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Washington’s “Culture of Terrorism” in El Salvador


In brief, the US-run terrorist war devastated the society, leading to a truce of exhaustion — and what the Jesuits, at least those who survived Washington’s war against the Church — called a residual “culture of terrorism that domesticates the aspirations of the majority.” That’s an important insight. Formal democracy is allowed, but people are — rightly — frightened, with “domesticated aspirations” that reduce popular initiatives to deal with the terrible problems of the society.

The distribution of wealth and power is such that the reactionary forces supported by the US and responsible for most of the terror retain the executive, though the former guerrilla forces, which are a mixed affair, have a substantial role in the parliament and municipalities. The US makes sure there will be no deviation from control by its clients. During last year’s elections, very thinly-veiled warnings were issued of serious retribution of the population voted the wrong way. Whenever it seems that Nicaragua might move away from control by the US favorites, very much the same happens. In short, “democracy” of the usual kind.

The economy keeps strictly to the US-imposed neoliberal model. Income inequality and concentration of wealth appear to have increased. Such work as there is is mostly unskilled in the maquila sector — very fragile because of competition from even lower cost labor, like China. About 2 million Salvadorans are abroad, many working in miserable conditions in the US and elsewhere. Their remittances is one of the major components of the economy, such as it is.

Some of the Salvadorans are probably in Costa Rica, though most of the dirty work there is apparently done by people fleeing the disaster in Nicaragua — and as you know, one of its chief architects has just appointed counter-terrorism Czar. Orwell wouldn’t have known whether to laugh or weep.

What has happened in the domains of US influence and control should be a matter of deep shame in the US, and should initiate calls for massive reparations, at the very least. We’re a long way from that, but that reveals serious flaws in US democracy, not Salvadoran.

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