Peace brings no prosperity to El Salvador
20 years after signing peace accords, South American nation rife with poverty and violence
The Central American nation of El Salvador remains mired in poverty. Rates of violence there remain high. It appears that peace did not bring prosperity here, as the country's academic and social leaders are proposing new accords to overcome the crisis.
Of El Salvador's six million people, 36.5 percent live below the poverty line, with 11.2 percent living in extreme poverty.
San Salvador was able to bring to a close a civil war that had wracked the country for 12 years after left-wing insurgents of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and the government of then president Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994) brokered an agreement. The conflict left some 75,000 people dead and 12,000 disappeared.
The front, now a political party and governing the country with President Mauricio Funes along with the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance reached a consensus facilitated by the United Nations, and in Mexico on Jan. 16, 1992 both parties signed the agreement to end the war and attempt to salvage the ruined economy.
The agreement paved the way for a democratic transition in a country that had previously endured military rule.
"If we were able to overcome the brutality of war through dialogue, we can also defeat poverty, inequality and violence through dialogue and concerted decision making," analyst José María Tojeira wrote in an editorial in a local newspaper.
The 20th anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords has been met with economic crisis and the continued wave of murders carried against civilians. El Salvador is ranked among the most violent countries in the world, with 70 homicides per 100,000 people.
Of the nation's six million people, 36.5 percent live below the poverty line, with 11.2 percent living in extreme poverty.
"What we need is to further develop the democracy that we initiated 20 years ago . the challenges are enormous, but so are the opportunities," Nidia Díaz, a lawmaker in the Central American Parliament says.
Retired general Ernesto Vargas, who signed the accords on behalf of the government commission, also says that "there must be a countrywide agreement with an institutional focus... free from ideologies, motivated only by the desire for a better nation," just as occurred two decades ago, Vargas says.
Two decades after the accords, the El Salvador justice system continues to be afflicted by the same evils.
"As long as the (composition of the) Supreme Court remains in the hands of the Asamblea Legislativa (Congress) and is subject to the agreements between party leaderships, it will serve those interests," Ramón Villalta, the head of Social Initiative for Democracy says.
A version of this story was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: El Salvador, violence, poverty, peace accords
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