Sunday, January 31, 2016

Francisco Flores, former president of El Salvador, dies

Former Salvadoran president Francisco Flores died today, after going into a coma a week ago when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.  His death came in the middle of his prosecution for corruption charges based on revelations that he had misappropriated $15 million in earthquake relief funds  and used them for political purposes.

Flores was El Salvador's president from 1999-2004, elected on the ticket of the right wing ARENA party.  His time in office included the change of the country's currency to the US dollar, two massive earthquakes in 2001, attempts to privatize various public sector services, a close relationship with the Bush administration, and rising gang violence.

 From the AP report of his death:

Flores had a meteoric rise to the presidency, but once there gained a reputation for being arrogant and distant from his people. He became El Salvador’s first president to be charged and put on trial for acts of corruption during his time in office.
“The people will remember him for the terrible dollarization, for the Firm Hand (to combat crime) and as corrupt,” said Angelica Rivas, who works with a nonprofit organization promoting women’s rights. 
Jeannette Aguilar, of the University Institute of Public Opinion at the Central American University Jose Simeon Canas, said that various studies showed Flores’ presidency to be among the worst based on public opinion. 
“He was a leader with an arrogant style, a lot of hubris, not close to the people, who responded to the interests of the economic elite who at that time dominated Arena,” Aguilar said.
 The criminal case against Flores ended with his death, but civil proceedings can continue.  In addition, civil society organizations want an investigation and prosecution of accomplices of Flores.

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