The Salvadoran Civil War was a military conflict between the US-supported right-wing military government of El Salvador and a coalition of five left-wing rebel factions under the banner of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (named after a peasant farmer that led a short-lived insurgency against the government during The '30s) that started in The '80s and ended in 1992 after the sign of the peace accords in Mexico.
The reasons for the conflict are similar to other revolutions of the Cold War; the lower and the educated classes getting fed up with a self-serving authoritarian regime, and rising up with the support of the Soviet Union/China and/or Cuba. But the lead up to the war is a lot more complicated than it was with a series of events that futher deteriorated an already-fragile small nation.
BackgroundEl Salvador, like many countries of Latin America, was dominated by oligarchs, the military and foreign companies wanting to cultivate and export things like coffee and Bananas for dirt-cheap to their countries of origin with most of the local population being large dirt-poor families of farmers and with a lot of political and military oppression from governments that would barely last a year or two before being taken out of office with a military coup the moment they would think of aggrarian reform or workers' rights. All of this led to ten of thousands of farmers to leave and settle illegally in Honduras.
In The '60s, Honduras suffered an anti-communists military coup and later, fraudulent elections, during an economic repression. Fearing that the opposition parties would attempt a left-wing uprising after constantly accusing the government of being puppets of the United Fruit Company, the government decided to lay the blame of the country's problems to the large number of Salvadoran immigrants with the government later issuing an aggressive aggrarian reform that essentially stripped Salvadorans living in Honduras of their property and lands. Unsuprisingly, this would lead to the persecution and deportation of nearly all Salvadorans living in Honduras.
The Salvadoran government would denounce Honduras' actions with little-to-no success and thus began the tensions between both countries...
During the 1970 World Cup qualifiers, El Salvador and Honduras played against each other three times, with each game just increasing the tensions between the populations of the two nations. The Salvadoran government, getting overwhelmed by tens of thousands of expatriates from Honduras, declared war on Honduras the day after El Salvador beat Honduras during the last qualifying game. Beginning the infamous The Football War.
The Football War would last four day and leave 3000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans displaced and homeless with their government being unable or uninterested in solving their growing humanitarian crisis.
Prelude to the Civil WarCommunism and socialism would gain a lot of popularity and support from farmers, the lower class and the expatriates as consequence of the humanitarian crisis and attempts from the government to compromise would get a extremely hostile response from foreign companies, oligarchs and the military, who would threaten to take over the government with the pretext of fighting communism and Soviet/Cuban/Nicaraguan influence. By the late 70s, various left-wing groups of the political and paramilitary type would appear to fight or protest the government's abuses, only leading crackdowns and executions of supporters and sympatizers. In 1980, five of the most prominent left-wing factions would join under the banner of the F.M.L.N and declare war on the then-recently installed ruthless anti-communists Military Junta that was officially recognized and supported by the United States.
Following the Nicaraguan Revolution, the United States would make sure that another left-wing revolution would never succeed again in Central America and would increase their support for the Salvadoran government by giving them huge amounts of leftovers weapons and vehicles from the Vietnam War.
Unlike the left-wing insurgency in Guatemala, the F.M.L.N would prove to be a lot more aggresive and score a few victories against the Salvadoran government, something that would lead to the United States essentially taking control over the Salvadoran military by sending "advisors" and training their mechanized battalions and elite forces themselves.
The WarAll of this would culminate in the public assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero; who was an avid supporter of the lower class and farmer families and a fierce opponent of the Military Junta. His death was what many believe to be the point of no return to all-out war.
On December 11, 1981. An US-trained anti-guerrilla force would perpetuate one of the most infamous atrocities of the conflict; El Mozote Massacre, were 800 civilians of the rural town of El Mozote were systematically killed just because of their proximity to rebel-controlled areas and towns. The Salvadoran and the US government would deny the massacre even happened or heavily downplay the casualties while claiming that they had good reasons.
The war was mostly contained to the San Miguel, Morazan and La Union departments (States) with many recorded skirmishes outside of San Salvador city and La Libertad department. The military was known for its bombing raids and Scorched Earth tactics on rebel-controlled towns and areas while the FMLN forces were known for their guerrilla and hit-and-run tactics against convoys and patrols.
No dirty war would be completed without Death Squads, and they became the one of the most infamous aspects of the conflict, being members of the military that were hired by party leaders and oligarchs to seek and execute any person that was suspected of left-wing support or sympathy, no matter the age, gender or even evidence of their support.
The persecution of the lower classes and the scorched earth tactics on rural towns would led to tens of thousands to leave for the United States as illegal immigrants or neighbouring Honduras to live in dirt-poor refugee camps. The Honduras thing would led to the Sumpul River massacre when both the Salvadoran and Honduran governments would join forces to massacre escaping refugees in the Sumpul River.
Throughout the course of the war, many foreign humanitarian workers would be threatened or killed by government forces just for trying to help the wounded and the homeless, the most well-known were five American women who were intercepted after leaving the airport, raped and executed, causing outrage from humanitarian and Christian organizations in the United States.
The United States government would religiously cover-up any attrocities committed by the Salvadoran government under Ronald Reagan administration.