How has El Salvador become a relatively stable democracy following decades of dictatorship and war?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    In 1930, General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, the country's Minister of Defense, took power in a coup d'état. Soon after, Martínez, now President, suppressed a 1932 revolt consisting of farmers and Indians in the western part of the country. The revolt was conducted by the newly formed Communist Party and its leader Agustín Farabundo Martí. The military conflict left more than 20,000 people dead in retaliatory massacres, which came to be known as "La Matanza". This marked the beginning of a series of de facto military dictatorships that would rule El Salvador until 1979, when General Humberto Romero of the Party of National Conciliation (PCN) would be overthrown in a reformist coup.

    In 1979, politician José Napoleón Duarte of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC, Partido Demócrata Cristiano in Spanish) joined a Revolutionary Government Junta in a coup against then recently elected President Romero. He became the head of state and also the leader of the Junta (Primera Junta Revolucionaria de Gobierno) in 1980. Duarte passed a land reform and redistribution law that forced all private landowners to restrict their holdings to 200 manzanas (1 manzana ≈ 6,400 m²); anyone holding larger amounts was forced to sell, and the land was then redistributed under various programs.

    The ARENA party signed "Peace accords" on January 16, 1992 that assured political and military reforms and punishment for human rights abuses during the civil war; death squad activity was virtually eliminated and several of the military as well as the insurgent participants were granted pardons with the signing of the Peace Accords.

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