22 Pages

Murder By Remote Control

WithRobert S. Kahn

El Salvador has no oil, no strategic minerals, no transoceanic canal; it produces nothing the United States cannot get easily elsewhere. Its main exports are human labor, coffee, and sugar. From 1950 to 1979, US military aid to El Salvador averaged $545,000 a year. In the aftermath of the Iran-Contra hearings, it was easy to become lost in the rush to apportion guilt, in the maze of retroactive findings, in the varying interpretations of congressional intent and executive privilege. "American strategists have described the civil war in El Salvador as the 'ideal testing ground' for implementing low-intensity conflict doctrine," the RAND Corporation noted in 1991. The White House and the US embassy in San Salvador denied the massacre had taken place and continued to deny it through 1992, when forensic scientists began unearthing mass graves of women and children in Mozote. Refugees from Mozote and other massacres sought shelter in refugee camps run by the Catholic Church in San Salvador.