Violence has once again flared in El Salvador--the first major outbursts since the country's civilian-military junta declared a State of Siege last week.
CU PULL BACK TO SV Coffins of Roberto Castellanos and his wife Annette Matthiessen, with flowers on top in San Salvador Cathedral
CU PULL BACK TO SV People paying last respects milling round coffin
SV & TV Coffin carried out of church and into hearse (2 shots)
SV Mourners look on
SCU PULL BACK TO GV Second coffin brought out of church
SCU Catholic priest speaks to congregation as they file out of church
SV PAN FROM Armed guard TO Student tied and lying on ground (3 shots) at San Salvador University
SV & SCU Student in military vehicle with head held down by soldier
SV Person holding camera led away by armed soldiers, opens up camera pulls out exposed film and hands it to soldier (2 shots)
SV PAN Student with hands tied led off truck and led towards building
SVs Various views of students with handkerchiefs masking faces and holding weapons (4 shots)
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Background: Violence has once again flared in El Salvador--the first major outbursts since the country's civilian-military junta declared a State of Siege last week. Seventeen people died on Sunday (9 March)--eleven of them left-wing students shot dead in a gun-battle with troops in a college in San Miguel. Earlier victims of the battles between left and right-wing groups--a Danish schoolteacher and her husband were buried in the capital the same day in a service attended by Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero.
SYNOPSIS: Prominent Salvadorean labour leader Roberto Castellanos and his twenty-three year old Danish wife Annette Matthiessen were discovered in a shallow grave outside the capital on Saturday (8 March). They had been missing for about ten days after witnesses alleged they had been abducted by plainclothesmen. Mr. Castellanos was Secretary-General of the leftist party-- the Nationalist Democratic Union Party. The Association of Salvadorean Trade Unions immediately called for a general strike to protest the murders but cancelled marches planned in defiance of the government- imposed State of Siege.
Hundreds of people have died in recent months as left and right wing groups have fought to overthrow El Salvador's moderate civilian-military junta. On Friday (7 March) the four-man body nationalised the banking system in a further measure to redistribute the country's wealth--until now controlled by a handful of rich families.
Security forces were put on alert to deal with any reaction from extremist rightist groups opposed to the reforms. As the Castellanos's were being buried police reported that eleven more bodies had been found on the outskirts of San Salvador. Their identities had not been established but there was little doubt that they too were victims of confrontations between the left and right.
The University Campus in the capital remains a centre of left-wing confrontation. The latest moves by the junta to redistribute wealth and land in sweeping agrarian reforms has not so far defused an explosive social and political situation. Many of the left-wing groups believe changes have not been quick enough and the rightists oppose the reforms. The National Guard have been staging searches on the campuses for weapons and invariably they meet with militancy and sometimes open gunbattle.
While the situation remains tense in the urban areas news of the agrarian reforms is filtering through the countryside. Farmers were called from the fields last week to hear that they were now part owners of land many of them have worked their entire lives. And they were asked to choose representatives to management committees. The interests of the peasants have traditionally been articulated by the leftists.
The announcement of the reforms and the subsequent State of Siege led to a few days of relative quiet. But on Monday (10 March) confrontations between police and members of both left and right wing groups led to seventeen deaths. Students refusing to co-operate with a police search for arms in San Miguel accounted for eleven of he deaths. Meanwhile the junta appointed a new civilian member--Jose Napoleon Duarte of the Christian Democratic Party to replace Data Hirezi who resigned--apparently because his life had been threatened.