AFL-CIO opposes more military aid to El Salvador unless rights abuses stop
The AFL-CIO's executive council this week is turning its attention from the Reagan domestic policy to United States policy in Central America. Specifically, labor leaders oppose White House consideration of increased military aid to El Salvador without ''demonstrated progress'' by that government in ending abuses of human rights.
The council, meeting in midwinter sessions in Bal Harbour, Fla., accused the administration of ''seeking to evade'' recommendations by the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America, named by President Reagan and headed by Henry A. Kissinger. Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO, was one of the 12 commission members.
The panel's official report to the White House urged that military aid ''be made contingent upon demonstrated progress for free elections, freedom of association, the establishment of the rule of law, and the termination of the activities of the so-called death squads'' in El Salvador. It also called for ''vigorous action'' against those guilty of crimes and the prosecution ''to the extent possible'' of past offenders, including those who killed two AFL-CIO representatives in January 1981.
The AFL-CIO said that it is ''not convinced that the government of El Salvador has met the conditions set forth'' in the commission report. A resolution adopted unanimously by its executive council said, ''We therefore do not support military aid to that government at this time.''
The labor federation, which maintains a strong worldwide program supporting human rights, democratic elections, and free trade unionism, is particularly concerned now with widespread troubles in Central America. Its October 1983 convention said:
''The working people of Central America desire democracy based on political and economic freedom, which can only come about with a change of the old unjust order.''
The AFL-CIO charges that ''indigenous and long-festering social, economic, and political injustices'' are being perpetuated by violent right-wing extremists and exploited by forces backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba.
Mr. Kirkland demanded ''full prosecution'' of those responsible for the deaths of the trade unionists and other victims of the death squads. He insisted within the Kissinger commission on strong conditions to be placed on US military aid.
He said in Bal Harbour that the Reagan administration has drawn a hard anticommunist line in Central America - a position AFL-CIO can go along with - but that the administration ''is very quiet regarding political murders.''