Resolving the Conflict
At the end of 1989, following the FMLN's largest offensive of the war, the prospects for serious negotiations improved even as enmity between the two sides hardened.After a decade of war no end was in sight. Public pressure to resolve the conflict was becoming a factor that both sides had to take seriously. International factors pressed both sides to consider serious bargaining to end the war. From the mid‐ through the late 1980s the momentum for peace within Central America had grown.The Arias Plan of August 1987 laid the foundations for negotiations to end the contra war in Nicaragua and placed the quest for peace in El Salvador on the regional agenda.The prospect of an end to the Cold War, symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall on the weekend the FMLN launched its November 1989 offensive, had serious implications for both sides.For the FMLN the decline of the Soviet bloc removed an important political, diplomatic, and logistical rearguard. 1 For the Salvadoran government, the easing of Cold War tensions promised to make the acquisition of funds from the U.S. Congress, exacerbated now by the Jesuit case, more difficult.The defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua's February 1990 elections was also a double-edged sword.Whereas it was a political blow at the leadership and combatant level and caused some logistical problems for the FMLN, it also further removed Central America from the front rank of U.S. foreign-policy concerns, with foreseeable implications for aid levels to the Salvadoran government and armed forces.In these circumstances, both sides were forced by the realities of the war and a changing world to contemplate serious negotiations. At the same time, the reality of a decade of war that had cost some 70,000 lives and had been fought with little quarter given on either side ensured that negotiations would not be easy.