SAN FRANCISCO — American aid to El Salvador is emboldening the government's military and destroying the country, Roman Catholic priests said Monday as they protested U.S. policy and prayed for six slain Jesuit priests.
At a demonstration by more than 600 protesters, federal officials arrested 110 demonstrators--some of them priests--for sitting down and blocking the doors of the Federal Building. San Francisco police arrested 26 other demonstrators for blocking the sidewalk. Virtually all were cited and released.
About 150 Jesuits were among the protesters who prayed, chanted and carried signs to commemorate the slaying of the Jesuits at Central American University last week.
"It has become very clear over this decade that United States aid, which is up to $1.4 million every day, is that which is destroying the people of El Salvador," said Father William J. Wood, executive director of the California Catholic Conference.
President Bush declared Monday that he cannot abandon "a fragile democracy" and said any congressional aid cutoff to El Salvador would be an unacceptable response to the murders.
Wood said the Salvadoran government is under control of the ARENA party, "which has proved itself as bad as Hitler ever was in its commitment to work only for the welfare of those who they consider to be the pure."