32nd Anniversary of 1992 Peace Accords

Monument to Peace on highway south of San Salvador

January 16 marks the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords which ended El Salvador's  12 year long bloody civil war.   There is no official celebration of the end of that conflict by the government of Nayib Bukele, the country's president who labels the accords "a farce."

Here is what I wrote on the 2021 anniversary of the Accords:

So why is Bukele attacking the Peace Accords?   To celebrate the Peace Accords and the reforms they instituted would be to celebrate many of the norms which Bukele has begun to trample.   He cares little for the institutions of constitutional democracy.   The separation of powers checks him from acting freely.   He attacks those who would champion human rights.   While the Peace Accords intended to remove the military from domestic affairs, Bukele sends the military out into the country with ever more frequency to perform all sorts of internal tasks from policing to delivering food packets, to capturing grasshoppers, to enforcing sanitary quarantines of entire towns.  

Moreover, one of Bukele's constant themes is to denounce his opposition as a corrupt pact between ARENA and the FMLN.  Because the Peace Accords are signed by the FMLN and the government then controlled by ARENA, he attacks the peace agreement as part of their supposed corrupt bargain.

These are the efforts of a president to deny and revise history so that the lessons of history cannot be learned by the current generations.  

In 2024, Bukele continued his denigration of the accords by ordering the destruction of the Monument to Peace and Reconciliation erected in 2017 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Accords.

The supposed “monument to reconciliation”, inaugurated by the FMLN government in 2017; -- not only was it aesthetically horrible, but it glorified the pact between the murderers of our people, made so they could "share the cake" -- has been demolished. In its place, a new public space will be built for the enjoyment of Salvadoran families.

In recent days, the Bukele social media machine has been pushing out a campaign message that only Bukele and his security policies and the ongoing State of Exception have brought true peace to the country with the reduction of violence through the dismantling of gangs throughout the country. 

At the same time, Bukele is running for election to an unconstitutional second term as president.  Independent democratic institutions have been subverted by one party rule and the elimination of any checks on Bukele's power.  The military which had been returned to its barracks and removed from domestic security duties by the Peace Accords is now larger than ever, and patrolling the streets of the country as a parallel police force.  (Bukele did not start this trend, but has greatly expanded it),   As in the years before and during the civil war, innocent persons can be swept up off the street and held for months in prison without trials. There are credible reports of torture and killing within the prisons in a country which now incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than anywhere else in the world.

On Sunday, January 14, hundreds of persons from civil society and opposition political groups marched through San Salvador to commemorate the Peace Accords and to protest Bukele regime policies including arbitrary arrests and detentions under the State of Exception.
The protesters represent only a small portion of the Salvadoran population today, however, while a great majority are likely to re-elect the self-proclaimed "coolest dictator in the world."

Only the foolish would assert that El Salvador has lived up to the ideals of the Peace Accords in the 32 years since. The hard work to establish democracy, to enforce the rule of law, to respect the separation of powers, and to combat corruption has fallen short repeatedly. Economic inequality, violence and violations of human rights persist. But the failure of the country to live up to those ideals embodied in the Peace Accords does not mean the Accords were a "farce" or that the ideals themselves should not be highlighted and lifted up. In fact, El Salvador three decades later needs to be reminded of those ideals more than ever.