Democracy Among the Ruins

Citizens struggle with a turbulent campaign

In anticipation of the upcoming elections in El Salvador, TIME asked Mario Vargas Llosa, the distinguished Peruvian novelist and critic, to travel about the country and gather an impression of the candidates and of the atmosphere. His report:

In 1917 an earthquake left the city of San Salvador in ruins. The residential neighborhoods of San Francisco, San Benito and Escalón creep up the sides of a volcano, still challenging risk. The inhabitants—landowners, entrepreneurs, professionals, businessmen—have grown accustomed over the past decade to the hazard of assassination attempts...

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