Ambassador from El Salvador: Who is Rubén Zamora?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Rubén Zamora presented his credentials as El Salvador’s ambassador to the United States to President Barack Obama on April 15, 2013. For Zamora, the moment may have seemed ironic; 30 years earlier, he was prohibited from even entering the country.


Zamora was born November 9, 1942, in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. He was in seminary for a while, but studied law at the University of El Salvador and later received a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Essex in England.


In the early 1970s, he was a member of the San Salvador council, working the mayor’s office. In 1979, after a coup toppled a right-wing president, Zamora, as a member of a center-left group, was briefly part of the group that assumed power. However, right-wing factions took control of the government in early 1980, forcing out Zamora and assassinating his brother Mario, who was also in the government. Rubén Zamora then fled El Salvador, staying in exile for seven years.

During his time out of the country, spent in Nicaragua and Mexico, Zamora was often a spokesman for the rebels fighting for control of El Salvador, whose government was backed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Zamora was blocked by the Reagan State Department from entering the United States during this period.


When finally peace talks resulted in an amnesty in 1987, Zamora returned to El Salvador, wearing a bulletproof vest. In 1989, his house was bombed, but no one was hurt.


In 1991, peace talks resumed and a truce was declared. Zamora won a seat in the national assembly and was named one of its vice presidents, posts he held until 1994. He was also a member of the Salvadoran peace commission. Zamora ran for president in 1994, the first election since the peace accords were signed. He was backed by the center-left CD-FMLN coalition. He lost to Armando Calderon Sol of the right-leaning ARENA party. Zamora ran unsuccessfully for president again in 1999.


For the next 10 years, Zamora worked in the opposition to the government, getting local candidates elected and taking his case to lecture audiences abroad. In 2009, FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes was elected president. Zamora was named ambassador to India, where he remained until being named to the Washington post in 2013.


Zamora and his wife Ester have five children.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Interview: El Salvador's Ambassador to the U.S. Rubén Zamora (by Carin Zissis, AS/COA Online)


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