Conservative commentators on the right continue to assert that El Salvador is a model for elections during an insurgency leading to democratic outcomes. The latest is a fairly outrageous statement from Fox. David Asman of Fox News states:
Iraqis vote on Sunday. So what difference will it make?
Folks were asking the same thing in 1989 when voters in El Salvador (search) went to the polls in the middle of a nasty civil war. And as usual, the press was just reporting the bad news. "I expect it will only make the violence worse," one observer told the Atlanta Constitution (search).......
So what happened?
The elections went off on time. There was violence on Election Day. But the sight of long lines at voting booths overshadowed the violence. A couple of years later there was another election that the San Francisco Chronicle (search) (which had some of the gloomiest predictions in 89) described as "a surprisingly quiet affair it was relatively calm. And the election itself was relatively clean."
You would conclude from reading this piece, that the 1989 elections in El Salvador ushered in an era of peaceful democracy in the country. Of course, the truth is quite different. Shortly after the 1989 elections, the FMLN guerrillas initiated an major offensive which brought the war to the urban areas of El Salvador. The level of violence increased, and the US-backed military assassinated six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of Central America. You can read a contrasting piece by Tom Gibb of the BBC here rejecting the "Salvador Option" and the Salvador model for Iraq. And for a new balanced view of these issues, continue on and read yesterday's post.