Is There a Transition to Democracy in El Salvador?

By Joseph S. Tulchin; Gary Bland | Go to book overview

Preface

Today, from a geopolitical point of view, it would appear absurd to argue that El Salvador is of vital strategic interest to either the United States or Russia. Yet, not long ago, El Salvador was a focal point of US policy, with all of its ramifications, because the Reagan administration viewed the situation there as a challenge to US national will and a threat to US national security.Salvadorans consequently paid a heavy price for their entanglement in the Cold War—the loss of tens of thousands of lives, and economic devastation.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, we have seen a complete reversal: the Soviet Union no longer exists, the United States is working for a permanent peace, and the idea of democratic government has taken hold worldwide.What does this mean for El Salvador? Can we assume as a result of the dramatic shift in these external factors that the country will inevitably achieve democratic government? Most observers would agree that such an assumption is unfounded. To the contrary, the transition to democracy in El Salvador is a fragile process resulting from a combination of many elements.

With that in mind, the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center organized a conference to study the United Nations‐ sponsored peace negotiations and the transition to democracy in El Salvador.Although a peace settlement was anticipated by the end of 1991, its timing was in doubt, which complicated the preparation for the event because the availability of key participants was compromised by their commitments to the talks in Mexico and New York.As it turned out, the US Department of State refused to allow members of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) negotiating team to attend the April conference, so we ultimately decided to hold two conferences, not one.

-vii-

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Is There a Transition to Democracy in El Salvador?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Is There a Transition to Democracy in El Salvador? *
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 El Salvador After the March 1991 Elections 15
  • 1: Elections and the Road to Peace *
  • 2: The Political Reality After Eleven Years of War 25
  • 3: Commentary 59
  • 4: Discussion 63
  • Part 2 the United States and Democracy in El Salvador *
  • 5: The Role of Us Policy *
  • 6: Commentary 73
  • 7: Discussion 77
  • Part 3 the Transition to Democratic Government: Three Key Issues 82
  • 8: Human Rights *
  • 9: The Tanda System and Institutional Autonomy of the Military 95
  • 10: The State of the Economy 105
  • 11: Commentary 125
  • 12: Discussion 129
  • Part 4 the Prospects for Peace *
  • 13: The Negotiations Following the New York Agreement *
  • 14: Discussion 149
  • Part 5 Conclusion *
  • 15: Assessing the Transition to Democracy *
  • Index 206
  • About the Book 213
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