El Salvador's War Goes On

While applauding your editorial on El Salvador, may I point out that the violence and danger you deplore started long before 1979.

The salient fact of Salvadoran politics is that the civil war, whether quiescent or active, like a Central American volcano, has been going on since 1932. That was the year when the military allies of the oligarchy--best known as the "14 families"--staged their own holocaust, killing off most of the traditional Indian communities which had risen in revolt against the terrible conditions of the depression era, aggravated by the loss of their communal lands. A leader of the rebels was Farabundo Marti, now commemorated by the main faction of the modern guerrillas.

"La Matanza" (the massacre) weighs heavily on the national conscience as a shameful episode most Salvadorans don't want to discuss. It probably has been the most important single factor in the apparently never-ending polarization of Salvadoran society, as best exemplified by the fact that no one prosperous enough to have a car will ordinarily venture into the countryside without a gun.

MARSHALL PHILLIPS

Long Beach

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