Why Does the US Government Want to Export<br> Salvadoran Death Squads to Iraq? Print
US-based non-profits are questioning why the Pentagon has proposed the ?Salvador Option? for Iraq: training paramilitary forces loyal to the US to carry out intimidation and assassination campaigns against insurgents (Newsweek 1/10/05). Donald Rumsfeld?s denials of this report have little credibility as the US government has a long history of such interventions. Such training in the 1980s in El Salvador prolonged a bloody civil war that eventually led to 80,000 deaths during 12 years and from which the country has still not fully recovered. The death squads there, together with the Salvadoran armed forces, were responsible for 90% of the deaths and egregious human rights violations against innocent civilians.

This year, 2005, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated by a death squad for his advocacy on behalf of the poor and oppressed. His death killed hope for a peaceful solution and sparked the armed uprising that tore El Salvador apart for more than a decade. Why would the United States want this for Iraq?

?US-trained forces in El Salvador brought suffering, torture and death to more than 80,000 Salvadoran civilians,? said Christy Pardew of School of the Americas Watch. ?The US should learn from its mistakes. The US should not repeat the ?Salvador Option?s? bloody legacy with the people of Iraq.?

?I can think of one bishop, four U.S. religious women, six Jesuit priests, and tens of thousands of innocent civilians who would, were they alive today, advise against the ?Salvador Option,?? notes David Johnson, Policy Director of The SHARE Foundation. ?Nine out of ten Salvadorans today would tell you the same.?

?The occupation of Iraq is a brutal failure, just like its military intervention in El Salvador,? said Burke Stansbury, Program Director of CISPES. ?Instead of perpetrating more bloodshed, the US should end the occupation and formally apologize to the Salvadoran people for promoting death squads in the 1980s.?

"I am appalled that the U.S. government would think of using the same despicable tactics in Iraq as in Central America,? said TASSC?s Sister Dianna Ortiz. ?The United States government doesn't know what to do in Iraq and is so lacking a moral compass, it now advocates torture and death squads."

"Torture, disappearance, and assassination are morally indefensible and politically ineffective," said Chris Ney, of CRISPAZ. "In El Salvador, these misguided policies tore lives apart, causing long-term damage. As a faith-based and nonviolent organization, we urge respect for human rights of all people in Iraq."

?The US trained the Salvadoran military and death squads,? the Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America?s Chencho Alas asserts. ?Then the US turned a blind eye when they tortured me and thousands of others. Their reign of terror forced me and 20% of my country to flee into exile.?

SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS WATCH
Christy Pardew
www.soaw.org
202-234-3440

SHARE FOUNDATION
David Johnson
www.share-elsalvador.org
202-319-5542

CISPES
Burke Stansbury
www.cispes.org
212-465-8115

TORTURE ABOLITION & SURVIVORS SUPPORT COALITION
Sr. Dianna Ortiz
www.tassc.org
202-529-2991

CRISPAZ
Chris Ney
www.crispaz.org
607-445-5115

FOUDATION FOR SELF-SUFFICIENCY IN CENTRAL AMERICA
Chencho Alas
www.fssca.net
512-388-7957

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