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Castañeda Castro, Salvador (1888–1965)

Castañeda Castro, Salvador (1888–1965)

Salvador Castañeda Castro (b. 6 August 1888; d. 5 March 1965), general and president of El Salvador (1945–1948). Born in Chalchuapa to a well-connected family, Salvador Castañeda Castro received his education under the Chilean mission to El Salvador and had attained the position of lieutenant by age eighteen. He rose quickly through the ranks and served in a variety of political positions after 1931, the most important being director of the military school, minister of the interior under General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, and governor of various departments. Following the overthrow of Hernández Martínez in 1944, General Castañeda Castro ran unopposed in a presidential election marred by violence and intimidation. His victory represented the supremacy of the army's old guard and a return to martinista-style politics without Martínez. In December 1945 a group led by the aged liberal Miguel Tomás Molina invaded El Salvador from Guatemala, but the expected military rebellion against Castañeda Castro never materialized. Less than a year later, popular discontent manifested itself in the general strike of October 1946, which was effectively repressed.

Among the major events of Castañeda's presidency were visits by Chilean and French missions in 1945, the creation of a national tourism commission, and the dedication of both a major thoroughfare in San Salvador and the Pan-American Highway to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. During his administration, Castañeda brought the control of notaries under the direction of the Supreme Court and passed a so-called law of social majority designed to tighten the government's control over the population. His most significant undertaking, however, was the passage in 1945 of a new, regressive constitution that alienated even the younger cadres within the military. The latter, led by Colonel Oscar Osorio, overthrew Castañeda in 1948 when it became clear he would seek to extend his rule through a second term. Castañeda continued to reside in San Salvador until his death.

See alsoEl Salvador; Military Dictatorships: 1821–1945.


Jorge Larde y Larín, Guía histórica de El Salvador (1958).

Maria Leistenschneider and Freddy Leistenschneider, Gobernantes de El Salvador (1980).

James Dunkerley, The Long War (1982).

Tommie Sue Montgomery, Revolution in El Salvador (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Soto Gómez, Arturo. Todos los presidentes, 1821–2004: Elecciones presidenciales en El Salvador. San Salvador: Insta Prints, 2005.

                                        Karen Racine

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