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May 27, 1982 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1982-05-27

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Opinion
Page 6 Thursday, May 27, 1982 The Michigan Daily
El Salvador abandons reform

By Kent Redding
El Salvador's recent elections, ter-
med by many as a slap in the face to the
leftist opposition there, may yet turn
out to be the biggest aid the rebels could
hope to receive.
The Central American nation's
.rightwing parties captured a majority ,
in the March 28 elections, in spite of the
boycott by leftists who are fighting
Salvadoran government forces. Now,
that majority in the Constituent
Assembly has begun to do what many
Salvadoran peasants and U.S. officials
feared. After barely a month in session,
the legislature has suspended much of
that country's land reform programs.
AT STAKE, AS a result of the
changes, is the support of the large
peasant population in El Salvador that
may shift its allegiance to the small,
but fierce, force of leftist rebels fighting
the government. Just as important is
the continuing support of the United
States in the form of both economic and
military aid. The U.S. government is

bound by Congress to satisfactorily cer-
tify that El Salvador is following
through with land reforms and has im-
proved on its human rights record:
The land reforms, hailed by
President Reagan as "unprecedented,"
now seem all but dead. The land
program that was supposed to
distribute the farmland more equitably
among rich landowners and peasants
has been suspended for one crop year.
That does not sound like a long time,
but in the case of sugar cane one crop
equals four years. Many suspect that
the suspension, rather than complete
scrapping, of the program was
designed to allow aid to continue by
placating the U.S. Congress, while the
assembly has no intentions of ever
renewing reforms.
U.S. state department officials have
said they received a pledge from the
Salvadoran assembly that reforms will
be carried out, including the land-to-
the-tiller program that will allow
nearly 150,000 peasants to apply for,
and eventually own, up to 17 acres of

land they currently have been
sharecropping. Pledges, however, are
no substitute for deeds and for now the
peasants will not receive the land.
PART OF THE blame for the gover-
nment reneging on the reforms set by
the previous regime has to be leveled at
the Reagan administration. U.S. of-
ficials did not make it clear that the
United States could not and would not
support a government that has
retreated from more equitable land
reform. Now that state department has
been forced into an observer's role to
ensure the actual implementation of the
reforms.
Already, however, the administration
has blinded itself to program abuses by
large landowners. Nearly 10,000
peasant families have been evicted
from land they were renting since the
reforms have been effectively anulled
by the assembly, according to a
Salvadoran union and peasant
organization. In addition, thousands
more reportedly have received eviction
notices and the current government is

doing nothing to stop the evictions.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Congress is
duty bound to use a magnifying glass
where the administration has chosen
blinders when it surveys Salvadoran
compliance with the conditions set for
continued aid. Sen. Charles Percy (R-
Ill.) has vowed that "not one cent of
funds shall go to the government of El
Salvador" unless the nation follows
through on its land reform programs.
Now only 2 percent of the population
of the country controls over 60 percent
of the country's arable land. If the
Salvadoran government insists upon
maintaining that miserable status quo,
the United States has no right to inter-
fere with their decision.
At the same time, however, the
United States need not give its support
to a government that insists upon
driving landless peasants into the arms
of the leftist rebels and the country into
the throes of an even bloodier civil war.
Redding is the Daily Opinion
Page editor.

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCII, No. 17-S
Ninety-two Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by student,.
at the University of M ichigan
The es-man
DRESIDENT REAGAN has lashed out at
5 his opponents on Capitol Hill again, calling
them the "advocates of 'no.'
"They offer the politics of no growth, no take-
home pay' no neighborhood schools, no incen-
tives to work," he said. Well if the Democrats
are advocates of "no," does that make the
president a yes-man?
Perhaps. He certainly didn't say "no" to the
Pentagon, but handed them a big fat check for
over a trillion dollars good for five years. And
he said "yes" to big corporations and wealthy
individuals when he gave them a smile and
billions of dollars in tax credits.
He even said "yes" to the needs of the poor
people in this country-but they have to wait
until it trickles down.
The biggest presidential "yes" has been
saved to push the economy out of its
recessionary doldrums. But like those stubborn
Democrats in Washington, the economy is still
saying "no!
Editorials appearing on the left side of
the page beneath The Michigan Daily logo
represent a majority opinion of the Daily's
staff.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Police 'harass' Sparticists

To the Daily:
The Ann Arbor police and the
University administration are
carrying out a witchhunt against
the Spartacist League and Spar-
tacus Youth League, the
initiators of the March 20
mobilization which successfully
stopped the Nazis from bringing
their program of race terror and
genocide to Ann Arbor.
In a concerted campaign to
harass, intimidate and silence
socialists, city cops have been
hounding us on campus and in
downtown areas. To date among
other incident, SL and SYL sup-
porters have been issued five

summons for the "crime" of
distributing socialist literature.
They are trying to gag u because
we stopped the Nazis.
The mayor and his pals
organized a diversionary rally to
"ignore the Nazis", that is, turn
Ann Arbor over to them, are wit-
chunting us for that. They no
doubt worry that this victory will
lead to other challenges to the
decrepit status quo - the grin-
ding economic misery and unem-
ployment, Reagan and Haig's an-
ti-Soviet war lust in Central
America, the "rollbacks" of even
minimal gains for women, youth,
black people, and other

"WE'RE IN THE TROUGH OF THIS RECESSIOI
- ;1 4>
IA.
P Y _ cc)1982

minorities. Such is well founded.
And they particularly don't like
the fact that this important
demonstration was led by reds.
So we get cop harassment and
legal persecution. It's begun with
us, but it won't stop with us if
allowed to continue. For this
reason it is particularly shameful
that the so-called "socialists"
like the Revolutionary Workers
League and others, despairing of
the revolutionary capacity of the
working class and still trying to
straddle the nonexistent middle
ground between the two planned
actions, thus conciliating the
liberals, have issued reams of
slander sheets against us, egging
on the witchunt.
The liberals have raised a hue
and cry about civil liberties for
the Nazis, with the Daily and Ann
Arbor News bemoaning "mob
violence" and supposed
"manipulation" by radicals. But
March 20 was not about preven-
ting civil rights, but stopping
murderers before they could kill.
Even according to Ann Arbor
city statutes, these summons are
illegal. They certainly violate our
elementary democratic rights of
free speech. We intend to
vigorously defend our rights to
distribute our literature and
discuss our ideas. We demand
that the harassments cease! We
demand that all charges against
SL and SYL supporters should be
dropped!
-Heather Nolan
Spartacus Youth League
May 16, 1982

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