Argentina in Central America
THE SANDINISTA REVOLUTION gave crucial stimulus to popular mobilization and radical tactics of resistance throughout Central America. In the early 1970s, faced with growing state-sponsored violence in response to their demands for social and economic reform, left-wing organizations in El Salvador and Guatemala had chosen armed struggle as a strategy for social change. 1 By 1979, the Salvadoran and Guatemalan rebel movements had grown substantially; they were able to challenge the forces of the incumbent military regimes.
The U.S.-trained Salvadoran and Guatemalan armed forces responded with broad counterinsurgency programs based on the premise that unconventional methods were preferable to traditional military tactics. Guided by a new operational code promoted by the United States in the 1960s, the armed forces' primary military objective was the eradication of domestic opposition. 2 In alliance with the highly conservative upper classes, the armed forces of El Salvador and Guatemala used systematic terror against the civilian population as a political tool. The importation of repressive technology (primarily from the United States, Argentina,