The Long War: Dictatorship and Revolution in El Salvador

By James Dunkerley | Go to book overview

10
CIVIL WAR

The United States could never permit another Nicaragua, even if preventing it meant employing the most reprehensible measures.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, June 1980

We call on the entire people to rise up as one single person, using all possible means of combat, on all fronts of the war and throughout the length and breadth of the national territory. We call upon the entire people to fight valiantly under the orders of their immediate commanders until the definitive overthrow of the oppressive, genocidal regime of the privileged oligarchy and imperialism.

FMLN, General Order No. 1, 10 January 1981

It isn't just El Salvador. What we are doing is going to the aid of a Government that asked for help against the guerrillas and terrorists . . . who aren't just aiming at El Salvador but who are aiming at the whole of Central and South America. I'm sure, eventually, North America.

Ronald Reagan, 6 March 1981

If El Salvador may legimitately be said to have entered a state of civil war in April 1980, there is no precise point at which we can say this war 'broke out'. It was not a war of large formations but a guerrilla war and therefore ill defined in terms of lines of control, with a highly variable intensity of conflict. Over two years ( 1980-January 1982) over 30,000 lives were lost in an extended war of attrition that only occasionally came to determinate critical encounters such as the guerrilla 'general offensive' of January 1981, which may be seen as El Salvador's Tet. The war, as a result, differed from that in Nicaragua, where the FSLN concentrated primarily on attacking and holding key centres, from which they would withdraw if necessary but always with the aim of

-162-

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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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