Salvador junta admits nation polarized

Violence has become a way of life in El Salvador -- and as the toll of fatalities reaches toward 3,500 since Jan. 1, there is growing dismay on the part of Salvadorans of all political persuasions.

"No one is listening to anyone else," complained Col. Jaime Abdul Gutierrez, the leading military figure in the civilian-military junta of government.

His words were echoed by a spokesman for the leftist Ligas Populares de 28 de Febrero: "Let's face it: Since government is deaf to our demands, we will have to take matters into our own hands and get rid of the reactionaries."

Those reactionaries to which he referred are not only the rightist forces in El Salvador, but presumably also the junta itself. The left regards the junta as a tool of the right -- a view junta members reject, pointing to the attacks upon the junta by right-wingers.

More and more, however, the country is being polarized -- between rightist and leftist, with the embattled junta and its allies standing in the middle. Virtual civil war exists as the killing escalates and essential services grind to a halt.

Over this past weekend, at least 68 Salvadorans were killed in the fighting.

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