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September 16, 1987 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-09-16

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6

4

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, September 16, 1987

The Michigan Daily

El

Salvador:

Echoes

of

Matanza

By Tim Huet
This is the first of a two-part series.
,The following is an extremely brief
introduction to the history of El Salvador.
Such an abridged format dictates that much
be deleted, but the survey of a few key
episodes will provide the reader with a
snse of the recurring cycles in the life of
ihis volatile country.
The history of El Salvador has been
written in blood, punctuated by massacres
ard fraud. Indeed, the event which marks
the entrance of El Salvador into its
"modern" era is known simply as the
matanza, the massacre. Although the
massacre occurred in 1932, the memory of
it, still weighs heavily upon t h e
Salvadoran people and affects their
behavior until this day. Thus one cannot
'Tim Huet is an Opinion staff writer.

fully comprehend the present torment of
El Salvador without understanding the
matanza and the conditions which lead up
to it.
In 1931, the first and last free election
was held in El Salvador. Alberto Aruajo
won a decisive victory over two generals
and three candidates from the upper-class.
The factor which garnered Aruajo such
significant support was his talk of reform
in a country where there was a majority of
destitute peasants being exploited by a few
wealthy coffee growing families, the
oligarchy. Yet, after the elections, Aruajo
seemed either unable or unwilling to
deliver on his promise of returning land
which the oligarchy had taken from the
peasants. Instead, faced with growing
protest from those he had betrayed, Aruajo
used the army to disperse demonstrations
and to arrest peasant leaders.
However, this was not enough to satisfy

the military. Led by General Maximiliano
Hernandez Martinez, the military ended
Aruajo's presidency and El Salvador's
short experiment with democracy.
Apparently in an attempt to preserve some
semblance of representative government,
Martinez decided to permit the occurrence
of previously scheduled municipal
elections. What Martinez did not anticipate
was the electoral success of the Com-
munist Party of El Salvador. Founded
only a year before the elections, the party
had grown quickly. Its growth was fueled
by outrage over the military takeover and
the tremendous poverty of the people.
Thousands signed the electoral rolls as
communist supporters and a surprising
number of the party's candidates were
elected to office.
Martinez, however, refused to accept the
results. Beginning a long tradition in El
Salvador, Martinez let it be known that

the acceptability of election results
depended upon who won. The commun-
ists, however, were not willing to accept
the negation of the election results.
Convinced that the electoral route was
blocked and afraid the people would arise
spontaneously without the coordination
neces-sary to succeed, the communists
planned an insurrection. Dissident sections
of the military were to revolt and the
peasants would march into the cities on
February 22. Yet, word of the revolt
leaked and mass arrests began. The leaders
of the planned revolt, including a man
named Farabundo Marti, were among
those captured. The barracks insurrection
was aborted and the communists
countermanded the order to revolt.
But it was too late. The word did not
reach the peasants and they marched upon
the cities. Armed only with machetes and

a few rifles, the peasants engaged the
military in battle for several days, but
were finally overcome by superior fire-
power. Thousands were killed in the
slaughter.
This was only the beginning of the
carnage. Using the electoral rolls from the
municipal elections, the military syste-
matically executed nearly all Communist
party supporters. Yet, the military's
vengeance was not reserved only for
communists or rebels. In their fury, the
military went on a rampage killing every
peasant they encountered. This is the
killing spree that has become known as
the matanza, the massacre. It is estimated
that 30,000 people were killed in El
Salvador, a country the size of Massa-
chusetts. Had a massacre of such propor-
tions occurred in the United States, there
would have been 4,400,000 deaths.

I
I

, ..

Edt a e dtudntsa nrtichig an l
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Reagan

is

weakened

Vol. XCVIII, No. 5

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
rms sales accountability

LAST FRIDAY an information
athering watchdog of Congress -
the General Accounting Office
(G AO) - reported what some
critics of the U.S. government have
long tried to expose to the general
public: corporations export arms
almost indiscriminately and the
U.S. government licenses the sales
without verifying the recipients'
iaentities.
f The GAO reported that the State
Department routinely issues arms
licenses to U.S. corporations to sell
arms abroad. According to The
Detroit News, GAO investigators
have determined that loose State
Department controls potentially
allow terrorists and unfriendly
governments to obtain weapons
with State Department approval.
Lucrative arms deals are obvious-
ly tempting to U.S. businesses, but
that does not explain why the State
Department goes along if national
interests are at stake.
It seems unlikely that the State
Department unwittingly allows $15
billion in arms to go just anywhere
in the world. More likely, especially
in light of the Iran-Contra affair, is
that the State Department does not
mind keeping knowledge of the
actual arms recipients in the hands
of a select few.
The role of Congress i s
debatable. Some believe that the
loose licensing and arms trade
violate the intent of relevant laws
established by Congress. Accord-
ing to this view, the Poindexters,
Norths, Secords and others may be

By Joshua Ray Levin
Well, fall is here and the events of
summer start to fade from our memories.
Public attention on even the biggest story
of the year has dwindled. However, the
aftereffects of the Iran-Contra affair will
linger for a long, long time.
Some changes have already taken place,
but the biggest figure in the scandal,
President Reagan, has only just begun to
feel its impact. This upcoming session of
Congress promises to be the most com-
bative since Ronald Reagan took office.
The first major test of the President's
remaining strength will be the con-
firmation hearings of Supreme Court
nominee Robert Bork. Compared to Chief
Justice William Rehnquist, who is much
more controversial ethically, Bork should
be an easy appointment. The fact that
there is even a question as to whether Bork
will be given the nod indicates trouble for
Joshua Ray Levin is an Opinion Page staff
writer.

the White House.
Bork's confirmation hearings will not be
the only upcoming test of Reagan's
influence in Congress. Hill Democrats are
already organizing to override Reagan's ex-
pected veto of their next budget proposal.
Republican pols facing- reelection
campaigns in '88 are refusing comment on
the upcoming trade bill, which promises
to separate many moderate conservatives
from the White House.
On foreign policy issues, the fallout from
the Iran-Contra affair will not be as severe.
Republicans will most likely support
U.S. involvement in both the Persian
Gulf and Nicaragua. However, arch-
conservatives will fight any arms control
pact the President signs, despite prevailing
opinion that Reagan needs to sign some-
thing to be able to claim a successful
presidency. Even Reagan's closest allies
seem to be shying away from him.
With the presidential campaign started,
the President's already questionable
coattails are also being tested. Vice
President George Bush has been arguably
hurt by the scandal. Senator Robert Dole

(R-Kan.), formerly a staunch Reagan
supporter, has started to drift away from
the Reagan Doctrine line. Although this is
partly due to bole's presidential bid and
his need to assert his own policies, his
dwindling support of Reagan's initiatives
on the Senate floor is startling.
Reagan's weakness in Congress also
gives Democratic opportunists like Sena-
tor Joe Biden (D-Del.) a chance to play
hero in defeating Reagan's agenda. Rep.
Richard Gephardt (D-Mo) is earning points
by attacking the President's trade policy;
Sen. Al Gore (D-Tenn.) is lambasting
Reagan's positions on the ecology; and
Biden is leading the anti-Bork fight in the
Senate. GOP leaders are stuck with the
choice between abandoning their president
or burdening their choice for successor.
A year ago, President Reagan was
looking forward to a tough but productive
lame duck presidency. Now, because of the
scars from this summer's biggest scandal,
he has to be wondering if the Reagan
Legacy will ever be completed. Or if it
already has.

q

prosecuted for not enforcing the
Boland Amendment and other laws.
These critics assert that the State
Department, in its refusal to respect
laws, has subverted the will of
Congress.
On the other hand, there are those
who hold Congress responsible
along with the State Department.
To these critics, it seems as if
Congress is guilty of complicity for
defining laws so vaguely as to
allow the State Department and
others to manipulate the law for
their particular motives.
Whether Congress or the State
Department is more responsible for
these wanton and possibly dan-
gerous arms sales is moot. What is
important is that government agen-
cies such as the GAO delve further
into the actions of influential
governmental departments to pre-
vent any further legal mishaps and
contradictory foreign policy "initia-
tives."
For example, the Commerce
Department barred a company from
export privileges for its business
practices, but in fiscal year 1986 the
State Department issued 322 li-
censes for arms export to that same
company. The public has no way
of knowing if the contras, Kho-
meini or other unpopular foreigners
ended up receiving these arms.
It is time that citizens get a chance
to judge whether or not U.S. arms
sales contribute to world peace.
The public must hold the State
Department and Congress account-
able for their actions.

LETTERS:
Tropical rainforest is vital to ecology

To the Daily:
The problem of the vanish-
ing tropical rainforests is one
of the most critical ecological
issues we face. It is perhaps
the single most graphic exam-
ple of how our species is
destroying the Earth. In this
century we have lost half the
world's rainforests. At the pre-
sent rate of destruction, the
remaining tropical forests will
be gone by the year 2050.
The tropical rainforest is a
precious ecosystem for a var-
iety of reasons. It is estimated
that 40-60 percent of the
Earth's flora and fauna species
live in tropical rainforests,
although the forests cover only
7 percent of our planet's sur-
face. The destruction of these
forests means the swift extinc-
tion of countless plant and
animal species - a tragedy, as
well as a severe threat to the
ecological balance of the
planet. In addition, the rain-
forests serve to regulate local
and global climates (their rapid
depletion contributes to the
"greenhouse effect", for exam-
ple); they also prevent floods,
drought and soil erosion far
beyond their borders. Some
modern medicines use sub-
stances found only in the
rainforests; for instance, curare,
used as an anesthetic, is
essential for delicate operations
such as tonsillectomies, and
eye and abdominal surgeries.
Other substances from the
rainforests are used in medi-
cines which treat leukemia,
glaucoma, hypertension, and
heart ailments; and the active

The forests are cleared mostly
for cattle ranching, logging,
road-building, and for industrial
developments such as mines
and hydro-electric dams. But
this "development" generally
benefits the wealthy rather than
the indigenous poor majority.
For instance, a small number
of Central American cattle-
ranchers have benefitted by
clearing rainforest area to graze
more cattle. The indigenous
population never sees this beef;
it is sold to U.S. companies.
Burger King, for example, has
been buying this imported beef
rather than the more expensive
U.S. beef. After a few years of
grazing, the land turns to desert
(the soil, despite appearances,
is actually quite poor), so more
forest must be cleared to
support the cattle.
Despite the severity of the
problem and the irreversible
nature of much of the destruct-
ion already done, there are
some hopeful signs for the
tropical rainforests. In August,
Burger King promised to stop
buying Central American beef.
In May, the World Bank,
whose actions have encouraged
deforestation, announced major
changes in its environmental
policies which should promote
more environmentally-sensible
loans by the Bank.
These amount to significant,
but relatively small, steps in
the right direction; much more
education and action is needed
to halt the destruction of the
rainforests. September 7-14 is
the first World Rainforest
Week, with lectures, films,

destruction of the forests. Jim
Burchfield, a forester who has
spent five years living in Latin
America, will give a talk and
lead discussion after the video.
In addition, you may write to
the Rainforest Action Network

for more information on
tropical rainforest destruction:
300 Broadway, San Francisco,
CA 94133.
-Joy Dworkin
September 9

Regents fellow: no code!

"r
f

To the Daily:
An open letter to the
Regents:
Shortly after I came here, I
became aware that you were
considering adopting a policy
of policing the lives of
students outside of their aca-
demic contact with the uni-
versity. Some have argued that
this code poses problems of'
jurisdiction within the state and
within the nation. I am con-
cerned that the academic poli-
cies of the University of
Michigan not become a soap-
box for the personal "morali-
ties," political opinions,
dogmas, and ignorances of
administrators at the expense of
the civil liberties, consti-
tutional rights, legal rights,
and academic rights of the
faculty and students. With
some of its regulations, the
University Housing and Dining
system already violates some
rights protected by, among
other things, this city's
housing laws; some question-
able exceptions to local law,
specifically designed to protect
dormitories from any liability
whatsoever, seem to be the
only threads by which these
rules dangle. If the Non-
Academic Behaviour Code is

bisexual rationalist who favors
democratic cooperative modes
of transaction; .occasionally, I
voice opinions or act in ways
which are labeled leftist or
radical feminist; I share close
living quarters with a person of
another sex without the trap-
pings of the institution of
marriage (which I claim should
have been eliminated by the
Emancipation Proclamation); I
openly voice the opinion that
Oliver North should be tried for
treason against the United
States; most particularly, I
support participation of stu-
dents and faculty in all
decisions affecting them, and I
support and may participate in
student and faculty protests of
violation of this sacred prin-
ciple. It seems that I may be
subject to expulsion from the
university for holding and
stating these opinions and
positions, should the Code
under consideration be imple-
mented.
Good sense and conscience
dictate that I implore you to
address these issues and give
serious consideration to aban-
doning the code or amending it
with sufficient constraints to
make it clear that it can only
he invnlrMed a tnnl for the

Per

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