Carlos Humberto Romero

Carlos Humberto Romero
37th President of El Salvador
In office
1 July 1977 – 15 October 1979
Vice PresidentJulio Ernesto Astacio
Preceded byArturo Armando Molina
Succeeded byRevolutionary Government Junta
Álvaro Magaña as President
Minister of National Defense
In office
1 July 1972 – 1 July 1977
PresidentArturo Armando Molina
Preceded byFidel Torres
Succeeded byFederico Castillo Yanes
Personal details
Carlos Humberto Romero Mena

(1924-02-29)29 February 1924
Chalatenango, El Salvador
Died27 February 2017(2017-02-27) (aged 92)
San Salvador, El Salvador
Political partyNational Conciliation Party
SpouseGloria Guerrero de Romero
Alma materCaptain General Gerardo Barrios Military School
Military service
Allegiance El Salvador
Branch/serviceSalvadoran Army

General Carlos Humberto Romero Mena (29 February 1924[1] – 27 February 2017) was a Salvadoran army general politician who served as President of El Salvador[2] from 1 July 1977, until his overthrow in a coup d'état on 15 October 1979.

Early life

Romero was born in Chalatenango, El Salvador, on 29 February 1924.

Military career

Romero studied at the Captain General Gerardo Barrios Military School and the Command and General Staff School. He did specialized horse riding studies in Mexico.

Romero was appointed on 1 July 1972 as Minister of Defense and Public Security. In 1973, he served as president of CONDECA (Central American Defense Council).

Political career

Romero was a member of the National Conciliation Party,[3] and also served as Defense Minister from 1972 to 1977.[4]

He launched his candidacy for the National Conciliation Party (PCN) in the February 1977 presidential elections. On 24 February, the Central Elections Council declared that he had won the election with 67.3% of the vote and was to be sworn in as President while Julio Ernesto Astacio was declared Vice President.[5] The opposition forces grouped in the National Opposition Union (UNO) filed complaints about numerous acts of fraud[6] and electoral coercion[7] committed in the vote. The period between his election and the inauguration proved to be extremely dangerous for his opponents. On 28 February 1977, military forces dissolved a UNO protest rally in the Plaza Libertad in San Salvador, and between 200 and 1,500 civilians were killed. [8][9]


Carlos Romero with U.S President Jimmy Carter, 8 September 1977.

The general's arrival to power meant the establishment of a purely repressive project, abandoning all reformist attempts. For the Salvadoran right, he has been considered the president of the last period of economic prosperity in El Salvador, since it was one of the best countries in Central America in terms of economic growth, which was diminished due to the paramilitary activity of civil society organizations. organized related to socialism.


General Romero was sworn in on 1 July 1977. He responded to accusations of "electoral fraud" by declaring a state of emergency for thirty days and established a rigidly conservative government.

Political crisis

Romero's time in office was largely characterized by escalating violence and instability. In the late 1970s, political unrest increased, because of El Salvador's severe socio-economic inequalities unaddressed by his government and widespread discontent with government policy culminated in widespread protest and rebellion, which was met with reprisal by government forces. President Romero increased government education spending, but this won him no popularity with the left. The different police, military and government paramilitary forces launched a bloody repression campaign against leftist groups that ended the lives of 4 Catholic priests and numerous leaders and militants of workers and peasant organizations. He is accused of having ordered the student massacre of 30 July 1975. Left-wing armed groups responded to the violence exerted by the State with attacks on the security forces and government officials. The repression plunged the country into a serious social crisis.

1979 coup

Romero held power until October 1979, when he was deposed by a coup d'état carried out by a group of politically leftist and moderate military officers and civilians.[10] The coup d'état that deposed Romero was a precursor to El Salvador's twelve-year civil war.

Later life and death

After being deposed, Romero lived in exile in Guatemala before returning to El Salvador. He died on 27 February 2017 at the age of 92, 2 days before his 93rd birthday. [11][12]

Orders and decorations

Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic


  1. ^ Copley, Gregory R. (11 October 1980). "Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook". G. R. Copley. Retrieved 11 October 2019 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Gral. Carlos Humberto Romero Mena" (in Spanish). Asamblea Legislativa de El Salvador. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Google News Archive Search". Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  4. ^ "EXMINISTROS DE DEFENSA". Ministerio de la Defensa Nacional. Archived from the original on 1 October 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  5. ^ ""Consejo Central de Elecciones"" (PDF). Diario Oficial. 2 March 1977.
  6. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p276 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  7. ^ Herman, Edward S. and Frank Brodhead (1984) Demonstration elections: U.S.-staged elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador Boston: South End Press, p102
  8. ^ Whitfield, Teresa (1995). Paying the Price: Ignacio Ellacuría and the Murdered Jesuits of El Salvador. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. ISBN 9781566392532.
  9. ^ Stanley, William (1996). The Protection Racket State: Elite Politics, Military Extortion, and Civil War in El Salvador. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1566393922. Stanley William, Professor at the University of New Mexico
  10. ^ "Google News Archive Search". Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Noticias de El Salvador -". Noticias de El Salvador - Archived from the original on 4 March 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Murió el último presidente militar de El Salvador Carlos Humberto Romero". El Salvador Times. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Fidel Torres
Minister of National Defense
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of El Salvador
Succeeded by
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