Gringos y Latinos: Bicentennial Notes on Comparative Political Discourse


  • Marvin E. Gettleman





Sometimes calling things by different names has cultural and even political significance. This is the case with the Central American Peace Accords, signed in Guatemala City on August 7, 1987, known most widely in the United States as the Arias Plan. Few in Central America would want to deprive Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez of getting even more credit than he has already gained by winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but in that region, as well as in the Hispanic press in New York (i.e., El Diario/La Prensa), these promising accords are known by a name that must be puzzling to most North Americans: "Esquipulas II." Esquipulas, located near where the Honduran, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan borders meet, is a Guatemalan resort town famed for its sixteenth century shrine of El Christo Negro. It was also the site of the peace agreement that ended the 1969 Futbol War between El Salvador and Honduras. Therefore, calling the 1987 Guatemalan Accords "Esquipulas II" means linguistically and symbolically affirming Central Americans' determination to take their affairs, so long dominated by U.S. policymakers, into their own hands.