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March 14, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-14

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OPINION

Page 4

Tuesday, March 14, 1989

The Michigan Daily

40

be idig aniaig
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 111 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All oti'ar
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Victory for students

f

IN A PROFOUND example of the
power of student unity, approximately
1,000 students at Howard University
in Washington D.C. occupied two
university buildings last week to
protest the appointment of former Re-
publican National Chair Lee Atwater to
the Board of Trustees of Howard. The
occupation lasted nearly two days, and
ended only after Atwater had resigned
from the board.
Students held the administration
building, which houses all student
records, and the main auditorium
building on campus. As local busi-
nesses opened up at 12:30 on Tuesday
after having been closed because of
snow, Howard remained closed -
students continued to hold the build-
ings.
Students protested the appointment
of Atwater to the Board of Trustees be-
cause of his central role in the anti-
Dukakis -Willie Horton ad campaign
used by the Republican party in the '88
Bush campaign. The ads purposely
played on an racist stereotype held by
much of the American voting popula-
tion, that Black men are criminals, and
should be kept out of society and in
prison. Howard students did not want
the man who said that he would

"shove" Willie Horton "down the
throats" of American voters in any po-
sition of power at the University.
Atwater's acceptance of the position
at Howard is indicative of a republican
trend to prove their alleged commitment
to anti-racism. In the face of the Willie
Horton campaign this posturing by
Atwater is particularly hypocritical.
Students at Howard and elsewhere are
not fooled by this facade.
Other demands by the students in-
cluded higher wages for campus work-
ers, changing the distribution proce-
dure for financial aid, an end to higher
fees with no physical improvements to
the University, increased student
housing, and an increase in faculty and
resources for the African Studies
Department.
Typical of many universities,
Howard's administration did not re-
spond to student demands, but reacted
by calling out the police against its stu-
dent body. Though the occupation has
ended with no University recognition
of these demands, students at Howard
should be applauded for their effective
mobilization against the appointment of
Atwater. It is once again apparent that it
takes mass student action to undo what
should never have been done in the
first place on college campuses.

0
0

Associatedr ss
Howard University administration's response to student outrage over Atwater appointment - call . the cops.

Women in struggle:

El Salvador

By In grid Fey and Kathryn
Savoie
If there is no social justice and democ-
racy, we cannot very readily begin talking
of women's equality with men. If we do
not respect an individual's right to life, we
can hardly begin to demand that women's
rights be more protected. Demands for so-
cial justice and for respect for life must
come before a demand that a man cook as
well as a woman.
- Celia, nom de guerre of a leader of El
Salvador's FMLN (Zeta, Oct. 1988)
Women living in machista societies
have traditionally been recognized as rulers
of the domestic front, while men remain
in control of the "outside" world of poli-
tics and economics. In El Salvador, a
country racked by civil war, the domestic
front continually faces the possibility of
disintegration, eroding the security of
home which normally empowers women.

the domestic front, these women have be-
gun to weaken the traditional barriers be-
tween the "man's world" of politics and
the "woman's world" of the home.
In 1980, the Farabundo Marti National
Liberation Front (FMLN), established a
"popular, democratic, and anti-oligarchic"
guerrilla movement to overthrow El Sal-
vador's oligarchic-military regime. The
war, prolonged by continued U.S. aid, has
created an even greater crisis for peasant
families. The Duarte government's
"scorched-earth" policy has displaced 1.5
million rural people (20 percent of the
population), over 1 million of these inter-
nal refugees, leaving few women free from

come targets for government attack be-
cause of their activities, and the U.S. State
Department has refused to grant members
of the committee visas to travel and
publicize their cause in the United States,
issuing the warning that "these are not
sweet little old ladies."
Stereotypes such as this imply that a
woman's place is indeed in the home. But
in fact, many women have become directly
involved in the struggle, joining the guer-
rilla movement. At first women partici-
pated in primarily supportive roles, as
cooks and messengers. But this too has
changed, precisely because women and
men view their struggle as an integrated

Baker and the boys

'Adequate resolution of women's issues cannot occur without
also resolving the problems of El Salvador's economic de-
pendency and the system of injustice perpetuated by U.S. sup
port.'

THE U.S. TREASURY Department's
claim that Secretary of State James
Baker violated no conflict-of-interest
laws when he declined to reschedule
Brazil's debt in 1987 makes a mockery
of the ethics laws involved, the way
they are interpreted, and the Bush Ad-
ministration's pledge to clean up the
den of corruption it inherited from
Reagan and his cronies.
Brazil's debt of 115 billion dollars,
the largest in all of Latin America, has
decimated its economy (inflation was
935 percent last year), contributed to
the destruction of its ecologically vital
rain forests -which must be sold off
to developers to meet crushing interest
payments, and, in a city like Sao
Paulo, spawned favelas - squatter
developments - of over 1 million
people, with an additional 1.5 million
living in unsafe, dilapidated apartment
buildings.
Meanwhile, back in Washington,
then-Secretary of the Treasury James
Baker was busy rejecting a request
from Brazil's Finance Minister, Luiz
Carlos Bresser Pereira, which would
have called for a reduction of enor-
mously high Brazilian interest pay-
ments by a meagre 20 percent. Baker's
reasoning was consistent with his
much maligned, charitably labelled
Baker Plan, which, beneath a lot of
bureaucratic jargon, rejected the idea of
debt forgiveness.
The inherent inanities of Baker's plan
have even been recognized in avowedly
capitalist circles among the Big Seven
and one of capitalism's staunchest de-
fenders,The Economist magazine. But
money, not the twisted logic which
passes for "free" market thinking, rules
this debate. For what Baker chose not
to disclose in formulating his "policy"

was the $2 million dollars he owned at
the time in Chemical Bank stock - a
bank which just so happens to own $4
billion dollars of "Third" world debt.
It is bad enough that the U.S.
continues to defend a policy that is
wreaking such devastation throughout
the world, whether in the form of up-
risings in Venezuela, the collapse of
Peru, the erosion of democracy in
Costa Rica, or famine in Africa. It is
worse when such an immoral deci-
sion's primary motivation is the inter-
ests of capitalists like Baker, who cul-
tivate myths of service, patriotism, and
objectivity in pursuing policies that are
selfishly motivated and fundamentally
opposed to the economic and political
well-being of the United States.
Corruption in the halls of power is
not in the interests of the United States
either. Nominating men like John
Tower and James Baker to key posi-
tions in his government, Bush is hardly
off to an auspicious start in his pledge
to clean house. The problem, though,
is bigger than this particular Adminis-
tration, or any other.
The political system of the U.S. is
controlled by capital. To protect that
interest, U.S. political leaders have in-
vaded Guatemala to keep the United
Fruit Company, imposed sugar quotas
that have destroyed economies in the
Caribbean in order to shield 12,000
rich sugar planters in the U.S., and de-
stroyed Chile's experiment in socialism
to help copper industries in the United
States.
Until events like these cease to form
part of U.S. foreign policy's regular
litany, the Jim Bakers of this country
will continue to pervert the democratic
processes for which it hypocritically
claims to stand.

the impact of the war.
A significant proportion of women
have fled the countryside, migrating to the
city where they face unemployment or
compete for scarce jobs in service occupa-
tions and industry. Even those who do find
work face inhuman conditions, suffering
low wages, long hours, terrible living
conditions, sexual harassment and abuse.
Many women, discovering that it is nearly
impossible to find a job, are forced to sell
their bodies in order to survive. As a re-
sult, prostitution is on the rise in El Sal-
vador and among Salvadoran refugees in
other countries. For example, in
Guatemala in 1981, 61 out of 100 prosti-
tutes were Salvadoran.
The conditions women face have led
many to become politically involved, or-
ganizing and demanding improvements in
their living conditions: access to land,
sanitation facilities, health care, education,
etc. The government's response, to which
the United States directly contributes, is
repression and violence against women. In
this war against the people, women suffer
tortures which are blatant attacks on femi-
ninity. Before killing women, the mili-
tary commonly rapes and tortures them.
Many women have had their breasts
slashed, their genitalia mutilated; pregnant
women have been bayoneted.
The Committee of Mothers and Rela-
tives of Political Prisoners, Disappeared
and Murdered Persons has used women's
traditional roles as mothers and wives as
an effective means of mobilization in op-
posing this repression that has led to the
deaths and disappearances of over 70,000
Salvadoran in the last decade. As one
woman said, "Thinking of our dead parents
and brothers makes us determined to con-
tinue to fight against this repressive
regime." These women themselves be-

one. As one woman guerrilla commander
put it, "we should not interpret our situa-
tion as one where we will take care of the
social revolution first and then we will go
on to the problems of women." The
structure of the FMLN forces dramatically
illustrates the unity of this struggle as
well as the increasing participation of
women in non-traditional roles. As com-.
batants and leaders within the FMLN,
women now participate fully, representing
30 percent of combatants and 20 percent of
the guerrilla leadership.
According to Guadalupe Gonzalez, an'
FMLN representative in Washington DC,'
"a broader view of feminism is that it is'
about creating a society free not only of-
sexism, but free of racism, poverty, and:
institutional violence at home and abroad.:
And we will construct it only if there is a:
recognition that the values under which all-
of us live have to be changed, and that-
women have to be part of restructuring
those values and that society together with"
men." Without letting their concerns
take a back seat, women have integrated;
their demands into the larger struggle for
social justice.
Adequate resolution of women's issues
cannot occur without also resolving the'
problems of El Salvador's economic de-
pendency nd the system of injustice per-i
petuated by U.S. support. Just as the'
economic conditions and machismo of
Salvadoran society prevent justice and self-
determination for women, the U.S. sup-'
port for a repressive military government'
that is killing its own citizens in the name'
of "democracy" prevents true self-determi-
nation for all of the people of El Salvador.
Our true solidarity with our sisters and
brothers in El Salvador can best be ex-
pressed by demanding that our government
stop all aid to that government.

The traditional roles of Salvadoran
women have been effectively used
in the struggle for self determina-
tion.
Accordingly, Salvadoran women have
become involved in the political arena,
participating in a broader struggle for so-
cial justice and to overthrow the existing
repressive government. By participating in
organizations whose goals extend beyond
Ingrid Fey and Kathryn Savoie are mem-
bers of the Latin American Solidarity
Committee.

........................

Letters t6 tlae de tor

throat - and to add
injury (yes injury!)
money for it. And

insult to
you pay
what is

Scream
Yes! Yes!
vow t

who will differ with the things
taught. Why do I think that a
mandatory requirement on the
study of racism and sexism
poses these dangers?

more, you had better agree with
it (or at least act like you do)
or else your "educators" and
their righteous friends will call
you racist, sexist, homopho-

But I also believe that a
mandatory graduationrequire-
ment in the study of racism and
sexism is in our interest. It is
in our interest because most of
us, including me, are ignorant
of the many problems facing
women and people of color.

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