Special Section: Ecologies of Hope, edited by S. Ravi Rajan and Colin A.M. Duncan

Regenerating conflicted landscapes in post-war El Salvador: livelihoods, land policy, and land use change in the Cinquera Forest



This paper charts events that transpired in the spaces between the larger forces that shaped El Salvador's transition from war to peace throughout the 1990s to the present day and tells the story of one place with entwined histories of forests growth, new land rights that were born of peace, and livelihoods being imagined and crafted from both. Over the six years following the signing of the peace Accords in 1992, ten percent of the nation's agricultural land (totaling over 103,300 hectares) was transferred to ex-combatants of both sides and to civilian supporters of the FMLN, through the Accord-mandated Land Transfer Program. By the year 2000, more than 36,000 people had received land through the PTT and an additional program had been created to parcelize and individually title all PTT lands that were formerly deeded collectively. While leaders of both the FMLN and the government set out to influence the post-war social and political landscape and the donor community generated post-war reconstruction projects, a group of ex-combatants, refugees, and displaced returning to the community of Cinquera, department of Cabañas, proceeded to take the land deeded to them as part of the Peace Accords. They subsequently transformed its use and value in ways never foreseen or intended by government land reform officials, FMLN party organizers, or international aid donors. In the process of linking their history to their future, the people of Cinquera created spaces of habitation for themselves and the natural world. To us, they offer a lesson in how a small community's continued struggle to live out their intentions for an alternative society, act by act, may in the end prove the best possible way to negotiate a revolution.

Keywords: spaces of habitation, El Salvador, livelihoods, land transformation

How to Cite: de Bremond, A. (2013) “Regenerating conflicted landscapes in post-war El Salvador: livelihoods, land policy, and land use change in the Cinquera Forest”, Journal of Political Ecology. 20(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/v20i1.21761