Childhood & Early Life
Francisco Flores Perez was born on October 17, 1959 in Santa Ana, El Salvador to Ulises Flores and Maria Leonor Perez Flores. He has two siblings.
Upon completing his elementary education, he enrolled at the Escuela Americana in San Salvador where he graduated from. He then attended Hillyer College, under University of Hartford, to acquire a degree in sociology.
Subsequently, he gained admission at the Amherst College, in Massachusetts, United States and majored in political science. Following this, he moved to England to pursue a program in History and Literature at Trinity College, University of Oxford.
Returning to America, he attained Master’s degree in philosophy from the World University, California. Furthermore, he studied Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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In 1983, Francisco Flores Perez returned to El Salvador. At that time, El Salvador was experiencing political unrest with the fourth year of civil war in progress. He started his career as professor of Philosophy at the University Dr. José Matías Delgado (UJMD).
Unlike others, Flores did not join the political bandwagon and instead limited himself to teaching only.
It was only by the end of the 1980s that Flores commenced his political career. In 1989, ARENA (Nationalist Republican Alliance) party won the March elections for Presidency of the Republic. Party chief, Alfredo Cristiani Burkard, appointed Flores as the vice minister for planning.
In course of time, he became the vice minister of the Presidency and in this capacity, he served as adviser of the President. It was during this time that he played a crucial role in establishing the State of the Peace Accords that was eventually signed by FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) thereby ending the war.
In March 1994, he was elected deputy of the Legislative Assembly. Under the new nationalist president, Armando Calderón, he served as the Executive Secretary of Information to the Presidency.
In 1997, Flores became the President of the Legislative Assembly. It was during his presidency that the Law of Telecommunications was signed. The move was significant as it was signed with the consent of all deputies of political parties and guaranteed overall improvement of the coverage in telecommunications.
In 1998, Flores was selected as ARENA’s candidate for the presidential elections, which were to be held in 1999. With this, he stepped down as the head of the legislative. What gave Flores the edge over other party members was his moderate approach within the party.
He won the presidential elections and assumed the office of the President on July 1, 1999, holding it for a complete five year term until 2004.
During his presidency, Flores maintained close ties with the United States, thereby strengthening the US-Salvadoran relations. This was evident from the fact that he deployed Salvadoran troops to Iraq for supporting the US forces. Later, he negotiated a free-trade agreement between the United States and the Central American region.
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The most prominent undertaking that he embarked on during his presidency was dollarization. It was under his leadership that Salvador’s historical currency colon, gave way to US dollar.
Flores’ move for dollarization earned both admiration and criticism from the people. However, taking into consideration the country’s economy, it was a well thought of shift as it brought forth added advantage of reduced interest rates, easier trade and easier integration into global economy.
Flores’s presidency had its share of downfall too. He was criticized for being an autocratic leader which led to too many strikes. Furthermore, his dollarization caused high long-term inflation in the country. Adding to the woes was inefficient international aid provided to citizens in the year 2001 after two massive earthquakes had hit the nation.
In 2004, Flores showed a keen interest in running for the office of the Secretary General of Organization of American States. However, ex-President of Costa Rica, Miguel Angel Rodriguez was elected to the post. Rodriguez resignation sparked his interest yet again, but lack of support caused him to withdraw.
Flores faced corruption and disobedience charges and was placed under house arrest. The case was investigated by Salvadoran Attorney General. He was charged with mishandling $10 million that was donated by Taiwan's government during his presidency in 2003.
Flores’s tenure as the vice-minister of the presidency and advisor to the head of state was remarkable as it was during this time that the guerrilla group, FMLN ended the fighting, by consenting to the State of Peace Accords that was primarily established, planned and directed by Flores.
During his role as the President of the Legislative Assembly, Flores was successfully in bringing into effect the law of telecommunication, which brought overall improvement in all the sectors of telecommunication coverage. The agreement was given a green signal by the deputies of all the political parties, ARENA, PCN and PDC.
Flores is regarded as the architect of Salvador’s economy. Prior to his term as the President of El Salvador, colon, was currency of El Salvador. It was under his leadership that the US dollar replaced colon. Dollarization led to reduced interest rates, easier trade and easier integration on global economy.