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March 30, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-30

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4

OPINION

Thursday, March 30, 1989

Page.4 a

41

El

Salvador:

a

people

united

By Mike Fischer
This is the first in a two part series.
On November 15th of last year, be-
tWeen seventy-five and one hundred thou-
sand people marched through downtown
San Salvador demanding that the govern-
ment negotiate with the Farabundo Marti
National Liberation Front (FMLN) to end
Fl Salvador's decade long civil war. "We
havn't seen anything this big in years,"
enthused one organizer as he watched trade
uhionists and human rights workers, col-
lege and high school students, and
campesinos and urban slum dwellers
stream by. Indeed there hadn't been any-
thing so large in years - not, that is,
since the early eighties, when El Sal-
vador's military began its systematic
murder of the Salvadoran people.
Those murders - still going on and
currently approaching seventy thousand -
- forced the urban popular movements
underground in 1982. To understand why
they have reemerged in the face of ongo-
ing, escalating oppression, it is necessary
to trace the remarkable rebirth and radical-
Mike Fischer is a member of LASC and
the Ann Arbor coordinator of Solidarity.

ization of El Salvador's working class -
long the most organized in Central Amer-
ica and today, in 1989, the main motor
propelling the popular movements that
made last November's march -and more
recent ones like it -possible.
By 1982, the popular movements in
El Salvador had been decimated, its leaders
dead, underground, or in exile. The only
organizations left above ground were those
sponsored by the government and its U.S.
advisors.
Chief among these organizations was
the Democratic Popular Unity (UPD), a
confederation of trade unions and
campesino cooperatives with several hun-
dred thousand members. The UPD was
funded by the infamous American Institute
for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), the
arm of the AFL-CIO that had been work-
ing for thirty years to eradicate any but the
most conservative and corrupt unions
throughout Latin America. 95 percent of
this agency's monies - $20 million an-
nually - comes from the U.S. govern-
ment, including the CIA. The AIFLD had
been in El Salvador since 1966.
In 1984, needing the UPD's votes in
his campaign for President, Jose
Napoleon Duarte struck a 14 point "social
pact" with the UPD. It called for an in-

crease in wages, frozen since 1980; im-
plementation of land reform, promised in
1980 and never enforced; improvement in
the grisly human rights situation; and an
increase in the sporadic, mostly cosmetic
negotiations that had been going on with
the FMLN.
In return, the UPD, bolstered buy AI-
FLD funds, actively worked to get out the
vote, assuring Duarte's victory. At long
last, the illusory center that U.S. policy
had been seeking to place between so-
called extremes of left and right in El Sal-
vador seemed to be coming together in the
person of Duarte and the apparently solid
base of support he claimed as his own.

continued to eat up as much as 70 percent
of El Salvador's budget, while debt pay-
ments to help finance it swallowed 50
percent of export earnings, it became clear
that not even the daily fix of $1.5 million
from Uncle Sam was going to be enough
to keep El Salvador's economy running.
Faced with an oligarchy that refused to
help pay for the mess its own intransigent
stupidity had created, Duarte declared eco-
nomic war on the working class instead.
In January of 1986, he imposed his eu-
phemistically labelled "Stabilization and
Economic Reactivation Program."
Closely resembling IMF austerity
programs forced upon the Dominican Re-

'What began as a labor federation had been transformed, in a
little over a year, into the biggest popular movement in the
history of El Salvador.'

National Unity of Salvadoran Workers
(UNTS) and fight Duarte's rollback.
Within three months, most of the peasant
federations under UPD had joined. By
1987, human rights groups such as the
Christian Committee of the Displaced
(CRIPDES) and student groups like the
General Association of Salvadoran
University Students (AGEUS) had joined
as well. What began as a labor federation
had been transformed, in a little over a
year, into the biggest popular movement
in the history of El Salvador.
The AIFLD responded in the only way
it knew how, creating yet another bogus
federation to replace the UPD. But the
National Union of Workers and
Campesinos (UNOC) has gone the way of
its predecessors, moving leftward as
Duarte's government continues to renege
on its promises. Last September, six of
the largest unions affiliated with UNOC
condemned the government, its death
squads, and U.S. interference in Salvadoran
politics. UNOC marched with the UNTS
last November and joined it in endorsing
the FMLN's peace proposals - which
Duarte rejected.
Today, the UNTS boasts a member,
ship of over three hundred thousand, and it
negotiates 77 percent of the country's la-
bor contracts. Its groups encompass
widely varying points on the political
spectrum, even as they are united by their
insistence on economic justice and a
negotiated end to the war. And they are
playing a major role in forging the in-
creasingly intimate links between the:
popular movements and the FMLN.

But Duarte didn't deliver on his end of
the bargain. Under pressure from the oli-
garchy, land reform was shelved. Under
pressure from the military, Duarte ab-
sconded on his promise to negotiate with
the guerrillas, serving instead, as he had
before, as the civilian figurehead behind
which the military could continue its in-
discriminate bombing of the Salvadoran
countryside. By August of 1984, a short
half-year after signing the social pact, the
UPD publicly criticized Duarte for failing
to pursue negotiations.
Soon there was a major rift between
the President and "his" union. As the war

public in 1985 - which provoked
widespread riots - Duarte's package im-
posed a 50 percent jump in the cost of
food and fuels, a 40 percent rise in the cost
of transport, a sharp reduction in govern-
ment credit for agricultural cooperatives,
an escalation of consumer taxes, and a 100
percent devaluation of Salvadoran cur-
rency, already worth only 54 percent of
what it was worth in 1979. Meanwhile,
again under pressure from the oligarchy,
Duarte reneged on the last of his campaign
promises, refusing to raise wages.
Within a month, progressive trade
unions joined with the UPD to form the

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 123 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All otfer
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

Remember

THIRTEEN YEARS ago today, the Is-
raeli government expropriated 21,000
dunams of Palestinian land and in the
ensuing protests, six unarmed Pales-
tinians were martyred. This historic
day has been accorded the name of
"Land Day" by Harakat alArd - the
Land Movement - in memory of the
efforts of those who have rejected and
struggled against Israel's discrimina-
tory state policies.
This day cannot and should not be
viewed as an isolated incident but
rather as part of a systematic agenda
put forth to Judaicize the land of Pales-
tine and create and expand an exclusive
state for the Jews. The manifestations
of such an agenda have been at the ex-
pense of the indigenous population of
Palestine.
~ The inhuman treatment of Palestini-
ans not only occurs in the Occupied
Territories but also within the "Green
Line" - the pre-1967 borders. The
usurpation of the 21,000 dunams oc-
curred in the villages of Arraba, Baka,
and Sakhin -- collectively referred to
as the Triangle of the Galilee. The
Galilee is part of the state of Israel and
the residents who now live in these
villages are citizens of Israel.
Ashraf Hazeyen, a Palestinian activist
in the General Union of Palestinian
Students, said that "today, in the In-
tifada, everyday is a Land Day
whereby Palestinians are rejecting their
oppressors; they are dying for their

freedom, land and identity."
The shift from victims to victimizer
proceeds on its ugly course. The long
term policy of state terrorism has exac-
erbated the racist tendencies of Israeli
exclusionism and created a moral envi-
ronment in which the daily beatings
and shooting of unarmed civilians, the
destruction of Palestinian homes and
" the expropriation of Palestinian land are
widely accepted.
Israel's alliance with South Africa
and service to the Guatemalan and
Honduran armies becomes comprehen-
sible in terms of a moral rapport be-
tween colonial elites and their agents
coping with unruly natives.
The Palestinian people are an agrarian
society and the confiscation and denial
of their land is a denial of their liveli-
hood. Much of the land that is confis-
cated from Palestinians by the Israeli
government has been done so under the
guise of "security" reasons. Centuries
old Palestinian villages have been com-
pletely razed and their residents forced
to flee out of the area in an attempt to
"cleanse" the land of Arabs and thus
accomodate for the construction of
Jewish settlements in both the Occu-
pied Territories and within the "Green
Line."
Palestinians and those in solidarity
with the legitimate aspirations of the
Palestinian people will commemorate
the thirteenth anniversary of Land Day
by holding rallies and demonstrations.

4

The banner reads "For a popular democratic government - We support the peace proposal of the FMLN"

Come

out:

wear

By Ginny McCulloh
Spring has arrived, and as you enjoy the
balmy weather, many of you are modify-
ing your wardrobes. You find yourselves
answering some of the most perplexing
questions of the season. What should you
wear to the bar tonight? Should you pack
away your heavy sweaters, boots, and
overcoats? Should you keep them avail-
able for an inevitable spring-time blizzard?
Or, should you assume the greenhouse ef-
fect has annihilated the remaining traces of
winter in Michigan, and begin to speculate
on skirt lengths? As you ponder these and
the myriad other style issues you en-
counter daily as a member of the univer-
sity community, put your mind at ease.
This week is Gay Awareness Week and
tomorrow, Friday, March 31, 1989, is
Blue Jeans Day. An important element of
your fashion ensemble has been chosen for
you, compliments of the Lesbian and Gay
Men's Rights Organizing Committee.
Blue Jeans Day provides all of you with
the opportunity to show your support for
Gay rights. If you do advocate Gay rights,
signify this by wearing your Levis, Lees,
or Calvins. If you do not own a pair of
jeans, but you do have a blue jean jacket
or skirt, wear it. Be creative! Don your
denim! However, if you do not support
Gay rights, then wear what you would
normally wear.
Be prepared to defend your choice of ap-
parel tomorrow. Many people might ask
you why you are clothed as you are. How
will you answer them? Realize that by
wearing blue jeans you are not labeling

yourself gay. You are merely making the
statement that you are sensitive to the
concerns of the more than ten percent of
your peers who are gay.
As you reflect on your selection of gar-
ments Friday morning, consider how your
decision to wear blue jeans parallels the
decision of a lesbian, gay man, or bisexual
person to come out of the closet. How
will you feel if your friends see you in
your blue jeans? How does a lesbian feel
if someone she knows identifies her as
gay? Will you feel threatened, intimi-
dated, or nervous if strangers assume they
know something about you because of
your blue jeans? How does a gay man feel

denim
might see a number of lesbians and gay
men at a rally. They are jeopardizing their
families, careers, and lives by speaking in
public, and by associating with openly-'
gay people. If you wear blue jeans tomor-
row, be prepared to explain why you have
chosen the clothes you are wearing.
Someone might ask you. You are taking a
risk.
As you stand before your closet tomor-
row morning ask yourself, "Am I ready to
accept the challenge and wear blue jeans?"'
As you pull your jeans off their hanger,
keep in mind the message you are sending
to people. "I support Gay rights!" As you,
slip your feet through the legs of your

'As you reflect on your selection of garments Friday morning,
consider how your decision to wear blue jeans parallels the
decision of a lesbian, gay man, or bisexual person to come out
of the closet.'

W RE ARE ICE? - oCCUPAro,

if people he does not know assume things
about him simply because he "looks" gay?
Contemplate something else as you de-
cide whether or not to demonstrate your
support for Gay rights. You may choose
to wear blue jeans or not. Gay men, bi-
sexuals, and lesbians do not have a choice
about our sexual orientation. We have
only the option of coming out of the
closet and being true to ourselves or of
living lives of denial, self-hatred, and lies.
Really think about the clothes you put
on tomorrow morning. By wearing blue
jeans you are taking risks many of us gay
people take everyday - the risk of not
being accepted by our peers, the risk of
losing our jobs, the risk of being beaten
or murdered because of who we are. If you

jeans, consider the risk you are taking.
Someone might shout something at you.
"Faggot!" "Dyke!" Are you prepared for,
that? Should you have to be? Should gay
men and lesbians in our society be so
stigmatized? As you zip or button your fly-
prepare yourself for the battle openly-gay
women and men confront everyday. In our
crusade against homophobia our blue jeans'
often serve as our only armor against an
ignorant and hostile world.
So really reflect on your attire tomorrow
morning. You can wear blue jeans, and
come a step closer to understanding the
fear and oppression of gay people in our
society, or you can wear what you nor-
mally would and keep your support or ha-
tred in the closet. Just remember one thing'

Ginny McCulloh is a member of the
Lesbian and Gay Men's Rights Organizing

i

14

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