Tuesday, May 01, 2007

El Salvador and the war on terror

Each year, the US State Department is required to prepare a report on countries around the world and their role in the "war on terrorism." Without comment, here is the section of the report dealing with El Salvador:

El Salvador, the only Western Hemisphere country with troops serving alongside U.S. forces in Iraq, continued its support for the Coalition by dispatching an eighth contingent of troops to Iraq in December, and President Tony Saca publicly expressed his intention to deploy a ninth unit.

In September, the Legislative Assembly passed new counterterrorism legislation, which President Saca quickly signed into law. The law featured new sentencing requirements for certain terrorist-related crimes, but fell short of international recommendations on terrorist finance. Rather than distinguishing terrorism from regular crime by defining it as politically-motivated violence, the new legislation lists some 27 types of acts as terrorism3, punishable by a maximum sentence of 86 1/2 years in prison in the case of aggravating circumstances and, in a controversial provision, the law provides for 25-30 years in prison for armed occupation of public buildings (a tactic favored by some militant groups affiliated with the opposition FMLN party). The FMLN legislators, many of whom are former guerrilla insurgents, voted unanimously against the legislation, charging that its measures would restrain their right of free association. A group of different organizations is planning constitutional challenges and threatened to take the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights if necessary.

The Civilian National Police (PNC) is a professional force that is well-regarded by Salvadorans and international observers. The PNC coordinated its work with the Immigration Service, the Office of the Attorney General (FGR), and the National Intelligence Service (OIE). The new CA-4 agreement, implemented among El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, allowed for the inspection-free movement of citizens among these countries, and reduced overall inspection at land crossings. While important for improving overall integration and trade among the four member nations, the system has raised concerns that it could facilitate easier international movement of terrorists.

I've previously written about El Salvador's anti-terrorism law several times and the prospect that its broad terms will be used to impose severe penalties on protests and other activities which have no connection to terrorism.


JC said...

La ley contra el terrorismo sí me parece una payasada. Aunque ya es hora de ponerle fín a los desmanes de la marchas "pacíficas" que terminan en gamberradas o asesinatos (y no terrorismo).

En cuanto a la guerra en Irak: ¿Es una guerra justa de la que depende en mayor o menor grado la supervivencia de la civilización? o ¿Es una guerra injusta como la guerra del opio motivada sólo por razones económicas?

Si la respuesta a la primera pregunta es SÍ ¿Por qué El Salvador no habría de participar?

Pero si el Sí es a la segunda pregunta: ¡Qué barabaridad más despreciable!

Pregunta: ¿Hay escalas de grises entre ambos extremos?

El-Visitador said...

"the law provides for 25-30 years in prison for armed occupation of public buildings"

Ever wonder what the U.S. penalty is for occupying a public building, armed? If the SWAT cops do not kill you, you are probably looking at a lifetime behind bars.

So are you looking at the mote in El Salvador's eye, whilst ignoring the log in your own?

JC said...

Buen punto E-V. Estoy de acuerdo contigo

Pero la Ley me sigue pareciendo una "payasada" pues eso -por muy grave que sea- dista mucho de poder llmarse "terrorismo", así como me parece un axceo llamarle así a manchar paredes y destruir parabrisas.

Las penas podrán estar bien (si hubiese en nuestro país una PNC, Fiscalía y Jueces hábiles para aplicarlas), el nombre me parece absurdo

JC said...

"...un exceso..." quise decir