Prevention Successes and Failures: Peace-making and Conflict Transformation in Guatemala

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Prevention Successes and Failures: Peace-making and Conflict Transformation in Guatemala

Luis Alberto Padilla

One of the main goals of the conflict early warning systems (CEWS) research project is to provide knowledge about the causes and determinant factors of successes and failures in conflict prevention and conflict management and resolution. In this paper we will use the theoretical framework of authors like Johan Galtung, Ted Robert Gurr, Kumar Rupesinghe, Ronald Fisher, John Paul Lederach and others in order to analyze the nature of the peace process in Guatemala with special attention to the peace making and conflict transformation phenomenon, and also to the prevention of potential conflicts in the near future.

The Guatemalan peace process can be characterized as being essentially a peace making process1 with the mediation of both (in different stages) an internal mediator or “conciliator” (the Catholic church) and an external mediator –“moderator”- (the United Nations). The process had the aim to put and end to violence and solve-transform an internal armed conflict. Concerning the conflict itself, we assert that the Guatemalan conflict is intrinsically of ideological and political nature, with roots in the violent US intervention in Guatemala (1954) aimed to overthrown the democratic and legally elected government of president Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán perceived by Washington at that time as a “communist” government mainly because of the agrarian reform (that affected US owned plantations and corporations) but also because of its nationalist and modernization policies.2

Thus, according to this view the Guatemalan armed conflict was essentially a political and military conflict between the state and an insurgent movement (the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URAIG) and therefore it fits Kumar Rupesinghe's definition of intrastate conflict between government and other parties “who are either victims or unequal parties to the conflict.”3 Therefore, we can assert that the Guatemalan conflict was simultaneously external and internal, that is to say, that the insurgent movement represented an ideological and nationalist response to the violation of national sovereignty and to the national trauma generated by the U.S. intervention in 1954, and at the same time it was a conflict over governance and authority, because it also expressed popular demands for democracy and political participation.

Consequently, the Guatemalan conflict can be considered not only as an ideological conflict in the sense that it was a result -or negative side effect- of the cold war extrapolated to Guatemala -mainly by decision of the U.S. administration in the context of the witch-hunt of the times of McCarthyism- but also as a conflict over democracy and governance. In other words, it was a revolutionary war between the insurgents and the government aimed at displacing the authoritarian regime imposed by the U.S. intervention of 1954 through guerrilla warfare.4

Thus other causes of the conflict -and clear issues for its resolution the absence of democracy and of the rule of law, together with illegal repression through “disappearances,” extra-judicial killings, torture, human rights violations and with the ban of all leftist parties, popular organizations and trade unions are also fundamental causes of the conflict, and therefore, clear issues for its resolution. The fact that the issue- of democracy, and governance was included in the agenda of negotiations between the URNG and the government (as it was stated in the Framework Agreement of April 1991 signed in Mexico City) is a clear demonstration of this proposition.

More than forty years were necessary to end a conflict started basically by political ignorance, misperceptions and misunderstandings, as well as economic spurious and short sighted social (Guatemalan) an corporate (foreign) interests. Thirty years of guerrilla warfare and hundreds of thousand deaths, with its flow of destruction, refugees, backwardness and obstacles for economic and social development was not a small affair for the Guatemalan people, or just another low intensity warfare as the U.S. military and strategy experts used to call the conflict in the eighties. It was a real national and social tragedy, a catastrophe that provoked a wave of violence of such a magnitude that devoured an entire generation of Guatemalans.

Could the conflict have been prevented? Could it have been avoided? How can be explained that in spite of the general situation of crisis and almost of “state failure” that the country endured at the beginning of the past decade5 it was impossible to realize or to prevent what was going to occur, especially regarding the mass killings of Indian peasants and the large scale mobilization of the indigenous population both as guerrilla combatants and as “civil patrols” or soldiers in the army troops.6

Another theme of concern is related to the peace process both in its recent past and regarding the future: What lessons can we derive from the development of the peace process inaugurated by the Central American Peace Agreements of Esquipulas in 1987 and the subsequent (1991) negotiation process in Guatemala?

As it is well known, the Guatemalan peace process finally reaches an end with the signature of the Agreement for a Firm and Lasting Peace subscribed in Guatemala City on December 29, 1996: in this paper we will describe the peace process as an example of successful conflict resolution with the mediation of the United Nations.7 What are, therefore, the main features of the peace process?

First, as we have already stressed, the conflict was ideological and political but it also had a Mayan indigenous or ethnic component. That means that even if it is true that the Guatemalan armed conflict can not be qualified as an ethnic war, or ethnopolitical conflict,8 the indigenous population was not solely involved in the conflict but suffered the most terrible wave of violence since the times of the Spanish invasion, the so called “conquista” (conquest) in the XVI century and the majority of casualties and civilian victims were among them.9 That is why in the negotiations agenda the item of indigenous rights was included.

Consequently, the explanation for one of the main agreements of the peace process, the Agreement of Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples is associated with the fact that both parties were conscious that the situation of the indigenous peoples was not only a fundamental issue of the peace process; but moreover, a mechanism of prevention of conflict, and somehow, also an instrument of early warning for potential ethnic conflict in the near Guatemalan future. Furthermore, the issue was one of the most crucial points of the negotiations (it took more than one year to reach an agreement), even if the parties were not supposed to be legitimated to speak on behalf of the Guatemalan ethnic groups.10

Another important feature of the Guatemalan peace process is that it is closely related to the Central American peace process: without the Esquipulas agreement of 1987 there could have not been a peace process in Guatemala. The general situation in Central America at the beginning of the eighties was one of conflict and crisis: both the FNLN and the URNG in war against their governments in El Salvador and Guatemala while the “contras” (armed and financed by Washington) were fighting against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, with the support of Honduras. Mexico, assisted by the “Grupo de Contadora” (Colombia, Venezuela and Panama) tried hard to find a negotiated solution through the Contadora mediation effort, that failed at the last minute when Honduras -under the White House pressure- rejected to sign the “Acta para la Paz y la Cooperación en Centro América”.

The Esquipulas Accord was the result of a summit meeting of the five Central American presidents convoked by the Guatemalan president Vinicio Cerezo, who was democratically elected in Guatemala in 1985 and took office in January 1986. The first meeting was held in Guatemala the same year , the second took place in Guatemala city, in August 1987, and the result was the signature of the “Esquipulas II Peace Accord”. The Accord decided a procedure for negotiations in order to achieve peace through political means. The overriding characteristic of the peace agreement that the Central American presidents agreed not only to address the causes of conflict as an essential element of the negotiations, but that they also agreed to promote both democratization and sustainable development as a fundamental mean for both conflict resolution and peace building, using the term in the sense of Galtung “overcoming the contradictions at the root of conflict formation.”11

Furthermore, the Central American presidents agreed to request the presence of the United Nations as facilitator, mediator, conciliator and, in sum, key actor in the regional peace processes.12 This was an outstanding resolution if one recalls that this sovereign decision was made in the context of the confrontation between the US and the USSR, as well as-under circumstances in which Washington was trying to overthrown the Sandinistas government in Nicaragua and did not like -at all- the idea of a peaceful conflict resolution that could have consolidated a revolutionary government perceived in the White House as a client of Moscow and Havana. Another interesting trait of the agreement is the fact that the direct appeal to the United Nations is far from the regional schema of the Organization of American States (OAS) privileged by the U.S. foreign policy and, besides, it signified a call for the UN intervention in conflicts of an essentially internal nature, which is against the prescriptions of paragraph 7, article 2 of the UN Charter.

Finally, it is also important to mention that in Central America the peace process is the result of the democratization process. In other words, the settlement of armed conflict was possible because democratic regimes were established. That means that even if the nature of the democratic regimes was incomplete, or “in transition”, or under army vigilance (or of the Sandinista Front in the Nicaraguan case), democracy lays the basis for peace and not the opposite.

In the following pages we will describe the most important events of the Guatemalan peace process, including the historical roots of the conflict, we will analyze the nature of third party intervention, the nature of the agreements and their importance for the future in terms of the peace building process and of the prevention (early warning) of potential future violent conflicts.

Historical Roots of the Armed Conflict in Guatemala
The Central American republics are old independent states. In 1821 the independence from Spain allowed the establishment of the Central American Federal Republic until 1838, when the federation was dissolved and the five unitarian states of the republics of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica came to life. The federation could not subsist because of the rivalry among national oligarchies (the struggle among liberales and conservadores), divorced economic and commercial interests within the regional elites, and the constant intervention of foreign powers such as the United States and Great Britain using the well known practices of divide ut impera.

The primarily interest of both powers in the region, at that time, was the construction of an interoceanic canal using the San Juan river and the Great Lake of Nicaragua as an interoceanic water way.13 William Walker, an American “soldier of fortune” led a military expedition to Nicaragua and took possession of the country, where he stayed several years until his defeat (and subsequent death by shooting) by a Central American army under the command of the Guatemalan Marshall (mariscal) Zavala. In the meantime the British continued to consolidate their possessions in the Atlantic (Caribbean) coast of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. They forced the Guatemalan government to give up Belize by the way of signing a “treaty of boundaries” (1859) in order to legitimize the occupation of the Guatemalan territory known afterwards as “British Honduras”.

The war of Augusto Cesar Sandino against the U.S. intervention and occupation of Nicaragua in the 20's and the US intervention in Guatemala in the 50's are two historical examples of the “big stick” policy that Washington applied to Central America in those years, partly because of the economic interest of US corporations with investments in agriculture (banana plantations), communications (railroads, telegraphs) and electricity, and partly because of geopolitical reasons.

In the case of Guatemala the restoration of democracy in 1944 allowed the access to power of a nationalist young generation with the will to modernize and develop the country. Presidents Juan José Arévalo (1945-1951) and Jacobo Arbenz (1951-1954) did a lot of work in that direction especially in the field of education, health, welfare (social security was established at that time, the first code of labor was enacted), and public works. Arbenz wanted to compete with the US owned monopolies in railroads and electricity, so he decided to build a road to the Caribbean sea (“la carretera al Atlintico”) and also a national maritime port (Santo Tomás de Castilla) and the construction of a hydroelectric power plant as Jurún Marinalá. He also enacted an agrarian reform law that affected the interest not only of Guatemalan landlords but also of the United Fruit Company (UFCO), a U.S. agricultural corporation that - for the bad luck of the Guatemalan government - among its legal advisors had both- the U.S. secretary of state John Foster Dulles and the CIA director, his brother, Allen Dulles, and also among its share holders were both John Moors Cabot (assistant Secretary of State) and Henry Cabot Lodge (U.S. Ambassador to United Nations).14 If we add the strong nationalism and ideological rhetoric of the leftist politicians, the influence of the small Guatemalan communist party within the government, and the international context of cold war and U.S./USSR confrontation, we have all the ingredients for the explosive cocktail that broke out the so called “Guatemalan revolution” of the period 1944-1954.15

Therefore, the invasion of the country by a small military corps under the command of colonel Carlos Castillo Armas in June 1954 was just a smoke curtain in order to prepare the conditions for the coup d’etat organized by the U.S. ambassador John D. Peurifoy. Only two military gestures marked the nationalist reaction of the army: the battle of Gualán, on June 1954, and the attack and defeat of the Castillo Armas' so called “liberation army” by cadets of the military academy (“Escuela Politécnica”) on August 2, 1954. Afterwards an authoritarian government was established, the leftist parties were outlawed, hundreds of people went to exile and others, less fortunate, were killed or imprisoned, and, of course, the agrarian reform law was repealed. The communist party became clandestine and started to organize a resistance movement. In November 1960 a group of young army officers decided to rebel against the government of general Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes. The rebellion failed, but as a result of the events, links of collaboration were established with the leftist clandestine movement and the first guerrilla organizations initiated their actions.16

The first stage of the Guatemalan revolutionary war, during the 60's, is clearly influenced by the Cubans, particularly by the ideas of Ernesto “Ché” Guevara, as they were divulged by the book “Revolution in the Revolution” written by the French intellectual Regis Debray, about the guerrillas as a sort of “core” (foco) for the revolution. The FAR and the MR13 operated with this strategy in the oriental region of Guatemala, in Sierra de las Minas and in Izabal, but they were defeated by the army in a ruthless and bloody military campaign during the years 1967-1970. This campaign was accompanied in the cities by a wave of terror against real or suspected communist leaders or leftist intellectuals and by the operation of death squads- in charge of political assassinations and “disappearances” of people.

The survivors of the military and terrorist campaign of the 60's reorganized the guerrillas for a second stage of the revolutionary war in the mid 70's as “political and military organizations” that appeared in the western highlands, in the northern Pet6n province and in the central volcanic range-southern coastal lowlands with two new organizations: the guerrilla army of the poor (EGP: ejército guerrillero de los pobres) and the people in arms organization (ORPA: organización del pueblo en armas), and one surviving entity of the first stage: the FAR or rebel armed forces (fuerzas armadas rebeldes). In this new stage of the war the insurgents decided to establish their strongholds in the indigenous region of the country (the eastern region and mountain range Sierra de las Minas used by the FAR at the first stage is, by the contrary, a ladino region); they established a geographical distribution for military operations: EGP in the northwestern highlands and lowlands (ixcan), ORPA in the central volcanic range and FAR in the northern lowlands and with a more complex military strategy based in the ideas of the Vietnamese general Nguyen Vo Giap about the extended popular revolutionary war or guerra popular revolucionaria that must be deeply rooted in the people as the main actor of the revolution and as conditio sine qua non for the triumph and access to power. These three organizations together with the communist party (the PGT o partido guatemalteco del trabajo) coaligated in 1982 in order to form the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG: “National Guatemalan Revolutionary Unity”).

The URNG’s strategy for this second stage of the war was successful in the sense that the guerrillas looked for and obtained a massive support for their military effort and that they also succeeded in organizing thousands of people through popular organizations as the Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC: Peasant United Committee) or the Comité Nacional de Unidad Sindical (CNUS: National United Committee of Trade Unions) and even the students movement both at the national University of San Carlos and at the level of secondary public schools. The URNG also obtained support of an important number of priests and religious people mainly linked to the Catholic church and of all sorts of NGO's and organizations in the United States, Canada and Western Europe.

However, in the military field, the URNG was not capable to resist the monstrous and ruthless military campaigns of 1981, 1982 and 1983 that we have already mention when quoted the book of Yvon Le Bot, and that had as principal trait the cruel attack against the civilian population in order to “remove the fish from the water” as the Guatemalan military used to say at that time, in a cynical parody of Mao's well known expression “the guerrilla moves within the people as the fish in the water”.

The Peace Process and the Nature of Third Party Intervention
As a result of the military stalemate provoked by the Army's counter insurgency campaign the URNG decided to change its strategy and emphasized the political action especially abroad. It is not clear if at that time the insurgents were genuinely committed to a negotiated settlement of the armed conflict but in any case their political discourse and actions were addressed in that direction. With the help of activist of the so called “Solidarity Committees with Guatemala” that were established in North American and Western European countries since the beginning of the eighties, they started a well organized campaign searching for political support and financial assistance.

Non governmental organizations, cooperation agencies and even governments expressed their sympathy for the rebels. Rigoberta Menchú, daughter of a well known peasant and indigenous Guatemalan leader who died during the assault of the police forces at the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City (1980) won the Nobel Peace prize, and this rallied a wave of support and solidarity from the indigenous peoples all over the world. With the support of Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations Guatemala was included in the agenda of all the international organisms dealing with human rights.

The Stage of Pre-negotiations and the Role of the Internal Mediator: 1990-1994.
At the national level the democratization process started in 1986 and the peace processes opened by Esquipulas in both Nicaragua and El Salvador continued to exert pressure on the Guatemalan government in order to open bilateral talks with the rebels as it was the case with the sandinistas and the FNILN. but the army refused arguing that the Esquipulas accord stipulated negotiations with the “legal” opposition not with armed rebels. Nevertheless, as a result of the Esquipulas agreement a Comisión Nacional de Reconciliación (CNR: National Commission on Reconciliation) was established. As chairman of the CNR was appointed monsignor Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, a roman catholic priest, bishop of Zacapa who received the official title of “conciliador” (conciliator).

After having a meeting with the insurgents in San José de Costa Rica in 1988 and with the support of the process of consultation that he had with different sectors of the civil society in the years 1988 and 1989 (the national dialogue) Monsignor Quezada decided to initiate a round of “preliminary-negotiation” talks with the URNG and thanks to the good offices of the government of Norway, a second meeting with the rebels took place in Oslo in March 1990. As the government still refused to have contact with the rebels, Monsignor proposed a mechanism that was a real innovation for third party intervention in peace processes: these preliminary negotiation talks were held with representatives of different sectors of the civil society: leaders of the legal political parties, entrepreneurs and businessmen, religious priests and church members, trade union and popular organization leaders, scholars and professors from the academic community. The URNG accepted the mechanism and in March 30, 1990 was signed the “Basic Accord for the Search of Peace by Political Means” (Acuerdo Básico para la Búsqueda de la Paz por Medios Políticos).

As a consequence, five meetings were held in this manner: the first meeting, between the LJRNG and the legal political parties took place in Spain (at El Escorial) in June 1990, and it was followed by a meeting with representatives of the “private sector” -business and corporations- in Ottawa (Canada) on September 1st, 1990. A third meeting, this time with representatives of the religious sector took place at the end of the same month in Quito (Ecuador). Finally, guerrillas and representatives both of popular organizations and trade unions and of the academic community gathered in Mexico at the end of October 1990 in the towns of Metepec and Atlixco. As a result of this conversations, important issues were discussed and some relevant understandings reached. For instance, in the “Escorial Agreement” -signed by representatives of the URNG and of the political parties - both sides recognize the need to initiate a process of constitutional reforms and to promote popular participation in order to make institutional changes aimed at social justice, the respect of human rights an “independent development”, social welfare and so on. Also the URNG stated that they would not oppose the presidential elections (held in November 1990 and January 1991) and also stated their willingness to refrain from acts of sabotage during the electoral process.

From the Ottawa meeting with the private sector (CACIF: the leading entity of agricultural, commercial, industrial and financial organizations) in September 1990 there was no joint communiqué, but both sides recognized the need for a peaceful solution of the armed conflict, and the LIRNG -according with the CACIF declaration- expressed willingness to respect “human liberties”. The meetings with the religious, labor, popular and academic sectors held in Ecuador and Mexico produced interesting joint communiqués that emphasize the need for a political negotiated solution to the armed conflict and respect for human rights, democratization, economic and constitutional reforms. Besides, representatives of these sectors called for a “direct dialogue between the URNG, the army and the government”. Jorge Serrano Elías, a former member of the National Commission of Reconciliation who signed de Oslo Agreement was elected president of the republic in January 1991: he was the only candidate who stated his willingness to initiate a direct dialogue between the URNG and the government without conditions.

What was the role played by Monsignor Quezada? Was he a conciliator or a mediator? How can we assess his performance? All the meetings were convoked and chaired by the Bishop of Zacapa, who acted officially as a “conciliator” with the following duties on the basis of the Oslo Agreement:
“.... to propose initiatives to the parties to arrange for and maintain dialogue and negotiation actions, making this a dynamic process, and to summarize converging and diverging positions which may arise between the parties. He will have the authority to propose initiatives and solutions for them with the purpose to be discussed and agreed upon, and to perform all of those duties which ensure the correct fulfillment of his commission”
It is interesting to note that afterwards, when direct bilateral negotiations between the URNG and the Government were initiated and the Mexico Agreement was signed (in April 1991), the duties of the conciliator according with the Oslo Agreement were ratified and besides it was added that:
“As part of this context, it is also the duty of the conciliator, in addition to those contained in other paragraphs of this document to: a) call the meetings which have been agreed on; b) to be the keeper of documents produced as a result of the meetings and to issue certified copies of them to the parties; c) appoint his advisors, and d) provide for breaks during the meetings...”17

From the perspective of theory, it is clear that the intervention of Monsignor Quezada was not reduced to the role of a simple conciliator. He acted as a real mediator.18 In this sense, it is interesting to note also that his intervention can be qualified as one of an insider partial mediator.19 As we know, both impartiality and neutrality have been recognized as essential to every successful mediation effort. Yet, recent research work underlines the fact that the emphasis on impartiality comes from the inability to realize that mediation is a really structural extension of bilateral negotiations.20 In this sense, it is perfectly possible to see the mediator as a sort of “assistant” or facilitator of negotiations, so to see him as an “impartial outsider” does not reflect what has occurred in reality. That means that in certain special cases the influence-persuasion role of the mediator is better attained not when he is “impartial” and lacking ideological biases but rather when the mediator has resources -leverage- which one or both contenders value as positive. Evidently, in the case of Monsignor Quezada both contenders valued as positive -at that time- his condition as a Bishop of the respected and influential Catholic Church, even if the Guatemalan Church historically has not been impartial and has had bias for the oppressed and the poor or for the powerful and dominant depending on the historic period and the political balance of power.21

The United Nations Intervention: the Role of the Outsider Neutral 1994-1996
In the Oslo agreement was also decided to ask for the presence of the United Nations as observer and to be “guarantor” of the fulfillment of the agreements. The UN Secretary General appointed Mr. Francesc Vendrell as observer to follow up the process. What kind of assessment we can do concerning the results of this first stage of negotiations? Undoubtedly it was a very important and useful, even if we take into account the 2 years of stagnation. At the beginning of the 80's the armed conflict in Guatemala was in the stage of “search for mutual destruction”22 and by April 1991, thanks to the process opened by Monsignor Quezada and the National Commission on Reconciliation, the government and the URNG decided to initiate a process of direct bilateral negotiations of peace. The signature of the Mexico agreement fixed the procedures of the negotiation. the role of the mediator and of the UN observer, and opened the way for the signature of the Queretaro Agreement on the issue of democracy and democratization. Unfortunately, as we will explain later on, the negotiations were blocked during the discussion of the human rights issue and it was impossible for the mediator make the parties transcend the incompatibilities From July 1991 until January 1994 no further agreement was reached.

What kind of factors were determinant for this situation? In part it was the nature of the issue. As we have pointed out in other articles,23 the success of a mediation process is linked to the type of issues which seem feasible in a given conflict, and, in the case of Guatemala, it is important to take into consideration the fact that the ideological nature of the conflict was transformed in the middle of the eighties from an ideological conflict to a conflict on governance and democracy.24

This conflict transformation phenomena was the consequence of an evolving international and internal context. In the international field the collapse of communism and the fall of the Soviet Union was a determinant factor. In the internal arena it was the struggle for human rights, as well as the support and solidarity from democratic countries of North America and Europe, that were decisive in the change of mentality and attitude of the guerrilla commanders, who changed their Marxist- Leninist ideology for a democratic and pragmatic approach. Thus the importance assigned to human fights and to the rule of law as a fundamental issue for conflict resolution and the displacement from ideology to the issue of security.25 Therefore, it seems quite clear why for both the government and the guerrillas a different kind of mediator was needed. A mediator with muscle26 -with more leverage- that could be in capacity to offer guarantees for security and respect for human rights.

The so called “Framework Agreement” of January 1994 provided for this change in the third party model of intervention, and from the insider partial the schema moved towards the outsider neutral -the United Nations- and, by request of both parties Boutros Boutros Ghali appointed monsieur Jean Arnault who played a decisive role in the peace process for three years and now is the chief of the United Nations Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA).

Other Types of Third Party Intervention: The “Group of Friendly Nations” and the Civil Society Assembly (ASC)
The Guatemalan peace process was innovative also in the new types of third party intervention that it produced. The idea of the Group of Friendly Nations was probably the result of the different kind of participation that they have had in the recent past concerning the peace process: the United States, for instance, changed its role after the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the cold war. From a cold war warrior the White House became an advocate of peace27 thus facilitating its participation in the group. Traditionally Mexico has been interested in a peaceful settlement of the Guatemalan armed conflict by its condition as neighboring country with more than 1,000 kms. of borders, because of the presence of more than 50,000 refugees in Chiapas, Tabasco and Quintana Roo and the presence of the Guatemalan guerrilla at the frontier zone and because of the fact that they had their headquarters in Mexico City. Venezuela and Colombia were in the Group due to their participation in the Contadora Group.28 Spain and Norway were the European member of the Group: Spain was interested in the peace process not just by cultural reasons but also because of tragic facts as the assault and burning of the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City in 1980 and of the support for the first attempt of direct bilateral peace talks between the URNG and the government in a meeting held in Madrid in 1988 and the ulterior meeting of El Escorial in the pre-negotiations framework. Finally, Norway is a country with a very important policy of support for peace making all over the world, and also expressed the well known permanent policy of the Nordic countries in human rights and peaceful conflict resolution.

Concerning the Asamblea de la Sociedad Civil (ASC) it is another interesting third party intervention because the actor (the “assembly”) was a direct result of the “Framework agreement to continue the peace talks” signed by the URNG and the government in January 1994 after more than two years of deadlock. In that opportunity both parties agreed to call upon the United Nations to change the role as observer for the role of “moderator” -in fact a mediator with muscle- as we have seen before- but also they decided to keep Monsignor Quezada Toruño at the peace process as chairman of a consultative body where all the civil society sectors that participated in the pre- negotiation talks organized by the CNR in 1990 had representatives.29

In this paper, we are not in capacity to make an assessment of the participation of this two important third party actors in the peace process, but in general terms, we do think that their intervention was positive and valuable.

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