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  • Documents on Democracy

El Salvador

On 16 January 1992, representatives of the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí Liberation Front (FMLN) met in Mexico City to sign a peace agreement bringing to an end 12 years of civil war. (See Enrique Baloyra's essay on pp. 70-80 above.) The signing ceremony was attended by the UN secretary general, the presidents of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and the Central American countries, as well as the prime minister of Spain. Excerpts from some of the principal speeches delivered at the ceremony appear below:

Secretary General of the United Nations Boutros Boutros-Ghali: The peace agreement must be seen in conjunction with the agreements reached in San José, Mexico, and New York in July 1990, April 1991, and September 1991, respectively. It is not exaggerating to say that taken together and realizing their breadth and scope, these agreements will cause a revolution, brought on by negotiation.

The armed forces are to be given a role clearly subordinated to the civilian authorities, proportionate to their responsibilities as stated in the new constitution. Consequently, the armed forces will be modernized, reformed, and restructured. The judicial branch will be reformed and reinforced, and its independence will be strengthened with a provision that I percent of the national budget will be automatically designated for it. People without party affiliation are to participate in the Electoral Tribunal, and the system will be reviewed to render it more reliable than in the past . . . . The parties have also agreed to create the Truth Commission, the members of which were designated by my predecessor.

This commission will be tasked with the essential goal of bringing about reconciliation and discovering the truth regarding the most violent actions of the past decade. The New York agreement of September also called for the establishment of a National Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (Copaz), which is already operating and will play a prominent role in the upcoming transition stage. [End Page 125]

I salute the Salvadoran government and President Cristiani in particular for his prudence and foresight. I also pay homage to the FMLN for its political imagination. A new and much better El Salvador will emerge from these agreements, whose implementation will end the Salvadoran armed conflict . . . .

The implementation of government strategies to improve the welfare and dignity of men can only take place in an atmosphere of genuine democracy and respect for the law and human rights. Democracy allows for the identification and destination of the people's will. The enforcement of the law stops the arbitrary exercise of power, and the respect for human rights allows each person to develop and blossom in accordance with his personality. From these points of view, today's agreements are a good reason to congratulate the Salvadoran people.

The new challenges inherent in the establishment, maintenance, and strengthening of peace in our time make it necessary for us to pay more attention to the ties between the international and internal aspects of security; the observance of the principles of rightfulness, democracy, and lawfulness in the handling of international and national affairs; and the interconnection between peace, development, and liberty.

Member of the general command of the FMLN Jorge Shafik Handal: The FMLN has attained peace. It is stretching out its hand that has been a fist and extending it to those against whom we have fought. This should be the case in the culmination of a situation where there have not been any victors or vanquished and where the firm purpose is to initiate the unification of the Salvadoran family.

We also want to extend our hand to the U.S. government in the search for a new relationship based on dignity and cooperation. We are walking down the path of the peace accords to modernize the state and the economy; to create a politically, ideologically, economically, and socially pluralist country as the basis for participative and representative democracy and stable peace; and to rejoin the world in an open and plural manner. This will allow Salvadorans to display their hardworking and creative nature to promote development and ensure broad and various means of development at a high rate.

President Alfredo Cristiani...


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pp. 125-131
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