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Salvador Sánchez Cerén
Cadena 12 (34186610605) cropped.jpg
Sánchez Cerén in 2017
42nd President of El Salvador
In office
1 June 2014 – 1 June 2019
Vice President Óscar Ortiz
Preceded by Mauricio Funes
Succeeded by Nayib Bukele
35th Vice President of El Salvador
In office
1 June 2009 – 1 June 2014
President Mauricio Funes
Preceded by Ana Vilma de Escobar
Succeeded by Óscar Ortiz
President pro tempore of CELAC
In office
26 January 2017 – 14 January 2019
Preceded by Danilo Medina
Succeeded by Evo Morales
Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador from San Salvador
In office
1 May 2000 – 1 May 2009
Personal details
Born (1944-06-18) 18 June 1944 (age 80)
Quetzaltepeque, El Salvador
  • El Salvador
    (until 2021)
  • Nicaragua
    (since 2021)
Political party Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
Margarita Villalta de Sánchez
(m. 1968)
Children 4
Alma mater Escuela Alberto Masferrer
Military service
Allegiance Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
Years of service 1980–1992
Rank Commander
Battles/wars Salvadoran Civil War

Salvador Sánchez Cerén (Spanish pronunciation: [salβaˈðoɾ ˈsantʃes seˈɾen]; born 18 June 1944), also known by his nom de guerre Leonel González, is a Salvadoran politician who served as the 42nd President of El Salvador from 2014 to 2019. He took office on 1 June 2014, after winning the 2014 presidential election as the candidate of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). He previously served as the 35th Vice President under President Mauricio Funes from 2009 to 2014. He was also a guerrilla leader in the Civil War and is the first and only ex-rebel to serve as that country's president.

Early life

Sánchez Cerén was born in Quezaltepeque in the department of La Libertad, and was the ninth of twelve children, three of his siblings died at young age. His parents struggled to raise nine children. His father, Antonio Alfonso Sánchez was a carpenter and his mother, Dolores Hernández was a merchant. Salvador Sánchez Cerén at a young age had to work with his family to help the family survive. At a young age he was exposed to collective work. His working-class background has always characterized Salvador Sánchez Cerén as a man of communal living, anti-free trade, and redistribution of wealth. He attended Escuela de Varones José Dolores La Reynaga for his middle school education. He attended Alberto Masferrer School in San Salvador and it was there where his political consciousness and participation developed. After graduating as a teacher, he taught for ten years in public and rural schools.

Political ideology

His political ideology derives from the various revolutionary left-wing organizations of which he was a member. He became politically active in the late 1960s when he was a student at Alberto Masferrer School, but he was not part of any political organization until he was introduced to the Unified Popular Action Front (FUAR). The FUAR exposed him for the first time to the political arena and allowed his involvement in the student movement.

He was a member of the PRAM (Partido Revolucionario Abril y Mayo), a political party that was against the dictatorship and advocated anti-imperialism. Then he joined (UDN) Union Democratic Nacionalista and PAR (Partido Accion Renovadora). He was also a participant of the (UNO) Union Nacional Oppositora as a member of the UDN. In essence his experience and the things he learned in San Salvador at Masferrer school from his peers he took back to his town and began to implement it. He was an active member of the ANDES 21 de Junio, a teachers union that practiced and believed in the ideas of Paulo Freire and his analysis on pedagogy. In the 1970s he joined the Fuerzas Populares de Liberación "Farabundo Martí" (FPL), one of the five left-wing organizations, all of differing Marxist–Leninist tendencies, that later merged to form the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Commander Leonel González

In 1980, following the start of the Salvadoran Civil War in 1979, Sánchez Cerén adopted the pseudonym Commander Leonel González, as he was also appointed to the position of "comandante" or commander.

In 1984 Sánchez Cerén became a Commanding General of the FMLN, until the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992, when the guerrillas surrendered their weapons and became a legal political party. Under the leadership of Sánchez Cerén, the FMLN conducted itself in the following manner, according to US Ambassador Charles Glazer in a classified diplomatic cable.

The FMLN leadership described its ideology during the war in a document called "Fundamental Programs for the Salvadoran Revolution," a guerrilla manifesto captured from FMLN Commander Nidia Díaz (who would join Sánchez Cerén as an FMLN politician in the Salvadoran legislature) in April 1985. The FMLN's "fundamental programs" included the following points in 1991:

  • "To establish economic, political, cultural, technical and social bases to build the construction of socialism."
  • "The construction of democracy and socialism."
  • "Our organization is a working class party. Our ideology is Marxism-Leninism."

Political career

In 2000, Sánchez Cerén was elected as a deputy for the FMLN in the Legislative Assembly and was re-elected in 2003 and 2006. Between 2001 and 2004 he served as the general coordinator of his party. In 2006, following the death of Salvadoran Communist Party leader and FMLN Commander Schafik Hándal, he succeeded Hándal as head of the legislative portion of the FMLN. In April 2007 he was chosen as the running mate of Mauricio Funes in the 2009 presidential election. Funes and Sánchez Cerén defeated the ruling Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA).

President of El Salvador

Informe de Primer año de Gobierno (18166952188)
Sánchez Cerén in 2015
Secretary Kerry Meets With Salvadoran President-Elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Salvadoran President-Elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on May 12, 2014.

Sánchez Cerén was nominated as the FMLN's presidential candidate for the 2014 presidential election. Sánchez Cerén attained a plurality of votes in the first round but not the majority, so he and Norman Quijano competed in the second round. Sánchez Cerén received 50.11% of the vote, compared with 49.89% for Quijano in an election contested as fraudulent by the opposing candidate.

Sánchez Cerén was sworn in as president of El Salvador on 1 June 2014.


In April 2017, El Salvador became the first country in the world to forbid the mining of metal on its territory, for environmental and public health reasons.

In August 2018, his government decided to establish diplomatic relationship with the People's Republic of China.

Personal life

In July 2023, he was sanctioned by the United States Department of State for "significant corruption by laundering money" during his tenure as vice president.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Salvador Sánchez Cerén para niños

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