On February 1, Dr. Diane Villiers Negroponte of the Brookings Institute discussed her new book titled Seeking Peace in El Salvador: The Struggle to Reconstruct a Nation at the End of The Cold War at National Defense University in Washington, DC. This event, cosponsored by the NDU Foundation and the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, took place between 5 and 7 pm in Fort McNair’s Abraham Lincoln Hall. Former US Ambassador, Cris Arcos, Political Advisor to the Director of CHDS, introduced the author. The presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session.
The resolution of the civil war in El Salvador coincided with the end of the Cold War. It would prove to be a test of Soviet willingness to withdraw from support of revolutionary movements in Latin America and Washington’s ability to help reconstruct a nation – twenty percent of whose population had immigrated to the United States. Analysis of the decision making in Washington, as well as the outreach to Moscow, is undertaken in conjunction with an examination of the internal pressures to end the fighting. To assist in this process, the Salvadoran government accepted the United Nations as a 3rd party mediator. This book examines the work of Alvaro de Soto, the establishment of a UN Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the peace keeping role of the ONUSAL. Each played a critical role in nudging both the government and the FMLN towards peace. However, after two years of negotiations and a decade-long effort to implement the peace accords, this work questions how peace was made and whether it has endured. Are the current levels of criminal violence a consequence of that civil war?
Dr. Diana Villiers Negroponte is a non-resident senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. Her work is devoted to research and writing on Latin America, with particular emphasis on security issues in Mexico and Central America. Previously, she was a senior scholar at the US Institute of Peace. She received her doctorate from Georgetown University with a dissertation that examined efforts to make peace at the end of the Cold War in El Salvador.