El Salvador

El Salvador

El Salvador After having been colonised by Spain and subsequently been a former member of the United Provinces of Central America, El Salvador was formally declared independent in 1856. Post-independence Salvadoran politics was largely controlled by an oligarchy known as las catorce (the original fourteen aristocratic families, which has later expanded in number). After the Second World War, an alliance of civilian conservatives (dominated by las catorce) and military officers ruled the country until the late 1970s, the decade when armed opposition groups emerged with the result of intra-state conflict.

In March 1972, a military faction led primarily by Colonel Benjamin Mejia unsuccessfully attempted to stage a coup against the regime of President Fidel Sanchez Hernandez; the abortive coup reached the level of a minor intra-state conflict. Official and unofficial (through right-wing militias) government repression prevailed throughout the 1970s while popular support for radical leftist groups expanded rapidly. By 1979 five of these groups turned to armed resistance; the organisations engaged in an intra-state conflict in 1979-1980 were ERP (Ejército revolucionario del pueblo, People's Revolutionary Army), FAL (Fuerzas armadas de liberación, Armed Liberation Forces), FARN (Fuerzas armadas de resistencia nacional, Armed Forces of National Resistance), FPL (Fuerzas populares de liberación Farabundo Marti, Farabundo Marti Liberation Forces) and PRTC (Partido revolucionario de trabajadores centroamericanos, Revolutionary Party of Central American Workers). In 1980 the above five united into one coalition organisation called the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Marti para la liberación nacional, Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation), named after Farabundo Marti, the communist leader of the El Salvadoran peasant revolution of 1932. The FMLN subsequently fought the government in the years 1980-1991 and the intra-state conflict was terminated with the UN-brokered Chapultepec Peace Accords signed in 1992.

El Salvador has also been involved in an inter-state conflict. In July 1969 El Salvador sent in troops into Honduran territory and fighting ensued for four days until a cease-fire was put in place after pressure from the Organisation of American States and the USA. The short inter-state conflict is commonly known as the 'Football War', so called because the immediate provocation came from violence surrounding World Cup playoffs between the two countries' national teams. However, the underlying issues were largely economic in nature and revolved around harsher immigration laws and land reform policies in Honduras which disfavoured the large number of Salvadoran immigrants and stirred strong reactions in El Salvador. A peace agreement was signed eleven years later, in 1980, while the actual border demarcation was arbitrated by the International Court of Justice in 1992, awarding most of the disputed area to Honduras.

El Salvador has provided secondary warring support to the Iraqi government in the intra-state conflict in Iraq which began in 2004.

Since 1946 El Salvador has experienced the inter-state and intra-state categories of UCDP organised violence.