over 10 million dollars donated by the country of Taiwan. This money was intended for survivors of the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador.
The money intended for the survivors of the earthquake never arrived. Instead, the money ended up in the hand of ex-president Flores who publicly declared that he gave the funds to the right-wing political party ARENA. Francisco Flores passed away before his trial was completed.
Ex-president Armando Calderon Sol. (1994 to 1999)
Calderón Sol was President of El Salvador from June 1994 to June 1999. He was the first President elected in El Salvador after twelve years of civil war. The former President was a lawyer, businessman, and one of the founders of the ARENA party, in 1981.
Ex-president Alfredo Cristiani. (1989 to 1994)
Cristiani was President of El Salvador from 1989 to 1994. Among his most important achievements was ending the bloody Salvadoran civil war.
Alfredo Cristiani is also known for the privatization of Salvadoran banks, something that many Salvadoran see as corruption.
During the privatization process, the ex-president’s family bought a considerable amount of shares in one of El Salvador’s largest banks, Banco Cuscatlán. This bank was eventually privatized, which made Cristiani’s family a lot of money.
In 2020, the right-wing political party is still being affected by what their ex-presidents did.
Now, it is necessary to point out that Calderon Sol and Cristiani have never been officially charged with any crimes. Their presidencies are mentioned in acts of corruption, but they have never been charged.
On the other hand, ex-presidents Tony Saca and Paco Flores were officially charged with corruption and brought to trial. Tony Saca was found guilty and sentenced, while Paco Flores dies before his trial concluded.
Republican Nationalist Alliance ARENA.
There is no doubt that the right-wing political party has had a prominent influence on Salvadoran politics, both in the Legislative Assembly and in the executive branch.
ARENA has many followers, especially companies and people considered to be high class or wealthy. For many, ARENA will always be a great force of politics in El Salvador, only time will tell if this trend will continue.
The future of the right-wing political party is uncertain; recent political reveals that they are about to hit a brick wall. Nonetheless, this party has faced many challenges before and are still here.
One thing is for sure in Salvadoran politics, from now until the 2021 elections get completed, we are going to see plenty of political entertainment.