The Multinational Monitor

MAY 15, 1985 - VOLUME 6 - NUMBER 5

S T R A T E G I E S   F O R   T H E   S O U T H

Reagan Misleads on Salvadoran Aid

The Congressional Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus charged the Reagan administration with providing insufficient, misleading and in some cases false information" to Congress and the public on U.S. aid to El Salvador.

The United States has given $1.7 billion to the Salvadoran government, Central bank and armed forces since the civil war erupted five years ago. According to the Reagan administration, a majority of this aid went to economic and social development, outweighing war-related aid by a "three to one margin." In reality, however, only 15 percent of that aid has gone toward "reform and development," states the report.

The report calls into question the reliability of information emanating from the White House on both matters of aid and policy. Using several examples, the report documents the administration's unwillingness to allow Congress easy access to accurate information and shows how outright deception often has bolstered administration policy.

  • In fiscal year 1984 the administration called on Congress to approve emergency funding for the Salvadoran military lest they risk (acing the rebel forces with no bullets. Although such claims were instrumental in rallying support for the aid package, the Pentagon's own figures showed the claim to be untrue.

  • In other aid packages the administration failed to mention that an air base was to be built in eastern El Salvador or that the U.S. was to supply AC-47 gunships to the war-torn country. In both of the above instances, Congress was told of the facts only after the press broke the stories.

  • In an et fort to keep money pouring into the Salvadoran Central Bank the Agency for International Development went so far as to assert that there was not a "significant" problem with corruption at the bank when their own studies showed 20 percent of the transactions reviewed in a spot check to be fraudulent.

  • The Caucus study also noted the administration's "overly optimistic" reports to Congress on the status of the civil war and its claim that there have been no secret bombings of civilian targets even though news reports and independent observers have documented such attacks.

The report, signed by Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.), called on the administration to reexamine its policy toward El Salvador in hopes of ending the bloody civil war that has taken approximately 50,000 lives. The desire for real peace in Central America should "not be undercut by the ill-conceived pursuit of a military solution," said Leach. Present policy, while contributing huge sums of economic and military aid, has done little to improve conditions for a majority of Salvadorans or to slow the slaughter. Without a reevaluation, states the report, I "there is no light at the end of this tunnel."

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