The Challenge of Peace in El Salvador

The editorial "Salvador Breakthrough," Sept. 30, refers to the obstacles that still await the people of El Salvador following the recent agreement between the government and the FMLN rebels toward ending the civil war. Even when a cease-fire is achieved, the daunting task of opening Salvadoran society to true democracy remains. Popular participation in labor disputes, rural development, and economic policymaking has traditionally been repressed.The greater-than-ever gap between rich and poor - illustrated by a 55 percent unemployment rate, the fact that only half the population has access to clean drinking water or health services, and that 1 in 10 children dies before the age of five from largely preventable disease - is the real cause of the war and challenge to peace. The Peace, Democracy, and Development Act now in Congress would require that US military aid be set aside for reconstruction, and that cash presently going into government coffers be redirected to humanitarian purposes. Support for this bill is the best way for the US to keep up the momentum toward lasting peace in El Salvador. Carol Petersen, Chicago, Ill.

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