Thousands of peasants in El Salvador have started to farm land taken from the country's big property owners and handed to them by the ruling junta.
GV Peasants arrive at mission in San Salvador (2 shots)
SCU Woman with child in arms
SV & SV PAN Children in mission compound (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR Mission staff register new arrivals
GV PAN Groups of peasants in mission compound (3 shots)
GV Families cooking and washing dishes in open air (3 shots)
GV & SV Soldiers on guard (2 shots)
GV Bodyguards around car as junta members arrive on large estate taken over by government
SV Bodyguard walks away from car
SCU Colonel Adolfo Najano walks forward and shakes hands with farmers
SCU PAN TO SV Junta member Napoleon Duarte walks from car to embrace woman
SV & GV Colonel Najano talks to group ( 2 shots )
SV Senor Duarte speaking in English
GV Sugar cane factory (2 shots)
GV ZOOM TO CU Sugar cane stacked in yard (2 shots)
DUARTE: "We hope that this year that we will continue having the production. We will not lost production, and at the same time we will start this agrarian reform by taking around 250 pieces of land with a total of 300,000 hectares. In this way we believe we will be able to serve more than 350,000 people, poor people who have never had the opportunity to own land."
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Background: Thousands of peasants in El Salvador have started to farm land taken from the country's big property owners and handed to them by the ruling junta. Drastic reforms introduced by the junta have included the confiscation of sixty percent of El Salvador's farmland in an attempt to avert civil war. Months of bloodshed have forced many peasants to flee the countryside, and they continue to arrive in the capital, San Salvador, despite the government reforms.
SYNOPSIS: Most of the peasants have taken refuge in a Catholic mission in the city. They say they've been driven off he land by a combination of drought and political oppression. Violence has spread throughout much of the country in recent weeks. On March 9th seventeen people died in a gun battle between police and students in San Miguel -- a week after the government had declared a state of siege.
So far, the sweeping reforms brought in by the moderate civilian-military junta have failed to ease the country's political tensions. In addition to the agrarian reforms, the junta has nationalised the banking system. But the changes have been opposed by the right wing, and the left wing say they don't go far enough. Teachers are now demanding greater social justice in the education system.
Until now most agriculture and finance has been controlled by a small group of powerful families. Members of the junta have visited some of the confiscated farms to explain the change to the peasants, many of whom had bene working for the big landowners all their lives.
Colonel Adolfo Najano was among the junta members who told the peasants that all big private estates would eventually be broken up. Another member there was Jose Napoleon Duarte, who joined the junta on March 10th after the resignation of Hector Hirezi Dada. Senor Duarte, leader of the Christian Democratic Party, is regarded as the country's most influential moderate politician. He said he hoped the reforms would not mean lost production.
The smallest country in Central America, El Salvador depends almost entirely on coffee, sugar and cotton for its income. But its foreign debts now total two billion U.S. dollars.