The government, the military, the guerrillas and the Catholic Church, the Red Cross and the displaced population in El Salvador. [SLV1328]

The Catholic Church:

The population of El Salvador is virtually 100 % Christian, with roughly 80 % members of the Catholic Church and 20 % members of other Christian churches. [Europa Year Book 1988, p. 967.] According to the U.S. Department of State human rights report on El Salvador freedom of religion in El Salvador "is guaranteed in the Constitution and is respected in practice". [ Country Report on Human Right Practices, (Washington: U.S. Dept. Of State, 1986), p. 499.] This being said, both Americas Watch and CUANES (the Christian Urgent Action Network for Emergency Support, based in Chicago ILL.) report extensive human rights abuses perpetrated against religious workers and persons affiliated with some branches of identifiable religious organizations in El Salvador by the Salvadorian Army. [ America Watch, The Civilian Toll 1986-87, (New York: 1987), pp. 171-3. and Christian Urgent Network for Emergency Support, CUANES El Salvador, CUANES Update, March/April 1988, (Evenston ILL.: 1988).] These reports include the deportation and harassment of foreign clergy working in areas considered to be rebel held or rebel strongholds, deportation of foreign clergy involved in the resettlement of refugees, detention of clergy, and disruption of religious processions. [Ibid., pp. 171-2.] Individuals active in Christian communities and progressive programmes sponsored by the Catholic Church have been detained and some have disappeared. [ CUANES El Salvador, Mar./Apr. 1988, pp. 3-5.]
Harassment of Catholic Church workers has usually been due to the perceived support by those individuals of the guerrilla movement in El Salvador. The attached section (p. 67 -71) from the Americas Watch report El Salvador's Other Victims: the War On The Displaced, gives an overview of the types of treatment afforded some Catholic Church workers.
The Red Cross:

Americas Watch and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights has documented the role of the Red Cross in El Salvador since 1983 in Free Fire (1984) p. 39 and 40, El Salvador's Other Victims The War On The Displaced (1984) p. 57-61, The Civilian Toll (1987) p. 94-6 and From the Ashes (1987) 60-2. These sections are attached. In addition The Civilian Toll, p. 144-6 (attached) discusses the Red Cross's role in prisoner visits and exchanges .
Displaced populations:

The attached sections from El Salvador's Other Victims The War On The Displaced, p. 62-3 covers one attitude regarding the displaced population held by the government and military of El Salvador.

The "indiscriminate attack by the Salvadorian Military and forced recruitment by the guerrillas" [ Americas Watch Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights, Free Fire, A Report on Human Rights in El Salvador, Aug. 1984 Fifth Supplement, (New York: Americas Watch Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights, 1984), pp. 73-4.] in the four most easterly provinces of Cabanas, Chalatenango, San Miguel and Moraz n has led to both voluntary and government sponsored relocation of 500,000 [Aguayo, Central Americans in Mexico and the United States, Appendix (p.79) .] persons into the central and coastal areas of El Salvador since 1980.

The government policy of a 'scorched earth', intended to isolate the FMLN guerrillas from civilian populations which may lend their support to the armed insurgents, has caused a de facto "forced evacuation of civilians from areas" [ Americas Watch, El Salvador's Other Victims the War on the Displaced, (New York: Americas Watch Publications, 1984), pp. 39-40.] of counter-insurgency operations. These areas, are often raised to the ground by aerial bombardment once the population has been moved and any infrastructure that may be of aid to the rebels including any standing crops, crop storage facilities and buildings are destroyed.

About half of the displaced population have been relocated in both governmental or non-governmental, (Church or private charity) administered camps. The rest have moved in with relatives in urban areas or have resettled into squatter settlements near urban areas. The government handling of these displaced populations has been widely criticized. The governmental organization to assist internally displaced persons, known by its Spanish acronym, CONADES,

"has conditioned receipt of its humanitarian assistance for the displaced on registration. This entails disclosure of the beneficiary's name, age, sex, and place of origin, as well as their family members. In the context of El Salvador such information is highly sensitive. Persons whom the military has branded subversives (in part because it regards all desplazados from certain areas as guerrilla sympathizers) are simply, unwilling to share this information with a government agency. Instead, they receive aid from church and voluntary agencies, who run risks themselves by aiding the displaced whom the military regards as subversive if only because they are unregistered." [ Free Fire, Americas Watch, pp. 86-7.]
The poor conditions of the camps, the human right abuses including arbitrary arrest and disappearance against both camp populations and those who assist camp populations, especially in the non-government sponsored camps, has been well documented by the Americas Watch group. [ El Salvador's Other Victims the War on the Displaced, Americas Watch, 1984.] In general, government run camps are tightly controlled as to the movement of persons in and out of the sites. Non-governmental camps are also well monitored by the military for individual personnel movement and the supply of rations. [ Free Fire, Americas Watch, pp. 77-8.]

In January and February of 1986 "Operation Phoenix" was undertaken by the Salvadorian Army. This major counter-insurgency effort to unseat guerrillas from towns and areas that had been rebel controlled for up to six years was successful, but in the course of operations several thousand citizens had to be relocated. [ Keesing's Contemporary Archives Record of World Events, Vol. XXXII, 1986, No. 6, (Harlow U.K.: Longman Group Ltd, 1986), p. 34413.] This relocation process was "forced relocation" according to Americas Watch. [ Americas Watch Committee, SETTLING INTO /ROUTINE Human Rights Abuses in Duarte's Second Year, (New York: Eight supplement to the Report on Human Rights in El Salvador, The Americas Watch Committee, 1986), p. 25.] As well "during the operation 1,045 civilians [were] captured, many of whom have since disappeared." [Keesing's Contemporary Archives Record of World Events, Vol. XXXII, 1986, p. 34413.]

"In late 1986 the government started a re-population programme called 'United to Rebuild'." [ Ibid., p. 34413.] This effort brought people out of the relocation camps in central El Salvador and set them up in new towns in the highland areas. By the end of 1987 "25 public resettlement efforts had been carried out." [ 1987 Annual Report On The Human Rights Situation in El Salvador, (Toronto: ICCHRLA, 1987), p. 16.]

At the same time some of the population who had not been in the relocation camps began to spontaneously return to their former residences in the mountainous eastern provinces.

Along side this government strategy of counter-insurgency oriented resettlement (often, over the last two years, in areas but recently "unsettled" by the forced evacuation of civilians in the course of government military operations), there have been alternative expressions of a move back to the land. Independent resettlement efforts are the product principally of mounting frustration at the duration of displacement caused by the war and desperation in the face of decaying living conditions in the cites and other places of refuge." [ Annual Report, ICCHRLA, 1987, p. 16.]