Central American presidents promised to end the region's guerrilla wars in 1988, but except in Nicaragua, where U.S.-backed rebels have run out of money, the conflicts seem likely to grind on for years.

Guerrillas in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua say governments in their countries have not tried to eradicate the social injustices that sparked off wars in which 100,000 people have died.Washington has also faced a series of setbacks in 1988, with governments in Nicaragua and Panama set to outlast President Reagan despite his efforts to force them from power.

President-elect George Bush will have to contend with U.S. allies in Central America who appear more wary of U.S. policies.

Costa Rica President Oscar Arias won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for creating a regional peace plan, which Central American leaders agreed to implement after a summit in San Jose in January.

But the plan, calling for democratic reforms and an end to foreign support of insurgents, has stagnated. None of the presidents are now talking of Central American peace in 1989.

A new summit will be held in El Salvador in January but Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte said: "We shouldn't expect spectacular results."

Leftist guerrillas in El Salvador and Guatemala have continued fighting this year, saying the United States is propping up weak civilian governments while turning a blind eye to military-run death squads.

In Guatemala, President Vinicio Cerezo faced an attempted coup in May, when loyalist troops choked a rebellion by soldiers at two bases outside the capital.

Only the conflict in Nicaragua has subsided in 1988, even though the Reagan administration and the right-wing Contras say the Sandinistas still want to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

Billboards in Managua read: "Reagan is going, the revolution remains."

The U.S. Congress cut off military aid to the rebels in February and most of the demoralized Contra army is now camped in eastern Honduras.

In March, the Contras and the Sandinistas signed a truce which set out a mechanism for ending the war. The rebels broke off peace talks in June, accusing the Sandinistas of intransigence. An uneasy ceasefire is still in place.

Panamanian leader Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, who was indicted in the United States last February on drug-trafficking charges, has survived attempts by Washington to oust him.

The military-dominated legislative assembly dismissed President Eric Arturo Delvalle in February, hours after he tried to topple Noriega as head of the 16,000-strong armed forces.

Washington still recognizes Delvalle and has imposed economic sanctions aimed at forcing Noriega to resign and allow democratic reforms.

Suspicion over U.S. policy have increased elsewhere. Honduran President Jose Azcona said in November the Contra rebels will have to leave the country in early 1989.

Many Hondurans felt their government was barely consulted when Reagan sent 3,200 U.S. troops to their country in March after the Sandinistas attacked Contra bases. In April, a mob attacked and burnt the U.S. Consulate in Tegucigalpa.

In August, Costa Rica and Guatemala refused to sign a stern denunciation of Nicaragua sought by U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz in a meeting with four Central American foreign ministers in Guatemala City.