May 14, 2000
Salvadoran president recalls his country's troubled past

                  WEST HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) -- President Francisco Flores of El
                  Salvador recalled the troubles of his homeland in the late 1970s and explained in a
                  speech to university graduates Sunday how his education had helped him
                  overcome feelings of uncertainty and exile.

                  Flores, the first University of Hartford alumnus to lead a nation, told some 1,300
                  graduates and hundreds of other audience members that he was "assaulted" by
                  memories when he returned to the campus. He first arrived in Hartford in
                  September 1977.

                  "My parents' somber faces at the airport in San Salvador concealed deeper fears
                  than those normally associated with a farewell to a 17-year-old," he said. "Those
                  were difficult times for me and my country. After decades of military rule, El
                  Salvador was fast headed to the deepest conflict in its history: a civil war that
                  would last more than a decade, and that, with its blind violence, would affect
                  every single Salvadoran family."

                  In presenting Flores with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, Life Regent Harry
                  Jack Gray told the Central American leader that he was an inspiration to both the
                  people of El Salvador and the students at the university.

                  "You represent the sort of student the university seeks to serve," said UH
                  President Robert B. Wallace.

                  Flores, a member of the Republican National Alliance, was elected president of El
                  Salvador on March 7, 1999, by an overwhelming margin. He is part of a new
                  political generation that had little direct role in the 12-year civil war that ended in
                  1992 and cost 70,000 lives.

                  He told students to seek truth and creativity and to "resist the temptation to be
                  lost in placid generality of the group."

                  "I went back to my country in the worst years of the war," he said. "I found
                  something greater than my past, greater than my roots, greater than my identity.
                  I found my country. I found my happiness. May you, dear graduates, find

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.