The war in El Salvador is over. On January 16, 1992, in Mexico Citys ornate Chapultepec Castle the government of President Alfredo Cristiani and the rebel Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) formally signed a comprehensive peace treaty, putting an end to 12 years of conflict.
As 1992 began, the scene of Americas most prolonged military involvement since Vietnam presented images unimaginable just a few months before. In Mexico City, after unexpectedly signing the peace agreement in person, President Cristiani strode across the podium to shake hands with all five FMLN commanders as participants on both sides cried openly. In El Salvador a sea of FMLN flags filled San Salvadors Civic Plaza in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral, where the army once massacred political dissidents; the cathedral itself was draped with an enormous banner of the assassinated Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. A ceremony held to observe the commencement of the formal ceasefire was especially poignant: army officers and rebel commanders stood together at attention to sing the Salvadoran anthem on a dais decorated with the flags of El Salvador, the ruling Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and the FMLN. The rival commandants then accompanied President Cristiani to light an eternal flame in commemoration of the more than 75,000 Salvadorans who died in the tiny countrys war.