EL SALVADOR: PERFORMANCE ON CERTIFICATION ISSUES

Created: 7/13/1983

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NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION Unoolhorized Dlicloture Subject to Oimjrlcil Sanction*

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1

el salvador: performance on certification issues

inlaraXkmmt ii3 Ml

KEY JUDGMENTS

The government of El Salvador has made continued progress on most certification issues during the past six months. Progress insubstantial control over the armed forces and prosecuting those responsible for the murders of six Americans has been marginal at best, however. As in previous assessments, our primary base of information continues to be reporting from the US Embassy in San Salvador, which we judge as accurate and objective^af

Improvement has been most evident in the area of government reforms. Agrarian reforms have made steady advances, particularly in the distribution of land and titles to thousands of new beneficiaries. Recent banking laws also haverocess begun0 tofinancial institutions and reallocate credit to the general publicjpK

Cooperation among moderate elements in the government has increased over the last six months, with an attendant erosion of extreme rightist influence. This has enabled the administration to step up the process of democratization, especially evident in the enactment of an amnesty law that has reduced the number of political prisoners byercent. Other advances include the creationeace Commission charged with seeking political reconciliation with the guerrillas and completing the draftew constitution's)-'

Major weaknesses remain, however, in the government's ability to safeguard human rights, particularly in the countryside. Killings by rightwing death squads and elements of the armed forces continue. Efforts by the military high command to instill respect for human rights among the rank and file have had some effect in elite units, but little in poorly trained garrison units and civil defense forces^&V*

The cases involving the murder of the six US citizens have yet to reach trial stage because of continued legal and procedural bottlenecks in the weak criminal justice system. Conspirators in the killings of two

Soti: Thi. lnttnoetCT Intefltience Awewmew. approved by lha NaUonal Pweitn lnt*Di*eOce Board, it prctwed under lb* autpkwi ot lb* N'attooal Imrfctcix* Officer lot Latin America. The Awratmerrt wai prepared In the Ceottal lairllicence Aaeofr. Ibe Deferae Inteulavcce Aaaicy, the NUMcmJ Security Amand the intelligence oronlutkei of tbe Depawuewl of StMe. Abo partltipatins were the iMrlfcamce ctganUattoN ot tbe Army, (he Navy, ihr Air Force, and tbe Marlaee)

DISCUSSION

Rights

oncerted and significant effort to comply uAth intemationallu recognized human rights" (Criterion for judgingu)

During the past si* months, the Maganain El Salvador has continued to make progress on some human rights issues, particularly as evident in the recent implementation of the amnesty law. As noted in previous assessments, however, theof progress in El Salvadorelative thing, complicated by abuses of prisoners before detention In ii governmenl facility and the use of violence by extremists against their perceived political opponents

The insurgent war has intensified this year as the guerrillas have stepped up ellorls to broaden their areas of control and inflict masor damage on Ihe country's already crippled economy. The rale ofdeaths on both sides has Increased, but the rate ol civilian political deaths1 has not changed substantially. According to US Embassy reports, figures (or the first six monthslight increase over those for the last six months8 civilian poliUcal deaths. The average so far this year, however, is well below the monthly death raleor all2 (See accompanying

3 The trend toward improvement Is also reflected In the recently enacted and swiftly implemented amnesty law. Since it went into effect inbe authorities have released morefolitical prisoners in jail al the time amnesty went Intoand labor leaders as well as leftist intellectuals suspected of subversion and detained under the emergency decree Most of those released had been held at the relatively modem Mariona Prison outside the capltaljs)--

S Embassy officers visit the facility frequently and report that tbe priwnert arc well fed and are receiving excellent treatment, including access to schooling and rights lo conjugal visits in privateIn addition. US officials who recently visited the llopango Women's Prison Indicate that more than half of itsolitical prisoner* have been released under the amnesty. Conditions there arc reported as good, and some of the common criminals stated they are denied privileges that are extended to political detainees.JjV

e believe the government may extend the amnesty beyond its mid-July cutoff in an effort to attract political exiles and disenchanted members of insurgent groups Inside the country. Despite the unex-

El Salvador: Insurgency-Related Civilian and Military3

Political dealt* arehai take past*one ol combat and -men clearlyofatxaJrumple, dvtaam murdered because of suKxeted complicity wiih the Irani-tents Qviliaa. kiltedull ol brine cawjtrircatflie or other oiilitarvf"laird activities air. claadliod aarcanbai I

l political prisoner* who have lited from the law. II reportedly has attracted so far onlyuerrillai and camp followers Nevertheless, the president of the government'iRight*is currentlyreported cave* ol abuse of civilians by lioth Slierrilla groups and armed force* units andto locateissingthat other* will take advantage of the law He note* that guerrilla! are required only toormal request for amnesty, and that they are not interrogat ed or required to provide details of iheir past actions Like the released politicalnsurgent* seeking amnesty are free to remain in the country or to leave. Meanwhile, the Amimly Commission'i recently cstab-lishrd rrhabitinjtion committee Is assistingin finding week or in resettling on land hrloocin? to lb* agrarian leform agencies Those desiring to leave El Salvador are offered free passports, and discussion! are undn wav with aoveriunents In Latin America. Canada, Australia, and Western Europe- over resHtlrmerit pecgfrann,^

espite these and othera masslvr publicitybelieve that fear of reprisal) from the eilreme left or right will inhibit most guerrilla* and politics] exile* froea takingof the amnesty. The government hopes that fair treatment of Imurgrnts turning themselves In will spark additional deflections, but this may be offset by account! of former political prisoner* of abuses before their IrternnseWJjV

7 These abuses apparently ate continuing;to the US Embassy, government and military oHictah disavow rcsprmiibllily foe action* employed by the Army in combat situation* before prisoner* arel erred to detention centers. The positive effects of the amnesty program could be further offsetrecent death squad activity against some prisoners who had been (pleased before tbe arnnrsty^jji^

Control of ihe Armed Forces

"Is achieving substantial conirol over allof ill own armed form "jjjt*

8 The volume- of reporting from various sources on control of the armed forces has increased slightly since January and indicates that the performance of the militaiy remains mlied The military i* stepping up ef forts tooallae iu rank* and imtill respect foe human rights. Nesenheless, the intensity of thewar- -particularly recent massacres of capturedits Influence on domestic Uwlessness probably have generated continued abuses by armed forces elements against the civilian population

ilitary leaders are maintaining theii efforts to reduce human rights violation* within the armed force* Moreover, reporting indicates more precision In theonth) in fire control during lighting in populated areas, particularly on the part of combat pilot! and artillery

IO Improved fire discipline also has beenamong US-trained infantry battalions that have been engaged in heavy counter!wutgency campaigns in San Vicente and Morazan Departments. According to US defense attache reports, troops moving into guerrilla base areas and occupied towns are treating local inhabitants with greater consideration This has sometimes resulted In more voluntary provision of food and shelter by local* wrtl as information on guerrilla activities Ifff

Treatment of capturedremainto improve According to the US defense attache, thr Armyreating wounded guerrilla* andem humanely. They are then evacuated to San Salvador rather than being left in the hands of localSome of those captured have related the concern of guerrilla leaders over the superior performance of US-tralned units and their ability to generate more positlve attitude) among peasants toward the

In addition, the new Defense Minister ha*uman rights manual lo all military unit* in the country Similar guidelines have had only limited impact within the security forces over the pad Iwoevertheless, this action helps leinforoe tbe commitment to curb abuses by field commanders and their troops.

ard^nformation on armed forces operations and procedures remains sparse, however, becauseack of access on the part of US officials. Moreover, poor recordkeeping and lack of reporting within the

^Sfceafr'

NTRACT/OPCOH

Institution itself frequently reduce Iheof information US officials have found that military personnel are regularly discharged from the service for human rights offenses and other criminal acts, pending trials In civilian courts. These cases cease to be the responsibility of the military and quickly become buried in the labyrinth of civil and criminal justice proceedings In one eastern department, for example, US Embassy officials identifiedivilian court cases involving former military personnel. All had been separated from the armed forces for serious crimes such as assault, rape, kidnaping, and murder. Most cases were still pending, although two had resulted in acquittals,ew others in convictions.

overnment efforts to Investigate mass slaying* that occurred last fall have stalled becauseack offrequent problem that underscores the continuing climate of fear and polarization in El Salvador. US Embassy officials who conducted their own inquiry have concluded that regular Army troops In Usulutan Department and dvll defense forces in Santa Ana Department summarilyotal ofeasant farmers In two separate Incidents. Victims were either suspected guerrilla sympathizers or targets of personal vendettas fostered by other local peasants and landowners Some participants in the killings have been detained by authorities, but possible witnesses have refused to make official depositions. Onesubpoenaed by civilian courts was murdered before he could testifyjc*-

nother widely publicized mass killing under Investigation occurred in Februaryn Soroonatc Department. According to US Embassy sources, at leasteasant farmers were shot in and around the farm cooperative of Las Hons; (here is one report that as many asore may have been killed. According to peasant spokesmen, the victims were members of the National Salvadoran Indian Association who were targeted by local cattle ranchers following landIndividual members of the local civil defense forces andegular troops led by an Aimv captain were involved. The captain was placed under military arrest tn April pending further investigations by government prosecutors of charges that hiscommander, Colonel Araujo, ordered theHe has since been released. Araujo has publicly admitted sending his troops to Las Hojas on search and destroy missions against "known subversives"to US Embassy sources, civil defense personnel attached to Araujos command have threatenedwith death, thus prompting peasant leaders to seek protection from the National Guard. The local Guard commander has promised to patrol the Indian cooperatives and provide them with weapons for self-protection.

ther fragmentedIsbut largelythat someelements continue to engage in random acts of violence. Disappearances and unidentified bodies still are reported in areas controlled by specific unils ol ihe armed forces. Most of these.

re victims of rightwinn civilianPast reporting, however, bos identifiedRegiment and the signal garrison Inwith illegal detentions and eliminationguerrillas and their sympathizersearlier thisAirTorcesecurnlyTroops at llopangoand killed three civilian workers for

ProoressReform

"Is making continued progress Ineconomic and political reforms, including landu)

IT. The Magana administration has made steady progress in economic, political and land reforms during the last si* months This period has been characterized by increasing cooperation among the major parties in the government,rowing maturation of the still-fragile democratic system as well as the erosion of power of some extreme right

he continuing movement toward reform was not affected by the leceiil power struggle in the military, which resulted in the resignation of Defense Minister Garcia in April. Although Curcia hodrimary force for moderation and had earned the enmity of extreme rightists for his support of reforms, hb replacement by General Vides represented both the transition of power through established procedure and the continued dominance of the pragmaticof the officer corps. Furthermore, the impact

ONrSACr/ORCON

crisis in the military was defused by the intervention of President Magana, who. in requesting Garcia* resignation, asserted his civilian authority as constitutional head of the government. ief*

Vides's generally conservative politicaland ties by marriage to the landed aristocracy suggest he may be less committed to the reform process than was hb predecessor. In addition, extreme rightists appear to believe he will prove less adept than Garcia at keeping the military out of partisan politics-This view gains credibility with Vides's recentof Colonel Carranza as head of thePolice. Carranza is an important rightist figure with links to extremist Assembly President D'Aubuis-son. Nevertheless. Vides has so far shown himself cognisant of the need to reinforce the moderate policies ofpart lo satisfy US policywe believe that the military under his command will continue to support tbeefforts lo slrenglhen reform&Js>

Neither factionalism in Ihe military norinsurgent attacks have deterred the armed forces from keeping agrarian reform on (rack. According lo Ihe Agency for International Development, as ofune there wereeneficiaries Inredistribution of large landholdings to peasantwhile Phase III (land to the tiller* has benefitedormerly landless peasants' Sincethe government has exceeded most of itsgoals with regard to title application andApplications for new titles, for example, have climbedumulative total5 in October7 as ofuring the same period, cumulative distribution of permanent titles to Phase II properties has grown, suggesting that changes made last year in management of the program are now paying dividends. While theIs still behind In Its schedule for distributing provisional titles, the rale of distribution hat incrraspd markedly since Januaryumulative total4

on land reform continues to berumors and allegations of large-scale evictionsby former landowners, although wereporting to substantiate these The government

1 Thfa number incluuVt direct bpneliclsrtes and theirwdormula ol sis indrvldaab per family, ^f* is about tourvey to drtermine the number nf illegal evictions, and it recentlyationwide publicity campaign to discourage such actions Meanwhile. IS Embassy reporting indicates lhal Ibe armed forces continiie their efforts to return evicteeseir new landsult, any heretofore unreported evictions are now more likely to com* to the attention of (be*

he ability of Magana to continue reforms in ibe lace of rightist opposition hat been reflected In his handling of economic issues This spring, for example, the administration implemented the final step tn reforming the banking system by offering up toercent of the equity tn nationalized banks to private investors, with limitation* on the amount an individual investor can purchase. The offerhree-year struggle to take control nf credit oul of the handsew wealthy familiesurther sign that extreme righlw-ing influence is waning, the Assembly recentlyampaign by max* coffee growers to weaken the powers ol ihe National Coffee Institute, thereby' contributing to equitable returns for small producers uaf*

inabUltv of the far right to prevailIssues It mirrored In its overall reductionIn the eovrrnmciil during the pastispute in the Assemblyabinet appointment iparkedby moderate right and liberalobstructionist parliamentary tactics by farD'Aubulssoo and his party This enabledMagana loight wing ministernngovrniing political party,Ihe share of power for D'Aubuttson'sstrengthening executive Irvciage wllh theSubsequent maneuvers by moderates succeededD'Aubuissons public declaration locompletion of the new constitution (jrf

Elections and Neoo'toliom

"It committed lo holding fret etWftoru at an early date and, to thai end. hatood-faith rfforts lo begin discussions tath all major ooliiical feci Urns in LI Sakador' (l'i

(or elections has been hampereddifferences over posit to be contested andofes. as well as disruptivethe electoral timetable. Nevertheless, the US Em-

isesntf

NOCONTKACT/OXCON

thai the maior parties in the governmenl -vc informally agreed to hold Ihe presidentialonajor hurdle, however, will be the promulgation of ihe constitution, without which an electoral code cannot be developed nor the structureew government determined.

ther problems such as funding andfor the electoral contest finally are beingby Ihe five-man Election Council Although the Council remains insistent onew registration system before November, some political leaders now acknowledge thatrogram almost certainly is not feasible. Officials of the rightistRepublican Alliance and the liberal Christian Democratic Party, for example, recently havethat they will accept openas existed during thehe sake of expediency, to*"

apa-that.

Open registration may inspire postelection charges of fraud among partisan groupings, but it should help encourage another large turnout on the part of voters unable or unwilling to return to specific municipalities as would be required with formalTurnout will still be determined to aextent, however, by the ability of the fivefactions to coordinate their efforts to sabotage the balloting more effectively than Ins>"

The government's Peace Commissionhas made recent contacts with political spokesmen for tbe insurgent alliance In an effort to determine Iheir interest in the amnesty program and particii tion in elections

if these contacts show promise, he would be willingelections until next year. This wouldtime for leftist groupings to prepare theirbehe^struiltrieprospecTcl leftistthe election would contribute to blunting theof guerrilla operations during the

e believe, however, that efforts to generate positive leftist Interest In the balloting are likely to prove ineffective. The insurgents continue to reject the electoral process in favor of negotiations leadingower-sharing arrangement. Having increased their military pressure, the Insurgents now are engaged in maior diplomatic lobbyingialogue with the governments of El Salvador and the United States [sV

Murders of US Citizens

"Good-faith efforts to investigate murders of six VS citizens and bring to luslice thosefor thoseu)

The case of the five National Guardsmen charged with killing four US churchssomen0 has again been set back by judicialower court decision to begin trial proceedings was overturned this spring by an appellate court, which cited Irregularities in the presentation of physical evidence. Technically, this only postpones anjury trial and allows prosecutors more time to organize their case.skeptical of the government's ability to win aThey polnl rail lhat governmenl attorneys are ill prepared and poorly motivated to handle the case,Bgcccceal argue can be strengthened by userivate prosecutor to represent the interests of the families of the victims. This, however, has not-

Two other National Guardsmen have confessed to murdering two US represeiitaUses oi the American Institute for Free Labor Development IAIFLD)1 and are due to stand trial following an appellate review of the evidence. The court, however, has rejected formal requests by the Attorney Ccneral to prosecute two other participants in the crime. Lt Lopez Sibrian and businessman Ham Christ I

ihc government has one year to introduce new evidence or the case will be officially closed. Reporting indicates that the Magana adminttration Is pressing for prosecution and probably will appeal to the Supreme Court

Sibrian. meanwhile, remains onbut in administrative detention and is notto travel outside the country. HansIs residing in Miami, apparently undername. Another conspirator. Captainremains in hiding subject lo arrest as aand Army desertermpmil

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