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Dirty War in El Salvador

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1 Dirty War in El Salvador

2 Dirty War: Characteristics
State-sponsored violence against large segments of the general population Violent repression of non-violent groups deemed hostile to the regime in power Groups often branded as “terrorists” or “subversives” State Terror: Ideological logic Efforts to foster uncertainty Efforts to fragment society Impunity

3 Dirty War: Methods Asymmetric violence Extra-judicial detention
Disappearances Torture and murder Massacres Use of paramilitary forces Lack of accountability Plausible deniability

4 The National Context: 1823 - 1980
1823: Independence; the country is ruled by a series of liberal elites 1850s: the global market price of indigo collapses 1856 law requires communes to plant 2/3 of their land in coffee 1880 communal landholding is outlawed Vagrancy laws 1930: limited democratic reforms 1931: coup; military dictatorships 1932: la Matanza 1961: ORDEN forms 1970: leftist guerilla groups begin to form 1972: Duarte wins the presidential election 1980: leftist groups unite to form the FMLN Augustín Farabundo Martí

5 The International Context: the U.S. and the Cold War
Cuba: 1959 revolution Guatemala: ongoing conflict between the government and a series of leftist opposition groups (Arbenz 1954) Nicaragua: July overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship by the Sandinista National Liberation Front 1977–1981: Pres. Carter 1981–1989: Pres. Reagan 1989–1993: Pres. Bush, Sr.

6 The Dirty War: 1980 – 1992 The Government Forces
The Military Rapid response battalion ATLACATL Intelligence Forces Security Forces Civil defense forces Paramilitary death squads ORDEN Strategies : “Draining the Sea” 1985 and later: targeting FMLN fighters Methods Searches of persons and property Arbitrary arrest and detention Systematic use of kidnapping and torture Mutilation and dismemberment of corpses which are then left in visible, public places Judicial stonewalling, corruption, and the use of confessions obtained through torture Impunity for violators and harassment of humanitarian, human rights, and relief organizations

7 The Dirty War: 1980 – 1992 The Opposition Forces
Urban movements, based on unions and student groups Liberation Theology 24 March 1980: Assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional Numbered around 4,000 fighters Mobility, familiarity with the mountain terrain Quick, small operations Survived on peasant support Radio Venceremos Broadcast from military- controlled territory

8 El Mazote, December 1981

9 Ending the Dirty War The failure of the FMLN
The “hearts and minds” strategy The decline of U.S. support End of the Cold War 16 Nov 1989 Jesuit killings The 1991 Peace Agreement Reconciliation, Amnesty, Reintegration 1992 the peace agreement takes effect, UN verifies weapons decommissioning 1993 Peace and Reconciliation Commission 1994 Presidential elections

10 Ending the Dirty War The Civil War lasted for 12 years: 1980-1992
Roughly 70,000 people died State-related forces were responsible for 80% of all deaths four-fifths or more of these deaths were peasants and workers 1979 population 4.5 million 500,000 – 750,000 people fled the country 500,000 – 1,000,000 IDPs 10% reduction in per capita economic production

11 El Salvador Today Social Indicators Underemployment: 40-50%
Median age: 22 years Education: average of 5.5 years of schooling Religion: 55% Catholic Underemployment: 40-50% Homicide rate: 55.3 per 100,000 Higher than during the war Gangs Eighteenth Street Mara Salvatrucha

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