• Short Summary

    INTRODUCTION: The tiny Central American country of El Salvador, still wracked with violence, has become the unlikely centre of an ideological confrontation between the super-powers.

  • Description

    Washington, March 1980: CUs PAN John Bushnell, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, speaking to Republican Clarence Long and Mr. Long replying.

    San Salvador, November 1980: CU PAN Blood-stained body of Humberto Mendoza, leader of Revolutionary Democratic Front.

    TRACKING SHOT El Salvador slum, children playing in lane.

    CU Poor woman scrubbing clothes.

    GVs Armed civilians taking cover on deserted street and National Guards searching area.(3 SHOTS)

    SV Civilians with arms raised, walk past wall with Revolutionary graffiti scrawled on it.

    GV Deserted village with armed guerrillas standing guard and graffiti on buildings. (5 SHOTS)

    Havana, 1978: SVs Cuban boys play baseball and girls playing games in city square. (3 SHOTS)

    GV Military parade in Revolutionary Square, tanks past huge billboard displaying Marx, Engels and Lenin.

    GV Cars past billboard reading "Africa, No Easta Sola En Su Lucha".

    GV Havana Harbour, Soviet ships unloading. (6 shots)

    Managua, August 1980: CUs Revolutionary mural depicting historical and contemporary Nicaraguan scenes. (4 SHOTS)

    19 July 1980: LV Cuban President Fidel Castro takes stage at Sandanista Revolution Anniversary celebrations. (2 SHOTS)

    SV Castro addressing audience.

    Moscow, March 1980: SVs Politburo Member Boris Ponomaryev signs agreement for aid to Nicaragua as Moises Hassan signs for Nicaragua. (3 SHOTS)

    Masaya, August 1980: CU poster advocating literacy and reading and writing classes held in village. (5 SHOTS)

    Guatemala City, July 1980: GVs San Marcos University buildings with revolutionary slogans on wall. (3 SHOTS)

    GV Street of wealthy suburb and stately home. (2 SHOTS)

    SVs Slum at side of railway tracks, women and children working and playing. (5 SHOTS)

    SV Military parade past Head of State, General Romeo Lucas Garcia and troops on jeeps with guns. (3 SHOTS)

    Soyapango, 1980: SV Woman sees body of dead husband lying on street and runs to him, weeping as others look on.


    BUSHNELL: (SEQ. 1) "Certainly there's no one in the United States that wants to get into a war. I think there's also no one that wants to see country after country move into the Communist bloc."

    LONG: "I'm worried about whether this is being done, not because it's needed but because we have an administration that's made a bunch of macho statements and now feels that it ought to follow through on them."

    Initials JS


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: INTRODUCTION: The tiny Central American country of El Salvador, still wracked with violence, has become the unlikely centre of an ideological confrontation between the super-powers. A new hardline United States administration is convinced there is what they call a "clearly delineated Soviet-Cuban strategy to create Marxist-Leninist regimes in Central America". And President Ronald Reagan, justifying growing American involvement with the junta in El Salvador has said "the terrorists aren't just among at El Salvador. They are aiming at the whole of Central and possibly late South America -- and I'm sure eventually North America'". And he continued in language reminiscent of American involvement in the Vietnam war. "What we're doing is trying to stop this destabilising force of guerrilla warfare and revolution from being exported here". Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. John Bushnell, echoed Mr. Reagan's statement at a Foreign Relations hearing on arms shipments to El Salvador. But Chairman of the Committee, Republican Congressman, Mr. Clarence Long remained worried that United States involvement would escalate, as it had in Vietnam.

    SYNOPSIS: The blood-stained body of Humberto Mendoza, one of six opposition leaders Kidnapped and murdered by a right-wing death squad in late November.

    The people of El Salvador have been living with escalating violence for months. Before the fighting they concentrated on basic survival in a country families. Today, food and medicine are in short supply and many people have fled from their homes.

    Citizens are divided in their allegiance to the left-wing guerrillas, or right-wing factions. The task of the National Guards is to defeat the guerrillas, but allegations are increasing that besides military combat, they carry out summary executions helped by right-wing death squads.

    The strength of the left is in the countryside and a United States official estimated that the guerrillas had fought the army to a draw. He predicted a war of attrition that could go on for a long, long time.

    The Americans point to Cuba as the kind of Marxist-Leninist regime that threatens Central America. The face of Cuba has drastically changed in the past two decades. People are guaranteed food, medicine and education, but their schooling clashes with the ideology of western capitalism.

    It is Cuba's military ties with the Soviet Union that has convinced the Reagan administration that they are part of a so-called "world-wide Communist network, centred in the Kremlin". They say Cuba is supplying arms to the left-wing guerrillas in El Salvador. Fidel Castro has in fact always been open about his country's support of struggling revolutionary movements."
    And because of the continued United States blockade against Castro's Cuba, economic dependence on the Soviet Union continues.

    The successful Sandanista revolution in Nicaragua apparently encouraged the left in El Salvador. The Americans look upon the new government there as further evidence of a Communist threat in Central America. And Fidel Castro's reception at the first anniversary celebrations of the Sandanista victory would confirm the socialist aspirations of the Nicaraguans.

    The United States alleges that the first phase of Communist strategy in Central America is to win Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Honduras. The Nicaraguans went to the Soviet Union to look for badly needed aid to repair the horrific damage of the war against Somoza.

    The Sandanista's rehabilitation programme has a lot in common with Cuba's. A poor and illiterate people to feed and educate as the first step to building a sound economy. But as the western world struggles through a recession, foreign aid is hard to come by.

    If the United States new foreign policy prophesies are correct the next Central American country to challenge its military junta will be Guatemala. The same left-wing graffiti is daubed on walls and the same enormous contrasts exist between a wealthy elite and the destitute masses.

    Thousands of Guatemalans have left the countryside and their tired plots of land to find work in the city. They end up in shanty-towns, similar to those that grow up around cities throughout Central and South America.

    But the military rulers of Guatemala are doing all in their power to eliminate any opposition. And General Romeo Lucas Garcia has applauded the Reagan administration's involvement in El Salvador.

    Scenes like this one are now commonplace in El Salvador. And finding a solution in now complicated by American interests there. But the international balance of power may seem meaningless to five million Salvadoreans torn apart by continuing violence.

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