The Primacy of the Political:
Strategies of Insurgency and
By mid- 1984 the initiative in the war had shifted dramatically from a year earlier. The major military advance of the FMLN during 1983 had been weathered and the military initiative moved toward the Salvadoran armed forces as their expansion of personnel and new equipment allowed them to confront more effectively an insurgency that was waging almost a regular war.The FMLN's change of strategy toward a "people's war" that emphasized more conventional guerrilla strategy and tactics and a focus on political work also had initial costs that perhaps exaggerated the advantage of the Salvadoran military. Most important, however, the United States and its Salvadoran allies had made a major political advance with the 1984 elections that resulted in the victory of José Napoleón Duarte and created a significantly more favorable climate in the U.S. Congress and in international opinion for the program and objectives of the counterrevolution.
But whereas the political-military initiative was in the hands of the Salvadoran government and armed forces, the FMLN was far from being defeated and had made major advances in the first period of the war.The insurgents had built a guerrilla army that had come close to defeating the ESAF. They had consolidated a strong base of popular support and established rearguard zones that, though not areas of permanent control, could only be temporarily occupied by the Salvadoran military and were effectively political, logistical, and support bases from which the rebels could expand the war.Continued economic stagnation, the effects of the FMLN's sabotage campaign, and the huge decline in real wages in the previous four years offered prospects for the rebels to build popular support and posed a major challenge for the incoming Duarte government.
The election victory of Duarte of the PDC over former Major Roberto d'Aubuisson of the right-wing ARENA Party in May 1984 was