The Debts of War

Bifurcated Veterans’ Mobilization and Political Order in Post-settlement El Salvador

in Conflict and Society
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  • 1 Leiden University r.w.g.sprenkels@hum.leidenuniv.nl
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Abstract

This article examines mobilization by civil war veterans of the insurgency and the government army. These veterans became a major political force in postwar El Salvador. I demonstrate that the ascendency of the war veterans hinged on the combination of two types of mobilization: “internal” mobilization for partisan leverage, and public mobilization to place claims on the state. By this bifurcated mobilization, veterans from both sides of the war pursued clientelist benefits and postwar political influence. Salvadoran veterans’ struggles for recognition revolve around attempts to transform what the veterans perceive as the “debts of war” into postwar political order. The case of El Salvador highlights the versatility and resilience of veterans’ struggles in post-settlement contexts in which contention shifted from military confrontation to electoral competition.

Contributor Notes

RALPH SPRENKELS is Assistant Professor in Latin American Studies in the Department of History at Leiden University. His historical and anthropological research focuses on the legacies of insurgency and counterinsurgency in Latin America. Besides his academic career, he also holds ample experience in human rights work in Central America. His publications include books and articles about El Salvador's civil war, human rights, memory politics, and postwar transition. His most recent book is After Insurgency: Revolution and Electoral Politics in El Salvador (2018). Email: r.w.g.sprenkels@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Conflict and Society

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