The outbreak of the Salvadoran civil war at the end of the 1970's and its continuation throughout the following decade, had an immensely detrimental impact on the society as a whole. While the crimes perpetrated by all relevant actors have been well documented in the annals of history, it is important to ask how the tiny Central American country found itself in such a dire political situation. Through an analysis of the period between the 1932 peasant revolt and the oligarchy's subsequent handing over of State power to the military, and the failure of the 1979 Proclamation of the Armed Forces and the official end of the oligarch-military alliance, the level of violence that erupted in El Salvador during the 1980's seemed a foregone conclusion. By looking primarily at the instability of Salvadoran political institutions between 1932 and 1979 an explanation of the various roles played by the military, oligarchy, and U.S. foreign policy are needed for any understanding of the country's deep seeded political frustrations that carved the path toward civil war.
[...] The opening of the political process under Rivera and Sanchez Hernandez had created expectations of real reform within the Salvadoran opposition. On March 12th of 1972 the UNO asked voters in the Department of San Salvador to deface their ballots in the municipal and legislative elections. Under the Salvadoran system defaced ballots were counted as null. When the majority of votes tallied were nullified the UNO asked that the election be invalidated. (Montgomery 1995, 64) While the departmental electoral board of San Salvador ruled in favor of the UNO their decision was overturned by the CCE. [...]
[...] Aguirre's coup ended a six month opening within Salvadoran political life and sent Romero and other opposition leaders into exile. (Williams, & Walter, 33) The coup and subsequent exiling of important opposition leaders left the presidency to General Salvador Castaneda Castro in January of 1945. While not as repressive as Hernandez Martinez, the Castaneda government was equally unwilling to take up the economic and social reforms that El Salvador so badly needed. (Montgomery 1982, 62) Changes did take place in March of 1945 when the new government declared a general political amnesty, allowed for the existence of some political organizations, and reorganized the government and the army. [...]
[...] While the General's campaign began in late 1933, newspapers were restricted from covering any political news until late 1934. The advantage given to Hernandez Martinez was too much for the small and scattered Salvadoran opposition to overcome, thus allowing for the Generals easy election to another term. (Loveman, & Davies, 145) Hernandez Martinez again sought the presidency in 1939 in spite of a constitutional amendment restricting re-election. The fact that no Salvadoran president had held consecutive terms since the 19th century was a source of pride within the country. [...]
[...] (Grenier, 44) While the FMLN regional and local leadership was often recruited from popular organizations and labor unions, much of their political education and conversion into revolutionaries occurred through either direct or indirect contact with university actors. Radical elements were found both within and on the periphery of the universities and were considered, core elements of the dissenting faction.” (Grenier, 33) Outside of just university students, Salvadoran teachers unions were one of the more powerful radical factions. (Grenier, 45) While the Cuban Revolution undoubtedly encouraged the Salvadoran opposition to intensify their struggle against the government, it also convinced U.S. [...]
[...] (Williams, & Walter, 41) The code excluded rural and seasonal workers from labor organizing, while legally organized labor could not express political views or help with party politics. The new labor laws demonstrated the military's plan to continue its longstanding political dominance of rural areas, as well as its openness to some urban labor organizing. (Williams, & Walter, 41) Those who were willing to put up with these limitations were provided with pensions, medical care, and social security. They would also make up a “labor aristocracy” that treated members well and excluded outsiders. [...]
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