Salvadoran junta becomes frayed

As a high-level US team investigated the murders of four US women in El Salvador, the centrist military-civilian junta in the Central American nation was unravelling, Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes. On Dec. 7 the country's top military commanders did what they had wanted to do for months: oust Col. Adolfo Arnoldo Majano from the junta.

They did it overwhelmingly, voting 300 to 4 against him. The colonel, seen as the more liberal of two military men on the junta formed Oct. 15, 1979, made it clear that he was not resigning, but was being forced out.

Although El Salvador's most conservative military leaders were sent to pasture when the junta was formed, most of the remaining military leaders found it hard to accept Colonel Majano's liberal views on social and economic reform and political trends in the country. He was replaced as Army commander in May by Col. Jaime Abdul Guttierrez, the other military man on the junta.

Who will replace Colonel Majano remains to be seen. It is known that Col. Jose Guillermo Garcia would like the job -- and as government defense minister he is well situated. He also has strong support within the military establishment. But the question may be academic. The junta's civilians threaten to resign in the wake of the killing of the three Roman Catholic nuns and laywoman, all US citizens, and other recent violence.

Jose Napoleon Duarte, the leading civilian on the junta and leader of the centrist Christian Democratic Party, said, "There will be many changes in the government within the next few days.c

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