The Times editorial, “El Salvador: The War Goes On” (Aug. 16), calling attention to the fact that the Salvadoran war has been going on even longer than the Contra war in Nicaragua, is very welcome. The emphasis in the editorial is on “how complex” and “perhaps intractable” the Salvadoran war is. A few bits of information can make the Salvadoran war seem less complex and less intractable.
For many generations, a tiny, elite, landed oligarchy has owned most of the wealth in El Salvador, while the vast majority of the people have lived in abject poverty and misery. In recent years, the conditions of life for the masses have deteriorated.
The military wields enormous power and defends the interests of the oligarchy. People who seek a more democratic or just society encounter repression, torture, disappearance and murder. Approximately 70,000 civilians have been murdered in the past decade. Thus, the reasons for the war in El Salvador are not very complex.
Intractable? The United States is sending more than a million dollars a day to the Salvadoran government ($3.6 billion during the past decade). If the flow of U.S. dollars would cease, the war wound end.