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El Salvador: Politics, Policy, and Implications for Human Security PowerPoint Presentation
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El Salvador: Politics, Policy, and Implications for Human Security

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El Salvador: Politics, Policy, and Implications for Human Security

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  1. El Salvador:Politics, Policy, and Implications for Human Security

  2. Roadmap • Introduction • A puzzle • History and political background • Post-conflict structures and analysis of today

  3. Introduction to a microcosm

  4. Introduction to a microcosm • Mid-range GDP • Size of MA • “Successful” political peace • US/Latin America ties

  5. A Puzzle: In January 2007, on the 15th anniversary of the peace accords ending12 years of civil war and grave human rights violations, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised El Salvador as a model for other countries emerging from conflict: "The groundbreaking accords signed in Mexico City in January 1992 not only set El Salvador on a new course. They also provided precedents and experiences that continue to inspire others who are striving to rebuild their societies following conflict. And they continue to be a point of reference for the United Nations, as we assist others on their path to peace."

  6. A Puzzle: • …and yet, in 2006, El Salvador had one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world: • 63.8 per 100,000 people • 94 per 100,000 youth • (higher than during the war) • What are the factors (current and historical) that contribute both to successful political peace and simultaneously to ongoing human insecurity in the country?

  7. SALVADOR HERNANDEZ Community leader and former political prisoner There were many of us catechists in my community, but almost all were killed in 1980 and 1981. Yes, the army killed the majority of us. Out of about thirty, I’d say maybe only five catechists survived. Only those of us who came from far away survived, but the ones who lived in town and in the villages nearby… No, mamita, they all got it bad.

  8. SALVADOR HERNANDEZ Community leader and former political prisoner Nowadays, we are experiencing a physical war again. It’s touching lives. Gang members are turning into killers. In exchange for nothing, they demand to be paid, or you might be killed. This situation has started affecting my children…

  9. A pre-war history • Late 1800s • Cash crops and concentration of wealth • 1930s • La Matanza • (Elsewhere in the region – Mexico, Nicaragua) • 1940-1960s • Era of “friendly dictators” • (1950s Guatemala) • Rise of popular organizing • Periodic elections with military officers usually winning • Economic elite in cabinet positions

  10. Growing tensions in the 1970s • Wealth distribution • 5% control 38% of national income; 40% control 7.5% • Land • A few large farms control 1/3 of arable land • Farms under 2.5 acres = half the farms but only 4% of land • Landless rural population grows 40%  51.5% in 10 years • Election fraud • Duarte in 1972 • Repression • Disappearances, assassinations, death squads • Radicalization of social movements • Oscar Romero assassinated March 24, 1980 • Nicaragua in 1979

  11. El Salvador’s civil war in numbers, style If your 500 friends on Facebook lived in El Salvador…

  12. El Salvador’s civil war in numbers, style

  13. El Salvador’s civil war in numbers, style

  14. Civil War • Key players become today’s main political parties • ARENA (on the right, military origins) • FMLN (on the left, guerilla origins) • 1980-1992 • Weak president, strong military, with right-wing control of legislature • Cold War context • Peace efforts beginning in 1983 • Could the war have ended sooner? • U.S support to government • $1 million / day in aid ($5.5 billion) • Counterinsurgency training for military officials • Aid continues despite human rights concerns in Congress

  15. Civil War • Civilian toll • 75,000 dead • 6000+ disappearances • 400,000 internally displaced • 500,000 flee to the U.S. • Human rights violations • 95% of violations attributed to government or linked paramilitary forces • Detention without trial, torture • “Scorched earth” tactics, continued death squad operations

  16. ALICIA GARCIA Human rights leader Our organization has over five thousand members nationwide, and everyone in this committee is a victim – each has had family members disappeared or assassinated, and on top of that most have been tortured personally. Before my work on the Committee, I was a nurse for twenty-one years, but the war obligated us all to begin different kinds of work.

  17. Ending the conflict • The changing political environment • No prospect of decisive victory • End of Cold War • High profile assassinations by US-trained officers  PR problem  US support shifts • UN involvement • Endorses peace efforts in 1989 • ONUSAL observer mission: a global first • Human rights, military, and police integrated approach • Truth Commission (1994)

  18. What does it take to get an agreement? • Land reform • A moot point? • Demilitarization • National Guard and National Police disbanded  National Civilian Police • Reintegration of ex-combatants • Fair elections • ARENA wins presidency in 1989, 1994, etc. (through 2009) • Judicial System • New Supreme Court and hope for further reforms • General amnesty • 5 days after Truth Commission report released • Both sides amenable, but longer-term implications

  19. ALICIA GARCIA Human rights leader In 1993, my son Juan Carlos was helping us by driving lawyers to different sites to document cases for the Truth Commission. Already, he had received threats – phone calls saying that if he continued with the work, he would be killed. Then, on February 13th, my son and his cousin’s car was stopped and the two teenagers were tortured and killed.

  20. Challenges • Rocky police transition • Underfunded, killings continue • Efforts to directly transfer military forces • Land reform • A moot point? (25% GDP  3% GDP) • Human rights abuses: lack of closure • Amnesty protections • No investigations into continued death squad activity • Washington Consensus: help or hindrance? • IMF-lead economic reforms to promote growth • Persisting inequality • Privatization leads to concentrated control by elites (banks, etc.) • Political implications?

  21. 20 years later: What if you lived in El Salvador? • Employment • Gap between richest and poorest has grown • Unemployment + underemployment = 42% (2005) • 25% of Salvadorans depend on remittances • Violence • Proliferation of gangs (originally from Los Angeles) • Homicides ~60 per 100,000 till March 2012 • Continued extra-judicial activity? (organizing, labor targeted) • Laws “targeting youth” • Mano Dura and Super Mano Dura • 19,275 people detained (2003-2004) for gang affiliation, 84% released • Public security as political issue

  22. El Salvador today in numbers, style If your 500 friends on Facebook lived in El Salvador…

  23. El Salvador today in numbers, style

  24. El Salvador today in numbers, style

  25. El Salvador today in numbers, style

  26. GUADALUPE PEREZ Law student I’m really worried about the future. Sometimes in the morning you wake up to hear rapid gunfire, and that’s when you know someone else has been killed. Before, I don’t think I thought about it the same way – there was an environment where the violence was downplayed in our country. But now you can’t ignore it; it feels like these problems are getting closer and closer to our own backyards .

  27. For the future… • Politics • FMLN in presidency • ARENA narrow legislative majority • Gangs and violence • Truce? • Spotlight on prisons / incarceration policy • Immigration • 500-600 per day still go North • Economics • CAFTA? • Prices of basic food stuffs

  28. Take-aways • Poster-child for political peace • Human security much more complex • Rooted in a complex history • Political, institutional, socio-economic factors • Tension between addressing the past and moving on • U.S. role in the region (past and present)

  29. Questions?

  30. ALICIA Human rights leader “This is what we dedicate ourselves to: the life of the human being. There will come a moment when there is a space to achieve the changes that the whole world needs so much – the first step simply is to start. “

  31. Our stories are the parts of our country’s history that aren’t written down. This is the hidden history – others might look at us and think the events were insignificant, but they never realize just how much we are carrying inside. – Alicia Garcia

  32. SALVADOR Community leader and former political prisoner “I, for one, cannot stay silent in the face of injustice“

  33. PATRICIA Human rights activist since age 11 “We survivors are truly grateful to the people of the United States. Their solidarity saved many lives, mine being one of them.“

  34. AIDA Community leader “I did everything I could for him, and it wasn’t enough to protect him from the world…”