As the civil war in El Salvador took a dramatic twist Tuesday, opponents of the Central American nation's government stepped up their activity in Los Angeles.
Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, during a news conference with actor Ed Asner and a coalition of labor leaders and clergy, called for a boycott of Salvadoran coffee and a suspension of all U.S. aid to the country.
"We should use California's power in the House and Senate to end the million-dollar-a-day military aid to the government of El Salvador," McCarthy said. "The time has passed when we should allow American guns to murder innocents."
Meanwhile, at a spirited rally in front of the Salvadoran Consulate in Westlake, about 200 protesters sang chants in Spanish linking the Salvadoran government to the killing of six Jesuit priests last week.
The demonstrators also set up a symbolic "people's consulate" to protest what they called the "inaction and apathy" of the Salvadoran consul general in Los Angeles. The consul general, Jose Mauricio Angulo, a member of the ruling Nationalist Republican Alliance, has made statements denying government involvement in the murders of the priests.
"We want to denounce the consul for trying to maintain this campaign of disinformation," said Sara Martinez of the Coordinator of Salvadoran Committees, which organized the protest.
Martinez said that many of the 350,000 Salvadorans living in Los Angeles--the largest Salvadoran community outside El Salvador--have lost contact with their relatives in their homeland since the fighting intensified last week. She was critical of the consulate for failing to provide information to local residents about their missing relatives.
"We are suffering, like them, the bombings and the assassinations," Martinez said.
For his part, Angulo attacked the demonstrators, most of whom were Salvadorans, as "very unpatriotic people, most of them brainwashed. . . . They've been here too long. They don't know the reality of El Salvador any more."
The Los Angeles protest was peaceful. But at a San Francisco demonstration, involving about 300 rowdy protesters, police officers made about 140 arrests and escorted government workers into the Federal Building.
The demonstration at the Los Angeles consulate was only the latest in at least a dozen similar protests held throughout the Southland since the rebel Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front began its offensive in San Salvador last week.