El Salvador: Towards Another Vietnam
ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA had once predicted that there would be one, two and many Vietnams in Latin America. He did not live to see them. But nearly 14 years after his death at the hands of the CIA and para-military forces in the Bolivian jungles, his prediction is coming true in more than one way in Central America.
El Salvador, Guatemala, the Honduras, Costa Rica—in fact the entire region stretching right up to the Caribbeans is in turmoil. Long exploited by imperialism and local oligarchies, the region is one of the most backward, poverty-stricken and also among the most oppressed in the world. For a century now the Central American people have lived so that the imperial powers could feed on their bananas, coffee, cotton, sugar. Even the plantations which produced them have not been in their control, with large tracts owned directly by such United States corporations as the United Fruit Company (later United Brands).1
The United States invervention to maintain "friendly" regimes in power has a long history in the region, while exploitation, brutal massacres, dictatorships and injustice have been a daily staple. Revolts to shake off the imperial yoke have repeatedly been crushed and even the barest reforms and rights denied by the ruling classes. Today, nearly 150 years after the countries became independent of Spanish colonial rule, the people are waging a new battle — a mass revolutionary wave that has spread across the entire region — against dictatorship, class rule, exploitation and imperialism.
Nicaragua was the first to become free in 1979. Since then the revolutionary movements in El Salvador, Guatemala, the Honduras and Costa Rica have made rapid strides. With hardly any democratic tradition in these countries the revolutionary path has been the only alternative. After many trials and errors, including the rejection of the "foco" theory as a model, the line of united fronts of mass organizations, coupled with guerrilla actions, has come through as the correct tactic to counter American power that lies behind the shaky colonels of Central America.
* Formerly engaged in research in intd'national affairs at Jawaharlal
Nehru University and presently working as a journalist in New Delhi.