Piero Gleijeses

Essay
Summer
1983
Piero Gleijeses

The Reagan Administration came to power confident of its ability to impose Washington's will on Central America. El Salvador was the immediate focus of its attention--and optimism ran high. The ill-timed January 1981 "final offensive" of the Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberación National (FMLN) had already failed when Ronald Reagan entered the White House. To the eager eyes of the new Administration the FMLN's defeat appeared a rout. Victory would be swift and at little cost, Washington believed, with no need for U.S. assistance markedly above the levels reached by the outgoing Carter Administration. The easy success would spark little controversy at home and abroad, and sweep away any lingering remnants of the Vietnam syndrome in the United States.