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VIC HINTERIANG Village of Las Vueltas, Chalatenango, El Salvador The Costs of War stantial support, the government is not necessarily viewed as a positive force, despite its decision to let the refugees return. Asked if aid was being provided by the government, one man said, “No, not the government. The Church and the Red Cross.” And the white flags flying from tall poles in Las Vueltas “are so the Air Force doesn’t bomb us again. We’ve had problems with the Air Force in the past. A week ago a helicopter came and machinegunned that hill over there, but no one was injured.” On the same afternoon when government representatives were attempting to document the status of children born in Honduras ; a self-proclaimed member of the FMLN was walking the main street, chatting with the returnees. Andres is about 30 years old, slim, with a gap-toothed grin. Wearing a light-blue pullover shirt and darker blue polyester pants, he doesn’t look like a combatant. But he does carry a pistol tucked in his waistband. Asked if the army was a problem, he said, “No. The army hasn’t been through here in a month.” Asked if there were other guerrillas in town, he replied, “No, just me. We pass through but don’t stay. To avoid problems.” Any time guerrillas are in town there is a danger and the danger increases with increased frequency and length of their visits. With helicopters provided by the U.S., the Salvadoran army can now strike even remote areas quickly and in force. Any prolonged concentration of guerrillas becomes a likely target. If guerrillas make a habit of bivouacking in Las Vueltas, it will quickly become uninhabitable again. Returnees’ prospects for the new year are uncertain. They are dependent on relief agencies and the Catholic Church for all of life’s necessities, including food, as they have returned too late for the planting season. The government views them as being in the guerrilla camp and assumes that whatever benefits the townsfolk benefits the guerrillas as well. Access to Las Vueltas is, therefore, tightly controlled, requiring written permission from both army headquarters in San Salvador and from the commander of the base in Chalatenango. Before Christmas, the army turned back an unauthorized convoy of trucks and buses carrying relatives of the refugees with presents, medicines, and other items. It is unlikely that anything short of a negotiated resolution of the civil war will significantly improve the relationship between the residents of Las Vueltas and their government. Failing that, the best the returnees can expect is benign neglect. The white flags flying above the town show their lack of confidence in even that. Vic Hinterlang Vic Hinterlang is a Texas freelance journalist currently living in San Salvador. 6 FEBRUARY 12, 1988 BY JAMES RIDGEWAY Washington, D.C. LIICE THE WAR in Vietnam 20 years ago, the war in Central America undergoes surface variations, while the underlying conditions remain unchanged. Here at home the government has launched a second round of cases against activists involved in sanctuary politics. At the same time, the policies pursued by the U.S. to win the hearts and minds of the Salvadoran people show every sign of making the war less winnable, more intractable then ever. In its own reenactment of the Nativity, the Justice Department, playing the role of Herod, last month obtained indictments against an Albuquerque, New Mexico, minister and a freelance journalist for their roles in an alleged conspiracy to smuggle two Salvadoran women into the U.S. in order to arrange adoptions for their unborn babies. Glen Remer-Thamert, a 43-year-old Lutheran minister, faces up to 45 years in prison and $2.25 million in fines. Demetria Martinez, a regular contributor to the Albuquerque Journal and National Catholic Reporter, faces up to 25 years in prison and James Ridgeway’s column, “The Moving Target,” which is published by the Village Voice, is an occasional feature of the Observer. $750,000 in fines. Both Remer-Thamert, who is well known for political activism on Central America, and Martinez, who has written often about the sanctuary movement, are currently free on their own recognizance. The December 11 indictments follow the conviction of eight sanctuary activists in Tucson in January 1985. The latest story begins with a trip by Remer-Thamert and his wife to San Salvador in 1986 in a successful effort to adopt a Salvadoran child of their own. During the early 1980s, Remer-Thamert was director of family services for the Salvation Army in Albuquerque, where he was especially active in organizing support for the homeless. In the summer of 1986, he was contacted by the San Salvador attorney who arranged the adoption and asked if he would help find shelter in the U.S. for two pregnant Salvadoran women and their children. At the time, New Mexico’s Governor Toney Anaya had declared the state to be a sanctuary, and in Albuquerque there was an active sanctuary movement. The two women made their way to Albuquerque, where they were provided shelter and care by community activists. They also attended public meetings. In November of 1986 they each bore a child. One woman decided to keep her baby. The other gave it up for momorr ,witeiwo 040111.6,..ImI k 014*.’4””