This chapter analyses the trajectory from impunity towards accountability in El Salvador from the end of the civil war in 1992 through 2014. The violence dates back much further, however, and it is useful to begin with a brief account of the country’s long history of conflict and ideological polarisation. Hume (2014, 385) describes El Salvador as ‘a country in which politics, violence and economics have been entwined since independence from Spain in 1821’. In the century following independence, this tiny Central American state used repression and terror to ensure the continued political and economic hegemony of a small but powerful elite (Dunkerley 1982).1 This group consisted mainly of landowners who controlled plantation-style production of coffee, then the country’s principal export.2 Following a military coup in 1931, an attempted communist-led popular uprising in 1932 was brutally put down by government troops, who massacred up to 30,000 peasants.3 The military then consolidated its hold on power, retaining control of the machinery of state in exchange for serving the interests of the economic elite (Stanley 1996, 7).