El Salvador's new coalition government has lashed out at what President Jose Napoleon Duarte called a "distortion of events" and "false reports" that "confuse our people" by an increasingly critical foreign media covering the country's bloody political crisis.
At a press luncheon yesterday, Duarte took umbrage at a recent New York Times editorial which called on U.S. President-elect Ronald Reagan to listen to Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo's views on El Salvador when he visits Mexico Jan. 5. Mexico, the editorial said, is more concerned about greater U.S. involvement in a Latin American civil war than it is with a leftist victory in El Salvador.
In a two-part editorial of its own yesterday and today, El Diario de Hoy, the capital's second largest daily, accused The Times of intervention.
"It was The Times' reporting on a nice Christian boy named Fidel Castro," the editorial said, "that facilitated the installation of Latin America's first communist regime."
The Salvadoran editorial charges both The Times and Mexico with "sophistry." "We don't want Marines here," it said, "or subtle interventionism like U.S. Ambassador Robert White's. But leaving us alone at this point means allowing Cubans and Nicaraguans to continue acting in the current violence."
Duarte also said, "I will not allow the government of Ronald Reagan . . . to impose on us dictatorial regimes, as was done in the past, that will maintain the injustices of our people."
Both Duarte and the local press, which has long accused international journalists of working in close alliance with the left, repeatedly refer to the presence of Cuban and Nicaraguan "mercenaries" fighting with leftist guerrillas against government security forces.
The charges so far have been unsubstantia, although at least five U.S. citizens, ostensible mercenaries working for rightist forces, have been reported killed in the fighting which has taken at least 9,000 lives this year. r
Relations between the foreign press and the government here deteriorated sharply after the November murders of six opposition leaders and four American missionaries, three of them nuns.
"The tranquility and peace that reign here are not news," Duarte complained. "News for the press is blood and murder and assaults." The president of the ruling junta went on to attack "this press game of the 'death count.' We have a problem in this country of cultural violence," he said. "There are many crimes of passion. But nowadays if someone kills his wife, all he has to do is put up a little sign next to the body saying 'death squad' or 'white warriors' union' and it becomes a political crime to fatten up the death count."
As a skilled politician, Christian Democrat Duarte has long enjoyed dealing with journalists, but he and other members of the junta have clamped down on the foreign press recently. Credentials, a slim protection when negotiating access to military zones, are no longer issued by the presidential office.
"Why should we give some nobody who says he's from a university radio station in some tiny country our credentials?" Duarte recently asked journalists.
Two foreign correspondents have been killed here and many have received death threats. United Press International bureau chief Demetrio Olaciregui left the country earlier this month under strong pressure from the government.