Policy Briefs

El Salvador 1990

June 1990

As Catholic bishops in Iowa, we join the U.S. Catholic Conference and our brother bishops in El Salvador in calling for the defense of human rights and the pursuit of negotiations to end the violence in El Salvador.

The murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her young daughter several months ago should have opened everyone’s eyes to the escalating repression of the churches in that small neighboring country.

More than seventy thousand Salvadoran children, women and men have been killed in the last decade. Thousands more have been displaced. It is the poor who suffer with each new offensive and counter offensive. Salvadorans do not need more and better weapons. They need food and shelter, education and health care.

We must therefore question the role of military aid sent to El Salvador in our name. At over one million dollars per day, United States aid to El Salvador exceeds the amount that the Salvadoran government itself contributes to its own budget.

We urge you to work for U.S. policy that would contain the endorsements of the United States Catholic Conference. These are measures that would:

  • give highest priority to U.S. support of efforts to establish a cease-fire and to resume dialogue and negotiations seeking an end to the conflict and renewed efforts to carry out and strengthen the regional peace process;
  • strictly condition U.S. aid on two factors: human rights performance and good faith efforts toward a negotiated settlement;
  • replace military arms from outside El Salvador that fuel the violence with economic and social assistance to address the fundamental economic causes of the conflict; and
  • substantially increase economic and humanitarian assistance to help the Salvadoran people rebuild the country.

We implore you to do all in your power to end the violence in El Salvador.