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Economic Development of Central America Econ. 4200 - Spring 2004 – Dr. Taylor - page 114 / 153





114 / 153

The origin of El Salvador's Civil War may be traced to 1972, when the Christian Democratic candidate for president, Jose

Napoleon Duarte, is believed to have won the popular vote but was deprived of his victory when the army declared the results false and handed the victory to its own candidate.

Impatient and frustrated, middle-class politicians and student leaders from the opposition began to consider more forceful ways to oust the ruling class.

By 1979, guerrilla groups had become well established in rural El Salvador, and some younger army officers grew concerned that a successful left-wing popular revolt was a distinct possibility. Rather than wait for revolution from below, which might result in the destruction of the military as an institution, the officers chose to seize power in a coup and manipulate change from above.

Interesting to note that a destabilizing trigger was the backlash resulting from these officers pushing a land reform program onto El Salvadoran society (1980, the land-reform program resulted in 37% of the lands producing cotton and 34% of the coffee-growing lands being confiscated by the government and redistributed).

Things quickly began to spiral downward, the story is outlined in your book.

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