Country Listing

El Salvador Table of Contents

El Salvador


The United States provided some basic equipment and training to the public security forces. Between 1957 and 1974, the United States, under the auspices of the Public Safety Program of the Agency for International Development (AID), improved the law enforcement investigations, communications, and intelligence capabilities of the police services, including the GN. The US$2.1 million program assisted in the formation of two fifty-member, rapid-reaction, riot-control units based at the national police headquarters in the capital and similar units in national police quarters in San Miguel and Santa Ana. Program advisers also reorganized the Police Academy and implemented various measures to improve police antiterrorist capabilities. The GN's Special Investigations Section (Servicio de Investigaciones Especiales-- SIE) received considerable United States assistance in the early 1970s. The Public Safety Program also aided in expanding and training personnel of the Customs Police, which grew from 250 members in 1967 to 527 in 1974. Until 1981 the Carter administration limited United States security assistance to El Salvador to "nonlethal" items, such as bullet-proof vests, in an unsuccessful attempt to force the Salvadoran security forces to improve their human rights practices.

In late 1985, the Reagan administration, alarmed by several significant terrorist incidents in El Salvador, including the slaying of five Marine guards attached to the United States embassy, notified Congress that three United States military advisers in El Salvador would begin training 420 members of the PH, PN, and GN in antiterrorism techniques. The administration also intended to equip these forces with rifles, ammunition, patrol vehicles, and communications gear. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 prohibited the United States from providing financial support, training, or advice for the law enforcement forces of any foreign country. The United States Congress, however, passed an amendment to the act waiving the general police aid prohibition for El Salvador and Honduras for FY 1986 and FY 1987, contingent on biannual presidential certification of significant progress in reducing human rights violations in those countries. Under the waiver, the United States provided US$3.1 million in police training to El Salvador in FY 1986 and another US$14 million in FY 1987 through both the Antiterrorism Assistance Act and the Administration of Justice Program.

United States efforts to aid the counterterrorist capability of the Salvadoran armed forces included the formation in 1985 of a hostage-rescue unit called the Special Antiterrorist Command (Comando Especial Anti-Terrorista--CEAT). Although under the direct command of the army chief of staff, the CEAT reportedly consisted of PH members. Under the United States Law Enforcement Counterterrorism Assistance Program, El Salvador received several million dollars in police assistance. As a result of funding cutbacks, only three trainers were working with the public security forces on a national level in mid-1988. That year, the security forces also organized the Joint Intelligence Operations Center (Centro de Operaciones Conjuntos de Inteligencia--COCI), with a mission to collect, integrate, and analyze intelligence relating to terrorist activities in the San Salvador metropolitan area.

Data as of November 1988