El Salvador: U.S. Influence on Salvadoran Political Identity
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El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, endured a brutal civil war that lasted from 1979 until the signing of the Peace Accords in 1992. Defined by some as the last real armed conflict of the Cold War, El Salvador’s struggle attracted an unprecedented amount of U.S. aid, marking the beginning of a long and complex relationship between the two nations. This relationship was further developed by the large-scale immigration of displaced civil war refugees to the U.S., the subsequent dependence of the Salvadoran economy on remittances from these emigrated nationals. This study focuses on U.S. influence on current Salvadoran political identity and the current debate surrounding U.S. policies promoting a neoliberal development model in El Salvador. Ultimately, many factors contribute to a fragmented Salvadoran political identity, including: widespread distrust of a corrupt and ineffective political system, slow economic growth, lack of rule of law, and the continued project of social reconstruction post-civil war. All of these factors add up to an ambivalent attitude towards continued exertion of U.S. influence in the region. Through interviews (formal and informal) with Salvadorans from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, this study reveals the tenuous nature of political identity and the fragility of social unity.