Information on the Salvadoran Revolutionary Student Movement (MERS, Movimiento Estudiantil Revolucionario Salvadoreño) including its activities, groups it was associated with, when it was founded and disbanded, whether members were armed and/or forcibly enlisted, and whether MERS was the student arm of the Faribundo Martí Liberation Front (FMLN, Faribundo Martí de Liberación Nacional) [SLV26722.E]

The following information was provided in a 24 June 1997 telephone interview with a professor at Tufts University in Boston who is a specialist on Salvadoran politics.

The Salvadoran Revolutionary Student Movement (MERS, Movimiento Estudiantil Revolucionario Salvadoreño) was a mass organization comprised mainly of high school students. The main function of MERS was to provide a body of protesters that could be called on to participate in the numerous anti-government demonstrations occurring in the late 1970s.

MERS was organized by the national teachers' union, the Asociación Nacional de Educatores Salvadoreños (ANDES), which was affiliated to the Popular Revolutionary (BPR, Bloque Popular Revolucionario), one of the predecessor organizations of the Faribundo Martí Liberation Front (FMLN, Faribundo Martí de Liberación Nacional). Recruitment into MERS was carried out by members of ANDES, which meant that teachers recruited directly from the classrooms they taught in. Although recruitment was voluntary, students were pressured by teachers and fellow students to join MERS. Those who did not join would have been ostracized by their classmates.

MERS was not an armed movement, but individual members may have armed themselves in self-protection. Before the May 1979 cathedral massacre in San Salvador it was not a common practice for protesters to arm themselves, but after this incident individuals began to carry concealed weapons to protests to protect themselves if the police responded with violence. The practice of protesters carrying concealed weapons continued until the assassination of the bishop in 1980.

Like most leftist organizations at the time, MERS went underground shortly after the 24 March 1980 assassination of Bishop Romero. Although the source was not aware of any information on MERS since it went underground, she thought that it was very plausible that MERS members would have been incorporated into the ranks of the FMLN.

In a 12 June 1997 telephone interview, a professor at New Mexico State University who is a specialist on military issues in El Salvador provided the following information.

MERS was organized by ANDES, a teacher's union that belonged to the BPR. After the 1980 assassination of Bishop Romero, all BPR and MERS members went underground to avoid being assassinated or disappeared by state security forces, who had managed to obtain the membership lists of various unions and leftist organizations. The BPR was organizationally defunct as of April 1980.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Professor of government and Latin American studies, specialist on military issues in El Salvador, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N. Mex. 12 June 1997. Telephone interview.

Professor of political science and specialist on Salvadoran politics, Tufts University, Boston. 24 June 1997. Telephone interview.