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Mon Jan 30, 2017, 12:56 AM

El Salvadors New Battlefield

El Salvador’s New Battlefield
Twenty-five years after laying down their arms, the FMLN continues its struggle.

Hilary Goodfriend is a researcher based in San Salvador, El Salvador. She writes about the impacts of US policy in the region.
by Hilary Goodfriend

On January 16, 1992, representatives of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the right-wing, US-backed government of El Salvador signed a historic peace treaty that brought an end to a bloody twelve-year civil war.

The Salvadoran Civil War is notable among the last century’s liberation struggles in several respects: for one, the sheer brutality of the military regime’s response; for another, the negotiated transition to peace that saw an armed leftist insurgency transform into a successful political party. Unlike the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions, which initially conquered power through military victories, the FMLN won the presidency at the ballot box nearly twenty years after laying down their weapons. Today, the party, defined by its statutes as “democratic, revolutionary and socialist,” is in the midst of its second consecutive presidential term.

The peace accords were essentially a military draw, but they were celebrated as a major victory by the FMLN and its supporters. The war had been long and brutal, and the guerrillas had forced a vicious regime that was sustained by the largest military power on earth to the table.

. . .

The 1993 UN Truth Commission Report ultimately put the war’s death toll at seventy-five thousand, with thousands more forcibly disappeared; at least 85 percent of the violence was attributed to the regime and only 5 percent to the FMLN.


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