Politically motivated violence between leftist and rightist groups and security forces in El Salvador has been increasing over recent months.
GV: Journalists following peasant guides along mountain paths towards village (2 shots)
GV: Newsmen approaching house
CU: Baby in mother's arms PULL BACK TO family seated on bench in village
CU: Man answering reporter's questions in Spanish
GV: Villagers eating in open air
SCU AND GV: Archbishop Rivera y Damas speaking to congregation in San Salvador Cathedral and congregation applauding. (4 shots)
GV: Women and children seated on wall in Church refugee camp (2 shots)
SV AND CU: Woman scrubbing clothes
CU: Small boy PULL BACK TILT DOWN TO baby sleeping in hammock
CU PULL BACK TO SV Man eating from bowl
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Background: Politically motivated violence between leftist and rightist groups and security forces in El Salvador has been increasing over recent months. In the country areas it is often the peasants uninvolved in the fighting who suffer. National Guard troops have raided many remote villages in their search for guerrilla bands. The peasants fire to the hills but often return to find their homes destroyed. The Church has set up a number of semi-clandestine encampments where homeless can stay.
SYNOPSIS: Chalatenango province, near El Salvador's border with Honduras has been the target of several raids by security forces. The mountainous terrain provides cover for guerrilla training camps. Up to three thousand armed leftists are believed to be hiding in the area and the ruling junta is anxious to restore order in the province, preventing the guerrillas moving over the border into Honduras.
The people in this isolated district claim they have been harrassed by security forces who have accused them of harbouring guerrillas. Under the state of siege decreed by the junta in February, troops have the right to enter buildings without search warrants. These peasants complain National Guardsmen have come to their homes demanding arms and money.
The control of many similar houses changes hands frequently in skirmishes between different right and left wing groups and the military. peasants who refuse to cooperate with raiding parties often are killed. Wherever their political sympathies lie the local population is invariably the loser, seeing their homes and livelihood destroyed by warring factions.
On Sunday (20 April) Monsignor Rivera y Damas delivered his first sermon as acting apostolic administrator of San Salvador. Like his predecessor Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot dead on March 24, Monsignor Rivera y Damas criticised left and right wing groups as well as the security forces for their part in the violence.
The Catholic Church in El Salvador and other Christian organisations maintain refuges in various parts of the country. The locations are kept secret. Peasants who have fled their homes to avoid armed raiding parties and who fear for their lives can shelter in the camps. Conditions are primitive. There are serious food shortages and sanitation is poor. In this camp there are more than two hundred refugees.
Though providing refuges for victims of the fighting, churchmen hope to alleviate some of the suffering of a nation on the brink of civil war.