Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What Salvadoran bloggers are saying -- fifteen years after the Peace Accords

January 16 marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords which ended El Salvador's twelve year civil war. The event was marked by official celebrations, conferences, rallies and protests. The bloggers of El Salvador had much to say about the events and the country's progress. The general theme in the Salvadoran blogosphere was that of unfulfilled promise.

Jjmar, who posts at the Hunnapuh blog, does not want the significance of the Peace Accords to be underestimated and describes the accords as the basis for the most important democratic political reform(es) in the modern history of El Salvador. The accords opened to doors to the growth of democracy, guaranteed political rights and opened space where the FMLN could be transformed from a guerrilla movement into a political party, and the country established a Human Rights Ombudsman. But in the socio-economic life of the country, the accords had their greatest shortcomings. The historic structures of Salvadoran society which gave rise to the armed conflict were not abolished by the Peace Accords.

For her part, Ixquic marvels that in a country as small as El Salvador there exist such widely varied opinions(es) about the the same reality. While she notes that the Peace Accords did accomplish the cessation of hostilities, there has been a failure to cement a new social, political and economic system.

Many view the treatment of ex-soldiers and guerrillas as one of the failures. Journalist Juan Jose Dalton reflects on the Peace Accords with the story of Bernardo Menjivar(es). When he was only 11, government forces invaded Bernardo's village in the mountainous province of Chalatenango and massacred the population including his mother, sister and uncles and cousins. From that point forward, he became a messenger for the FMLN guerrilla forces, passing messages from one front to another. When he was 16, he lost both legs in an explosion in a mine field. He was one of the lucky ones though. Eventually he came under the care of the International Red Cross and was later taken to Cuba where he received treatment and rehabilitation and eventually education and training.

Bernardo viewed himself as fortunate in comparison to other disabled veterans of the war, both ex-soldiers and ex-guerrillas. The promise of the Peace Accords, to reintegrate them into society with training, health care and support, has not been fulfilled according to Bernardo and Dalton.

Following the festivities of January 16 commemorating the Peace Accords, JJmar could only conclude that post-war reconciliation still had not arrived(es) for El Salvador. Members of the ruling right-wing ARENA party, including the current president and two of his three predecessors, gathered in a plaza dedicated in the past year to Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder of ARENA and sponsor of right wing death squads during the civil war years. They sang their old hymn with the line "El Salvador will be the tomb where the Reds will meet their end." Beka Luna could only call it hypocrisy(es) when president Tony Saca went from singing these phrases, to calling for national unity, a short time later in the national celebrations.

Ixquic walked past the festival grounds where the celebrations were taking place, found them surrounded with razor wire and riot police, and posted the photos she took. One ironic photo shows protesters beyond the riot police with a banner which reads "la verdadera paz" -- "the authentic peace."

Jjmar decided that the day's events had only been the opening event(es) of the 2009 election campaigns. A fact he lamented while, for so many thousands of Salvadorans, the signing of the Peace Accords was an incomprehensible act -- their concerns are to arrive home without being assaulted, to worry about the next day's meal and the rent payment at the end of the month

The commemorations of the end of the civil war brought numerous interviews and accounts from the civil war. One news story particularly incensed El Visitador. The digital periodical El Faro reported an interview(es) with Felipe González Márquez, former prime minister of Spain, who revealed that Fidel Castro had given him a detailed preview of the November 1989 offensive of the FMLN guerrillas into the streets of San Salvador. El Visitador declares that the silence of the Spanish prime minister(es) about a pending attack by guerrilla forces on the capital city was tantamount to being aware of plans for the 9/11 attacks and doing nothing to stop them.

Originally posted at Global Voices Online.

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