Within the next few months the direction El Salvador and Nicaragua take out of their current crossroads will be known; it will define their dynamic for 1991. In 1992 Guatemala may well become the key country in the region; this year the wall of silence about human rights abuses there is finally being broken, through the first steps taken in Oslo for a negotiated solution. Guatemala’s problems, however, are even more complex than those of El Salvador and Nicaragua; in addition to the political, economic and social root causes of the regional conflict, Guatemala suffers apartheid and racism, which has converted it into the South Africa of Latin America.
Challenges for the future of Central AmericaConfronting continued US Intervention. The popular Central American agenda for national solutions must include an end to US intervention in areas like elections. Sadly, the international observers of the Nicaraguan elections had neither the mandate to confront nor the capacity to appreciate this special kind of fraud. Nicaragua's experience should be the last electoral intervention in the hemisphere, as well as the first of many elections observed by the UN and the OAS.
In the midst of very difficult circumstances, Central America's new historical subject, its organized workers and peasants, men and women, Mestizos, Indians and Blacks, will have to face the avalanche of the North against the South, of capital against labor and of the neoliberal project against the popular democratic project. A direct confrontation of forces would probably not garner popular support and could further isolate the people. Political, economic and cultural accommodation is not retreat, but rather a way to deal with the enemy’s violent tide. One has to observe the contradictions of the tide, the best way to get to the beach and the best moment. There must now be a reconsolidation of forces so that neither hunger nor bloodletting nor fatigue will sweep away the future history.
Defend Self-Determination. National and regional self-determination is now more necessary than ever. The US invasion of Panama resolved nothing and actually contributed to polarization in the other countries. Aspirations for self-determination and the region's geopolitical position with respect to the US are two of the original causes of the conflict. Their resolutions cannot be postponed if the other causes of the conflict are to be resolved.
New Latin Americanism in the Renewed Left. Links to the new international and Latin American left are now more necessary than ever. The current crisis within leftist parties does not mean their demise, but rather calls for new analysis, taking advantage of accumulated experience. The advances of the Workers' Party in Brazil, the Cardenist movement in Mexico, the left and popular organizations in democratic Chile, the survival of popular organizations in Peru, Colombia and the Andean countries, have permitted the consolidation of new forces in Latin America that can look to the 1990s with hope.
The disintegration of Eastern European socialism is opening ways to a new socialism that had been paralyzed before, to new possibilities for the regrouping of progressive forces in Europe and the United States.
Relations between the Non-Aligned Movement and other third world countries are also crucial. The technological revolution and the globalization of the economy facilitate this. Without a regrouping of international forces, economic structures and law, there will be no way to open new spaces for the liberation of the peoples of the South.
Central American Integration. Regional integration should be incorporated as part of the popular project, without permitting the neoliberal project to take it over. The Central American Parliament and the Social Economic Council have been proposed by the “Esquipulas of the Peoples” to represent the new historic subject and overcome the limitations of previous regional institutions full of bureaucrats and technocrats. Human rights require special emphasis in the popular agenda.
Go to the Roots to Construct a New Civilization. The prolongation of the Central American crisis is, at bottom, product of a crisis of civilization. The legitimacy of the Central American cause, in another historical moment, would have found broad support in Latin America and the rest of the world. But the regional crisis is part of a world crisis, where first world resources are directed towards consumption and those in the Third World toward survival. The privileged world cannot understand the alternative themes, demands and visions that result from a different rationality, identity and culture. The idea of a superior eurocentrism continues. Discriminatory and exclusive consumerism in the North gnaws away at the very values of civilization.
Just days before he was killed, the rector of the UCA in San Salvador, Ignacio Ellacuría, commented in his Basque homeland, “You, who live here in Europe, have organized your lives around inhuman values. They are inhuman because they cannot be universalized. The system rests on a few using the majority of the resources, while the majority can't even cover their basic needs. It is crucial to define a system of values and a norm of living that takes into account every human being.”
Ellacuría’s message conceived of a world that does not include only the three great blocs of the North, with its minority that prospers on the back of the underdeveloped majority. It is easier to talk of democracy and human rights than to struggle for the dignity of the great majority of human beings. Ellacuría concluded his discourse saying, “It is easier to continue thinking that the world ends where our civilization ends.”