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U.S. Aid to El Salvador

June 13, 1988

Dwight Ink of AID's Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean questions the accuracy of the Rev. Don Lewis' Op-Ed Page column "U.S. Military Assistance to El Salvador Negates Benefits of Economic Aid" (May 16) in a letter published May 30.

Ink states that "The United State's role in El Salvador has been extremely positive. A whopping three-fourths of all U.S. assistance to El Salvador is economic or humanitarian."

In reading some material based on reports from Ink's AID office I found information that contradicts both of his assertions.

In 1985 nearly 84% of U.S. aid was either military aid or direct transfers to the government with no way of ensuring that the money would be used for development purposes. In 1986 the corresponding figure was 78% (AID, Congressional presentation, FY 1987).

The same congressional presentation concluded that malnutrition in El Salvador is widespread, accompanied by a high death rate for children under 5, and that only a small percentage of total aid did go to benefit the Salvadoran people--7% went to agriculture, 4% to health and 4% to education.

As if this were not bad enough, AID's inspector general found that 20% of the transactions reviewed by the Central Bank in a spot check for corruption were fraudulent.

These findings should have brought a halt to U.S. aid money long before it reached the current $3 billion mark. Instead, 62,000 Salvadoran citizens have lost their lives and over 1 million have been displaced with U.S. "aid" money.

The truth is, U.S. aid has never addressed the problems that are the root causes of the civil war in El Salvador: the extreme disparities of wealth and power. Dialogue is the answer, not more "aid" that kills and maims innocent children, women and men.

Mary Brent Wehrli

Executive Director

Southern California Interfaith

Taskforce on Central America

Los Angeles

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