In an editorial of May 15, "To Help Salvadorans Negotiate," The Post criticizes those who seek to reduce military aid to El Salvador for choosing such an "odd" time for taking this action. I suppose 10 years ago when Archbishop Romero implored us not to send military aid in order to allow his country to determine its own destiny was also an "odd" time. Ten years have passed, and 75,000 lives have been lost. According to respected human-rights organizations at least 90 percent of these deaths came at the hands of the Salvadoran military and death squads related to that military.
The Post accuses the FMLN of using the last round of negotiations to prepare for an offensive. The editorial makes absolutely no mention of the human rights abuses that led up to that offensive, such as the bombing of the National Federation of Salvadoran Workers headquarters on Oct. 31 that left eight persons dead, including Febe Elizabeth Velasquez, the leader of the organization and an outspoken critic of the government. The editorial made no mention of the way the Salvadoran military conducted itself during that offensive, bombing and strafing poor communities, inflicting heavy civilian casualties.
The editorial did draw attention to the killing of the Jesuits and the failure of the Salvadoran government to bring their killers to justice. These martyrs would be the first to say that we should be as vigilant about the deaths of countless other Salvadorans as we are about their own deaths. Do not think that the killing of innocents ceased with the events of "Bloody Thursday" when the two women and Jesuits were assassinated. As co-chairman of the Central American Task Force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Metro Washington Synod, I visited in late February Corral de Piedra, a tiny community in northern El Salvador that was the site of a massacre on Feb. 11. An attack by the Salvadoran military with helicopter gunships left 5 civilians dead, including 4 children, and another 16 wounded. Scant coverage was given to this atrocity. I brought back pieces of one of the rockets fired on the community. It was "made in the U.S.A."
Archbishop Romero's plea to halt military aid is as urgent today a it was 10 years ago. When a government uses our military aid to terrorize its own civilian population, the question The Post should be asking is not why this is such an "odd" time to cut aid but why this has been such a long time in coming. KIM ERNO Pastor, Saint Stephen Lutheran Church Washington