El Salvador's Civil War: A Study of Revolution

By Hugh Byrne | Go to book overview
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Epilogue

In the first four years after the signing of the peace accords in January 1992, Salvadoran politics and society changed dramatically.The civil war that had lasted eleven years and cost 75,000 lives appeared to have definitively ended. By mid-1995 the majority of the agreements signed between the government and the FMLN had been carried out, although the process involved a great deal of struggle and, at times, required outside intervention to move the process forward.The FMLN was successfully reincorporated into the political life of the country and became a major electoral force.With the end of the war, delinquency and common crime became major problems and a revival of death-squad activity raised concerns of a return to the right-wing terror of the early 1980s. A new civilian police force was created as mandated by the peace accords, but the wholesale incorporation of members of the old security forces, and scandals concerning high police officials, raised questions as to how much had been changed by the peace agreement.

Salvadoran politics took a major step forward with the elections in 1994 for the presidency, legislature, municipalities, and the Central American Parliament.Despite serious problems with registration and election-day irregularities, the elections were viewed domestically and internationally as generally free and fair. The elections were won by the ARENA Party, which gained a plurality of the legislative seats and retained the presidency when Armando Calderón Sol defeated Rubén Zamora, the candidate of the Democratic Convergence and the FMLN, in a runoff by a ratio of two to one.However, the FMLN performed creditably in the elections, winning a quarter of the seats in the legislative assembly and becoming the second-largest political party, eclipsing the PDC.

The FMLN's relative success in the elections, however, belied serious internal problems.Divisions arose over who should be the FMLN's presidential candidate and which sectors of the society the former rebels should reach out to. The ERP (whose name was changed from the People's Revolutionary Army to the Renewed Expression of the People), led by Joaquín Villalobos and the FARN, headed by Eduardo

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