Ungo, Guillermo Manuel (1931–1991)

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Ungo, Guillermo Manuel (1931–1991)

Guillermo Manuel Ungo (b. 1931; d. 28 February 1991), leader of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (FDR) of El Salvador. Son of Guillermo Ungo, the founder of the Christian Democratic Party of El Salvador (PDC), Ungo taught law at the University of Central America (UCA). In 1964 he helped found the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), which, with the proscription of the left-leaning PAR (Party of Renovating Action) in 1967, became the major social democratic party in the nation. He was chosen by José Napoleón Duarte to be his vice-presidential running mate when the United National Opposition (UNO) coalition was formed to contest the 1972 presidential elections. After the fraudulent defeat of UNO and the exile of Duarte by the military in 1972, Ungo remained in the country as head of the MNR and as a law professor at UCA.

With the overthrow of President Carlos Humberto Romero on 15 October 1979, Ungo became a member of the First Junta of the Revolution. However, when he resigned in January 1980 because of the junta's inability to control the army, the government collapsed. In 1980 Ungo brought the MNR into the newly formed Democratic Revolutionary Front (FDR) and became its president after the murder of its six leaders on 28 November 1980. When the FDR and the guerrilla alliance, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), joined forces in October 1980, Ungo and the other members of the Diplomatic-Political Commission (the civilian leadership of the FDR-FMLN, headquartered in Mexico City) were forced to live in exile. Living alternately in Mexico City and Panama City, Ungo became the major spokesman for the democratic forces supporting the guerrilla insurgency.

Ungo took advantage of the political opening afforded by the plan for settling the insurgency wars in Central America proposed by President Oscar Arias Sánchez of Costa Rica in February 1987 (known as the Arias peace plan) and returned to El Salvador in late 1987 to help found the Democratic Convergence, a coalition of the MNR, the Popular Social Christian Movement (MPSC), and the Social Democratic Party (PSD). He ran as its presidential candidate in the elections of 1989, and received a surprisingly low 3.9 percent of the vote.

See alsoArias Sánchez, Oscar; Duarte Fuentes, José Napoleón.


Robert Armstrong and Janet Shenk, "El Salvador: A Revolution Brews," in NACLa Report on the Americas (July-August 1980).

James Dunkerley, The Long War: Dictatorship and Revolution in El Salvador (1982).

Patrick Lacefield, "El Salvador: No Peace in Sight," in Dissent (Spring 1990): 154-156.

Hilary Mackenzie, "Q&A: Guillermo Ungo—Return of an Exile," in MacLean's, 4 January 1988, 6-8.

Additional Bibliography

Ungo, Guillermo M., and Héctor Oquelí. El Salvador: Diálogo y negociación. El Salvador: Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario, 1987.

                                  Roland H. Ebel