Ending Central America's Bitter Cycle of Violence Activists Battle Long Tradition of Military Rule and Extremism Series: GLOBAL FRONTIERS. Part 4 of a 4-Part Series. Third of Nine Articles Appearing Today

By David Clark Scott, writer of The Christian Science Monitor and Joyce Hackel, Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 23, 1991 | Go to article overview

Ending Central America's Bitter Cycle of Violence Activists Battle Long Tradition of Military Rule and Extremism Series: GLOBAL FRONTIERS. Part 4 of a 4-Part Series. Third of Nine Articles Appearing Today


David Clark Scott, writer of The Christian Science Monitor and Joyce Hackel, Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


WHEN Amanda Villatoro, one of eight trade unionists recently elected to serve in El Salvador's National Assembly, drives home from work, she clasps her steering wheel in one hand and a pistol in the other.

"Some crazed extremist is still likely to see one of us on the street and pop a bullet in our head, believing he's liberated El Salvador from a 'communist traitor, Ms. Villatoro says.

Ending the cycle of violence is one of the greatest challenges to political progress in Central America. Yet the feisty 29-year old organizer and her colleagues see tensions starting to ease as peace negotiations progress.

"Now we've been given a quota of respect, and we're confident in the Assembly we can push through some laws to aid workers," Villatoro says.

For the first time ever, labor leaders form a significant block in the 84-seat Assembly. The trade unionists are likely to ally with the nine deputies from left-of-center parties who entered the Assembly this month. This "Group of 17" is expected to push for rights that their counterparts in industrialized countries often take for granted: the freedom to organize, strike, bargain collectively, and enforce a national labor code.

The return of unionists and parties of the left to Salvadoran politics is but one indication of the historic steps being taken toward greater political participation in Central America. A decade ago, only one nation in the region, Costa Rica, could lay claim to democratic rule. Now all are on that path. Indeed, the myth that Latin America was inherently or culturally disposed to authoritarianism is being laid to rest.

Yet, progress is limited, to varying degrees, by continued political violence and the pervasive influence of security forces. "In Guatemala and El Salvador, the military virtually define the extent of civilian authority and influence most aspects of government policy," according to a report "Latin America in the 1990s," by the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue.

To a large extent, the military's influence is a by-product of war. Increased United States military aid coupled with expansion of the armed forces to combat guerrilla insurgencies have provided institutions already rife with patronage and corruption the opportunity to extend their influence.

"The Army is a business, the biggest business and most profitable in El Salvador," says a former officer who requests anonymity.

In El Salvador, as the Army's ranks swelled, so did its social security fund, which has reportedly grown to well over $100 million. In a small nation, that gives the Army considerable financial muscle - which it flexes by investing in real estate, new businesses (including a funeral parlor), and influencing political decisions which may affect its business interests. In Guatemala, the Army owns one of the five national television stations.

For these and other reasons, a key demand of the leftist insurgents in the current Guatemala and El Salvador peace talks is to reduce the influence of the military in their respective countries. They also want to strengthen institutions - judicial, electoral, law enforcement, mass media - in order to encourage greater political participation.

In essence, the aim is to develop enough trust in the institutions so that rather than turning to a gun, people turn to a judge or a legislator for justice.

In January, Guatemala's second elected civilian government in a row took office. "The process of change is deep and irreversible.

The military understands the winds of change in the world," says Fernando Andrade, a former foreign minister and adviser to the Guatemala peace talks. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ending Central America's Bitter Cycle of Violence Activists Battle Long Tradition of Military Rule and Extremism Series: GLOBAL FRONTIERS. Part 4 of a 4-Part Series. Third of Nine Articles Appearing Today
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.