The Long War: Dictatorship and Revolution in El Salvador

By James Dunkerley | Go to book overview

9
REVOLUTION AND REACTION

We're not talking about pragmatic Sandinistas. This is a Pol Pot Left.

El Salvador News Gazette, 27 April 1980

We believe that the reform programme of the Revolutionary Junta offers the best prospects for peaceful change to a more just society . . . The United States will not interfere in the internal affairs of El Salvador. Nevertheless, weare seriously concerned by the threat of civil war . . . which might endanger the security and welfare of all the Central American region.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to Archbishop Romero, 12 March 1980

We came last night. There, where I come from, things are ugly. It was a tough trip but here we are. They wanted to scare us off, but they haven't been able to . . . and I agree with all this . . . the bosses, they've got no problems . . . we have to fight now, like everybody says.

Carlos Vázquez, a campesino, 22 January 1980 at the march to mark the
establishment of the Coordinadora Revolucionaria de Masas

Between October 1979 and April 1980 Salvadorean politics underwent a qualitative change; the country moved from widespread social conflict and a breakdown in the regime of the ruling class to a state of civil war. As in all revolutionary situations, the transition was both simple and highly complex. At one level the process of polarisation continued on its inexorable course, although far more rapidly than over the previous decade. At another, political life was shot through with confusion, stops and starts, and contradictions both real and apparent. It was, above all else, a period of politics, a melée of manoeuvres. The grim margin was, as before, a loss of life that accumulated with such steadiness that it soon matched and overtook anything the country had seen since 1932; eventually it was to outstrip

-132-

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The Long War: Dictatorship and Revolution in El Salvador
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Rise of the Oligarchy 7
  • 2 - The Crisis of the 1930s 15
  • 3 - Militarism Readjusted 32
  • 4 - The Failure to Modernise 45
  • 5 - 'Repression with Reforms' 72
  • 6 - The Rise of the Left 87
  • 7 - The Model in Crisis: from Molina to Romero 103
  • 8 - The Impact of Nicaragua 119
  • 9 - Revolution and Reaction 132
  • 10 - Civil War 162
  • Conclusion 206
  • Notes 215
  • Select Bibliography 231
  • Appendix One - Chronology 236
  • Appendix Two - The Landed Oligarchy 241
  • Appendix Three - Glossary of Major Contemporary Organisations 245
  • Appendix Four - The Organisation of the Opposition 249
  • Appendix Five - Protecting Civilisation 251
  • Index 257
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