FMLN representative criticizes U.S. aid

By Brian Vaszily

In a crowded presentation at NIU on Wednesday, a U.S. representative of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) rebuked the Reagan/Bush Administration for supporting the murder of over 75,000 civilians in El Salvador.

Speaking through translator Pablo Virumbrales, an NIU Spanish professor, Angelica Arevalo said since 1980 over $4.5 billion worth of taxpayers’ money has gone straight into the hands of the Salvadorian government. Not less than 60 percent of this aid, she said, has been spent on offensive weapons used to slay the civilians in an attempt to quell their uprising. The other 40 percent of this aid has not been tracked by the government, and the El Salvadorian government refuses to disclose how it was spent, she said.

“Yet Bush and his government keep sending this so-called aid, over $1.5 million a day,” she said. “It goes directly into oppressing 98 percent of the population. None of it is spent on health, education or jobs for the civilians. In fact, the government death squads continue to attack schools, hospitals, and farmers, shutting out medical supplies and raping and killing anyone that stands in their way.” Unemployment in the country presently stands at about 60 percent, she said.

The government and the military in El Salvador are run by an oligarchy of 14 extended families who own most of the El Salvadorian land and “run the country like one vast plantation.”

According to Arevalo, the Reagan/Bush Administration has supported this government because of their anti-communist rhetoric. “They (the government) call themselves a democracy because they know that’s what the U.S. wants to hear, they’ll get money. They call us (the FMLN) communists because then the U.S. won’t listen to us,” she said.

Arevalo pointed out the weapons the FMLN has used were not obtained from Moscow or Cuba, as the U.S. government speculates, but from the black market in Nicaragua and from the Salvadorian soldiers they fight against.

“And now that the Cold War is over, it is even more hypocritical that the U.S. is still sending military aid,” she said.

The FMLN, the strongest of the unified organizations that directly oppose the government, recently reached a written accord in New York with the Salvadorian government.

This agreement enacted COPAZ (National Commission for the Consolidation of Peace) which is composed of two government members and two FMLN members, among single members from other parties. Their purpose is to participate in and oversee all political agreements reached between the two sides, including reduction of the military size and redistribution of land to benefit the peasants.

But “even while this accord was being reached, even now, as they are having discussions in Mexico, the government is raiding and murdering the peasants,” Arevalo said. “They sign these agreements, but they know they don’t have to abide by them. The military thinks they can commit these crimes simply because the U.S. backs them.”

Arevalo also discussed her own history as a student activist at the University of San Salvador in El Salvador. Her 19-year-old best friend and fellow activist, Leyla Gutierrez, was raped, mutilated and dumped in a garbage. Arevalo fled the country soon after to save her own life.

“And still, all of my family and friends back in El Salvador receive death threats. Just the other day the death squads painted ‘You Will Die’ on my parents’ house,” she said.

Arevalo continues to deliver the FMLN message to the media and universities throughout the U.S. because “North Americans need to know what’s going on there, the torture and the oppression. They need to know that their tax dollars are supporting this.”

Arevalo and the InterFaith Network for Peace and Justice, who sponsored her visit, urged everyone to write to their senators demanding this aid be repealed.