Reported by John Burnett and Alex Avila
In Central America, the guns of war are now silent. The graves are no longer fresh; the khaki uniforms that moved stealthily down the slopes of volcanoes are gone. The last armed conflict in Central America ended more than eight years ago. In all, more than three hundred thousand died, the majority of them civilians. Central America did not change all that much, Land is still scarce; the hyper-poor are still the majority. Wealth is still concentrated in the hands of the hyper-rich. But at least there is peace. One of the most encouraging outcomes of the peace processes has been the demilitarization in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Sweeping reforms have down-sized armies that were once menancing, and are now increasingly irrelevant. But reconciliation among ex-combatants is a more elusive goal, as is taming the drug-trafficking that is one more negative legacy of the wars in the region. NPR's John Burnett produced this special report for our series, "Despues de las Guerras: Central America After the Wars."
Diffusing the culture of military control is proving to be a daunting challenge in most of Central America. This report contrasts the persistent bitterness between military and government in Nicaragua with the relatively small, but landmark reduction in the military being taken in Guatemala. The report finds the new modus operandi for many in the armed forces is making money through organized crime, thus creating a new form of terror and instability for the country's citizens, many still haunted by the military's wartime tactics.
For more information about the issues raised in the segment Giving the Military the Pink Slip, see the following books and articles.
(Note: this is not intended as a complete list. Check back for more recommendations and an opportunity to make your own recommendations soon.)
Nield, Rachel and Melissa Ziegler: From Peace to Governance: Police Reform and the International Community. WOLA, 2003.
A rapporteurs's report based on a November 2001 conference sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America and the Johns Hopkins Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Sieder, Rachel: Guatemala after the Peace Accords. Institute of Latin American Studies, 1999
Koonings, Keith: Political Armies, Security Forces and Democratic Consolidation in Latin America. (Chapter in Cawthra, G. & Luckham, R. Governing Insecurity. ¬Ý Zed Books, London, 2003
Mares, David: Violent Peace: Militarised Interstate Bargaining in Latin America. Columbia University Press , 2001.
When is military force an acceptable tool of foreign policy? Why do democracies use force against each other? David R. Mares argues that the key factors influencing political leaders in all types of polities are the costs to their constituencies of using force and whether the leader can survive their displeasure if the costs exceed what they are willing to pay.
Schirmer, Jennifer: The Guatemalan Military Project: A Violence Called Democracy. University of Pennsylvania Press; 1998
Walker, Thomas W. and Ariel C. Armony, ed.: Repression, resistance, and democratic transition in Central America. Scholarly Resources, Wilmington, Del., 2000
Diaz Cordova, Arturo: Funcion del ejercito en una sociedad democratica. Fundacion Friedrich Naumann de la Republica Federal de Alemania; Fundacion para el Desarrollo Institucional de Guatemala, Fundacion D.I.G.; Instituto de Relaciones internacionales y de Investigaciones para la Paz, IRIPAZ; "Ciclo de seminarios sobre relaciones civico-militares, 1994/95." Guatemala, 1995
Washington Office on Latin America
See especially WOLA Publications "Drugs And Democracy" and "Blurring The Lines"
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© 2021 Maria Martin
Photo at top left © 2021 Donna DeCesare www.donnadecesare.com