Curbing Central America’s Militaries

Issue Date July 2004
Volume 15
Issue 3
Page Numbers 137-151
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The military traditionally has been a politically powerful obstacle to democratization in Central America. In a little more than a decade, however, democratically elected leaders in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala have curbed the military's influence and largely subordinated it to civilian control. Nevertheless, the process of democratizing civil-military relations in the region remains incomplete. Although the armed forces no longer interfere in civilian policy-making, they retain much more institutional autonomy in the management of their internal affairs than would be considered acceptable in advanced democracies. Military officers also have not yet been held fully accountable to the rule of law.