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By Laura MacDonald

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Others viewed their role as apolitical but were lured by the availability of funding and reluctant to examine too closely the political implications of their work. 7 LIC strategy was necessarily expensive and involved substantial outlays on welfare and social reform (subsidized by the AID). Nevertheless, the United States was also committed to the austerity prescriptions made by the International Monetary Fund (IMP). In cases where security interests were clearly threatened, as in Guatemala and El Salvador, IMP prescriptions were not rigidly enforced.

The new strategy, termed 'low intensity conflict' (LIC), combined military, economic, political, psychological and ideological elements which together transformed Central American society, although not always in ways intended by its designers. In LIC, no line is drawn between civilian and military targets; thus, civil society is deeply implicated in the conflict and becomes a main target. As a result, for virtually the first time in Central American history, the situation and perspectives of the popular classes became a real concern to ruling elites and the regional hegemon.

As a result, for virtually the first time in Central American history, the situation and perspectives of the popular classes became a real concern to ruling elites and the regional hegemon. 6 In addition to its purely military components, economic assistance was 32 Supporting Civil Society an important tool of US attempts to shore up fragile allies. The United States poured over $7 billion in economic assistance into the region in the 1980s. Much of this economic assistance directly contributed to the war effort or indirectly supported existing regimes by relieving balance of payments crises.

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