Analytical Paper: Waves of Protest
1932 Uprising: The 1932 uprising in El Salvador was a brief, peasant-led rebellion that the government was able to suppress almost immediately. Rebels led by a communist party attacked the government forces and succeeded in taking control of several towns. However, the government troops were able to defeat the peasants in a matter of days. The government responded to the uprising with great brutality. They specifically targeted people of indigenous appearance, dress, or language. This massacre is estimated to have murdered approximately one percent of El Salvador’s population. The government used this mass ethnocide as a deterrent for citizens to participate in any kind of mobilization. Social unrest in El Salvador had begun to grow in the 1920s, primarily because of the abuse of the political class and the major social inequality between the landowners and the peasants. The unrest also spread to the military leaders. In 1931, the military’s dissatisfaction was at an all-time high (pg.5). A group of officers staged a coup and ousted the siting president. These political events that happened before the massacre help to explain some of the main causes the peasants rebelled in the first place. The Great Depression in the United States had disastrous consequences for El Salvador’s small coffee-centered economy. As the coffee market imploded, so did El Salvador’s only cash crop and economy. The workers became increasingly frustrated with the landowners and tensions boiled over. The inequality the peasants faced is the main cause of the 1932 uprising. Professor Almeida argues in Chapter 3 of his book that the main cause of this uprising was the government tolerating mass organization and then suddenly reversing the trend all amidst an economic depression and the fall of the price of coffee.
1967-1972 Protest Wave: This cycle of protest was a reformed-oriented movement. It took the form of orderly and non-violent mass actions. This protest wave is poorly documented in Salvadoran history but is critical to explaining subsequent collective action. Although this wave is considered underappreciated, it generated a number of oppositional leaders from labor, educational, and church sectors according to Almeida (pg. 6). Teachers’ associations emerged on the political landscape in an impressive fashion by organizing large strikes and street demonstrations throughout the nation by occupying essential public areas. Protestors demanded an updated retirement system, benefits package, and a salary program as well as to be treated with professional respect. Unions pushed the military government to recognize their constitutional right to strike. These strikes signaled an interruption in the growth of pro-government unions and an alliance between the independent unions. These strikes mobilized an already-established organizational structure and marked a new way of protesting. The book also discusses how with how fast university enrollment was growing in the early 1970s; students led a serious of actions. Their grievances surrounded issues such as budget allocations, university admissions, and general education requirements. At the same time, the Catholic Church began to organize major initiatives for the first time since the 1932 massacre. This movement was the biggest protest wave in 30 years. In my opinion, this is because it was able to mobilize so many different people from all different sectors.
1977-1980 Protest Wave: After a brief period of resolution due to an extremely repressive government, cycles of protests began to erupt once again in 1977. From 1977-1981, another full-scale protest exploded. Sustained collective action once again emerged. This time it was in much more intensive, disruptive, and violent forms. A much larger portion of citizens participated than in previous