Francisco Jovel: We're Not Talking About Socialism

September 25, 2007

Commander Francisco Jovel (nom de guerre Roberto Roca) is one of five members of the FMLN General Com- mand. He was interviewed in April. Many people were expecting big, decisive actions by the FMLN during the elections. What was the impact of your military activity in the electoral period? We gave concrete instructions to our combatants: "Don't get confused. The nineteenth [March 19] is not a matter of patria o muerte, of victory or death. What we are going to do is make a big show of force." For example, we knew that the government army's defensive scheme for the capital was to deploy elite battalions along the entire northern periphery, and security forces and part of the First Brigade in the city's interior. Their plan was to allow us to penetrate deep in order to encircle us and seek a definitive battle. Of course we did not fall into their trap. In addition to their operational design, which was evident, our intelligence gave us details of their plans. What we did was modulate our combat and our forces. We responded with a scheme of simultaneity, maximizing operations of significance in the countryside. We hit 54 important points, plus all the work that resulted in the paralysis of the country, plus all the sabotage that was done to the electrical system. The enemy really expected that we would make March 19 a decisive day. They prepared a totally defensive scheme. They had more than 3,000 troops in the capital alone. Between army soldiers, security forces, and spies, I would estimate they had 5,000 people on alert in San Salvador. But in spite of their defensive cordon, we hit them, we pene- trated, and we withdrew militarily intact. But the population was expecting more urban action. Did the people feel a bit disappointed? We think the Salvadoran people have learned how we force the army to fall in their own traps. Perhaps at the time the masses thought the nineteenth might be decisive, but on making the smallest reflection they will see that what the guerrilla did was correct: hit in many places, show our military potential, wear down the army enormously, force them to go on maximum alert, force them to reveal their defensive scheme while the guerrillas show their offensive scheme, maintain our forces intact, force the government army to pay the costs. Undoubtedly this caused the army great concern. If the guerrillas could hit 54 places when they knew we were waiting for them and we were on maximum alert, what will happen when we are not waiting for them? There have been advances on all these fronts. The most dramatic, according to both FMLN and military sources, have occurred at the most clandestine level, which the Armed Forces now recognize as their principal area of concern. A formal announcement of sorts of this develop- ment was the daylight attack on the National Guard head- quarters last November 1, which was timed to coincide As of March 19 we have condemned the army to the following: They [must remain] on the defensive and cannot mount any real offensive effort. This opens many possibili- ties for us. On the nineteenth we did not use all our forces---but we will. We are not dealing with a prolonged popular war; we have entered a phase of strategic offensive. The months from March 19 to the end of this year are going to be months of increasing military activity. Politically, what is your assessment of the possibilities of the post-election period? There are different options. One is that the correlation of forces leads to a negotiated solution of a strategic character, to install a truly democratic system. The second option is a popular victory--we consider that in this country it can't be a military victory in the classic sense, but a drastic change in the correlation of forces accompanied by a process of civic rebellion. Rebellion of all kinds, from the most pacific to the most radical, that will also bring democracy. We in the FMLN are not talking about installing a socialist regime should there be a popular victory. This is the product of our analysis of national and international reality. Even when this kind of victory is achieved through a process we call insurrectional--a combination of military offensive combined with civic rebellion, with its own particularly Salvadoran characteristics---even then, we sim- ply propose the establishment of an authentically demo- cratic society. This has to do with many facts: first of all, the level of development-both political and economic-in our coun- try. The geopolitical climate in which our process is taking place. The Latin American search for a genuinely Latin American form of revolution. The fact that capitalism has proven incapable of finding solutions to the principal prob- lems of the masses, even in its most democratic forms. But also, [the fact that] socialism is in a process of turns, of changes, of internal restructuring. This is developing differently in each socialist country, using names and terms appropriate to each, from Soviet perestroika to what you could call rectification in Cuba. There is a search for change and modification in the orthodox notion of what is meant by socialism. This ortho- doxy, which some of us have called dogmatism, is in revision, in crisis, and trying to give birth to new forms. It's within this framework that the concrete possibilities of our Salvadoran revolution are being written. This, for us, is strategic thinking. And I believe that step by step forces in El Salvador, in Latin America, even in the United States, will come to understand that the FMLN has undertaken a major reformulation of its strategic options.

Tags: El Salvador, FMLN, command, Francisco Jovel

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