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March 08, 1989 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-08

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OPINION
Wednesday, March 8, 1989

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

Life

in

the

liberated

zones

By Bill Gladstone
This is the third in a series on El
Salvador.
In the last nine years El Salvador has
made remarkable progress in healthcare,
education, and the development of demo-
cratic government. Access to hospitals,
universal education, and mass political
participation in local decision-making
have been introduced under extremely ad-
verse conditions. What is striking about
these accomplishments is that they have
occurred in regions of the country that re-
ceive practically no external assistance,
have been historically neglected by the
leaders of this small country, and are sub-
Bill Gladstone is an Opinion Page
staffer.

jected to the daily visitation of bomb-
dropping helicopters intent on decimating
the population. These regions, or liber-
ated zones, comprise roughly one-third of
El
Salvador

Edbd gdsitsa n flicI
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

the country and are controlled by the
Farabundo Marti National Liberation
Front (FMLN). The FMLN-FDR has
evolved into a major political-military
group fighting for justice and a radical
transformation of El Salvadoran society.
Against the U.S.-sponsored government
that boasts financial and military
superiority, the FMLN could not wage an
insurrectionary campaign if it did not have
the support of the general population.
Unlike other "classical" revolutionary
movements, the FMLN is not able to re-
treat to a mountain refuge to regroup and
plan strategy. El Salvador, the most
densely populated country in the region,
does not have such advantageous terrain.
The popular saying is "our mountains are
the people" where the rebels find support
and protection.
The overwhelming majority of the rural
peasantry and urban proletariat recognizes
that the FMLN is fighting for their free-
dom from economic exploitation, political
disfranchisement, military repression, il-
literacy, and malnutrition. (This is the
modern legacy of over $3 billion of United
Sates assistance since 1980.) Traditionally
conservative and apprehensive of radical
change, these people are rapidly accepting
the revolutionary ideology of the FMLN
combatants.
Working within the infrastructure of
Christian Base Communities (CEB) and
peasant unions, the FMLN has established
a model society in the liberated zones. The
CEBs have long been active in raising the
consciousness of the people through a
reinterpretation and active dialogue around
the gospel. The peasant unions have been
the vehicle promoting the collective inter-
ests of the people. Together with these
grassroots organizations the FMLN has
implemented social programs that depend
on mass participation and benefit the
whole population.
In rural El Salvador most people have
never seen a doctor and, in a country with
an illiteracy rate of over 50 percent, have
never received sufficient education.
Understanding this harsh reality, the guer-

rillas give top priority in the use of scarce
resources to healthcare and education.
The medical system is geared primarily
to the needs of the war. Casualties from
the indiscriminate bombing campaign are
brought through for amputation, surgery,
and convalescence. In most villages,
popular clinics have been created through
local initiative. For those who do not have
immediate access to the clinics, a barefoot
doctors program has been established to
provide at least rudimentary healthcare.
Particular emphasis has been placed on
education to ensure that people have the
tools to take responsibility for the main-
tenance of society. Education is no longer
considered a luxury, but a vital part of the
process of people taking control of their
lives. Logistics under the circumstances

the population. In this relationship, lead-
ers are held directly accountable by their
constituency. These democratic structures
represent the embryo of future forms of
popular and autonomous local govern-
ment. After these experiences, the people
are not likely to be passively subservient
to a minority government ever again.
They are not engaged in this heroic effort
merely to see the reigns of power pass
from the hands of one elite group to an-
other.
The province of Chalatenango provides
a good example of the revolutionary pro-
grams recently established. In this rela-
tively secure area, the people (through the
PPLs) have organized collective farms,
introduced compulsory education, insti-
tuted medical care, and initiated a literacy

'These democratic structures represent the embryo of future
forms of popular and autonomous local government. After
these experiences, the people are not likely to be passively
subservient to a minority government ever again.'

10

Vol. IC, No. 107

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.
Carbie cuts a deal

ON DECEMBER 3, 1984, in the city
of Bhopal, India, a cloud of methyliso-
cyanate, a toxic chemical, "spread
through the slums and poor neighbor-
hoods... killing people in their sleep
and sending them running into the
streets in panic" (New York Times
2/15/89). Union Carbide's fatal leak
permanently injured or paralyzed some
quarter of a million people. Today,
four years later, at least one victim dies
every day from what has been called
history's worst industrial accident.
The Indian government, representing
a half-million survivors who have filed
for compensation, originally sought
$3.3 billion in damages, charging poor
maintenance and design flaws in the
plant. Yet the final settlement was for a
slim $470 million to be paid to an in-
determinate amount of people by
March 31. The total funds available to
the company through insurance and
liability reserves amounts to $450
million, leaving only $20 million which
Carbide remains accountable for.
Taking into consideration the com-
pany's 1988 profits which exceeded
$700 million, the settlement is farcical.
The implications of the Indian high
court's decision not to punish Union
Carbide severely is emblematic of how
multinational corporations affect the
decision-making processes of lesser-
developed nations.
The international socio-economic
cycle of dependency forces
underdeveloped counties like India to
have disproportionate reliance on large
corporate industry. The benefits to the
host country are primarily cosmetic as
they usually only bring short-term
economic growth. The majority of
multinational profits leave the country
or go to the underdeveloped country's
exploitative elite. The corporate profit
motive usually means that the majority

of the people affected will not profit.
Union Carbide's hypocrisy runs
deep when it calls a decision which
hardly rebukes it "fair," while it keeps
its workers impoverished and reaps the
benefits of India's labor force and nat-
ural resources on the world market.
Multinational exploitation is evident
in the heavy investment in mineral-rich
Southern Africa;.or Panama, where
wealthy banana companies, like United
Fruit subsidiaries pay local workers
one dollar per day to haul banana stalks
though the jungle to the ports in the
Caribbean; or franchise manufacturers
who pay hired help in Asian countries
one tenth of what they would a worker
in the United States. Union Carbide's
unanswered genocide in Bhopal is only
one example of how multinationals
maintain an iron grip on the reigns of
power around the world. Giants like
Union Carbide also have the power of
currency devaluation as the Interna-
tional Monetary Fund and World Bank
work in accordance with corporate in-
terests worldwide.
For India's Supreme Court to have
blamed Union Carbide for wholesale
mass murder - as they were originally
charged - would have alienated an
extremely powerful and historically
vengeful corporate community. The
ruling is emblematic of the system of
multinational manipulation which cre-
ates a cycle of dependency so threaten-
ing that it prevents a Supreme Court
from prohibiting even a company like
Union Carbide from continuing opera-
tions in its own country.
This grisly precedent can hardly be
expected to instill a sense of responsi-
bility in the international corporate
community. Besides failing to alleviate
the suffering of the victims of this dis-
aster, it leaves the door wide open for
future industrial abuse.

of war make it difficult to provide for all
the peoples needs, but the system is
nevertheless proficient. Mobile schools
for adults and children have been set up
throughout the country that are prepared to
outrun the army in case of attack.
Cut off from external aid, resourceful-
ness becomes a necessary substitute for
the lack of materials. The most important
resource, teachers, are recruited from all
age-groups and hastily trained. The new
relationship in the "classroom" supports
teachers and students as partners in a mu-
tual learning process.
To administer the new society, the
peasants and guerrillas have organized a
sophisticated infrastructure of popular
government. The foundations of local
government are the Local Popular Power
councils (PPLs). These groups are demo-
cratically elected at the base level of soci-
ety and represent manageable segments of

campaign. These kinds of social services
were never available to the people during
centuries of oligarchic, military, and
United States-sponsored despotism.
Probably the most fundamental change
in the liberated zones has been in the peo-
ples' attitudes. There now exists a collec-
tive spirit that is manifested in the devel-
opment of agricultural collectives, the
gradual disappearance of sexism, and the
unified effort to overcome oppression.
The model society that is being developed
in the popularly controlled areas of El
Salvador demonstrates a viable program to
replace the failing system of elite political
and economic domination that has plagued
this country since the arrival of the Span-
ish. If the people have been this successful
in a war-torn environment imagine what
they could accomplish on a national level
in a climate of peace

Israeli
By Dean Baker
All but the most determinedly ignorant
are well aware of the fact that criticism of
Israel is virtually invisible in this country.
Even the most extreme stories of human
rights abuses and violence directed against
Israel's Palestinian population or against
the population of neighboring states rarely
prompt criticism, and certainly never so
much as to warrant even a reduction in the
$3 billion sent annually to fund Israeli
brutality by the U.S. government.
Those who wonder why criticism of Is-
rael is not permitted in the U.S. need look
no further than the Daily for the answer.
The response to several Daily editorials

abuses I
finding out what makes 200 people
protesting in Ann Arbor national news.
Certainly the protests involving hundreds
of people against the Ann Arbor News'
bias in its coverage of Central America
were never seen as "fit to print" by the
New York Times.
Closer to home, there is the letter from
President Duderstadt that expresses concern
about "recent editorials and news stories in
The Michigan Daily that have been widely
regarded as anti-Semitic." This is a serious
charge made in a very vague and slipshod
manner. Duderstadt cites nothing. Perhaps
he does not really take the charge seri-
ously, or perhaps all his scholarship is

'Pro-Israeli groups have effectively intimidated the national
media into virtually unquestioning support of Israel in both its

news coverage and its editorial
stands out so much.'

policies. That is why the Daily

Lgnored
University of Michigan or anywhere else,"
he has been very selective in his willing-
ness to express concern, and even in this
case he lacked the courage to specify the
object of his complaint, relying instead on
vague innuendo.
It is encouraging to know that the ad-
ministration takes the time to sit down
and formulate opinions about Daily edito-
rials. It is discouraging however to see
that they don't consider the respecting of
Palestinian rights to be good, since this
was the ultimate goal of the editorials.
The willingness of President Duderstadt
to make irresponsible and unsubstantiated
accusations, and of the New York Times
and other major media to report a story
that would ordinarily be regarded as trivial,
explain why criticism of Israel is so rarely
heard in this country. Pro-Israeli groups
have effectively intimidated the national
media into virtually unquestioning support
of Israel in both its news coverage and its
editorial policies. That is why the Daily
stands out so much. Until now it has been
able to stand up against this tidal wave of
censorship.
If the Daily's critical voice is silenced,
those interested in hearing anything other
than Israeli propaganda on the Middle East
will have to rely on the Canadian Broad-
casting Company or the European Press
for their news, since such alternative
views cannot be tolerated at the University
of Michigan. Instead there will be more
stories like a front page story that appeared
in the New York Times last Wednesday
(3/1/89), in which the State Department
warned that acts of violence committed by
the PLO, referring to a battle with Israeli
soldiers in Lebanon, could lead to a break-
ing off of all contacts between the United
States and the PLO. Underneath the con-
tinuation of the story on page seven, a
small story appeared about an Israeli mis-
sile that had hit a school in Lebanon, in-
juring 22 children. Needless to say, there
was no discussion of whether this sort of
violence might lead to a cut-off of contacts
'with the Israeli government.

that have criticized Israel has truly been
impressive. In addition to endless letters
and phone calls that have run the gamut
from polite hostility to threats of vio-
lence, the Daily has also been the object
of a protest, nationwide press coverage,
and a threatening letter and condemnation
from the University's President and Vice-
President respectively.
Obviously, the Daily encourages and
welcomes expression of divergent views.
Most of the non-threatening ones have
even appeared on the opinion page. It is
truly extraordinary however to see this sort
of interest in the editorials of a student
newspaper. For example, it is certainly
impressive that the New York Times saw
fit to report on a protest at the Daily in-
volving approximately 200 people. The
hundreds of thousands who have turned up
at unreported marches against various
policies of the Reagan-Bush administra-
tion would undoubtedly be interested in
Dean Baker recently received a PhD in
economics from the University

this sloppy. But if he expects a reasoned
response, rather than simply expecting the
Daily to be intimidated into submission,
he might start by stating specificly which
editorials or news stories were "widely re-
garded as anti-Semitic." This could provide
the basis for reasoned discussion; his im-
plied threats cannot.
One might furthermore speculate as to
what circumstances prompted President
Duderstadt to take action in this case.
When Palestinian rights activists were
victimized by racist attacks of various
sorts, not a peep was heard from President
Duderstadt. When the Daily printed two
photos of different Black males as repre-
senting a single suspect no complaint was
heard from President Duderstadt. In fact,
President Duderstadt was nowhere to be
heard last year when there were protests
over comments made by Dean Steiner in a
meeting and in a textbook, which were
widely regarded as racist. The record on
this is quite clear, while Duderstadt claims
that "racism, anti-Semitism, and all other
forms of bigotry have no place at the

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more is the implicit threat, in Daily, or to shut it down alto-

more is the implicit threat, in

Daily, or to shut it down alto

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