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February 10, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-02-10

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al

*

OPINION

Page 4

Friday, February 10, 1989
University targeted for repression:

The Michigan Daily

be diianrtoaiig
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Salvador

education

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

By David Austin

Vol. IC, No. 94

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.

This is the first of a series focusing on
El Salvador
Members of the University community
should all be aware of the events occurring
at the University of El Salvador. We
should be concerned not only because we
have a sister university relationship, but
because the U.S. government is heavily
involved in the civil war in El Salvador
and is partly to blame for repression di-
rected against the University there.
The University of El Salvador is a mi-
crocosm of the situation in El Salvador.
Students, workers and faculty at the Uni-
versity are involved in a struggle with the
Salvadoran government to establish a truly
democratic university, one open to and
serving all people. This battle parallels the
popular struggle in El Salvador, a fight to
change an unjust status quo that benefits a

The Salvadoran oligarchy and army have
maintained their position with the aid of
the United States, which currently sends
two million dollars a day to the Salvado-
ran government.
This aid has been used for repression.
From 1980 to 1983 roughly 30,000
opposition people were killed by govern-
ment death squads. In 1984, the govern-
ment's strategy shifted to focus on rural
areas and sought to separate the guerrillas
from their civilian supporters by indis-
criminate bombings and massive ground
sweeps. The training and arms came from
the United States. Now 25 percent of the
Salvadoran population is homeless.
Popular organizing and corresponding
government repression have also occurred
at the University of El Salvador (UES),
the only public university in El Salvador.
Part of the University's struggle is to ob-
tain a budget and university autonomy
from the government, both guaranteed by
the Salvadoran constitution.

bombing followed a sit-in by more than
1,000 students and employees at the Trea-
sury Department demanding enough
money from the government to pay em-
ployees' and professors' salaries for the
month of December.
Government repression of the Univer-
sity has also been directed at people. Since
1980, 715 students have been assassinated,
301 "disappeared," and one University
president murdered.
In March, 1986 the president of
AGEUS, Antonio Quezada, was kidnapped
and held at the headquarters of the National
Police. He was subjected to psychological
torture and was released only due to inter-
national pressure. His successor, Daniel
Huezo, was subjected to similar treatment
at the hands of the National Guard last
December.
Events such as these are normal for
people engaged in the popular struggle.
Because the Salvadoran government is un-
able to defeat the guerrillas militarily, it
can only strike at civilians. Thus, as the
j l

0

Student at the University of El Salvador which was occupied and rav-
aged by the Salvadoran army, 1980-1984. Attacks on the university and
student leaders are on the rise.
Civilians at risk:
Salvador held hostage
"Respect for human rights will deteriorate dramatically if American aid is cut
off... if the armed forces feel their survival is in danger, they williforget human
rights and go after any communist they canfind. If there is more violence by the
guerillas, their will be more violence by individuals in the armed forces who take
things into their own hands."
-Alfredo Christiani (New York Times 1/29189)

'Government repression of the University has also been di-
rected at people. Since 1980, 715 students have been assassi-
nated, 301 "disappeared," and one University president mur-
dered.'

4
I

ALFREDO CHRISTIANI IS the presi-
dential candidate of El Salvador's far-
right National Republican Alliance
(ARENA), the party likely to win the
sham elections for president in March,
1989. ARENA is the party of the death
squads; it was founded by Roberto
D'Aubuisson, who is the center of the
death squad network. The United
States is intent on dumping at least
$600 million into El Salvador next year
to prop up the government, and
:D'Aubuisson is unacceptable. Hence
Christiani - even though, as The New
York Times Magazine (2/5/89) says,"he
has no political experience."
Christiani's "experience" reveals El
Salvador's likely future. First, he says
that the army will kill all the commu-
:nists if U.S. aid is cut off. But the
army and its death squads ran out of
'communists it could kill long ago; they
are all dead, in exile, or fighting with
the FMLN, the armed opposition to El
salvador's present government. After
the communists, the army turned on
social democrats, Christian democrats,
;editors, nuns, priests, labor leaders,
:and farmers. In addition, the United
,States trained Salvadorans to napalm
;nd bomb peasants. It is ordinary Sal-
v~adorans like this who will be victim-
ized by "individuals in the armed forces
.who will take things into their own
,hands."

Christiani's implication is that the
off-duty military, if faced by increased
attacks by the FMLN, will step up their
attacks on civilians. In essence he is
holding El Salvador hostage. It makes
brutal sense in the nightmarish logic of
the Salvadoran military: if most of the
population supports the guerillas, you
have to kill most of the population.
After ten years, the Salvadoran army
and its allies have been unable to kill all
the opposition. That is because the
majority of the population is the
opposition. If the guerillas have sur-
vived and grown stronger over the
years, it is because of civilian support.
A Salvadoran government that depends
on U.S. support - rather than the
people -- for its survival is nothing
more than a puppet. Cut the aid, and it
falls. Meanwhile, the opposition grows
stronger without such aid. It has the
support of the majority of the popula-
Since the United States in unwilling
to practice the democracy that it
preaches, it will make sure that official
descriptions of Christiani are benign, as
in The New York Times Magazine 's
depiction of Christiani as "a more pre-
sentable candidate" and a "wealthy,
squeaky clean businessman." (2/5/89).
The United States has no choice; it has
invested $3.5 billion in El Salvador's
status quo, and Christiani now is the
status quo.

small minority at the expense of the ma-
jority. In both cases organizing for funda-
mental civil and human rights has been
met with repression by the Salvadoran
government.
The roots of the civil war in El Salvador
lie in a skewed economy. In an agrarian
society, roughly 65 percent of the rural
population is landless and of those who
have land 95 percent do not have enough
to support their families. Throughout the
twentieth century, land expropriations by
the rich have accelerated, displacing sub-
sistence farming with export crops such as
coffee and beef. Food production has
dropped, while increasing numbers of
landless peasants have provided ancheap
labor supply for work in the export sector.
Years of repression under military
dictatorships made peaceful change
impossible and civil war broke out in
1979.
A coalition of guerrilla armies and pro-
gressive political parties, known collec-
tively as the FMLN/FDR, has put forward
a platform for changing El Salvador. This
program seeks a mixed economy, based on
agrarian reform providing land, credit and
technology to small producers. It would
respect human rights; guarantee rights of
assembly, organization, expression and
movement; guarantee health care and edu-
cation; and pursue a non-aligned foreign
policy.
David Austin is an Opinion Page staffer,
and wrote this for the Latin America
Solidarity Committee.

The government cannot grant these ba-
sic rights because the UES community is
seeking to transform the University from
an institution run by and for elites to one
where democracy and equality can be pro-
moted and where technical and scientific
knowledge can be used to promote the
well being of all people. The UES com-
munity has recognized that meaningful
change at the University can occur only in
the context of societal change and their
struggle has, by necessity, become linked
to the popular struggle.
Students have been at the forefront of
this struggle, working through two stu-
dent organizations, AGEUS, the General
Association of Salvadoran University
Students, and FERS, the Salvadoran Rev-
olutionary Student Front.
AGEUS has focused its organizing on
the demands for autonomy and a budget,
while FERS is organizing young people
of all ages around the political demands of
the opposition.
Not surprisingly, this organizing has
been met by government repression. In
1980 the University was invaded by the
army and closed for four years. During that
time most of the University's books,
equipment and buildings were destroyed.
Since then the government has refused to
provide money for reconstruction, leaving
students and professors with no alternative
but to hold classes outdoors, in tents or in
buildings not on campus.
Last December the biology building was
bombed, killing one worker and causing
damages estimated at $200 thousand. The

opposition grows stronger, the Salvadoran
death squads will become more active.
The University of El Salvador will con-
tinue to bear its share of government re-
pression and the United States will con-
tinue to finance it.
As citizens we have the responsibility
to force our government to respect the
Salvadoran people's right to self determi-
nation. We must end U.S. intervention.
And as a university community we have
much to learn from the students, workers
and faculty at the University of El Sal-
vador about creating a truly democratic in-
stitution, one which serves society and
does not perpetuate elite dominance.
Representatives from both FERS
and AGEUS will be speaking on
the popular movement in El Sal-
vador tonight at 8 pm in the
Kuenzel Room of the Michigan
Union.

S
I

::::j::.:::.:::er:::.:..t......th e" "::::::dito r..::":":....:::. .. . . .

Brown bag discussion
BAKER-
- MANDELA ' '
CENTER
: How do race, class and gender intersect in the fight against AIDS? What should the
focus of the struggle be? Educational? Gaining access to drugs? Support of those who are
dying? The Ella Baker-Nelson Mandela Center for Anti-Racist Education, a student or-
ganized and run alternative resource center, is sponsoring a series of weekly brown-bag
discussions. This week's topic is "Unite to Fight AIDS." Bring lunch, drink coffee (free),
and participate in the stimulating, informal discussion. Today at 12 noon in the Baker-
Mandela Center, first floor of East Engineering, Room 3.
Mi bcigan Daiy
Mass Meeting
Monday, February 13th, 7:00 pm

Seminar
on health
care
To the Daily:
The Black and Latin Ameri-
can/Native American Medical
Associations and The Center
for Health, Peace and Under-
standing are proud to announce
their health care seminar enti-
tled: "The Fallacy of a Healthy
United States: A Global Per-
spective." The seminar will
feature the historian and politi-
cal scientist Dr. Manning
Marable presenting "The Poli-
tics of Health Care in the
United States" on Friday,
February 10, at 6:30 PM. Ac-
tivities on Saturday, February
11, will include panels entitled
"Health, Poverty and Race,"
and "Medical Education," and
also workshops exploring nu-
merous issues of pressing
health import. Registration and
Continental Breakfast are at
8:30 AM on Saturday,
Febraury 11. For more infor-
mation call the Medical School
Office of Student and Minority
Affairs at 764-8185 or Mary

February is designated Black
History Month, a time to con-
sciously recognize and celebrate
the struggles and contributions
of our foremothers and forefa-
thers throughout history. It is
also, however, a time to reflect
on the condition of our com-
munities and analyze our
strengths, weaknesses and the
obstacles in our paths. Often,
especially in the last eight
years or so, this type of analy-
sis has been produced and pop-
ularized by conservatives,
Black and white, who have
taken it upon themselves to
not only observe and evaluate
our communities, but to pre-
scribe solutions to what they
identify as our problems, and
influence public policy in that
direction. This process happens
not only in the general society,
but on this campus as well.
As members of the larger
Black community, we must
not let this continue
unchecked. We must take an
active role in determining our
futures and take responsibility
for presenting alternative and
more accurate views of Black
communities and the society as
a whole. To this end, the
United Coalition Against

The Media Rewrites Our His-
tory"
- "Access To Education: A
Right Or A Privilege"
- "The Struggle For South-
ern Africa: What's Next"
Many of these issues are
usually inadequately addressed
in the mainstream media and
always evidence the biases of
those who control the "free
press." We also discuss this
issues among ourselves in
small, informal groups.
Hopefully, this teach-in will
give us an opportunity to get
together and share our insights
and analysis on these issues.
We can also begin to struggle
with each other to develop
possible answers to these
questions and determine our
role in making positive
changes happen. This informal
forum will be held on this
Saturday, February 11
from 11:00 a.m.- 5:00
p.m. in the Michigan
Union Anderson Rooms.
-Rosalind Reeves
February 8
'U' does it

date for a senior position in
LS&A.
As clearly shown in the let-
ter from UCAR and other
groups (Daily, 1/31/89), the
candidate was more than quali-
fied. We view the rejection as
symptomatic of the pervasive
institutional bigotry which
throws up a thousand barriers
to the full participation of mi-
norities, working people,
women, lesbians and gay men
in the University community.
It should be clear to all that
the administration has not
committed itself to serious ac-
tion to remove these obstacles.
Is the "Michigan Mandate"
nothing more than a cynical
public relations stunt by a
slick publicist who hopes to
avoid having to make real
changes by throwing up a
smokescreen of talk about
change? The administration's
interest lies in maintaining the
status quo.
The experience of the last
two years have shown us that
we've got to make noise if we
want the administration to
budge. We must unify our ef-
forts to pressure the
administration to institute a
mandatory class on racism, de-

4

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