Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall, in A Force More Powerful, offer an account of the power of non-violent resistance against modern Pharoahs:
This great civil strike, the most impressive of its kind in Latin American history, had been driven by a decentralized campaign, relying on a cascade of individuals contacting and recruiting one another. But now that it was a force to be reckoned with, some kind of executive organization, to speak for strikers and negotiate with the regime, was needed. On the night of May 5, at the home of Hermogenes Alvarado, people representing students, market women, banks, the professions, commercial employees, day laborers, and bus and taxi drivers met and elected a slightly less representative National Reconstruction Committee. It had five members: a student, a physician, a Mortgage Bank attorney, a commercial employee, and a retired general. The next day the Committee came up with a list of demands, while offering the president a guarantee of safety and suggesting that he leave El Salvador. The opposition was now organized and flexing its muscles. While the regime had not done anything decisive to quell the resistance, neither did it show any signs of yielding. The general addressed the nation over the radio, hailing those who were still working and accusing strike leaders of trying to ‘sow panic in the different social classes.’ The next day a leaflet announced the formation of a ‘Workers Anti-Revolutionary Committee,’ and Martinez called on business owners to open their doors once again. The dictator, who had so recently aroused great fear, was now reduced to beseeching his people to do what he asked. Martinez seemed to be losing his appetite for intimidation, telling one official to ‘avoid trouble’ with strikers. ‘In the first days of April, I defeated the insurrectionists with arms, but finally they provoked a strike,’ the general said in an interview shortly after the strike ended. ‘Then I no longer wanted to fight. At whom was I going to fire? At children and youths who did not completely realize what they were doing?’ The general who ha dnot blanched at the killing of thousands of peasants a decade before could not use his weapons when his moment of greatest peril arrived.


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