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D'Aubuisson, Roberto (1943–1992)

D'Aubuisson, Roberto (1943–1992)

Roberto d'Aubuisson (b. 23 August 1943; d. 20 February 1992), Salvadoran army officer and political leader. Roberto d'Aubuisson was a career intelligence officer who left the service when a new reformist government seized power in El Salvador on 15 October 1979. An outspoken anti-Communist who opposed social reforms and called for a hard line against leftist rebels in the country's civil war, d'Aubuisson was widely believed to be responsible for human rights violations. His name was frequently associated with the activities of death squads, most notably the assassination on 24 March 1980 of San Salvador's archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, as well as with coup conspiracies against the reformist junta.

Youthful and charismatic, d'Aubuisson sought a political following. He founded the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista—ARENA) in 1981 and served briefly as president of the Constituent Assembly (1982–1984), but his higher ambitions were discouraged by the armed forces and by the administration of U.S. president Ronald Reagan, which feared that his reputation would jeopardize congressional support for military aid to El Salvador. Following his defeat by José Napoleón Duarte in the 1984 presidential election, d'Aubuisson yielded his party leadership post to Alfredo Cristiani, a less controversial politician. D'Aubuisson's political influence endured. When Cristiani was elected president in 1989, many observers believed that the charismatic former party leader would wield the real power, but d'Aubuisson's death from cancer three years later at age forty-eight brought a premature end to his career.

See alsoEl Salvador, Political Parties: National Republican Alliance (ARENA) .


There is no biography of d'Aubuisson. A number of press and magazine accounts are useful, among them the obituary in the New York Times, 21 February 1992, and Christopher Dickey, "Behind the Death Squads," in the New Republic (26 December 1983): 16-21. General works on the Salvadoran crisis are Tommie Sue Montgomery, Revolution in El Salvador: Origins and Evolution (1982); Enrique A. Baloyra, El Salvador in Transition (1982); and Raymond Bonner, Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Lungo, Mario, and Arthur Schmidt. El Salvador in the Eighties: Counterinsurgency and Revolution. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.

Ross, Tara W. "Roberto D'Aubuisson, Spokesman for the Right in El Salvador," M.A. thesis, Ohio University, 1997.

                                     Stephen Webre

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