The idea of a united Central America has caught on in many parts of society, in the political arena, and led to an attempt to have open borders and to discover a Central American identity.
Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua are the countries of this region which is rich in its ethnic diversity. Its peoples have suffered a great deal, with more than 40 years of military dictatorship resulting in the civil wars of the 70s and 80s and of ‘internal armed conflict’, which in Nicaragua began at about the same time as the cold war in Europe.
There were more the 36 years of armed struggle, with thousands of victims, genocide, persecution of the Church, summary executions, assassination of priests and catechists, among them Mgr Romero and Mgr Gerardi, devastated lands and the violation of human rights. In the 80s about 90% of the populace in Guatemala was made up of indigenous people, now it is estimated at 51%.
In the 90s peace was consolidated and a new stage began. The postwar conditions meant that this was not easy as there was an ongoing lack of security, family breakdown and emigration by many in search of work. These difficulties have since been caught up in new problems such as drug trafficking, gang warfare and extortion. These countries are among those with the world’s lowest Human Development Index (HDI) but, despite this, their peoples maintain hope born of their faith in God, are tremendously generous and they never give up.
The Ideal of unity came to these lands in the 80s and, in the midst of the remaining challenges faced by all, it contributes to dialogue among cultures and different ethnic groups and encourages a deep mutual acceptance.