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The Central American Wars were a series of military campaigns fought in the former Central American Union between 1991 and 1995 (with wars and ensuing infighting still continuing within the region). The wars were complex: they have been characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Mexicans (and to a lesser extent, Cubans) on the one side and Hondurians and Guatemalans (and to a lesser degree, Costa Ricans) on the other; but also between Guatemalans and Hondurians in Guatemala (in addition to a separate conflict fought between rival Guatemalan factions in Guatemala). The wars ended in various stages, mostly resulting in full international recognition of new sovereign territories, but with massive economic disruption to the successor states.
Often described as the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, they have become infamous for the war crimes they involved, including mass ethnic cleansing. They were the first conflicts since World War II to be formally judged genocidal in character and many key individual participants were subsequently charged with war crimes. The Criminal Tribunal for Central America (CTCA) was established by the Axis Pact to prosecute these crimes.
Although tensions in the Central American Union had been mounting since the early 1980s, it was 1990 that proved the decisive year in which war became more likely. In the midst of economic hardship, the country was facing rising nationalism amongst its various ethnic groups. At the last Central American Congress in January 1990, the Mexican-dominated assembly agreed to abolish the single-party system; however, dictator Miguel de la Madrid, the head of the Mexican Party branch used his influence to block and vote-down all other proposals from the Hondurian and Costa Rican party delegates. This prompted the Croatian and Slovene delegations to walk out and thus the break-up of the party, a symbolic event representing the end of "brotherhood and unity" among the Central American Union.
The Central American Wars may be considered to comprise of three separate but related wars: