About 75 labor and religious leaders called yesterday for an end to U.S. military aid and "intervention" in Central America. After releasing a statement signed by more than 1,300 well-known Americans, the group spread out on Capitol Hill to lobby more than 50 key congressmen.
"What right does a North American power have to decide who lives, who dies, in Latin America?" asked the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, pastor of the interdenominational Riverside Church in New York, at a press conference at the Russell Senate Office Building.
"We feel outrage," said Terry Herndon, executive director of the 1.7-million member National Education Association (NEA). "It is simply not right that our neighbors should be brutalized."
The statement charges "growing human suffering in Central America" and states that "as United States citizens, we are particularly concerned about the role of our government in this suffering."
It calls for an end to all U.S. military aid to and "intervention in" El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and an end to U.S. "covert operations and all other destabilization activity against Nicaragua." It also asks for temporary asylum in the United States for Central American refugees and negotiated political solutions in Central America.
Among signers present were leaders of the National Lawyers Guild, United Auto Workers, Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, National Council of Churches, and Union of American Hebrew Congregations.