Francisco Flores Pérez

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Francisco Flores
President Francisco Flores El Salvador1.jpg
President of El Salvador
In office
June 1, 1999 – June 1, 2004
Vice President Carlos Quintanilla Schmidt
Preceded by Armando Calderón Sol
Succeeded by Antonio Saca
Personal details
Born (1959-10-17) 17 October 1959 (age 54)
Santa Ana,  El Salvador
Political party Nationalist Republican Alliance
Spouse(s) Lourdes Rodríguez de Flores
Religion Christian

Francisco Guillermo Flores Pérez (born October 17, 1959) is an ex president of El Salvador. He led the country from June 1, 1999 until June 1, 2004 as a member of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).

Background[edit]

He graduated from the Escuela Americana in San Salvador. Flores Pérez earned an associate's degree from the University of Hartford's Hillyer College, then, majored in political science at Amherst College in Massachusetts, United States, and received a Master's in philosophy at World University. He entered politics after the assassination of his father-in-law, who was chief of staff to Alfredo Cristiani.

Political career[edit]

He started his political career as a vice-minister for planning during Alfredo Cristiani's presidency in 1989. Later he served as a vice-minister of the Presidency, with functions as adviser of the head of state, and directed the plan of governmental action in accordance with the peace accords of January 1992 that ended fighting with the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) guerilla group.

In the elections of March 20, 1994, Flores was elected to the Legislative Assembly and the new president, Armando Calderón, made him Secretary of Information of the Presidency.

In 1997, he was elected as the President of the Legislative Assembly. The Law of Telecommunications was signed during his presidency of the Legislative Assembly in which the former gubernamental ANTEL was sold to two societies in the Private Enterprise and at the same time being regulated by this new law. This was signed with the approval of the deputies of the ARENA, PCN and PDC political parties imitating the Neoliberal system that supports the administration of gubernamental agencies by the private enterprise for overall improvement of the coverage in telecommunications.

On March 29, 1998, ARENA announced Flores as their candidate at the presidential elections of the following year. He was considered a moderate within the party. At the age of 39 (the youngest chief executive of the continent at that time), Flores became the third consecutive president from ARENA by winning an outright majority on the elections in March 1999, and took office on July 1, 1999. He served his five-year term, and was succeeded by another of member of his party, Antonio Saca, in July 2004.

Presidency[edit]

The government of Francisco Flores was characterized by its close alignment with United States policies. El Salvador was one of the steadiest allies of the U.S. government in the region. Three undertakings during his term best exemplify Flores's commitment to close US-Salvadoran relations: First, Flores authorized the deployment of Salvadoran troops to Iraq in support of U.S. forces. Second, during his term a successful free-trade agreement was negotiated between the United States and the Central American region, with the late addition of the Dominican Republic to the roster of participating nations; this agreement was ratified recently by most of the region's countries as well as the U.S. Congress. Finally, Flores was the architect of the Salvadoran economy's migration from its historical currency, the colón, to the U.S. dollar.

Dollarization was an extremely controversial measure, both lauded and panned by local and foreign opinion. From the standpoint of the country's business establishment, dollarization brought about great benefits, such as reduced interest rates (which came about by eliminating currency-exchange risk among other factors), easier trade with other commercial partners, and an easier integration onto the global economy.

Criticism[edit]

The tenure of Francisco Flores was not without its critics. His actions to further align El Salvador with the United States has been widely criticized by his political opponents. In the same manner, he was faulted for an autocratic style of governance, which admitted very little compromise or consultation with the opposition. The lack of flexibility exemplified by his government resulted in a number of crippling strikes, most notably one led by the medical professionals in an attempt to forestall a threatened privatization of the country's public health facilities.

Critics of his dollarization efforts accuse him of doing so without popular consensus, except exclusively with bankers. Even though the replacement of colones with dollars proved to reduce interest rates, it also caused a huge long-term inflation as prices were rounded upwards.

He also had to deal with reconstruction efforts after two powerful earthquakes struck the country on January 13, 2001. Delivery of international aid was inefficient and was criticized by reporters, especially Mauricio Funes (who later became President of El Salvador) from the local channel TV12, an affiliate of Mexican company TV Azteca.

Some of his opponents also contend that escalating violence and increasing poverty occurred during his term, but statistics from the World Bank show that poverty did, in fact, decrease during the Flores administration[citation needed].

Another occurrence was the Summit of the Americas where Francisco Flores called Fidel Castro a "dictator" and accused him of being responsible for the thousands deaths that have occurred in El Salvador.[citation needed]

Candidacy for the Organization of American States[edit]

Flores in May 2012

Even before he left office, Francisco Flores had expressed his interest in running for the office of Secretary General of the Organization of American States, a post which was won in late 2004 by Miguel Ángel Rodríguez an ex-president from Costa Rica.

Rodríguez later had to resign from this post when he was indicted in his country for alleged acts of corruption during his tenure as president, a situation which called for an extraordinary election for his successor. Francisco Flores once again expressed his intentions of seeking the post, but after much campaigning, had to withdraw due to lack of support from other member states (even though he counted the United States as his chief backer). This situation could be explained because some of his policies were seen as being to closely aligned to US interests at a time when most Latin American governments were highly critical of the positions adopted by the United States. He was the first US-backed candidate not elected to this post since the establishment of the organization.

Corruption charges[edit]

Francisco Flores and several other key actors in the deal are currently being investigated by the Salvadoran Attorney General for corruption and disobedience charges. These recommendations now face scrutiny and debate in the Legislative Assembly. Attorney General Luis Martínez will take up the case despite Martínez’s history of working in the previous ARENA administration of Tony Saca and being Flores's partner in several business.[1][2]

Judge Marta Rosales asked Interpol for help in arresting Flores. He is being charged with mismanaging $10 million that was donated in 2003 by Taiwan's government during his presidency.[3]

A further charge of disobedience accuses Flores of failing to show up for a meeting with a congressional commission investigating what happened to the money Taiwan donated.

Honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-25649988 Salvadoran ex-leader Flores in Taiwan payment inquiry
  2. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/m/story?id=21088415 El Salvador Looks at Ex-President, Taiwan Donation
  3. ^ http://bigstory.ap.org/article/el-salvador-judge-orders-former-presidents-arrest El Salvador judge orders former president's arrest
  4. ^ Nomination by Sovereign Ordonnance n° 14956 of 20th July 2001 (French)
Political offices
Preceded by
Armando Calderón
President of El Salvador
1999–2004
Succeeded by
Antonio Saca