Feinberg, Richard E.
June 1981
Foreign Affairs;Summer81, Vol. 59 Issue 5, p1121
This article examines the manner of political behavior in Central America that the U.S. is willing to tolerate. The roots of the turbulence in Central America on 1981 are political sclerosis and uneven economic development. By traditional measurements, the economies of Central America have performed reasonably well over the last three decades. However, the fruits of the growth have been spread very unevenly. The already yawning gap between the poorest and the richest has been widening. Wealth was already concentrated, and rapid population growth created an abundant labor supply that depressed wages. Governments heavily influenced by conservative business and military interests hampered the activities of labor unions and failed to provide adequate social services. Then a period of rising expectations was followed by falling incomes, as the burst of globally induced inflation in the second half of the 1970s lowered real wages throughout the region. In addition, the very process of modernization had created new social classes not content with the political status quo. During the 1970s, political systems did not adapt to the newly emerging social forces. In 1972, a broad coalition of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and Communists apparently won the presidential elections in El Salvador.


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