El Salvador's Anguish

ALITTLE more than a year after a tenuous peace was declared in El Salvador, the Central American country still seeks an end to strife, including assassinations carried out by right-wing ``death squads.''

More than 75,OOO people have been killed in the 12 years of struggle between rightist military elements and the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

As many as 25 individuals are said to have been killed by the death squads during the past year. Although the numbers may not be exact, no one denies that many people have been killed. The tentative peace devised in 1992 with the help of the United States remains fragile. Both the right wing and the FMLN have breached some of its terms.

A large number of officers in the right-wing military balked at turning in their guns and insignia, a requirement signifying that they would not disrupt the attempt to form a peace-committed, democratic regime.

For their part, FMLN adherents are said to have hidden caches of arms, apparently in case the peace agreement broke down. Information recently released by the US Department of State indicates that officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, had too-close relationships with right-wing Salvadoran elements.

The other side of that situation is that it is hard to get specific information at more than arm's length.

Sadly, the peace agreement between the FMLN and the government of President Alfredo Cristiani, established with the assistance of the US, has been shaky. Mr. Cristiani, elected in 1988, has managed to maintain his equilibrium - to a great extent by maintaining a low profile.

Responding to the reported assassination last week of two FMLN members, Assistant US Secretary of State Alexander Watson and UN Deputy Secretary-General Marrack Goulding were dispatched to San Salvador to try to keep the delicate peace process alive.

Their success is crucial to the UN plan to have Salvadoran presidential, legislative, and municipal elections in March 1994.

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