El Salvador: an example for conflict resolution
Blandon, Francisco A.
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For twelve years, El Salvador was mired in a civil war that polarized all segments of Salvadoran society and that reflected deeply rooted economic, social, and political problems. Yet, El Salvador negotiated an end to its war in 1991. Why did these negotiations succeed? How did the peace process help drive the broader progress in political development and democratization? To what extend can the Salvadoran experience serve as an example for other nations, and offer broader insights into theories of comparative politics and political development? This thesis argues that three related developments facilitated the peace process of El Salvador. After a bloody decade of war that began in 1979, both the Salvadoran government and the Frente Farabundo Marti para Ia Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) came to recognize that neither side could hope to win through force. This recognition spurred an unprecedented willingness on both sides to negotiate. Second, changes in the international system encouraged negotiations, particularly as political shifts within the Soviet Union dried up the FMLN's sources of outside support. But many of these promises of assistance have not been kept. El Salvador faces severe economic and political problems, and these problems could impede full implementation of the peace accords. Ultimately, continued democratization in El Salvador -- and elsewhere in Latin America -- can only be based on political commitment, social justice, and economic growth. The international community can help facilitate the resolution of conflicts and aid the process of democratization. Nevertheless, the Salvadoran case suggests that the most critical prerequisites are the shared recognition that violence cannot provide victory, and that compromise and consensus is in the interest of all parties to the conflict.
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