This January marks the 30th anniversary of El Salvador’s peace accords between the government and left-wing guerrillas, which ended a decade-long civil war that claimed at least 75,000 lives. The accords provided for a cease-fire and the demobilization of guerrilla forces, converting the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front from a rebel force into a political party. They also redefined the role of security forces, mandated electoral and judicial reforms and established a truth commission to investigate serious acts of violence by both sides. El Salvador evolved from a country dominated by the military to a relatively open society with competitive politics, diverse civic organizations and free media.
Nonetheless, many of the agreement’s objectives remain unfulfilled. Amnesty laws have hindered investigations into wartime atrocities, weak institutions have failed to protect the Salvadoran people from widespread corruption and abuse, and violent street gangs dominate many impoverished communities, subjecting Salvadorans to threats, extortion and sexual violence. Discontent with the country’s post-conflict leadership helped elect President Nayib Bukele, a charismatic young populist, in 2019.
On January 20 USIP and the Due Process of Law Foundation held a discussion that will examine what the 1992 peace agreement achieved, where and why it fell short and what both domestic and international actors can do to help El Salvador address ongoing struggles with violence, polarization and impunity. Take part in the conversation on Twitter with #ElSalvador30.
Keith Mines, moderator
Director, Latin America Program, U.S. Institute of Peace
Program Director, Due Process of Law Foundation
Former Legal Advisor, U.N. Commission on the Truth for El Salvador; Professor Emeritus, School of Law, University of Notre Dame
Former Advisor, U.N. Observer Mission in El Salvador; Member of the Peruvian Congress
Alvaro de Soto
Former U.N. Representative for the Central American Peace Process; Professor, Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po