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March 31, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-31

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4

OPINION

The Michigan Daily

Friday, March 31, 1989

Page 4

I

In

By Mike Fischer
This is the second of a two-part series
The most important of El Salvador's
more radical popular movements - with
very strong connections to the Farabundo
Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) - is the
Movement for Bread, Land, Work and
Freedom (MPTL). Though it only went
public this last July, the MPTL traces its
i
El
Salvador
origins to work undertaken on behalf of
the horribly overcrowded barrios of San
Salvador following the earthquake there on
October 10, 1986. Already swollen by the
tremendous influx of refugees from the
bombed out countryside, the barrios were
devastated by the earthquake, which left
300,000 of their residents homeless.
The incredible incompetence of the
Duarte government in confronting this
catastrophe spawned self-organized projects
in which the earthquake victims united
Mike Fischer is is a member of the
Latin America Solidarity Committee.

the na
with other slumdwellers, displaced per-
sons, students, trade unionists, and human
rights activists from the National Unity of
Salvadoran Workers (UNTS) to rebuild the
devastated neighborhoods.
Radicalized by these experiences, the
neighborhoods, again in conjunction with
numerous groups from the UNTS, began
to organize neighborhood action brigades
with the conscious intent of repudiating
the government through direct action tac-
tics. As 1987 became 1988, these brigades
were involved in a series of increasingly
aggressive takeovers of vital material re-
sources like electricity, water, and food
that they had either never had much of or
which had become largely unattainable af-
ter Duarte imposed his austerity programs.
On July 30, 1988 - the thirteenth an-
niversary of a massacre of Salvadoran stu-
dents that has been called "El Salvador's
Kent State - this growing network went
public as the MPTL. One day earlier, one
of their leaders, Rigoberto Orellano, had
been murdered - after being tortured -
by a death squad. But his companeros re-
fused to be intimidated. On the 30th,
bearing his coffin aloft like a defiant em-
blem, they gave living proof of what he
had prophetically - and ominously -
claimed in his last interview, conducted
the day before he was murdered: "With
more repression, we can smell more free-
dom."
Rigoberto Orellano, like many others in
the MPTL, was a student. Students have
always played a vital role in Salvadoran
opposition movements, spearheading in-
surrections in 1944 and 1960.1988 was no
exception. On July 24, just a week before
the formation of the MPTL, three hundred
student delegates from all over El Salvador

I

me oft
emerged from a two day meeting to an-
nounce the formation of the Salvadoran
Revolutionary Student Front (FERS). A
week later, it became a subcommittee of
the MPTL.
More radical than AGEUS, the students
comprising FERS see the organization of
El Salvador's poor and marginalized as
their first priority. In addition to helping
with community projects to organize a
health clinic, a psychology clinic, and a
peoples' school in San Salvador's barrios,
FERS activists work to organize what
they refer to as insurrectional detachments.
These teams, states Salamon Alfaro

he

people

Estrada - who recently visited the Uni-
versity of Michigan - are active in
neighborhoods and workplaces and on the
campus, organizing people to build barri-
cades, carry out building and land
takeovers, and directly confront govern-
mental forces, especially in the event of
another army invasion of the university
like that which led to its occupation from
1980 to 1984.
Such an invasion appears imminent, as
the repression in El Salvador continues to
escalate in response to popular movements
like FERS, the MPTL, and the UNTS.
The military has again cordoned off the

university, restricting ingress and egress;
more or less continuously since Decem-
ber. Recently, the biology department of
the university was bombed; on February
2, FERS member Mario Flores was ab-
ducted, tortured, and murdered, his muti-
lated body found the next day. On Febru-
ary 15, the UNTS national headquarters
was bombed; on February 16, Jose Bal-
more Arevalo - who defiantly took Orel-
lano's replacement on the MPTL execu-
tive committee at the latter's funeral -
was shot and captured by the National Po-
lice while handing out leaflets protesting
the UNTS bombing.
With the elevation of the death-squad
ARENA party to the Presidency on March
19, the repression will grow worse. But
the military's efforts to employ a variation
of the infamous "Guatemalan solution" in
their effort to eradicate resistance once and
for all are likely to have rougher sledding
than they did in the early eighties.
The new popular movements are
stronger than their impressive predeces-
sors, and they are so despite ten years of
lethal repression. They are reaching peo-
ple, such as the slum dwellers - a large
component in the whopping seventy to
eighty percent of Salvadorans unemployed
or underemployed - that they have never
reached before, and they have an even
broader and simultaneously more cohesive
base than earlier popular movements did.
Most importantly, they have managed to
establish tightly knit, organic relation-
ships with the FMLN, thereby furthering
the degree to which what the Pentagon
refers to as the most formidable guerrilla
movement in the history of Latin America
continues to fight in the name of the peo-
ple.

4

4

4
4

El Salvadoran students burn vehicles to
leader Mario Flores in February. The same
El Salvador.

protest the assassination of student
day Vice President Dan Quayle visited

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 124 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All oth er
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
U Council: Don't cave in

Inflation, debt, and drugs threaten human rights:

The

pC

UNIVERSITY COUNCIL'S time is
running out. The University Board of
Regents has threatened to dissolve the
Council if it cannot prove itself pro-
ductive. But according to the regents,
"productive" means accepting their di-
rective to form guidelines for imple-
menting their protest policy.
The regents have in fact eliminated
the supposed function of the Council
- representing student and faculty in-
terests. By setting the limits of debate
the regents reject the possibility that
students and faculty do not want a
protest policy.
The Council is a nine-member panel
of students, faculty, and administra-
tors, and was established to formulate
regulations governing non-academic
conduct within the University commu-
nity. According to regental by-law
7.02, the University Council must
formulate any rules concerning non-
academic conduct, before they can be
adopted by the administration.
Last year, the Council dissolved
itself when student representatives
refused to accept an order from the
Regents for a discriminatory acts
policy. While the Council was
inoperative, the Regents and former
President Robben Fleming approved
both the discriminatory acts policy and
the protest policy, blatantly bypassing
the Council when it was divided over
the legitimacy of these policies, and
eliminating student input from the
decision-making process.
The Regents want to implement the

protest policy. If the Council approves
the policy, it legitimates the authoritar-
ian actions of the Regents. If the
Council does not approve guidelines
for implementing the policy, the Re-
gents will probably approve them any-
way, as they did with the discrimina-
tory acts and protest policies.
But the Council should not be forced
into a position where it must cater to
the whims of the Regents.
The situation of U Council is typical
of the absolute lack of democracy on
this campus. Administrators who are
accountable only to themselves are the
authors of all important decisions, and
only admit token student input when
they are under intense public pressure.
The nominal student input that the
University Council provides, with re-
gard to regulations concerning non-
academic conduct, results from years of
overwhelming opposition to adminis-
trative attempts to restrict the civil
liberties of students.
Students serving on the Council are
obligated to represent student interests,
as opposed to the interest that the ad-
ministration has in controlling free
speech on this campus. The student
representatives must not cave into the
Regents' demand to implement an op-
pressive protest policy solely to save
the Council from the threat of dissolu-
tion. Representatives must be free to
openly voice concerns if students are to
have any input in formulating policies
that affect student rights.

By Kathryn Savoie
and Stuart Ali
"In order for the Police Forces to succeed
they have to begin to kill Sendero Lumi-
noso Guerrillas and those who are not
guerrillas because that is they only way
they can be assured of success. They kill
60 persons and at best there are three
guerrillas and surely the police will say
that the 60 were guerrillas."
- Army General Luis Cisneros, on the
subject of detained and disappeared persons
in Peru.
The United Nations has granted Peru the
dubious distinction of having more de-
tained and "disappeared" persons than any
other country in 1987-88. 70 percent of
those were peasants living in absolute
poverty. As Peru's economic conditions
worsen and peasants organize themselves
into peasant associations, they - along
with worker's unions and urban popular
movements - face mounting political
violence at the hands of both the military
and rural guerrilla movements.
Like other Latin American countries,
Peru has seen the value of its export crops
decline sharply in recent years, while fac-
ing a crushing foreign debt. Yet while
Peru's formal economic infrastructure dis-
integrates, the country produces 70 percent
of the coca used for cocaine production in
the world. As Peru's President Garcia has
noted, "The only raw material that has in-
creased in value is cocaine." Impoverished
peasants have increasingly turned to coca
growing as a way to make a living - 60
thousand families depend on coca cultiva-
tion for their survival - and trafficking
has become the most lucrative business
around.
President Alan Garcia won election in
1985 with promises of improving the
country's economic conditions. One of his
first moves was to limit payments on
Peru's $14 billion foreign debt to no more
than 10 percent of export revenues per
year. The government also used its cash
reserves to fuel growth of the economy,
which reachedean impressive nine percent
in 1986. However, Peru was rapidly iso-
lated from the international financial
community, resulting in a trade slow-
down and the denial of foreign credit.
By 1987, growing budget deficits fueled
an inflation rate that is now uncontrol-

lities ol
lable. Hyperinflation reached 2,400 percent
in 1988 and may reach a staggering 10
thousand percent in 1989. Under pressure
from Peru's powerful exporters, Garcia re-
sumed talks with the International Mone-
tary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to
renegotiate Peru's foreign debt. Strict aus-
terity measures designed to reduce imports,
stimulate exports, and control inflation
resulted. The devaluation of the currency
and imposition of price controls meant an
immediate 300-400 percent increase in the
cost of living.
The majority of Peru's 23 million in-
habitants earn less than $100 per month,
and with up to two-thirds of the working
population either unemployed or
underemployed, the working class was
hard hit by these drastic measures. A series
of regional strikes involving hundreds of
thousands of miners, telecommunication
and transportation workers resulted, con-
tinuing through 1988.
Garcia, his hands full with the crum-
bling economy, has handed over internal
security to the army generals. Political
organizing has been met with violent re-

Peru

I

pression. Paramilitary groups, implicated.
in the deaths of union workers and other:
government opponents, are believed to
have links with Garcia's American Popu-
lar Revolutionary Alliance party.
There are two major guerrilla forces op-
erating in Peru - the Sendero Luminoso'
(or Shining Path), a five thousand member
Maoist group which operates in the Hual-
laga Valley, a major coca-growing region;
and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary
Movement, a smaller insurgency force
strongest in the San Martin area. Both:
have used terrorist tactics which contribute
to the level of violence in the rural areas
in which they operate. -
Union leaders and peasant organizations
have been subject to increasing violence at
the hands of the military, which uses the
pretext of controlling guerrilla movements
to repress peasant and labor organizations
as the quote from General Cisneros clearly
illustrates In February of this year, for ex-
ample, the government broke up large -
scale peasant strikes in the Amazon region
by calling out the national police, who;
opened fire with submachine guns on un:
armed demonstrators.
The U.S. has spent $27 million to sup.
port the "anti-narcotic" activities of the:I
Peruvian military. Because the guerrillas
operate in the coca-growing areas, and bey
cause the military kills indiscriminately,
the distinction between drug-enforcement a
and counterinsurgency operations isl
blurred. The U.S. is thus facilitating Pe-
ruvian army violence against civilians.
Human rights violations are clearly
linked to the deteriorating economic and
political situation to which our govern-
ment contributes monetarily as well as
through IMF and World Bank policies. We
should question our government's role in
perpetuating social injustices and work to
promote respect for human rights.

Wear blue jeans today
TODAY IS blue-jeans day. Take a moment this morning to put on something that
will show your individual support for Gay and Lesbian rights - blue jeans. A jean
jacket, denim skirt, blue-jean cap: be creative with your open act of solidarity. Les-
bians, gay men and bisexuals are neither allowed nor encouraged to be open to the
vast majority of the world on any day of the year. Make today different. Support

On Friday, March 31 at 8 p.m. in the
East Conference Room of the Rack-
ham Building, the Latin America Soli-
darity Committee and Solidarity will
be showing the video "They Kill Us All
the Time," produced by the Peruvian
Peasant Confederation (CCP) and the
Institute for Agricultural Aid (IAA),
narrated in English; discussion will be
lead by Al Twiss, who has worked in
Peru with the Pro-Human Rights Asso-
ciation of Peru (APRODEH), which is
flftfl,.fltwa .a nmian to*n rt ta..

4
S

Peru's human rights violations are

i

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