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