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.

English

Spanish

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.

Speakers

Keith Minesmoderator
Director, Latin America Program, U.S. Institute of Peace

Leonor Arteaga
Program Director, Due Process of Law Foundation

Douglass Cassel
Former Legal Advisor, U.N. Commission on the Truth for El Salvador; Professor Emeritus, School of Law, University of Notre Dame

Gino Costa
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

Related Publications

Lo que El Salvador puede aprender de Los Ángeles sobre la prevención de la violencia de pandillas

Lo que El Salvador puede aprender de Los Ángeles sobre la prevención de la violencia de pandillas

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

By: Rosa Anaya;  Fernando Rejón;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

Cuando los presidentes de América Latina se reúnan esta semana para la Cumbre de las Américas, se reunirán en un condado de EE. UU. donde casi la mitad de la población general, y más de la mitad de sus jóvenes, se identifican como Latinos. Junto con otros inmigrantes, los Latinos han ayudado a impulsar la economía de Los Ángeles, tanto como empresarios como trabajadores. Pero sufren de manera desproporcionada por la pobreza, encuentran dificultades en la escuela y carecen de acceso regular a la atención médica.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

What El Salvador Can Learn from Los Angeles on Preventing Gang Violence

What El Salvador Can Learn from Los Angeles on Preventing Gang Violence

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

By: Rosa Anaya;  Fernando Rejón;  Mary Speck, Ph.D.

When Latin American presidents gather this week for the Summit of the Americas, they will be meeting in a U.S. county where nearly half of the general population — and more than half of its youth — identify as Latino. Along with other immigrants, Latinos have helped power Los Angeles’ economy, both as entrepreneurs and workers. But they suffer disproportionately from poverty, struggle in school and lack regular access to health care.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

El Salvador necesita soluciones a largo plazo para poner fin a los ciclos de violencia

El Salvador necesita soluciones a largo plazo para poner fin a los ciclos de violencia

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

El gobierno de El Salvador reaccionó con dureza ante un reciente aumento en los homicidios al imponer un Estado de emergencia y detener a miles de presuntos pandilleros. La historia reciente sugiere que la aplicación de la ley por sí sola no puede resolver el problema sin tener programas integrales de prevención, intervención y rehabilitación de pandillas en comunidades marginadas. Mary Speck de USIP analiza la violencia en El Salvador y cómo el país puede reducir el crimen sin dejar de respetar los derechos humanos.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human RightsJustice, Security & Rule of Law

El Salvador Needs Long-Term Solutions to End Cycles of Violence

El Salvador Needs Long-Term Solutions to End Cycles of Violence

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

The government of El Salvador reacted harshly to a recent spike in homicides by imposing a state of emergency and rounding up thousands of suspected gang members. Recent history suggests that law enforcement alone cannot solve the problem without comprehensive gang prevention, intervention and rehabilitation programs in marginalized communities. USIP’s Mary Speck discusses violence in El Salvador and how the country can reduce crime while still respecting human rights.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Human RightsJustice, Security & Rule of Law

View All Publications