Images From Central America’s Wars and Its Unfinished Peace
Photojournalists Reflect on Conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua and Why Peace Remains Elusive
This event is part of a series highlighting themes from “Imagine: Reflections on Peace,” a multimedia exhibit from USIP and the VII Foundation that explores the challenges of peacebuilding through an immersive look at societies that suffered — and survived — violent conflict.
Award-winning photojournalists Bill Gentile and Robert Nickelsberg began their careers reporting on the Cold War struggles that embroiled Central America in the 1980’s and 1990’s — a time when long-standing economic disparities and deep political divides erupted into irregular warfare throughout the region. The images captured by photojournalists like Gentile and Nickelsberg showed the enormous human toll of these conflicts in Latin America, fueling anti-war sentiment in the United States and forcing human rights and peacebuilding onto the political agenda.
Regional pacts in the late 1980’s demobilized the U.S.-backed contra rebels in Nicaragua, and subsequent U.N.-sponsored agreements finally put an end to guerrilla warfare in El Salvador in 1992 and Guatemala in 1996. But these agreements failed to bring lasting peace, prosperity or political stability. Today, poverty and violence still plague the region, driving migrants to the United States in search of opportunity, safety or political refuge.
On July 27, USIP hosted journalists Bill Gentile, Robert Nickelsberg and José Luis Sanz for a reflection on the legacy of Cold War-era conflicts in Central America. Panelists discussed the human consequences of those wars and the continuing search for peace.
Continue the conversation on Twitter using #CentralAmericaWarReflections.
Journalist in Residence, School of Communication, American University
Photojournalist specializing in political and cultural change
José Luis Sanz
Washington Correspondent, El Faro
Keith Mines, moderator
Program Director, Latin America, U.S. Institute of Peace