El Salvador's five-man gave itself sweeping new powers Monday and said it would nationalize banking and foreign trade in an effort to stop the nation's move toward civil war. Announcing the action, Col. Adolfo Arnoldo Majano also promised that major social and agrarian reforms would be initiated.
Leftist and student-militant response to the junta's action is not yet known. Various groups are occupying the Spanish Embassy (holding the Spanish ambassador hostage); the Education Ministry (holding the education minister hostage); and the Christian democratic Party headquarters.
Meanwhile, the State Department is assembling a $49.8 million aid program to help lift El Salvador out of chaos. The program, which must be approved by Congress, would be broken down as funds for economic development, guarantees on investments for housing, and Food for Peace assistance.
The Salvadoran Human Rights Commission reported Monday that violence over political causes; involving left-wing and right-wing groups, students, and government, resulted in 194 deaths in a recent two-week period.
"Never before in the history of El Salvador has there been so serious a violation of the most elementary human rights like the right to life," a report by the rights group said.