Schafik Handal

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Schafik Handal
Schafik Handal
Deputy in the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador
In office
1 February 1997 – 24 January 2006
Personal details
Born(1930-10-14)October 14, 1930
Usulután, El Salvador
DiedJanuary 24, 2006(2006-01-24) (aged 75)
San Salvador, El Salvador
Political partyFarabundo Martí National Liberation Front

Schafik Jorge Handal (Arabic: شفيق جورج حنضل‎; October 14, 1930 – January 24, 2006) was a Salvadoran politician. Born in Usulután, he was the son of Palestinian immigrants from the town of Bethlehem.[1]


Between 1973 and 1994, he was the general secretary of the Communist Party of El Salvador. As GS of the PCS, Handal embraced elections and rejected armed struggle to conquer political power in El Salvador. Later on, after two allegedly fraudulent elections in 1972 and in 1977, and despite the intervention of the Communist Party of Cuba (History of the FMLN, newspaper "Frente"), Handal became convinced that the defeat of the military dictatorship would not be possible through elections. As a guerrilla leader in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was a member of the group that brought five opposition forces together to found the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Following the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992, the FMLN converted itself from a guerrilla army into a political party, and Handal served as its general coordinator. In 1997, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly, serving as the leader of the FMLN's party bloc in the legislature.

He was the FMLN's candidate in El Salvador's 2004 presidential election, held on March 21, running on a leftist platform that called for a friendly relationship with the United States (according to his own pamphlet for the campaign), renegotiation of free trade treaties and a closer relationship with socialist-oriented countries in Latin America, including Cuba, Venezuela and more liberal Brazil. Opponents accused Handal of exploiting anti-American sentiment while FMLN supporters accused the United States of corrupting the electoral process, because several high-ranking U.S. officials stated that American relations with El Salvador would be seriously threatened if Handal won the elections. Handal was defeated by the candidate of the ruling conservative ARENA party, Antonio Saca, who was also of Palestinian descent, by a margin of 58% to 36%. The election saw a turnout of 70% at the polls.

Handal died less than two years after his failed presidential bid, on January 24, 2006, of a heart attack. He fainted at Comalapa Airport upon his return from Bolivia where he had attended the inauguration ceremony of President Evo Morales; he was flown by helicopter to a San Salvador hospital but doctors were unable to revive him.

Awards and Honors[edit]

On January 16, 2004, he was invested with the title of Honorary Professor of Political Science of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in a ceremony held at the Universidad de El Salvador.

Posthumously, he was declared "Meritorious Son of the City of San Salvador" by the Mayor of San Salvador Carlos Rivas Zamora, and deputies of the PARLACEN granted him an acknowledgement of "Central American Merit Honor". The Permanent Commission of Political Parties of Latin America (COPPPAL) induced him posthumously with the order "Luis Donaldo Colosio".[2] In this connection, it should also be mentioned that on 27 January 2006, the General University Assembly of the University of El Salvador agreed to propose to the Higher University Council of that same university that the "Doctorate Honoris Causa Post Mortem" be awarded to Schafik Hándal, who approved that recommendation on 6 April 2006. 69 The posthumous awarding ceremony of this honorary title, together with a medal of honor, took place on September 19, 2006 at the Cine Teatro of that educational center, being received by Jorge Schafik Handal Vega, son of Schafik Hándal, from the hands of Dr. María Isabel Rodríguez, who at that time was the rector of that institution of higher education.[3]

The auxiliary Catholic bishop of San Salvador, Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chávez, said that Hándal was the greatest politician of the country in the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century.The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, was one of the Latin American leaders who most grieved over the death of Hándal, who considered him a great revolutionary.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mendez, Diego. "Shafik Handal; leader of El Salvador's leftist party; 75." Associated Press at San Diego Union-Tribune. January 30, 2006. Retrieved on February 10, 2009.
  2. ^ "The FSLN has total possibilities of returning to power: Tomás Borge," Diario CoLatino, February 20, 2006.
  3. ^ "Fabio Castillo Contreras: Schafik was not as his detractors present it", La Gazeta Universitaria, Weekly publication of the Communications Secretariat of the University of El Salvador, September 25, 2006, Época 1/117, Page 1. The copy of this university newspaper containing this news item can be read in "La Gazeta" on the website of the "Asociación Cultural Cataluña - El Salvador"[1], whose original title of this site is in Catalan.
  4. ^ “Thousands of Salvadorans bid farewell to Schafik Handal,” Granma Digital, La Habana, 30 de enero de 2006.

External links[edit]