BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK
Ex-paramilitaries clash in El Salvador
Police officers detain a suspect during riots by former paramilitaries in the El Salvador capital of San Salvador
At least 8000 protesters besieged the city centre
By the BBC's Mike Lanchin in San Salvador

Police have clashed in the capital of El Salvador with thousands of former paramilitaries demanding compensation payments for their years of service during the country's civil war.

Government buildings were evacuated and the day's session in Congress was suspended as more than 8,000 former paramilitaries besieged the city centre.

At least 12 people were arrested and a number of policemen injured as protesters fought a pitch battle with police outside the main government buildings which the ex-paramilitaries had blocked earlier in the day.

Since the civil war ended in 1992, the paramilitaries have been demanding payments for their role in supporting the army in its fight with left-wing guerrillas trying to topple the government.


In their continuing campaign for recognition, the former members of the civil defence unit that had helped the army fight the left wing rebels in the civil war poured into San Salvador from different parts of the country, causing chaos across the capital.

Police sources said it was by far the biggest concentration of former paramilitaries since their campaign of protests began shortly after the war ended in 1992.

Police huddle for protection during a riot by former paramilitaries in San Salvador
Protests began in 1982 shortly after the end of civil war in El Salvador
Previous protests have often ended in violence and even fatalities.

On this occasion police stood back, watching from a distance. However, when frustrations began to set in and the first bricks were thrown in their direction, officers in full riot gear responded with teargas and baton charges.


Several leaders of the protesters were among the first arrested as police and ex-paramilitaries fought along a four-lane highway outside Congress.

By late afternoon calm had returned to the city centre as groups of the former paramilitaries were cut off from each other by the police action.

The former paramilitaries, many of them from poor peasant backgrounds, are demanding compensation of $1000 dollars each, payments they say are due from their years of service.

But successive governments here have rejected these demands claiming lack of funds, a fact that has only further fuelled protests.

See also:

13 Sep 00 | Americas
Fever emergency in El Salvador
07 Sep 00 | Americas
Flood emergency in El Salvador
08 Jul 00 | Americas
El Salvador backs US drug base
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories