Rural Salvadorans, Accusing Rebels of Abuse, Leave Homes

United Press International

Hundreds of civilians, accusing leftist rebels of "executing" a villager suspected of informing for the army and of increasingly abusive tactics, are abandoning their homes in war-torn San Vicente province.

"We are all going, the whole village, because we are afraid of the guerrillas now," said Pastor Mijango, 43, a small man with a weather-beaten face. "It is a crime, because our land is all ready to plant. It is all cleared and burned and we are just waiting for the rains."

All 18 families of Casas Viejas are leaving, along with dozens of families from surrounding hamlets, carrying their goods on oxcarts or their backs.

"We are going because the guerrillas are forcing us to leave," said Santos Baltazar Serrano, 53, as he loaded up his oxcart and helped his son tie up chickens to carry. "We are going out to beg, at the mercy of God. We do not know what will happen to us because all we know how to do is work the land, not live in cities."

The area has been a battle zone since the guerrilla war broke out in 1979, and, villagers say, both the rebels and army regularly travel through.

Neither side is particularly welcome, but the guerrillas were tolerated until recent abuses. The abuses appear to have broken a fragile psychological barrier for people who have lived with the war for eight years, moving them to leave the only homes most have ever known.

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