This paper attempts to explain the origin of the popular national revolts as well as the state-sponsored violence in Central America. Political violence has permeated the Central American landscape for much of its history. Of the Central American republics, Guatemala, EI Salvador, and Nicaragua have suffered most from violence in recent decades. This analysis of violence has emerged from an array of disciplines ranging from ethnohistory to political economy and has focused on subjects as divergent as international factors, cold war politics and the problems of land tenure. In treating state-sponsored violence, special attention is given to a description of the mechanisms by which caudillos violence was transformed along with its typical legacy of clientalism. International factor as the more contemporary source of the violence is then discussed: the direct intervention of the US military and security forces, and indirect role of the School of the Americas. Washington's subsequent modernization and expansion of the region's military and police forces decisively enhanced the capacity for state violence. As for the issues of the popular political mobilization and the violent expression of mass discontent, such variables as ethnohistory, political economy and government' counter-action are regarded as main determinant factors.