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rW*WARWa Atatlaftwouw 4,WWWW..V AtesiMgeeis. #f.N1* !IJMOR . , , ALAN POGUE A Delicate Minuet: Peace in El Salvador ON SEPTEMBER 16 of last year the director of the Salvadoran office of the U.S. Agency for International Development, several congressional aides, and William Walker, the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, left the protection of the Salvadoran army and went into the hills to meet officially with a delegation of the Faribundo Marti National Liberation Front. It was the first official encounter between representatives of the U. S. government and leaders of the guerilla movement. The meeting, according to University of Texas economics professor Michael Conroy, was carefully timed to send a message to the conservative government of Salvadoran president Alfredo Cristiani. By arranging to meet one week before the beginning of U.N.4onsored negotiations in Mexico City, the U. S. State Department provided timely official contact with the FMLN and served notice to the Cristiani government that Washington wasn’t going to sit back ‘allow the negotiations to be delayed. Conroy’s account of this unusual diplomatic moment was related to him by Raul Hercules, a former FMLN commander and now the official FMLN representative on. the Military Negotiation Commission in El Salvador: “The ambassador, and also the head of the U.S. military mission, went in with 30 Marines, fully equipped in combat gear in jeeps before and behind the ambassador and they were all very nervous because they were going without Salvadoran military guard up into the middle of FMLN-controlled territory. Raul Hercules describes how he had it set up so his men were all in the back and it looked like just a sleepy little town. … The ambassador got down and the Marines deployed … about 60 yards around the ambassador, looking every which way and doing their security stuff, when all of a sudden people began to appear about 100 yards farther out. There were about 200 very heavily armed FMLN soldiers, gradually walking toward them … So you had this large circle of heavily armed FMLN, the circle of Marines, and the ambassador and Raul Hercules and other diplomatic representatives of the FMLN in the middle … The ambassador turned to Raul Hercules and said ‘You’re not going to do anything stupid here, are you?’ And Raul said, ‘No, I just wanted you to feel perfectly secure.’ ” Twenty-four hours later, as Conroy tells the story, the ambassador was making jokes and the marine commander was talking with Hercules, as together the two officers compared their troops’ weapons. The FMLN had demonstrated that it was serious, disciplined and wellorganized and the Americans had demonstrated their willingness to act as a broker rather than an advocate for the government in San Michael Conroy Salvador.What happened when the delegation departed for the capital, according to Conroy, had to alter the ambassador’s ideas about right and wrong in El Salvador. On the road to San Salvador the A.I.D. employees, unescorted and ahead of the ambassador’s car, were ordered out of their jeep by Salvadoran soldiers. By the time the ambassador arrived with his Marine detachment, his A.I.D. bureaucrats were lying face down on the ground, with the Salvadoran soldiers, machine guns in arms, standing above them. When he saw his fellow countrymen under the guns of the Salvadoran army, the ambassador is reported to have said to his FMLN escort: “If they do this to us, imagine what they must do to you.” Four months after the conclusion of the negotiations that brought 12 years of civil war to an end, Conroy is in a unique position to comment on the settlement. As a career Latin Americanist and an inforrhed advocate of social and economic justice in Central America, Conroy was requested to serve as a consultant to the FMLN negotiators when they met with representatives of the Salvadoran government and the United Nations in New York. Conroy, who has been a vocal opponent of U.S. Central American policy, said the peace agreement could not have been. achieved without the involvement of the Bush Administration. And, he said, the FMLN would not have achieved as much as it did out of the protracted negotiations without the skill of its negotiators, four of whom had attended a four-month-long course on negotiation with Roger Fisher at MIT. Officials of the Salvadoran government had declined when invited to participate in .a similar course. According to Conroy, one FMLN success was the inclusion of so many specific provisions of the negotiated agreement into the written U.N. accords, thus making much of the agreement subject to U.N. monitoring and arbitration. What did the FMLN achieve? According to Conroy, the some of the notable results of the negotiations are: A temporary peace commission in which the government plays a minority role. Of the 10 people on the committee, two represent the government \(one of whom must be a military are members of minority parties. It is, Conroy said, a commission that by its makeup is tilted toward the democratic left. The commission was granted the power to provide the “short list?’ of candidates to direct the national police force; a similar list of candidates for the newly created position of human rights attorney general; the authority to create special courts which will adjudicate human rights violations and land disputes. United Nations monitoring unprecedented in the region. The country, roughly the size of seven South Texas counties, will be policed by 1,400 U.N. monitors in all-terrain vehicles, which are equipped with radios linking them to the U.N. satellite system. To each of the 60 bases to which the army has been confined, two 24-hour U.N. monitors have been assigned. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5