Critical Code Switching: Effects on Democratization in El Salvador

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Critical Code Switching: The Effects of

Democratization in El Salvador

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Dr. Hilary Parsons Dick

Conflict and Inequality in Latin America

29 April 2013

Critical code switching was the main focus of Ellen Moodie’s composition of El Salvador in the Aftermath of Peace: Crime, Uncertainty and the Transition to Democracy. This term surfaced after a peace agreement ended the civil war in El Salvador in 1992. When a civil war ends there is the common belief that all violence ends. However, this was not the case in El Salvador and violence continued after peace was supposedly established. In order to diverge the attention of continued violence within its country, El Salvador’s government sought to “re-label” the
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This was exemplified when there were executions of 22 members of the FMLN between June and September of 1993 (Witte 2011). This suggested a renewal of death squad style assassinations and hinted at the everlasting presence of political crime in El Salvador.
In addition, Cristiani’s exploitation of his people through critical code switching laid a foundation of resentment between the citizens of El Salvador and their government. The citizens witnessed the political crime continuing past what they thought was a peace agreement and Cristiani simply deflected their concerns by attributing it as random, non-critical crime. Therefore, the divide between the government and its people was widening and impeding their goal of democratization. A specific example of the civilian’s resentment was when El Salvador’s legislature passed an amnesty law that granted freedom of persecution to all war criminals. This occurred in 1993 after a UN supervised, Truth Commission investigated human right abuses committed during El Salvador’s civil war (McPhaul 2013). By failing to bring the war criminals to justice and downplaying the atrocities they committed and were continuing to commit post-war, Cristiani and the government had injected a sense of resentment into the people that sought retribution. As governing leader, Cristiani had to deal with the
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