El Salvador’s conflict between the rich and the poor has existed for over a century. In the late 1880s, coffee became a major cash crop for El Salvador and was a major contributor to the country’s income. In fact, the available data indicate that coffee brought in over 90% of the country’s income. Unfortunately, this wealth was characterized by great inequality as it was only confined within only 2% of the country’s population (Kane, 2002). As a result of this huge inequality, tensions between the classes grew; pitting the rich against the poor. Due to the increased tension and perceived adverse inequality on the part of the poor in the country, Central American Socialist Party was formed by Augustin Farabundo Marti in 1932 with the aim of addressing this major issue; the party led indigenous people and peasants against the government perceived to only serve the interests of the rich.
Kane (2002) explains that in responding to the formation of this party, the government supported military squads which killed any person supporting the uprising. The killing was later called ‘La Matanza’, meaning ‘The Massacre’, where it is estimated that over 30, 000 people were killed. Also, Marti was captured and put to death. This scenario led to the continuation of the struggle through the 1970s as both sides fought in a seemingly endless series of coups and assassinations. The presence of guerrillas led to the reinstatement of the death squads who were ordered to combat them. The government was overthrown
by the military junta in 1979 (Kane, 2002). After overthrowing the government, the Junta made promises to improve the living standards in the country. However, the Junta failed terribly on delivering its promises and discontent grew. This discontent provoked the main guerrilla groups in El Salvador to unite under the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) (Kane, 2002). The preceding events eventually led to the official start of El Salvador’s civil war in 1980. The start and continuation of the war saw the government supporting any person who was suspected of supporting economic and social reforms. Kane (2002) notes, the victims of these government- supported military activities were mostly the clergy, university officials, independent farmers, and the unionists. In the ensuing battle which lasted for about twelve years, perishing of thousands of victims was witnessed. As noted, the civil war led to the death of many people, particularly the victims who targeted such as the clergy and the unionists. The most notable deaths in this war were Archbishop Oscar Romero who was shot in 1980 and the four US church workers who were raped and murdered (Kane, 2002). It should be noted that both the government and the FMLN committed acts that led to murder and destruction of property. Kane (2002) says whereas the military were killing the alleged rebels, the FMLN were cutting power lines, destroying coffee plantations, blowing up bridges, and doing anything that damaged the government’s economic stability. Apart from that, they kidnapped and murdered government officials. As the civil war was progressing, the strategies and equipments being used were advanced as well. It is noteworthy that the war persisted despite efforts that were being made by both sides to bring it to the end. This scenario is attributed to the argument that FMLN refused to participate in presidential elections because they thought that the election results will in favour of the right- wing parties (Kane, 2002). Also, refusal by the government to attend peace talks organized by the FMLN further contributed to this scenario. There is an argument by most people that the civil war in El Salvador would not have lasted that long without United States’ support. They argue that during the civil war, El Salvador had exhausted its resources but the government obtained financial