Events of Nov-Dec 1989

©2005 L.Timmel Duchamp

Extracts from the personal journal of L. Timmel Duchamp

12 November, 1989
Sunday, 2:31 p.m.

Just back from the abortion rights rally, where I ran into D____. Bella Abzug & [Seattle Mayor] Norm Rice were the main speakers; there was a huge crowd at the fountain, men & women, of all ages—including cheerleader-types in their late teens & early twenties who looked as though they'd never been to a demonstration in their life. I told D____ the little I've heard about the FMLN's offensive in San Salvador—which made her ecstatic: so now she's going out wheat-pasting tonight, to do a photo-collage on the side of the Comet Building on Capitol Hill. She sees the rebel offensive as a great blow against the Arena government—& it does seem that if the Air Force is strafing the city things must be damned threatening to them. Still, I'm not as thrilled as she is. (But then given the ever-increasing number of bombings, disappearances, captures, tortures, & killing by the govt, one tends to want some kind of action, to strike out against the govt's constant stream of attacks. D____ mentioned that the Salvadoran Army has been going all-out to stop the resurging repatriation movement—which proves a fine irony vis-à-vis US Immigration policy: the Salvadoran govt won't allow the refugees to return, claiming they're communists, while the US Govt won't allow them to stay here, claiming they aren't political refugees... A Christic Institute person was out converting individuals in the crowd at the rally. I heard him referring to Martha Honey as Barbara Honey, so I stopped a moment to correct him. (Actually, his first reference to her was as Tony Avrigan's wife.)

D____ exulted that "it's all happening, Berlin this week, now San Salvador, the people are doing it!" In the meantime, more note was taken in today's NY Times about how unthrilled Bush, Thatcher, & Mitterand are. Kath referred to this on the phone, too—to "people getting sick of government." As in China, earlier this year: now bloodily crushed—but at the simmer, boiling up a fierce rage & determination rather than debilitating fear.) I guess that's the point of all this—people losing fear to anger...

An organizer at the rally said that 1.5 million women had come out today around the country to support abortion rights; one of the most startling figures was Montgomery, Alabama at 15,000.

7:00 p.m.

Well, a bit more. Listened to NPR and watched ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, & CNN. So far, the death count from this new situation in El Salvador is 127, including a teacher from the US. The military is firing indiscriminately on civilians. It sounds as if they've gone berserk. The rebels have destroyed five helicopters, at least one of them at the base in Ilyo Pango. & they are holding several neighborhoods in San Salvador. The govt has taken control of all radio & tv stations (except, of course, for [the FLMN's] Vinceremos). Cristiani has been forced to flee, but is safe, & is making declarations that they're "in control" of the capitol. James Baker dismisses the rebel offensive as a last-ditch "act of frustration" because of the peace talks. (His statement was so incoherent that I couldn't figure out what he was trying to argue.) He says there's no need to send in US troops because the Salvadoran Government can handle things just fine. N____'s theory is that this is similar to the Tet Offensive: not the end, but a turning point vis-à-vis morale & the conduct of the war. Kath says M_____ was talking about a split among the rebels & suggesting that the split was perhaps over whether to start the offensive now. The media are reporting contradictory motives & descriptions, saying variously that this is a response to the military's bombings last week, a "final offensive," or "not a final offensive." The University of El Salvador has been surrounded by tanks. A curfew & state of siege have been declared. & the rebels are telling everybody to stay home & off the streets tomorrow...

16 November, 1989
Thursday, 10:38 a.m.

Don't have much time here before I need to leave for the demonstration at the Federal Building downtown. Have been able to think of little but the situation in El Salvador. Yesterday my spirits lifted while attending Osorio & Ramirez's talk in the HUB. But then last night the news started shifting against the rebels. & then this morning came news of the death-squad slaughter of six Jesuit priests & two of their servants at the University of Central America. These were six of the eight rectors of the University. The govt had set things up for the killing two days beforehand by having people phone in to a radio "talk-show" calling for the killing of these priests. & so they were tortured & shot. Thirty uniformed men burst in on them at 4 a.m. when everyone was asleep, in full sight of the military contingent officially on-duty guarding the high-rise building across the street—during a curfew. So there's no question that the govt okayed the massacre in advance. Tom tried calling the US Embassy in San Salvador this morning, but the number is always busy—no doubt with people calling from all over the world. These priests were Spanish.

Ironically, the Seattle Times yesterday published an article on Donovan Cook, the University Baptist Church minister who had gone with many other clergy to San Salvador to give support to the Lutheran Bishop there who'd been bombed & hit with death threats for the last few weeks. They closed the article with Cook's quote of the current military attitude: "Kill a priest, kill a clergyman, for your country."

NPR's immediate coverage (care of the BBC) was clear about who did it & why. (UCA [the University of Central America] was a neutral party, urging negotiation, & published polls etc no one else in the country dared to publish.) NPR also took note of the international (as well as Salvadoran) stature of these priests. Heard this morning that the Pope had been urging the Salvadoran govt to allow the Red Cross to evacuate the wounded from the areas the govt is bombing, but of course the govt refused. Will the Pope come out strong on this? Tom thinks he will, since if he doesn't it will send the message that any govt can kill Catholic priests with impunity anywhere in the world. Yesterday Ramirez pointed out that on his recent trip to Europe, Cristiani was not received publicly by any head of state except Margaret Thatcher: the Salvadoran govt has pariah status everywhere except in the US. Pacifica reported a demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate yesterday (where all the world's press is camping out)—on the West Berlin side, that was brutally broken up by police, to stop them from speaking about El Salvador & the US's support & direction of the atrocities.

Tom called the offices of the Senators & McDermott; McDermott voted against aid to E.S., & so did Adams—indicating that the latter is finally changing his policy. Gorton of course remains staunchly in favor of it. The way CNN covered it suggests that the US press may be going to try to ignore the killings or imply they're a "mere" spin-off from the war—& thus the rebels' fault, in the same way they've been claiming that the govt's strafing & bombing of civilians is.

In the meantime it's not at all clear how the rebels are doing. The reports are contradictory. My theory is that the press are muzzling themselves & are not doing any independent reporting at all—using a single tape source & always & ever quoting the govt only—as a direct result of the number of journalists who've been killed by the military in the last ten years. Unlike the people of El Salvador, international journalists are easily cowed & refuse to speak out against repression. I haven't heard a peep of a suggestion that the govt is wrong to have taken over all the radio & tv stations, blacked-out all news except their own versions, & slapped a twenty-four-hour curfew on half the city. Any socialist country that did such a thing would be denounced in no uncertain terms every hour of the day & night. (Nicaragua, for instance—which has never been so repressive.)

Where's Oscar Arias now? But of course, he'll never speak out against the govt of El Salvador. US-backed thugs aren't a safe target. Better to pick on Ortega or join the bandwagon against Noriega (who was once treated the way the Salvadoran govt & military are now).

All those people dead or captured... Someone at UCA interviewed on [NPR's] Morning Edition said that people like Reuben Zamorra had taken refuge in embassies in San Salvador. Hopefully a lot of people were able to do that. I keep recalling how Osorio kept fingering a paper that had on it a list of friends & associates of his who have been killed this week.

But I am hopeful, given what Osorio & Ramirez revealed yesterday about the letter a contingent in the military presented to UNTS in a press conference, that perhaps a group in the military will rise up in outrage against priest-killing: surely there must be some Catholics in the army who object to priest-killing? (Though no one rose up when the right wing killed [Archbishop] Romero...)

3:07 p.m.

Have a lot to report. & since I'm too upset to do anything but pace about the house, perhaps writing at length will help. First, the demonstration: we had a good turn-out, given the short notice & time of day, of at least a couple of hundred. And all the tv stations sent cameras, & the P-I & Times sent reporters & photographers, too. Unfortunately, they had left by the time the spontaneous action started. It should have been plain from the first when the feds arrested someone for trying to write US OUT OF EL SALVADOR in chalk on the sidewalk what was going to happen. A tearful-looking man, a priest, I think, came & passed out notices of a memorial service for the slain Jesuits to be held on Sunday afternoon. Other events were publicized, too, by the Friends as well as by the University Baptist Church. & a civil disobedience direct action is scheduled for Monday morning. There were feds circulating among us, trying to make sure no one else wrote in chalk on the pavement. (Someone did manage to do so, though, in purple. Big fucking deal: this is the ridiculous level of censorship they're stooping to.) Most of the talk was about turning out for events in Seattle as long as the slaughter continues. & apparently the slaughter is immense. The aerial attack now entails full-scale 500-pound bombs—& of course the bastards are delighted to get this chance to wipe out poor people. A Mexican newspaper has reported that US troops at the Southern Command are not only on Full Alert, but that some are moving into position at two Honduran bases convenient to the border. Just a few minutes ago I turned CNN Headlines on & saw a picture of El Salvador with black smoke filling the sky & fires raging.

At the end of the demo we decided to go up to talk to the people in Adams' office, since Adams is sitting the fence on this issue. (Just this moment heard on NPR that the U.S. says it's expediting a new shipment of arms to E.S.) But the feds locked the doors on us. So we marched, en masse, shouting "FMLN Salvador is going to win," around to the back entrance. There we were able to get in—apparently they weren't expecting us—but the instant they saw us crowding into the elevators they froze them. Obviously the federal police had orders not to allow us upstairs to talk to our reps. So then we shouted NO MORE DEATHSQUADS NO MORE WAR US OUT OF EL SALVADOR. At that point I didn't care if I did get arrested, I was in such a state of fury. But then the five mean-faced feds picked someone out of the crowd, circled him, & started shoving. The violence of it freaked me out, & I'm ashamed to say that I began to be afraid of being arrested, & my rage trickled away & I got sick to my stomach & shaky. We quieted to let the feds speak, to "explain" why they were obstructing us—but they didn't offer an explanation as they claimed they were going to do, they only announced that if we didn't disperse we would all be arrested. I should have realized that they couldn't have arrested all of us on the spot, without reinforcements, since there were only a dozen of them, but I believed them. So a stand-off ensued. They had locked all the doors into the Federal Building but one, & workers had started coming back from their lunch breaks & were wanting to go back to their offices; but to allow them to use the elevators they would have had to allow us to use them, too. (I think they eventually routed all the elevators away from that floor, because cops were letting people with other kinds of business in, one at a time, through the front door.) The media people weren't there for this, they'd long gone. We did some chants about bringing down the "Seattle Wall..." & then, when Tom decided he had to go back to his conference (it's being held at the Madison Stauffer), I decided to leave too. I was not prepared to get arrested in that kind of situation.

There have been demos all over the country, but the media aren't reporting them. Apparently there have been demos all week in L.A. & Kath told me on the phone this afternoon that there's to be something big in Washington. Donovan Cook, who was arrested in San Salvador the instant he stepped off the plane, will be speaking tomorrow night at the University Baptist Church. The carnage, the speakers today said, is not in the hundreds but in the thousands. I'm just sick to my stomach with this.

The group of thirty men who killed the priests wore uniforms. An eyewitness definitely describes uniforms. The Salvadoran govt & army claims it had nothing to do with it.

22 November, 1989
Wednesday 12:25 p.m.

Sent letters this morning to Adams & Gorton. (May decide to slightly alter the letter & send it to members of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee.) I would say that in Seattle at least the tide has turned on the Salvadoran issue. Yesterday's Seattle Times offered a scathing editorial that referred to the Arena government as "throat-slitters." The P-I came out against aid to Salvador last week. & both papers have been giving good coverage to protests as well as to various stories on El Salvador—& aren't shuffling the arrest of Paula Bretlinger [a Seattle physician working in El Salvador] et al under the rug. The local tv stations are now starting to follow suit. Last night KIRO reported that Rep. Al Swift sent a letter to Bush saying he's sick & tired of his constituents being arrested by the Salvadoran military. Though it's not good that Congress is in recess since it means it would take an extraordinary effort to cut off aid to Salvador before January, still in a way it will be good for our Senators to be exposed to the sheer strength of local sentiment. & I suspect this may be true in other parts of the country—apparently there have been arrests all over the country for civil disobedience by protestors. & finally, finally, the national media is starting to mention protests. Even Ted Koppel had words of praise last night for the way the FMLN was handling the Sheraton Hotel situation—he described them as showing "statesmanship" that contrasted sharply with the Salvadoran govt's behavior. I gather from the McNeil-Lehrer discussion last night that the Salvadoran govt is going to be in super-deep shit with its right-wing constituents... & this morning, thinking about how the rebels had "slipped away" & defused the whole thing, thus making Bush's hysteria about terrorism & hostage-taking sounding like the ravings of a lunatic, it occurred to me that there will be quite a few people in the US who might find the way the FMLN handled the crisis with such grace under pressure appealing.

I was depressed yesterday—partly from thinking about all those people captured & tortured, & the death toll, partly because I was disappointed with myself for not having gotten myself arrested on Monday when a nonviolent direct action shut down I-5 during rush hour. (But some of that was due to thinking about D____ & her group—utterly fearless & going the "solidarity" route of not giving their names as well.) I can see now just how greatly I fear the police. So I'm asking myself how to learn to act "from the heart" (as somebody in D____'s group put it the other night when talking about what he'd heard about Ella Curia). [Ella Curia was one of the Jesuits slain by a Salvadoran Army death-squad.]

It occurs to me that the police (esp the feds) would be considerably less gentle if the press weren't making it clear that we're not radical lunatics—none of the media have reported the incidents that way (though they haven't bothered reporting much all that the Catholics have been doing)—they have, rather, been reporting the demos as acts of conscience—& as reasonable responses to the extremity of the situation. We didn't even get any flak (only the token angry motorist on KIRO's report) for shutting down the freeway! When I think about it now, that seems almost incredible. (Before the demo, Tom & N____ predicted that the public would just be pissed by the shutdown & dismiss us as out-of-line radicals.)

This is the very first time any mainstream US media have given reasonable coverage to the El Salvador issue. It's a strange feeling, not being treated as subversive for linking the war in El Salvador to US tax dollars & direction... It's as though the issue had become normalized, recast in utterly different terms. It's probably the killing of the Jesuits that brought about such normalization more than the senseless slaughter of civilians through strafing & bombing. & now we have so many deported healthcare and human rights workers returning to tell of the horrors inflicted by the Arena Government on themselves & more esp the people of El Salvador...

23 November, 1989
Thursday, 12:41 p.m.

Thanksgiving Day—would have been the fortieth anniversary of Mom & Dad's wedding.

Am receiving floods of info because of Kath's discovery of all sorts of electronic bulletin boards— one from the Resource Center in New Mexico is particularly prodigious. (Given who they are, I trust them as a source.) Every day, I see new lists of people taken prisoner—internationals tend to be released (eventually), but some non-American internationals are being as severely tortured as Salvadorans are—as well as lists of those being deported: in the last week 300 have been or are being deported—but the Salvadorans basically become "disappeared" since there are almost no reports (bar the occasional reference to internationalists hearing their screams; they never see anything because everyone is kept blindfolded) on what has happened to them. Also being reported: all over this country high-ranking clerics are speaking out against US aid to E.S. & demanding investigations. But then every religious group with representation in El Salvador is getting hassled—their churches & residences being ransacked (to take one small example, the military hauled away, in a truck, every single possession to be found in the apartment of one Mennonite couple), their clergy & lay workers being arrested, & masses of people found in the churches (civilians taking refuge) being arrested—by the hundreds. In the meantime [US Ambassador] Walker says these "excesses" are "regrettable" but nothing to be upset about. The Lutheran bishop in San Salvador is now charging that napalm & white phosphorous gas are being used on civilians, & Agence France Presse apparently has a photo of a young girl who has been napalmed...

T_____ went with me to the meeting at the University Baptist Church last night. A couple dozen groups had reps there. There was a discussion of what to do. One highly articulate, uninhibited woman name M_____ spoke about hit-&-run guerrilla theater. This appeals a lot to T____ & me—we may join her. Also picked up a booklet prepared by the Lawyer's Guild on C.D.— which includes not only legal info (which in Seattle apparently changes frequently) but also tips about the police, their tactics, & the essential Kafkaesque injustice of the court system... In the car going home T____ discussed her antipathy to the fringeness of D____'s group. T_____ described herself as being a mainstream sort of person who really wants to be doing things—which is why M____'s suggestions so appealed to her (I think), even though she disapproves of D___'s guerrilla theater tactics. She said she felt really bad about missing the demo on Monday.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about D____'s approach & values vis-à-vis mine & others'. There were allusions at the meeting to D_____ & A____'s [I-5] ramp activity at the meeting—the organizers were not pleased about it & implied that D___ and A____ had brought police brutality upon themselves. Someone mentioned that the NBC Nightly News had shown a clip of D____ being forced over the hood of the squad car. & of course during the action the organizers got irritated at our theater performances—saying we "distracted" the press—& later expressed irritation at D_____'s call to "be creative" instead of droning on with all the same speeches as usual. At the abortion rights rally D____ mentioned to me that Radical Women had tried to recruit her—then said that she despised them for their "hypocrisy"—for living middle-class lives while waiting for the revolution to happen, instead of living the revolution now in their daily lives (as she, D____, does). I had to wonder what she makes of me—I'm so clearly middle class. On Sunday she seemed esp eager to do a project with me & got lit-up when I talked about maybe doing C.D. on Monday. But since I chickened out... well, I just don't know. At any rate, D___ has been doing this project with T____, even though there's an obvious difference between them (& probably D____ thinks of T____ as being super middle class, too—working for KING & abiding by their non- activism rules). There's a place & role for people like D____. I'm just not sure what my place is. In a sense, I am a fringe person, too. Yet I want to retain a certain sort of comfort that I can think & work in—& there's the other factor, that I am an intellectual, which means there is something to be gained from working at the fringes of the mainstream portion of the movement without completely dumping it. Which is, I suppose, closer to T_____'s position than to mine. & then of course there are A___ & N____—who play their well-connected professorial roles to the hilt…

Must continue to think about how to use my skills & resources. Must produce my own contributions without relying on the necessity of being a part of someone else's group—flowing in & out of different group's actions when it seems useful to me to do so. (When T_____ & I arrived last night they were asking people to stand up & say which group they were representing—& I realized how apparently odd it is for me not to be a part of any organized group at all. There were only a handful of people present who weren't.)

One last note. NPR this morning reported on the reactions of the elites living in Escalon to the rebels' raid. It seems the elites now realize how vulnerable they are to raids "whenever they want to invade us." In the meantime, FMLN reps in Venezuela (& in conjunction with the Venezuelan Govt) are trying to open negotiations with THE ARMY—i.e., they're not bothering to deal with the charade of Cristiani's govt. Perhaps they should have raided that neighborhood first—it might have been enough to wake the elites up... though that's of course an unfairly hypothetical speculation. I think they never really imagined the govt would strafe & bomb civilians quite as openly & wantonly as they did. Doing it in the countryside is one thing, but in the city, in full view of the international press & diplomatic community...

28 November, 1989
Tuesday, 11:40 a.m.

Have been sick to my stomach since yesterday—with anxiety & rage, obviously, at the latest tacks taken by the Bush Administration. All I can make of it is that it's a propaganda gamble they think they can pull off—& that they think is worth taking because they're so close to losing congressional (& press) support. Of all things: to deliberately choose to frame a person known to be a devout Christian & of good reputation with US officials (elected & otherwise) & the press. [The allusion here is to the arrest of Jennifer Casolo in San Salvador, which was briefly a cause célèbre in Seattle.] & then to not only agree to throw her to the mercy of one of the most egregious kangaroo court systems in the world, but to judge her guilty in the US press beforehand by actually threatening her with prosecution in US federal courts! It's so preposterous—but that's the nature of every Big Lie. I'm sure they figure that even if it doesn't work, at the least it will scare every foreign observer in El Salvador into fleeing the country, since if they can grab her with impunity they demonstrate they can grab anyone with impunity. The other thing, of course, is to link this calumnious accusation with their lies about Soviet involvement. Obviously they're hoping to turn the Malta summit into a platform for attacking Nicaragua & anyone opposed to the Arena government. If Gorbachev lets them get away with it—but probably he will. He's not made the slightest criticism of the Arena government that I've ever heard of. & then, this very latest—having the gall to demand a meeting of the UN Security Council—when the FMLN have been trying to get the UN to get involved for all this time! It's basically another ploy to make people think it's not the Arena govt against the people of El Salvador, but a sovereign nation being attacked by foreign-supported "terrorists." (Jesus, it's the lies even more than the bloodshed that makes my head explode & my stomach churn.)

& in this state of mind I have to write up stuff for the meeting this afternoon—materials for assembling a flyer to accompany our guerrilla theater. Has to be simple—that's the hitch. There's so goddam much to say. It's a question of which aspect to emphasize. Hope Tom remembers to put my report out on the net today—last night he agreed with me that now would be a good time...

Extracts from the personal correspondence of L. Timmel Duchamp

26 November, 1989
Sunday afternoon

Sorry to be taking so long getting the photocopied news-clippings to you—keep putting off mailing what I have in order to do a few more, mostly because the local papers are treating El Salvador (esp in tone, but also in scope of coverage) quite differently from, say, the way the NY Times is. Today the difference was extremely sharp. In today's letters-to-the-editor section, nearly all of which was devoted to trashing US El Salvador policy, they again showed a picture of the I-5 blockade: a source, I suspect, of local pride.

At a meeting on Wednesday—mostly attended by reps of a couple dozen different groups, at University Baptist Church, which T____ & I dropped in on (& where I picked up a Lawyer's Guild handbook on doing C.D. in Seattle, by the way)—people talked about reactions to the blockade [of the freeway] in their workplaces. & someone made the surprising observation that Jean Ennerson (you know, KING's star Grande Dame of an Anchor) had been trapped in traffic & had talked about it on the evening news as something that had made her do a bit more thinking on the subject (T____ was flabbergasted). & then on Friday night when the local political "experts" had their "Seattle Week in Review" (it's really an awful, awful rip-off of the bad-to-start-with PBS show), they spent about five minutes expressing their bemusement that Seattle is so off-the-wall on the subject of Central America (they particularly slammed the "mainstream churches" for being "leftist"), and not a single one of them thought to make a negative remark about the blockade—from which I think it's safe to assume that few people found it lunatic or even irritating. Taking this hand-in-hand with yesterday's CNN broadcast pitting Elliott Abrams against a CISPES spokesperson... obviously the govt's getting desperate: though I have no evidence to go on, my gut instinct tells me the crashed "arms shipment" was staged (like the bogus truck seizure last month). & then this morning in the Seattle Times was an article revealing that a US Embassy official (off-the-record, of course) fears the whole thing is "coming unraveled"). This wasn't, of course, in the NY Times. On the other hand, I've noticed the tv networks haven't covered the crack-down legislation the Salvadoran Assembly rushed through this week.

I've been a little discontented that the only national media interest seems to be on the killing of the priests (when there are dozens of death-squad massacres plus continuing bombing & strafing going on), but I've changed my mind about the usefulness of focusing on it. Even though they've gotten away with those kinds of murders in the past, really pressing on it could push the situation to a real crisis. At least this is what I started thinking yesterday after line-editing a section of Tsunami. (Line-editing is about the only kind of [writing] work I've been able to do since I started trying to integrate the crisis into my every day life. The anxiety was killing me, so knowing it's going to be a long haul, I decided I had to find a way to mesh crisis—activism into my everyday work.) Anyway, that section involved a discussion between Sedgewick & Weatherall about the pressure being put on them to investigate and punish human rights abuses. Weatherall's solution is to go after Military offenders & to sacrifice certain SIC people in such a way as to ultimately benefit their own purposes. Sedgewick, though, insists that the line has to be held, that everything will come apart if it isn't. (Actually, I remember thinking when I was writing Tsunami that nothing could ever be so radical as a strict observation of human rights—since that would ultimately mean that dissent could not be repressed.) It's a question of morale, & of culpability. (Look at how things are snowballing in South Africa. & how the Bush Administration is trying to prevent the same thing from happening by quashing all further Iran-Contra trials—suggesting to me that if they're willing to take the heat for a cover-up that must mean Bush himself would be exposed if they let the trials continue up the chain-of-command.)

…over the last week I've run into a certain amount of uneasiness caused by D____. (Actually, I first started thinking about this after seeing her at the pro-choice rally.) People at the meeting on Wednesday referred darkly (without names but with clear reference) to D____ & A____ & their getting brutal treatment from the police—which they clearly considered D & A's fault: someone made a mealy-mouthed speech on how "we need to be brushing up on our peace-keeping skills, folks"). & on Monday when I was a part of D's guerrilla theater group I noted how very irritated the chief organizers of the action were at us—first for our theater (stealing the attention of both the press & the patiently waiting activists away from them) & then for D's disparagement of verbal repetitions (until finally they let her have a megaphone for singing a fiery womanist song which all the women in our group joined in singing). & of course they had somebody there to snatch the megaphone away from her as soon as she'd finished—which was so obvious that D____ laughed & made a crack about their fear of letting her speak. D____ despises the way people talk about a future revolution while they cling to their middle class lifestyle, when as she sees it people should simply live their revolution now (as I have to agree D____ in fact appears to be doing). She apparently said as much when they put her on a panel in front of a big crowd of people. At the meeting on Wednesday an energetic, original woman named M____ stood at the mike (people took turns at the mike all through the meeting) & talked about doing hit-&-run guerrilla theater in schools, shopping centers, movie theaters etc, with a well-organized support group to enable an avoidance of legal "responsibility"—which drew disapproval: some of the activists there apparently think "taking responsibility" i.e., getting arrested, is the only correct way to make demonstrative, public dissent. This woman's idea appealed to both T____ & me—we're thinking of tracking her down & joining forces with her.

D____'s level of personal freedom is pretty breathtaking.

Just got a phone call from R____, one of D____'s group. He was lamenting our not having gone out on Friday, The Biggest Shopping Day of the Year. (Apparently many in the group were out of town.) We're to meet on Tuesday afternoon, & I've promised to draft a page for leafleting—he & I (& T____) all had the same idea that explanatory material was what had been missing. He mentioned that T____ will be joining us. So I guess our guerrilla theater is still on. & I now face the task of deciding how much information to put on our flyers. A few bulleted facts, I think, & an explanation of who the Co-Madres are, & the usual point about US support etc & the phone #s of Senators...

Monday noon

My anxiety flooded back full force yesterday—I suppose it's hearing about the latest ploy, namely their framing the church worker they've arrested. I have to admit that the closer the govt's victims are to my profile or whatever you want to call it, the harder I take news of captures. I was thinking when I saw her on the news last night: I know her. (Metaphorically.) & then there's the nasty fact that the US Embassy is playing along with the game (maybe even devised it)—in tandem with their dummied up plane crashes. (& why haven't we heard any more about the three journalists' arrests at the site of the crashes? That's been dropped like a hot potato. It's obvious they're hoping to turn US public opinion around to believing the crap Bush was shoveling last week—it wasn't working, that's certain, for on CNN's week-in-review program none of that nonsense got into their coverage, & all of it made the Salvadoran govt look evil. They must look at it as a great gamble—if they can pull off framing Casolo, they'll be successful in deflecting public outrage over the killing of the priests. But they must know there's going to be an outcry in the US religious community, probably stronger than they've already gotten? (& why pick a woman, I wonder? Simply to throw an added scare into all US women working in El Salvador?) Ironically, she's Dodd's constituent. From the statement he made this morning it doesn't sound like he's going to lift a finger to help her: god that man's walking in fear. Just what kind of deal did he swing with the administration, anyway?

Speaking of Dodd, Tom wanted to wait to put my notes on Cook's talk on the network because, he said, new info would be thinning out & people would be forgetting & thus the timing would be better to do it when there was less stuff coming out.

8 December, 1989
Friday morning

Don't know how much you're hearing about either Casolo or the Democrats' fact-finding trip to El Salvador. McDermott is going to be one of the eighteen democrat congresspeople Foley is organizing to go down there. Re Casolo, the Seattle papers are showing a bit of rage at the pro-government La Prensa Garcia's attack on her earlier this week. Casolo's local connection is, I think, largely responsible for the Seattle papers' continuing to carry items on El Salvador. (Of course we do have the big march coming up on Sunday—there're rumors Donovan Cook will be there—presumably he's in DC now to use what he learned this last visit to San Salvador.) & of course Casolo's amazing buoyancy when talking to the press on Monday (at first sight an "All-American" perky young woman) must, I think, be the best kind of image for US consumption. (La Presna's referring to her as "that delinquent" particularly burned Seattle editors, I think.) I had to chuckle when I read her description of talking about the Bible to her jailers. (Straight out of St. Paul, of course.) Yet needless to say that she could do so just marks how carefully they're handling her. Which must have been a bit of a kick for any prisoners in earshot. I'd sing hymns with her too. Actually I did sing a "hymn" on Monday (because I could live with the words) at the Fed. Bldg vigil—to the tune of Ode to Joy.

& then I read, last night, a piece of writing by Ella Curia that shocked me. It argues that in certain circumstances it is justified to use violence against one's oppressors. & the way he phrased it sounded as though he was referring to some of the assassinations of individual Arena creeps... Having read that, I was surprised they waited this long. He must have been on their hit-list for a long, long time. & with all hell breaking loose they obviously decided they now had an excuse & cover for getting him.

Listen to this little tale about D____'s & T____'s Honduras installation piece: the woman at SeaTac in charge of public art there had been highly enthusiastic about displaying it in SeaTac. But because the political content made her nervous, she decided that everyone who's anyone at SeaTac would have to approve it & required that T____ make photos of it to be distributed to these other significant people. (I.e., she wanted to spread the responsibility around as insurance against the heat she thought she might be going to take for it.) After a lot of trouble & rigmarole, however, the woman informed T____ that SeaTac couldn't exhibit the piece because it might attract terrorism, bombs, etc. This of course was totally spurious. It's not as though it were a piece on abortion. Obviously it's a screen for political censorship of the piece...

Monday morning

Just a few quick lines... I'm sending you a copy of a letter I'm sending to NPR, re their uncritical repetition of the lie that Soviet-made missiles were on board the plane that crashed. Last week I was thinking of writing them about the gaping holes in their two-part supposedly comprehensive sketch on the issue of US policy in El Salvador, but taking up this one tight point will make more of an impact, I think censorship at NPR that made me feel this particular letter might actually get to them.) As Tom remarked after reading it, presumably journalists are supposed to be curious—yet apparently they're not, since if they were the first question they'd be asking is what the State Department has to hide by not revealing the provenance of the SAM-7s. (Last night I noted that CNN had carefully removed the source of the missiles from its use of library footage of the plane wreck—merely saying that the plane had come from Nicaragua. I guess it's clear now that the Sandinistas are using the missiles as a pressure point against the US's insistence on using the contras as a terrorist force in Nicaragua.)

There are so many political events scheduled this week that I won't be able to attend all of them. Here are the ones I know about: the churches' on-going noon vigils at the Federal Building; tomorrow, Ronald Reagan at the Westin Hotel; Wednesday—at noon—Serena Cossgrove (of the Peace Brigades), just back from Salvador, speaking, & at 7:30 a discussion featuring Luis Peralto of Radio Vincermos, as well as a coalition-organizing meeting at University Baptist Church convening at the same hour (the churches & political organizations seem to be solid, now); on Friday a rally & torchlight parade to F.X. McRory's where Foley & Mitchell will be attending a congressional fundraiser; on Saturday a fundraising christmas party at St. Joseph's. In addition, there are nonviolent training sessions on Wed & Sat (I need to call up to see if it's C.D. training—they're already announcing a big C.D. action on January 22 at the Fed Bldg), a peace march on Saturday, & various other political events not directly related to El Salvador. I need to photocopy a big batch of our flyers to take to the Cossgrove talk. My only retrospective disappointment about them is that the item connecting the US govt to the Salvadoran govt isn't on the flyer, & thus those not already aware that US tax dollars are financing the war won't get the point.

Am going to try to squeeze in some UW newspaper library time to check the Minneapolis St. Paul papers, for one thing, & to see if I can get more on activism in other cities. (Wish Tom knew how to post notes on the bulletin boards—I'd like to put out a call that someone post info on the hunger-strike in St. Paul.) Have a whole list of focused topics to take on in the updates D____ & I intend to be doing...

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