FMLN: Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, a Salvadoran Left-wing Political Party

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Sep 7th, 2023
FMLN: Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front
FMLN 2018 at Cuscatlan Stadium.

The FMLN, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front or Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberación Nacional, is the only left-wing political party in El Salvador. The FMLN, until February 2021, was one of the two main political parties in El Salvador.

The FMLN was created in the 1980s; at that time, the organization’s main objective was to coordinate the five guerrilla groups engaged in the civil war against the government and the military.

After the 1992 peace accords, the FMLN became an official political party. Between 1992 and 2019, this left-wing political party was the main opposition to ARENA, the other major political party in El Salvadora at that time.

The FMLN and the Upcoming 2024 Elections

Going into the 2024 elections, the left-wing political party faces a tough challenge, especially after the prominent defeats the party received in the 2018 and 2021 elections.

SEE ALSO: Can Salvadoran political parties ARENA and FMLN recover political ground

The FMLN is so unpopular that the latest survey by Francisca Gavidia University shows that only a small percentage of voters would consider voting for their candidates.

According to the survey, only 2.8% would consider voting for their presidential candidates (Manuel “El Chino” Flores y Werner Marroquin). The survey also shows that the FMLN would be reduced to only one deputy in the 2024 Legislative Assembly. The FMLN won 31 seats in 2015, 23 in 2018, and 4 in 2021.

Manuel El Chino Flores FMLN
Manuel “El Chino” Flores.

FMLNs Collapse in the 2018 and 2021 Elections

From 2000 to 2021, the FMLN was one of the two main political forces in El Salvador; the left-wing political party won the presidency in 2009 and 2014. However, all the political ground they had gained came crashing down in the 2019 presidential elections.

In the 2019 elections, Nayib Bukele won the presidency with 53.1% of the votes in the first round. The FMLN, who had control of the executive since 2009, came in 3rd place, with 14.4% of the votes.

The FMLN lost support because they expelled Nayib Bukele from the party; at that time, Bukele was the most prominent figure in the political party.

The Bukele effect on the political party got more visible in the 2021 Municipal and Legislative elections. The FMLN went from having 23 legislators in 2018 to only 4 in 2021. Also, the FMLN went from controlling 64 municipal governments in 2018 to 30 in 2021.

FMLN high ranking members
FMLN high ranking members in 2021.

The left-wing political party decline is attributed to the expelling of Nayib Bukele and the corruption cases involving their two presidents, both of whom left El Salvador and are now living in Nicaragua under the protection of Daniel Ortega.

The FMLN Presidents.

The FMLN gained control of the executive branch in 2009 with Mauricio Funes. And in 2014, it won the presidency again with Salvador Sanchez Ceren. The FMLN controlled the executive branch for 10 consecutive years.

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes Cartagena
Former Salvadoran Presidents Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Mauricio Funes.

Ex-president Mauricio Funes. (2009 to 2014)

The left-wing political party ascended to Executive Power in 2009 with former President Mauricio Funes. Funes was a charismatic radio personality who captivated enough votes in the general election to become president.

Even though Funes and his administration did accomplish many things that helped many Salvadorans. The Mauricio Funes presidency is remembered for two things. Firstly, the many allegations of corruption by him and members of his administration. Secondly, the truce between gangs that the government helped create.

The Salvadoran government has charged Funes with multiple counts, including corruption, money laundering, and illicit enrichment. These allegations against Funes are a significant reason the FMLN has lost political power.

Additionally, the Funes administration negotiated a truce between the two most extensive Salvadoran gangs. The goal of the gang truce was to reduce violence; however, it backfired as this truce gave the criminal organizations more power and control of jails.

However, ex-President Mauricio Funes was sentenced to 14 years for negotiating with gangs. Funes was tried in absentia as the former president is still living in in Nicaragua.

SEE ALSO: Salvadoran Ex-President Mauricio Funes Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Negotiating with Gangs

As of this date, Funes remains in Nicaragua, fighting against the Salvadoran government’s extradition requests and saying that he is innocent of all the charges.

Ex-president Salvador Sanchez Ceren. (2014 to 2019)

The second presidency for the left-wing political party didn’t go well. The Sanchez Ceren presidency is remembered for the high levels of violence the country experienced during his tenure as president.

When Sanchez Ceren took office, the gang truce negotiated by his predecessor was over; therefore, the country received the fruits of the failed gang truce in all the violence.

Because of the Funes gang truce, the gangs became more powerful and violent; for example, the daily homicide rate increased to 103 murders per 100,000 people (18.3 killings per day.) Yes, that is correct; during the first full year of the Sanchez Ceren presidency, the country averaged 18.3 murders per day for an entire year.

Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, FMLN.

Since its formation in 1992, the left-wing political party has had many moments of high achievement; however, they have had many bad ones. In 2023, the FMLN political party is certainly unpopular. As previously stated, the reasons range from the ex-presidents all the way to the current president Nayib Bukele.