National Democratic Organization (orden) By Jesus Alvarado

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National Democratic Organization (ORDEN)

El Salvador

  • Location: Middle America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras

  • Geographical note: Smallest country in South America.

Salvadorian History

  • El Salvador has always been a small country who’s had a problem with maintaining the issue of land distribution since the conquering from the Spanish.

  • The Spanish created a Land distribution system that continued through out the 19th century.

History Cont’

  • When El Salvador established independence, the wealthy elite and military took control.

  • The power was then distributed among the the fourteen elite families and only they decided who land would get distributed too.

  • Problems over Land emerged. Since agriculture dominates the countries wealth, social structure and political dynamics.

  • An established oligarchy was formed.


  • An Oligarchy is a small governing group of people who together govern a nation or control an organization, often for their own purposes (, 2006).

  • Due to the world prices on coffee that fluctuated and no control over the government the peasants decided to revolt to the elites.

(1932) La Matanza

  • Peasant revolt was lead by the father of Salvador’s revolutionary movement, Farabundo Marti and was retaliated by Martinez’s Govt. Who was the current president.

  • Martinez used the national guard, which was created in 1912, who acted as a private security force for the country's landowners, who helped to pay the salaries; when peasant uprisings got out of hand.

  • In the end 30,000 indigenous people and political opponents were murdered, imprisoned or exiled.

Remaining Years

  • From 1930 -1970, authoritarian governments employed political repression and limited reform to maintain power.

  • In 1969 El Salvador invaded Honduras. Which was known as the ( Football War). This War was fought primarily over land.

  • In the 1972 presidential election, the opponents of military rule united under Jose Napoleon Duarte Who was leader of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC).

  • Duarte’s defeat promoted subsequent protests and an attempted coup were crushed and Duarte exiled.

What lead to Orden (cont’)

  • These events eroded hope of reform through democratic means and persuaded those opposed to the government that armed insurrection was the only way to achieve change.

  • As a consequence, leftist groups capitalizing upon social discontent gained strength.

  • Three major groups were backed by communist countries such as Soviet Union and Cub; FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, BPR(Bloque Popular Revolucionario, FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional).

  • By 1979, leftist guerrilla warfare had broken out in the cities and the countryside, launching what became a 12 year civil war.


  • During the civil war a new right wing Paramilitary group emerged from the Guardia Nacional.

  • Under Col. Jose Alberto Medrano

  • Orden was developed and expanded into a highly organized militia force, with military officers in command at the department level, non-commissioned officers coordinating actions from municipal centers, and many members drawn from army reservists and retired National Guard and Treasury Police officers.

  • By the 1980’s Orden had between 50 thousand to 100 thousands militia members.

Orden’s Goal

  • Orden’s purpose was to teach peasants about the evils of Communism and train them to watch out for subversives.

  • Eliminate leftist activist and sympathizers and to deter popular support through intimidation.

Some Incidents That Are Known

  • On 14 May 1990, units of Military Detachment No. 1, the National Guard and the paramilitary Organización Nacional Democrática (ORDEN) deliberately killed at least 300 non-combatants, including women and children, who were trying to flee to Honduras across the Sumpul river beside the hamlet of Las Aradas, Department of Chalatenango. The massacre was made possible by the cooperation of the Honduran armed forces, who prevented the Salvadorian villagers from landing on the other side.

  • The National Guard attacks a massive demonstration, described by Archbishop Romero as peaceful. They killed somewhere between 22-50 people and wound 600-800 others.

  • Archbishop Romero was assassinated March 24, 1980 it is believed that Orden had to do with his assassination

  • Orden tortured and killed as many as 600 Salvadorian peasants near the Sampul River.

Preferable Torture Techniques

  • Beatings

  • Electric shock in back of the ear

  • Suffocation

  • Mutilation

  • Such techniques as

    • Tearing skin of from interrogating subjects
    • Sticking needles in them
    • Beating them in such a manner that the damage was internal and could not be seen.


  • In 1963, the U.S. government sent 10 Special Forces personnel to El Salvador to help General Jose Alberto Medrano set up the Organizacion Democatica Nacionalista (Orden) the first paramilitary death squad in that country. These Green Berets assisted in the organization and indoctrination or rural “civic” squad which gathered intelligence and carried out political assassinations in coordination with the Salvadoran military.

  • U.S. hoped to get rid of communism from El Salvador

Cont. Affiliations

  • Now, there is compelling evidence to show that for over 30 years, members of the U.S. military and the CIA have helped organized, train, and fund death squad activity in El Salvador.

  • Orden supplied recruits for the notorious White Hand (Mano Blanca).

  • Medrano’s protégé, D’Aubuisson, reportedly helped organize the White Warrior Union.

Public Outcry

  • President Reagan publicly denounced the Death Squads, yet CIA support, in the form of personnel training and intelligence gathering continued.

  • It was a violation of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which prohibits spending U.S. funds to provide

    • Training
    • Financial support
    • Information gathering to any foreign government .


  • Human rights groups say right-wing death squads murdered about 40 thousand of the 70 thousand people killed during the 1980-1992 Civil War in El Salvador.















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