Quiñones Molina, Alfonso (1873–1950)

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Quiñones Molina, Alfonso (1873–1950)

Alfonso Quiñones Molina (b. 1873; d. 1950), president of El Salvador (1914–1915, 1918–1919, and 1923–1927). Alfonso Quiñones Molina belonged to the Quiñones-Meléndez Family dynasty that controlled the presidency of El Salvador. Members of the dominant civilian landowning elite, these families used rigged elections to maintain governmental control from the 1890s until the Great Depression brought military control in 1931. The landowners facilitated the emergence of coffee as the dominant agricultural crop during an era characterized by peace, prosperity, and the concentration of land ownership among a few families.

Quiñones Molina held the presidency three times. He governed briefly in 1914 during the election that installed his brother-in-law, Carlos Meléndez (acting president, 1913–1914). After organizing the first official party, the Liga Roja (Red League) in 1918, he again held office during a transition that allowed the election of Jorge Meléndez (president 1919–1923). Quiñones Molina became president in his own right in 1923, serving until 1927. His controversial foreign borrowing to secure funds for street paving in San Salvador caused a rejection of external debt by the populace, a situation that was exploited by later military regimes, particularly that of General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez.

See alsoEl Salvador; Meléndez Family.


There are no detailed studies of this era. A laudatory contemporary account can be found in Juan Ramón Uriarte, La esfinge de Cuzcatlán (el Presidente Quiñones) (1929); a brief general discussion in English can be found in Alastair White, El Salvador (1973).

Additional Bibliography

Ching, Erik Kristofer. "From Clientelism to Militarism: The State, Politics and Authoritarianism in El Salvador, 1840–1940." Ph.D. diss., 1997.

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

                                  Kenneth J. Grieb