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Cesar Joya-Martinez criminate himself.” Cindy Buehl, a lobbyist on Central American issues for Pax Americas, said Joya-Martinez has been long on charges, but short on evidence. “You have only one kind of currency in Washington, your reputation,” she noted in a phone interview. “His story is intriguing, and if true, is very serious. But no one’s been able to prove it yet.” Francovich said the approach suggested by McGovern and Buehl is nonsense. “All these ‘official’ peace groups want to do is get some stooge they can use as an excuse to send out letters and raise half a million dollars for themselves,” he said. “The idea that I’m his `handler’ is nonsense, and my being involved is a preposterous excuse for not investigating whether what Joya-Martinez says is true.” One peace group not subject to charges of self-aggrandizement is the all-volunteer Marin Interfaith Task Force on Central America, which has been active in a nationwide campaign to get Joya-Martinez an official hearing in Washington. Suzanne Bristol, who’s helped coordinate that effort, said critics of Joya-Martinez fail to consider the context in which he’s made his charges. “We’ve had years of testimony to humanrights groups from victims who’ve said they’ve been tortured with U.S. advisers present,” said Bristol. “We’ve had other members of death squads say they’ve gotten money from U.S. advisers. And these U.S. advisers have been present in El Salvador ever since the repressive intelligence system was set up by them.” Bristol said she thinks Joya-Martinez is credible because he’s had the opportunity to avoid his present legal entanglements several times, yet has chosen to stay in this country. “He’s had people offer to get him to Canada and Australia, where he could begin a new life with no questions asked. But he came here because he wanted to denounce the death squads and our funding of them, and that’s why he’s stayed,” she said. As for Francovich, Bristol conceded that he might not be the most “diplomatic” person to accompany Joya-Martinez on his Washington rounds. But she said she believes the filmmaker’s interest is sincere. “He’s spent thousands of dollars of his own money on this,” she said. “He’s a sensible person with a great deal of background in this kind of matter, and he wouldn’t do that if he didn’t believe this was important.” The Joya-Martinez saga is now playing itself out in two very different Washington arenas. On Capitol Hill, Congress is scheduled to vote on a reduced aid package to El Salvador. The bill, by Senators Chris Dodd D-Ver$85 million military package unless the Cristiani government conducts a “prosecution of those responsible for the murder.” On September 18, a few miles away, Cesar Joya-Martinez was convicted in the Federal courthouse in Arlington, after a one-day trial, of having entered the United States illegally. Sentencing is scheduled for November 30; the case is on appeal. He faces either two years in prison, or deportation to El Salvador, or both. “Whatever his motives, whatever his past, he has held before us the consequences of shoveling millions of dollars into a military machine that has run amok,” states the Marin Interfaith Task Force, which is supporting his legal battles. “He has done so in a way, and to a degree, unprecedented in the history of the Salvadoran conflict. He has told us that when we fund the Salvadoran military, we fund the death squads; they are one and the same.” “The soldiers who killed the Jesuits were trained by United States Green Berets,” Francovich said. “The death squads are the military, period. Everything Joya-Martinez says is true.” In Santa Monica, Joya-Martinez has been seeing a psychologist to help him live with his past, and to help him forget the faces of the victims he saw kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. “I give my testimony so that the people of my country will know,” he said. “This helps me a great deal.” 14 NOVEMBER 9, 1990