EL SALVADOR: THE RIGHT WING
right in El Salvador is broad by almost any definition. Conservative tendencies run wide and deep in the military, the business community, and beyond. The extreme right wing, however, which currentlyoup d'etat and unrestricted use of vigilante groups against suspected leftists, is smaller.
The rightist tendency in the armed forces is Nearly three-fourths of the officers are decidedly conservative, and Defense Ministerstrongman in theonsensus that the lasting solution to the extreme leftist problem should be military rather than political. The officers in the armed forces who nowightwing coup are relatively few consistingmall clique of junior-and middle-grade officers who are allied with some far-right civilians and retired military officers.
The officers on the extreme right are being held in check by the more pragmatic high command, whichthe mainstream of military thinking. The extreme-right clique does notingle senior active-duty officer as its leader. It had previously regarded Defense Minister Garcia as its unofficial chief, but the extremists have recently grumbled about hiscompromises with the Christian Democrats. National Guard Chief Vides Casanova is also sought afterotential coup leader, but he too has rejected the extremists' overtures, at least for the time being.
The Role of Roberto D'Aubuisson
Former Army Major Roberto D'Aubuisson has been an articulate and charismatic spokesman for the far right in El Salvador since leaving active service after the reformist coup onrotege of "Chele" Medrano, the ultrarightist former chief of the National Guard, D'Aubuisson has served as principal henchman for
wealthy landowners andoordinator of the right-wing death squads that have murdered several thousand aus-pected leftists and leftist sympathizers during the past year
Although relatively intelligent, D'Aubuisson is also, egocentric and reckless. He favors physically eliminating the leftist opposition, which he defines as anyone not supportive of the traditional status quo. His hatred of those he suspects of leftist sympathies led him to visit the United States last spring tothe Carter administration's policy toward El After his US visa was canceled, D'Aubuisson traveled throughout Latin America seeking military and political support for his Broad Nationalultra-conservative group of wealthy Salvadorans.
D'Aubuisson is funded by members of the extreme rightwing salvadoran elite, most of mlxm now live in Guatemala and the United States. Though few in number, these wealthy expatriates have reportedly spent millions of dollars to support D'Aubuisson and his followers in their efforts to overthrow the present junta and return the country to rightwing military rule.
D'Aubuisson's personal following is limitedandful of wealthy civilians and some military officers, many of whom are not on active duty- His influence in the military has waned over the past year, as many of his former colleagues in the Junior officer corps look to more senior officers for leadership.
Nevertheless, D'Aubuisson couldpoiler role by continuing to encourage rightwingof whom are enlisted personnel in the securityby issuing inflammatory declarations against the junta and those sympathetic to reform. D'Aubuisson's penchant for action is underscored by his sponsorship of several unsuccessful coups during the past year. His efforts to turn bick the clock and initiate an all-out civil war against the left could succeed if he manages toajority of the officer corps that the new USwould accept an ouster of the Christianfrom the government.
The ultrarifht in El Salvadorong history of using violenceolitical tool, perhaps marked most vividly by the widespread repression and murder of cam-pesinos following the unsuccessful peasant rebellion Inurge of political activitypeasants and urban workers inspired the creation of tnai, new rightwing organizations, both official andine.
One such government-sponsored group--the Nat.*onal Democratic Organizationas comprised ol tens of thousands of conservative rural peasants and servedool of the landed elites. It included many former armed forces personnel who were part of the nation'sforce, the Territorial Service. CRDFN servedas an intelligence-gatheringreal or suspected enemies of the regime--but it also occasionally took direct action against them.
Augmenting the semiofficial organizationsariety of secret vigilante groups that have faded in and out of existence. Traditionally, rightwing death squads have included civilian mercenaries, idealists tied to particular weolthy elites, and active and retired security force personnel. Given the impunity with which death squads continue to operate today, it ia clear that security force personnel continue to cooperat'. with anO participate in vigilante terrci.
Leadership and Organization
Information on the leadership and organization of rightwing terrorist groups is sketchy. mall group of wealthy Salvadorans living in Miami,owever, isto be; behind the kidnaping and intimidation of businessmen who hive shown sympathyhe civil-military government or for US policy in El Salvador. These individuals also may have ordered theof the two US AFL-CIO representatives in January. Tied to this group of wealthy expatriates arein El Salvador who belong to the Broad National Front, headed by Pijor D'Aubuissonoung ultraconserva-tive, Alfredoagos.
The extreme right wing therefore has limited need for external support, given its financing hy millionaire exiles. The terror squadsroad range of side arms, machine pistols, and rifles that are rfeadilyJ available on the regional black market and in the United States, The involvementsecurity force personnel in the rightist terrorismurther supply of arms and license to use them. For example, the March attack on the Nicaraguan Embassy in San Salvador by assailants usingockets followed the captureubstantial supply of these weapons by government troops-
Membership in rightwing terrorist groups probably approaches several hundred, but our information in this area is limited. Security force personnel operate on their own or are employed in an off-duty capacity by Mercenaries outside armed forces ranks are also utilized.
The rumor that foreignNicara-guans or Guatemalans--are jctive in rightwing activities is heard frequently, but there is little hard evidence. Following Somoza's overthrow,icaraguanGuard troops arrived in Elajority of whom were enlisted personnel.arge number of them were tonto the Salvadoran armed forces, but this was neverand the numbers actually integrated were probably quite modest. Many others may have been recruited into the private guard forces of the elite. Members of either group could easily be involved in rightwing violence, but it is impossible to estimate numbers accurately.
Leftist spokesmen and media outlets also constantly charge that Guatemalan paramilitary forces are active in El Salvador. Contacts and consultations between right-wing Salvadoran and Guatemalan officials dosome civilian terrorist personnel may have trained in Guatemala with like-mindedthere is no persuasive evidence that significant assistance has been given. It seems extremely unlikely that thealan Government would have authorized the dispatch to El Salvador of government personnel, in mufti or otherwise, under prevailing conditions.
Nevertheless, even prior to the self-exile of El Salvador's conservative economic elite, there werecontacts between hardlining businessmen inand El Salvador and some soliciting of. funds from the Guatemalan brethren. The travels of Major D'Aubuisson attest to continuing contacts, and Guatemalan rightists have discussed the possibility of providing fund* or men to the Salvadoran right wing. Although the current level of rightwing activities in El Salvador could easily be maintained without resort to outside aid, in the eventajor Salvadoranegment of the Guatemalan right would probably provide concrete assistance if IIRtdiOriginal document.