After 12 bloody years, hope for El Salvador

This article was originally published in the Macon Telegraph on January 5, 1992 and is republished here for readers of

Editor: Can we hope that a long and bloody history is about to take a kinder turn? El Salvador is a tiny country — one-seventh the size of Georgia — but that is no measure of its pain — and of our share in its burdens, its fate.

Civil war there has left 75,000 Salvadorans dead over the 12 years that followed a left-center coup to which right-wing death squads responded with a reign of terror. The rightists gained power, only to have the leftist insurgent army, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, bedevil the nation through guerrilla violence.

During those years, El Salvador’s internal demons were exacerbated by the country becoming a battleground of superpower ideology. Soviet-backed Cuba and Nicaragua supported the rebels; the United States gave the government more than $1 billion in military aid during the 1980s.

Now the Cold War is over, and 20 months of negotiations under the aegis of the United Nations have wrought an agreement that, if officially signed on schedule January 16, will impose a cease-fire starting February 1. That will begin a nine-month “transition period” during which the overblown national army of 56,000 will be trimmed, the insurgent army changed into a political party and a new civilian-controlled police force created to replace the repressive militarized police that have traditionally ruled.

That such an agreement has been reached is promising; if kept, it would transform the way the country is governed and immensely promote human rights. But right-wing extremists have vowed to derail it. If land reform and other actions to open the road from ignorance and impoverishment for the vast majority of Salvadorans do not follow, violence from the left could very soon return.

The chances are fragile, but agreement at the end of such long negotiations after such bitter warfare is the strongest sign of hope for El Salvador in decades. It wrote an upbeat finis to the UN leadership of Javier Perez de Cuellar.

Let us hope it succeeds — with our support, without our interference.

Written by Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

Dr. Miguel A. Faria is a neurological surgeon in Macon, Georgia.

This article was printed in the Macon Telegraph on January 5, 1992, p. 4B.

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. After 12 bloody years, hope for El Salvador. Macon Telegraph, January 5, 1992. Available from:

Copyright ©1992 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

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