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Building New Police Forces in El Salvador and Guatemala: Learning and Counter-Learning: William Stanley

The peace accords that ended the civil wars in EI Salvador and Guatemala called for the creation of new national civilian police forces (Polida Nacional Civil - PNC) to replace military-controlled, politicized, repressive forces of public order. The existing public-order forces were seen by the opposition guerrilla movements, as well as by international observers, as having contributed to the conditions for armed conflict. The old police forces had assisted the military in supporting exclusionary regimes through brutal attacks against organized regime opponents, unionists, members of peasant organizations, members of 'popular' churches and suspected supporters of the guerrilla forces. These forces were also inept at controlling crime, had virtually no investigative ability, obtained convictions largely through coerced confessions and were notoriously corrupt.' The continuation of such models of policing was seen as inconsistent with the goal of establishing stronger, more inclusive democratic institutions in the aftermath of civil war.