El Salvador


Armed forces representing the land owners backed by the United States.

Left wing guerrillas claiming to represent the poor.


Winding down?





El Salvador has, like many Latin American countries, a divided society, similar to that found in medieval Europe. Thus the land owners and rich (allegedly 18 families) have attempted to deny rights to the tenants and workers. They have done this by manipulating elections, and in more recent times by secret, illegal, security forces (death squads). This behavior has made normal reforming politics difficult and has provoked a guerrilla force by leftwing parties.

The ruling groups persuaded the United States to aid them to maintain their power and fight the guerrilla forces by saying that the guerrillas were "Communist".

In the elections of 1989 a party , ARENA, led by people alleged to have organized death squads came to power. United States aid of weapons and military advice was not cut off, though diminished.

Elections in 1991 produced some representation for the left wing forces. An agreement was signed at the end of 1991 to end the war, with a declaration on land reform and the integration of the guerrilla forces into a gendarmerie. It remains to be seen whether the agreement will be kept by the government forces, still controlled by the extreme right. The death from cancer of Roberto d'Aubuisson, an influential leader of the death squads, in February 1992 may be helpful in encouraging peace.

Now (2005) the main problem is the forced exile of Los Angeles gang members to a land they have not known, even though they are still citizens.

Last revised 10/11/07


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