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El Salvador's Rights Groups

August 15, 1986

As the chairman of the board of directors of El Rescate, I must respond to the article reporting accusations made by Michele Salinas, a former member of the Salvadoran non-governmental Human Rights Commission against several organizations and individuals involved in religious, human rights, and humanitarian work in that country.

Salinas has charged virtually every organization in the business of documenting and denouncing human rights violations or working to alleviate the suffering of the poor and displaced in El Salvador with having links to the guerrilla movement.

Among many others, including even the Salvadoran archbishop, Salinas has accused Jesus Campos, a Salvadoran attorney and a representative of the Human Rights Commission, with being a member of one of the rebel factions.

Contrary to what is stated in your article, Campos was employed by El Rescate for a brief time in 1985 and during that period, served our clients selflessly and with great compassion. Although he is no longer employed by us, we continue to rely on Campos as a representative of the commission for information about the human rights situation in El Salvador and have found him to be credible and accurate.

Salinas' charges, made following a period of police detention in a country known the world over for its flagrant disregard for basic human rights, may be part of a governmental effort to silence its critics. We do not know. What we do know and wish to make clear is that El Rescate is and always has been a humanitarian organization dedicated to serving the needs of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from civil war in Central America who have come to Los Angeles seeking a haven from the violence.

We do not support any of the many contending parties in these conflicts, although we do criticize U.S. military involvement in Central America, support all initiatives for peace, and denounce human rights abuses whenever they occur. Any implication from Salinas' statements that we have taken sides in the Salvadoran conflict or that our work is influenced by opponents of the Salvadoran government is absolutely false.

DONALD L. SMITH

Los Angeles

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