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El Salvador (Paperback)

Dance of the Death Squads, 1980–1992

Cold War

By Al J. Venter
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Cold War 1945 - 1991
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9781526708144
Published: 30th October 2017

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When the world held its breath …

It is more than 25 years since the end of the Cold War. It began over 75 years ago, in 1944 – long before the last shots of the Second World War had echoed across the wastelands of Eastern Europe – with the brutal Greek Civil War. The battle lines are no longer drawn, but they linger on, unwittingly or not, in conflict zones such as Syria, Somalia and Ukraine. In an era of mass-produced AK-47s and ICBMs, one such flashpoint was El Salvador …

The twelve-year guerrilla war in El Salvador – the smallest country in Central America after Belize – was one of the most intense insurgencies fought in the Central and South American region since the end of the Second World War. Backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, the struggle was initiated on 15 October 1979 – largely from Nicaraguan soil – by the radical Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition or ‘umbrella organization’ of five socialist and communist guerrilla groups.

Fearful of supporting an oppressive regime in San Salvador and media reports of ‘death squads’, this drew a quick but muted response from a United States headed by Jimmy Carter and a Democratic majority in Congress. However, once Ronald Reagan was elected into office, through various US intelligence bodies, the CIA especially, significant amounts of military hardware – including a variety of the same aircraft and helicopters originally deployed in Vietnam – were pumped into the country to counter Soviet efforts to support the rebels. The Salvadorian security forces were eventually moulded into an effective counter-guerrilla force that was to force the rebels to the negotiating table.

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About Al J. Venter

Al J. Venter is a specialist military writer and has had 50 books published. He started his career with Geneva’s Interavia Group, then owners of International Defence Review, to cover military and related developments in the Middle East and Africa. Venter has been writing on these and related issues such as guerrilla warfare, insurgency, the Middle East and conflict in general for half a century. He was involved with Jane’s Information Group for more than 30 years and was a stringer for the BBC, NBC News (New York) as well as London’s Daily Express and Sunday Express. He branched into television work in the early 1980s and produced more than 100 documentaries, many of which were internationally flighted. His one-hour film, Africa’s Killing Fields (on the Ugandan civil war), was shown nationwide in the United States on the PBS network. Other films include an hour-long programme on the fifth anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as well as AIDS: The African Connection, nominated for China’s Pink Magnolia Award. His last major book was Portugal’s Guerrilla Wars in Africa, nominated in 2013 for New York’s Arthur Goodzeit military history book award. It has gone into three editions, including translation into Portuguese.

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