April 17, 2006

Honduras, El Salvador close book on “Soccer War”

By Gustavo Palencia

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) - Central American
neighbors Honduras and El Salvador will on Tuesday formally
bury a border squabble that dates back to a short but bloody
1969 conflict known as the Soccer War.

Presidents Manuel Zelaya of Honduras and Tony Saca of El
Salvador will meet at the frontier town of El Poy to agree the
boundary marking their 233 mile border.

"This is an historic event. By concluding the boundary, we
can focus together on solutions to human problems and
development issues," Deputy Foreign Minister Eduardo Reina told
Reuters on Monday.

The 1969 border conflict, dubbed the Soccer War because it
erupted after a series of World Cup qualifying matches between
the two nations, lasted just a few days but cost about 5,000

One of several festering border spats in Latin America, the
conflict arose out of Honduran resentment of Salvadoran
migrants and a years-old disagreement over the exact location
of the border.

The neighbors signed a peace accord in 1980 but were still
unable to agree on where to draw the border.

The case was taken to the International Court of Justice,
which in 1992 set out a boundary granting Honduras most of the
disputed territory. The ruling left a stretch of border
undecided, however.

This week's finalization of the border is a step toward
better diplomatic relations in Central America, analysts say,
even if there could be lingering local disputes where the
border runs through small communities.

"This puts an end to a tremendous nightmare because of
which we went to war and because of which we could never, as a
country or a region, be properly stable," said Salvadoran
international relations expert Napoleon Campos.