I observed the February 1990 elections in Nicaragua as a member of both the Latin American Studies Association observation team and that of Hemisphere Initiatives, a group with which I have worked. In El Salvador I headed the Hemisphere Initiatives team. I visited Nicaragua five times during the electoral period, and for El Salvador, for once my academic calendar coincided with Salvadoran history. A sabbatical in the last academic year allowed me to be there during the electoral period.

I should say by way of comparison with Fred Gamst's presentation about Ethiopia that Nicaragua and El Salvador are ethnically and linguistically homogeneous societies in which the conflicts that led to war were based on class divisions and ideology. The main exception to this general pattern would be the geographically isolated Atlantic coast region of Nicaragua, which is ethnically and linguistically complex and has about 10 percent of the country's population. In El Salvador the indigenous population that survived into this century was largely destroyed or driven underground in 1932 when the government and landowners slaughtered people they suspected of participating in a revolt against coffee plantation owners.



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