Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Round trip for Munguía Payés

There should be no doubt that David Munguía Payés is close to Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes.   Funes named him to be Minister of Defense in 2009.   Then in November 2011, Funes named him to be the Minister of Public Security.

Upon taking office as Minister of Public Security, Munguía Payés famously forecast that the government would reduce the homicide rate in the country by more than 30%.    In fact, the homicide rate decreased by more than 50% as a result of the gang truce in March 2012.  That truce remains controversial and fragile today.

Earlier this year, however, the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court ruled that Munguía Payés appointment to be Minister of Public Security was unconstitutional.   According to the Court, a "retired" military officer like Munguía Payés could not be in charge of the country's domestic security and policing, in light of the provisions of the 1992 Peace Accords which removed the military from involvement in the police.  

This week, president Funes returned Munguía Payés to the post of Minister of Defense.   Placing him back in charge of the military just illustrates the wisdom of the earlier Supreme Court ruling.   You can take the general out of the military, but you can't take the military out of the general.

I think we can expect to see more of this traveling Minister before the end of Funes' term in 2014. 

1 comment:

The Wijnands Family said...

The commander of the NH Army National Guard, Brig. Gen. Craig E. Bennett spoke at the opening of a new school built for the community in Las Marias, El Salvador, on June 18, 2013. Twelve days later, PBS aired the film Niños de la Memoria/Children of Memory (you had mentioned on an earlier post).

The New Hampshire Army National Guard has a State Partnership Program (SPP) with El Salvador. This last exercise, Beyond the Horizon, was a humanitarian field training exercise where schools and other facilities were built for the community. Since the NH National Guard is working alongside the Salvadoran military to provide services for the community, the most important service they can render, in my opinion, is to influence either the former Salvadoran minister of defense, Brig. Gen. José Atilio Benitez Parada, or the former-now-current defense minister Munguía Payés, (not that coincidentally, both School of the Americas graduates) to open the secret archives to investigators.

I'm curious to know how Salvadorans feel about the SouthCom slash SPP program in their country. Do they feel that this era is different from the 80s and early 90s in terms of US military support, or is their neighbor to the north simply maintaining its enforcement arm of their foreign policy?