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Joaquín Villalobos
Born 1951
Place of birth El Salvador
Allegiance El Salvador (People's Revolutionary Army and Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front )
Rank General

Joaquín Villalobos (born 1951) is a Salvadoran former politician and former guerrilla leader.

Villalobos was one the main leaders of the People's Revolutionary Army, or Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo, a group that emerged in El Salvador in the early 1970s as a loose federation of cells with roots in various Marxist and left-wing Catholic groups.[1] The ERP was one of the five organizations that joined together in 1980 to form the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front during the Salvadoran Civil War, in which left-wing guerrillas fought El Salvador’s military-dominated and US-backed right-wing government. An economics student and left-wing activist, Villalobos joined the ERP in 1971, at the age of 19. He has since been accused of involvement in the killing in 1975 of Roque Dalton, the revolutionary poet and fellow ERP leader who was shot by his comrades after a power struggle in the group led to accusations that he was a CIA spy.[1] At the time, the killing led to splits and recriminations within the ERP and criticism from other leftists, but after 1980 Villalobos rose to become one of the FMLN’s main military strategists. The ERP under his leadership has been described as “the most efficient military organisation on the Salvadoran left” during the civil war, with Villalobos developing a “reputation for brash strategic brilliance”. He subsequently played a major role in the negotiations that ended the civil war, presenting himself as the conciliatory face of the ERP.[1] In 1992, the year in which the peace agreement was signed, The New York Times described him as a “feared military commander with a reputation for ruthlessness”, but also noted his admission of errors in the rebels’ tactics and his stated regret for many of the killings they had been involved in.[2]

As a result of the 1992 peace accords, the FMLN was legalized as a political party. Villalobos remained a member until 1995, when he and other former leaders of the ERP split from the FMLN to form a new centrist political party, the Democratic Party, which signed a deal with the then government accepting a series of neoliberal reforms.[1] Later in the 1990s, Villalobos went to England to study at St Anthony's College, Oxford University on a scholarship funded by the British Foreign Office.[3]

Villalobos is now an outspoken critic of the left in Latin American countries. He has served as a consultant on peacemaking efforts in other countries (Colombia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Bosnia, Northern Ireland), as an advisor to the Center of Cooperation Initiatives for Development at the University of Alcalá de Henares, and as a member of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington DC, USA. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife, Roxana, and 3 sons, Guillermo, Felipe and Rafael.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ehrenreich, Ben (24 June 2010). "Who Killed Roque Dalton?". pp. 42–43. 
  2. LeMoyne, James (9 February 1992). "Out of the Jungle - In El Salvador, Rebels With A New Cause". Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  3. "College row over guerilla student". 16 March 1999. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 

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