95th Congress 1
2d Session I
HUMAN RIGHTS CONDITIONS IN SELECTED
COUNTRIES AND THE U.S. RESPONSE
PREPARED FOR THE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL
DEFENSE DIVISION, CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH
SERVICE, LIBRARY OF CONG.B AIM/
JULY 25, 1978
Prepared for the use of the
Committee on International Relations
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1978
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, Wisconsin, Chairman
L. H. FOUNTAIN, North Carolina
DANTE B. FASCELL, Florida
CHARLES C. DIGGS, JR., Michigan
ROBERT N. C. NIX, Pennsylvania
DONALD M. FRASER, Minnesota
BENJAMIN S. ROSENTHAL, New York
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana
LESTER L. WOLFF, New York
JONATHAN B. BINGHAM, New York
GUS YATRON, Pennsylvania
MIC HAEL HARRINGTON, Massachusetts
LEO J. RYAN, California
CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
STEPHEN J. SOLARZ, New York
HELEN S. MEYNER, New Jersey
DON BONKER, Washington
GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts
ANDY IRELAND, Florida
DONALD 3. PEASE, Ohio
ANTHONY C. BEILENSON, California
WYCHE FOWLER, JR., Georgia
E (KIKAj DE LA OARZA. Texas
GEORGE E. DANIELSON, California
JOHN J. CAVANAUGH, Nebraska
WILLIAM S. BROOMFIELD, Michigan
EDWARD J. DERWINSKI, Illinois
PAUL FINDLEY, Illinois
JOHN H. BUCHANAN, JR., Alabama
3. HERBERT BURKE, Florida
CHARLES W. WHALEN, JR., Ohio
LARRY WINN, JR., Kansas
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York
TENNYSON GUYER, Ohio
ROBERT J. LAGOMARSINO, California
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
SHIRLEY N. PETTIS, California
JOHN J. BRADY, Jr., Ch'.iefofStgff
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
DONALD M. FRASER, Minnesota, Chairman
MICHAEL IIA RRINGTON, Massachusetts
BENJAMIN S. ROSENTHAL, New York
LEE H. H AMILTON, Indiana
LEO J. RYAN, California
EDWARD J. DERWINSKI, Illinois
WILLIAM F. GOODLING, Pennsylvania
ROBERT B. BOETTrCHEzR, Subcommittee Staff Director
THOMAS R. SMEETON, Minority Staff Consultant
JOHN P. SALZBERGO, Staff Consultant
MSA RG A RET E. GALEY, Subcomn m ittee Staff A sociate
ESTRELLITA JONES, Subcommittee Staff Associate
CAROL OLASSMAN, StaffAseiotant
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,
Washington, D.C., July 25, 1978.
The human rights reports contained herein were prepared by the
Congressional Research Service at the request of Congressman Donald
M. Fraser, chairman of the Subcommittee on International
Given the wide interest in human .rights, these reports are being
printed to assist Members of the Congress in their consideration of
legislation relating to human rights and U.S. foreign policy.
The findings and conclusions contained in these reports are those
of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division, Congressional
Research Service, Library of Congress, and do not necessarily reflect
the views of the members of the Committee on International Relations.
CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI, Chairman.
LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS,
Washington, D.C., July 25, 1978.
Hon. CLEMENT J. ZABLOCKI,
Chairman, Committee on International Relations, House of Represent-
atives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I am submitting this series of reports on
human rights conditions in 19 countries and the U.S. response. These
reports were prepared at my request on behalf of the subcommittee
by the staff of Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division of the
Congressional Research Service.
These reports are being submitted as part of the ongoing human
rights activities of the Subcommittee on International Organizations.
DONALD M. FRASER,
Chairman, Subcommittee on International Organizations.
LETTER OF SUBMITTAL
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS,
CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE,
Washington, D.C., July 25, 1978.
Hon. DONALD M. FRASER,
Chairman, Subcommittee on International Organizations, U.S. House
of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This report on "Human Rights Conditions
in Selected Countries and the U.S. Response, 1977," is submitted in
response to your request for a CRS study that would help to identify
and highlight some of the issues relating to executive reporting on
human rights conditions. The congressionally mandated requirements
for such reports, contained specifically in sections 116(d) and 502(B)
(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, raise questions
concerning the adequacy of and usefulness of the submissions provided
by the Department of State.
This report does not attempt a direct evaluation of the executive
branch submissions. Rather, by preparing an independent set of
studies of human rights conditions, it establishes one basis for evalua-
tion of those submissions. The sampling of countries, which was based
on criteria that are quite different from those contained in the legisla-
tion, provides a distinctive perspective on global patterns and may
raise questions as to the appropriateness of additional or different
means of identifying countries on which reports should be submitted
by the executive branch. Finally, this report contains some discussion
of issues that arose in the preparation of the country studies: problems
of scope and coverage, problems of adequacy and verifiability of data,
and problems of comparative analysis and interpretation.
The report was prepared in the Foreign Affairs and National De-
fense Division of the Congressional Research Service under the co-
ordination of Vita Bite, analyst in International Relations. Country
studies were prepared by Brenda Branaman, analyst in Middle
Eastern and African Affairs; Clyde Mark, analyst in Middle Eastern
affairs; Francis Miko, analyst in International Relations; Marjorie
Niehaus, analyst in International Relations; Larry Niksch, specialist
in Asian Affairs; Richard M. Preece, specialist in Middle Eastern
Affairs; William N. Raiford, analyst in International Relations;
Roslyn Roberts, analyst in Foreign Affairs; and Robert Sutter, analyst
in Asian Affairs. Charles H. Whittier, analyst in American National
Government for the Government Division, was responsible for the
study on the United States. Additional country studies were compiled
by the following consultants: Elizabeth W. Dore; James P. Kiernan;
Cressida S. McKean; Kathryn Johnston Shrivastava; and I. William
Zartman. Stanley J. Heginbotham, specialist in International Politics,
contributed to introductory and concluding analysis.
I hope that the elements of this report will be of value to the sub-
committee in its ongoing efforts to stengthen the management of U.S.
human rights-related activities.
GILBERT GUDE, Director.
Letter of transmittalv-----------------------------
Letter of submittalv-------------------------------------------
Chile---------- -------------------- 48
Indonesia--------- ----------------------- 100
Israeli occupied territories----- ----------------145
People's Republic of China--------------------184
Philippines------- --------------------- 196
Republic of Korea---------------------------- 219
South Africa-- ------------------------ 238
Thailand--------- --------------------- 276
United States---------------------------------------------- 291
Measuring social and economic human rights conditions---------------- 359
Digitized by the Internet Archive
The purpose of this report is to provide information and analysis that
will facilitate evaluation of both the human rights reporting requirements
established by Congress and the Executive's implementation of those
requirements. Sections 116 (d)(l) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance
Act of 1961, as amended, require the Secretary of State to transmit
annually to Congress reports on human rights conditions in countries
that are proposed as recipients of economic and security assistance under
the Act. In conjunction with submissions for the FY 79 budget, the Depart-
ment of State submitted, on January 31, 1978, 105 country reports.
Many issues are raised by the reporting requirements and the Department
of State's submissions:
--What specific patterns of behavior are referred to in the phrase
"violations of internationally recognized human rights?
--How does one evaluate the relative severity of different types
--Is the informational base on which the human rights reports are
developed adequate and relatively free of bias?
--Are the reports comprehensive and accurate?
-Do the reports reflect the biases of regional bureaus of the
Department of State or the concerns of non-human rights policy
imperatives within the Executive?
--Do the reports establish bases for comparative statements about--
or rankings of--human rights conditions in different countries?
--What of human rights conditions in--and implications for U.S. policy
toward--countries for which reports were not required?
Prepared by Vita Bite, Analyst in International Relations and
Stanley J. Heginbotham, Specialist in International Politics.
Rather than ask the Congressional Research Service to try directly
to answer these and the many associated questions that arise in relation
to human rights reporting, the International Relations Committee of the
House of Representatives suggested that CRS produce a set of independent
country studies of human rights conditions. It was hoped that this exer-
cise would yield several useful results. First, sample reports would be
produced with which individual Department of State reports could be compared,
with respect to definitions and scope of coverage, comprehensiveness, accuracy,
balance, and objectivity. This is not to suggest that the CRS reports are
necessarily "models" of reporting, but that they are free of the kind of
bureaucratic pressures that arise when an agency with policyvnaking concerns
produces research reports that are supposed to be independent of policy
considerations. Second an independent approach to the coverage of countries
would be developed providing perspective on the legislative formula for
coverage of countries in the Department of State report. Third, some
analysis of the problems and dilemmas of preparing and interpreting the
reports generated within CRS would be provided.
Central to the preparation of these reports were questions of country
selection, the scope of human rights considerations to be included, and
consistency in research strategies and format. The following three sections
of this chapter deal with these issues. Interpretation of these reports
raises another series of questions and problems. Though the country studies
are based on careful evaluation and analysis of available data, are those
data of sufficient quantity, reliability, and comparability across countries
to provide a useful basis for public policy formulation? Though the reports
provide useful impressionistic information on different countries, are
not the patterns across countries so divergent as to defy easy genera-
lizations about relative severity of violations from one country to
another? And finally, though within certain categories of human rights
considerations it is possible to measure relative levels of performance,
to what extent, and in what ways, should the very different cultural,
economic, and political backgrounds of various countries influence the
standards of performance in respect for human rights that we expect them
to achieve? These questions are explored in a preliminary way in the
concluding chapter of this report.
This report contains studies of human rights conditions in nineteen
countries. The size of the sample was dictated by resources available to
CRS. The selection of individual countries was based on a concern for
representation along three dimensions:
--countries from a variety of geographic regions,
--countries with different types of political systems, and
--countries that vary in the closeness of their relations to
the United States.
Within these general terms of reference, countries where human rights
conditions had been the subject of concern and controversy were selected.
Since questions have been raised as to the appropriateness and advisability
of making foreign policy issues out of domestic conditions in other coun-
tries when significant problems remain within our own society, the United
States was included as a special case in the sample to facilitate considera-
tion of that issue.
The procedure for country selection produced one striking consequence.
Nine of the eighteen foreign countries included in this report are not
included in the Department of State report. Four countries in our sample -
Cuba, the Peoples Republic of China, the U.S.S.R. and Vietnam--are communist
nations that have not been recipients of U.S. assistance. Three others--
Argentina, Brazil and Chile--have been major recipients in the past, but
are not now, in substantial measure because of U.S. sanctions based on per-
ceptions of human rights conditions in those countries. Finally, neither
South Africa nor Namibia--the area known as South West Africa which South
Africa continues to control--has received U.S. assistance, in part because
of the relatively developed character of the South African economy and in
part because of U.S. concern about the human rights implications of South
Africa's apartheid policies. The nine countries in this sample that are
also in the Department of State report are El Salvador, Indonesia, Iran,
Israel, Korea, Morocco, the Philippines, Thailand, and Zaire.
Definitions and Categories of Human Rights.
While human rights has become a much discussed issue in U.S. foreign
policy neither Congress nor the Carter Administration has spelled out a
clear, specific, universally applicable definition of human rights. In
recent years Congress has played a central role in calling for consideration
of human rights conditions in other countries as a factor in U.S. policy
formulation and practice. Numerous congressional hearings have drawn atten-
tion to human rights violations in many areas. By legislation Congress
has instituted various mechanisms aimed at assuring that U.S. foreign policy
actions include consideration of the status of human rights in foreign
countries. A Coordinator for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs (ele-
vated during 1977 to Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and
Humanitarian Affairs), to be appointed with the advice and consent of the
Senate, was established within the Department of State. Human rights pro-
visions were written into economic and security assistance legislation,
including required annual and other reports on the status of human rights
in countries receiving U.S. assistance. Assistance to certain countries
has been limited or cut off on human rights grounds.
While Congress in the legislation thus far enacted has not enunciated
a clear, specific definition or set of criteria for human rights, it has
provided a framework for considerations of human rights issues. In setting
forth the human rights policy of the United States, Congress repeatedly
referred to "internationally recognized human rights." Thus, for example,
the Section 502 B(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended
(1) It is the policy of the United States, in accordance with
its international obligations as set forth in the Charter of the
United Nations and in keeping with the constitutional heritage
and traditions of the United States, to promote and encourage
increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for
all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
To this end, a principal goal of the foreign policy of the
United States is to promote the increased observance of inter-
nationally recognized human rights by all countries.
(2) It is further the policy of the United States that, except
under circumstances specified in this section, no security assist-
ance may be provided to any country the government of which engages
in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally
recognized human rights.
(3) In furtherance of the foregoing policy the President is
directed to formulate and conduct international security assist-
ance programs of the United States in a manner which will promote
and advance human rights and avoid identification of the United
States, through such programs, with governments which deny to
their people internationally recognized human rights and fundamen-
tal freedoms, in violation of international law or in contravention
of the policy of the United States as expressed in this section or
Has'Congress clarified what "internationally recognized human rights"
might include? Using language often found in U.N. human rights resolutions,
Congress has stated that "gross violations of internationally recognized
human rights" included "torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment
or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, and other
flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person."
These specific words have been repeated in almost all legislation relating
to human rights. Thus Congress has clearly expressed concern about those
human rights violations that place the integrity of the individual in
immediate and serious jeopardy.
In setting forth the human rights policy of the United States, Congress,
also referred to the "constitutional heritage and tradition of the United
States." In addition the International Development and Food Assistance
30-616 0 78 2
Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-88) earmarked $750,000 to be used for studies to
identify and carry out programs which will encourage or promote increased
adherence to the civil and political rights enunciated in the Universal
Declaration. Thus the legislation clearly indicated a commitment to the
usual civil and political procedural rights--freedom of speech, assembly,
press and religion--on which Americans have traditionally placed special
Recent legislation prohibiting various forms of economic assistance
to countries engaging in a "consistent pattern of gross violations of inter-
nationally recognized human rights" has been limited by the provision--
"unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in the
recipient country." Thus Congress has acknowledged that to deny assist-
ance to the world's very poor might in itself contribute to a denial of
their right to fulfillment of the most vital of human needs--food, shelter,
health and education.
Recent human rights legislation can be seen as having pointed
toward three elements that appear to comprise what Congress has termed
"internationally recognized human rights": civil and political rights,
basic human needs, and integrity of the person. These same three elements
i/ During the 1977 Senate debate of the Foreign Relations Authoriza-
tion Act, 1978 (P.L. 95-105), Senator McClure introduced an amendment which
specifically included certain civil and political liberties in the defini-
tion of human rights in section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act. The
amendment defined human rights as including but not being limited to:
consent of the governed, as evidenced by freely contested, periodic elec-
tions and the right of opposition parties to operate without hinderance;
the rule of law; individual freedom; and minority rights. The Senate
agreed to this human rights provision, but it was deleted by the conference
have also been described by the Carter Administration as being included
in its understanding of human rights. Secretary of State Vance at the
University of Georgia Law School on April 30, 1977 identified them
in the following terms:
First, there is the right to be free from governmental
violation of the integrity of the person. Such violations
include torture; cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or
punishment; and arbitrary arrest or imprisonment. And they
include denial of fair public trial, and invasion of the
Second, there is the right to the fulfillment of such
vital needs as food, shelter, health care and education.
We recognize that the fulfillment of this right will depend,
in part, upon the stage of a nation's economic development.
But we also know that this right can be violated by a govern-
ment's action or inaction--for example, through corrupt
official processes which divert resources to an elite at the
expense of the needy, or through indifference to the plight
of the poor.
Third, there is the right to enjoy civil and political
liberties--freedom of thought; of religion; of assembly;
freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of move-
ment both within and outside one's own country; freedom
to take part in government.
Both the Congressional formulations of human rights issues and
the explicit human rights categories identified by Secretary Vance are
consistent with a series of human rights identified in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. That document, which was adopted unanimously
by a resolution of the U.N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948, is
perhaps the most widely accepted statement identifying human rights.
Since it is neither a treaty nor an international agreement, the declara-
tion does not place binding obligations on states. Rather, it was pro-
claimed by the General Assembly.
As a common standard of achievement [emphasis added]
for all peoples and all nations," to the end that every
individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declara-
tion constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and
education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms
and by progressive measures, national and international,
to secure their universal and effective recognition and
observance, both among the people of Member States themselves
and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
The Universal Declaration is of special significance both because of its
general international acceptance and because Congress and the Executive
have emphasized the obligation of the United States to protect and promote
human rights as identified in international documents and agreements.
Many articles within the Universdal Declaration are generally perceived
to be concerned with peripheral rights, but there are ample grounds and
precedent for developing a set of categories of human rights out of those
contained in the Universal Declaration.
For the purposes of this report, therefore, twelve specific rights-
identified in the Universal Declaration have been selected, falling within
the general categories of freedoms from government violations of the inte-
grity of the person, rights to fulfillment of basic human needs, and rights
to enjoy civil and political liberties. Though any such selection is in
some measure arbitrary, an effort was made to reflect concerns that have
been expressed in Congress, the categories identified by the Carter adminis-
tration, and some sensitivity to concerns that categories be broadly per-
ceived throughout the world as central human rights. The specific categories
as formulated in the Universal Declaration are discussed in the context of
report format in the following section.
Format for Country Reports and Guidelines for Authors.
1. Integrity of person.
The right to be free from government violation of the integrity
of the person has been enunciated in many articles of the Universal
Declaration. We have chosen to look at the following four articles
which seem most directly to address the rights which Congress specified
in citing "torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punish-
ment, prolonged detention without charges, or other flagrant denial of
the right to life, liberty, and the security of person," as being in-
cluded in "internationally recognized rights."
Article 3. Everyone has the right to
life, liberty and security of person.
Article 5. No one shall be subjected
to torture or to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 9. No one shall be subjected
to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10. Everyone is entitled in
full equality to a fair and public hear-
ing by an independent and impartial tri-
bunal, in the determination of his rights
and obligations and of any criminal charge
Analysts preparing the specific country studies were asked to use
Amnesty International materials as their initial source for this section
on integrity of the person. Amnesty International (AI) is an international
non-governmental organization which works for prisoners of conscience who
have not advocated or used violence. By statute the organization's aim
is to oppose the detention of any political prisoners and the imposition
or infliction of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of
detainees. Amnesty International collects and publishes information with
respect to integrity of the person in many countries of the world, and so
was chosen as a source of information on the same type of human rights
in various countries. The analysts were, of course to go beyond the
Amnesty data drawing on all available conventional sources--press accounts,
reports of human rights organizations, official documents, etc. assessing
and corroborating to the extent possible available data on the status
integrity of the person in a given country.
2. Basic human needs.
Again a number of articles in the Universal Declaration list basic
economic and social rights. We have chosen to look at the following two
Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to
a standard of living adequate for the health
and well-being of himself and of his family,
including food, clothing, housing and medical
care and necessary social services, and the
right to security in the event of unemployment,
sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other
lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to
special care and assistance. All children,
whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy
the same social protection.
Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to educa-
tion. Education shall be free, at least in the
elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary
education shall be compulsory. Technical and
professional education shall be made generally
available and higher education shall be equally
accessible to all on the basis of merit.
Analysts preparing the country reports were instructed to use the Overseas
Development Council's physical quality of life index (PQLI) in conjunction
with the gross national product (GNP) per capital as an initial measure of
how well basic human needs were being met in a given country. The PQLI is
a rough composite measure of life expectancy, infant mortality and literacy
rate on an index of 1 to 100. For further discussion and analysis of the
PQLI see appendix.
3. Civil and political liberties.
Many articles in the Universal Declaration list civil and political
liberties. We have chosen to look at those which set forth the right to
information, to geographic mobility, and to organize and participate in
the making of official governmental kinds of decisions.
Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to
freedom of movement and residence within the
borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any coun-
try, including his own, and to return to his
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom
of opinion and expression; this right includes
freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive and impart information
and ideas through any media and regardless of
Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to free-
dom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an
Article 21. (1) Everyone has the right to take
part in the government of his country, directly
or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to
public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis
of the authority of government; this will shall
be expressed in periodic and genuine elections
which shall be by universal and equal suffrage
and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent
free voting procedures.
Analysts were asked to answer the following questions relating to freedom
of information-who controls the press, publications, and the media; does
some sort of censorship exist; are foreign publications, broadcasts, jour-
nalists allowed in the given country; and are universities free of government
control. Relating to freedom of movement, the following questions were
to be addressed--is internal migration allowed; does a pass system exist;
is emigration allowed; are there cases of forced internal migration, is
banishment or exile used as a punishment; and are there large
numbers of refugees reflecting general dissatisfaction with conditions
in the given country. Finally relating to the right to organize and
participate in the making of official governmental kinds of decisions--
who participate in government decision-making, one party, military or
other type of clique; are elections held, what procedures are followed;
is any sort of dissent tolerated, and may one choose not to participate
in government sponsored organizations and activities.
Lastly the analysts were asked to describe/discuss the U.S. policy
(both Executive branch statements and actions as well as congressional
actions) response to the human rights situation in the given country.
Problems in evaluating and interpreting country reports.
In attempting to evaluate and interpret these country reports,
readers must be aware of a number of serious problems including inadequacy
of information, biases in coverage, lack of criteria for performance
standards, difficulty of establishing reasonable levels of expectations,
lack of accepted priorities among rights, and factors other than human
rights which may have important effects on the human rights situation
in a given country. The concluding chapter of this report describes and
analyzes these problems in greater detail.
Few countries in the world have experienced a deterioration in
human rights conditions comparable to that felt in Argentina in recent
years. Faced with an economy that had been severely disrupted and a
political process that had become ineffectual and was characterized by
intense factional and ideological conflict and rampant terrorism, a
new military junta used its martial law powers freely to control the
opposition, impose drastic changes in economic policy, and limit politi-
cal activities. The result has been a regime that has drawn charges
that arbitrary imprisonment, murder, torture, and disappearances have
been widespread, economic deprivations have been suffered by the populace,
and almost all vestiges of democratic process have been suspended. The
junta denies responsibility for some of the more extreme results; it
argues that its policies and actions have been necessary to restore
civic and economic order and to eliminate a serious threat to the coun-
try from domestic communism. It is perhaps too early to determine any
progress the junta may be making toward achieving its goals.
Violations of human rights in Argentina have been reported and pro-
tests have been made by such bodies as Amnesty International, the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights, The National Council of Churches, The World
Council of Churches, The U.S. Catholic Conference, The B'Nai Brith Anti-
Defamation League, The AFL-CIO, The Executive Committee of the International
This section was prepared by Elizabeth W. Dore, Consultant.
Labor Organization, The Council for Hemisphere Affairs, and The Inter-
national Commission of Jurists. The sources for this report are primarily
the reports of and testimony presented to these organizations, as well as
the reports of the Argentine Commission for Human Rights, the Washington
Office on Latin America, and the Center for International Policy. While
these organizations have compiled reports that are for the most part well
documented and extensive on the human rights situation in Argentina, the
precise number of violations, such as the number of persons who have dis-
appeared or who are being indefinitely detained without charge, cannot be
ascertained because of problems of access to information within the country.
Several organizations exist within Argentina whose purpose is to
monitor and speak out on the human rights situation. The most active of
these is The Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, which operates legally.
The Assembly includes Catholic Bishops, and professionals, as well as trade
union and political leaders. The Assembly has openly denounced the cons-
tant violations of human rights since the 1976 coup. It has published
partial lists of prisoners, as well as evidence of the disappearance of
numerous people, and has asked the government for more information on
the prisoners and the disappeared persons, but without official response.
The Vice President of the Permanent Assembly, Alfredo Bravo, the Secre-
tary-General of the Teacher's Union, was kidnapped. Following international
pressure the government acknowledged that he was being held prisoner, and
he has now been held for six months. The Assembly has traditionally placed
advertisements in newspapers publicizing the disappearance of a person and
requesting information on the case from the government. In the last
several months the Assembly has experienced more difficulties in
publishing these ads, which are now rejected by the newspapers.
The Permanent Assembly for Human Rights works closely with another
legal human rights organization. The Argentine League for Human Rights.
A third organization in Argentina devoted to the protection of human
rights is the Movimiento Ecumenico For Los Derechos Humanos, which also
operates legally. This organization is comprised predominantly of
Church groups and devotes its resources to providing both legal assist-
ance and direct help to the victims of the repression.
The Argentine Military Junta has repeated refused to release a
list of detained persons, "for reasons of security." The junta has
also refused to cooperate in any significant way with fact-finding mis-
sions such as that of Amnesty International, which sought to clarify
human rights conditions in Argentina in discussions with members of
In recent decades Argentina has had a turbulent political history.
Since the 1930 revolution headed by General Jose Felix Uriburu, the armed
forces have frequently intervened in political affairs. Since 1930 ten
of the thirteen presidents have been military officers. The present
Argentine Military Junta came to power on March 24, 1976 through a coup
d'etat which overthrew the government of Isabel Martinez de Peron.
1/ Statement of General Videla, London Times, April 20, 1977.
Mrs. Peron had become president on the death of her husband, Juan Peron,
on July 1, 1974. Her government was soon accused of massive corruption,
of economic mismanagement and inability to deal with raging terrorism.
Lt. General and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Jorge Rafael
Videla, became the President and the head of a three man military junta.
Upon assuming power the military junta disposed of all democratic institu-
tions. The National Congress, provincial legislatures and municipal coun-
cils were dissolved; the power of all civilian authorities and elected
officials abrogated; all political parties suspended; all political
activity was declared illegal; the members of the Supreme Court and lower
courts were removed and the judiciary replaced by military tribunals;
and trade union activity was outlawed. The military junta now rules by
decree. The constitutional structure of the separation of powers into
executive, legislative and judicial branches has been in abeyance since
the coup. The junta justifies its suspension of constitutional guarantees
on the grounds that the country is involved in a massive war against
According to the reports of all concerned organizations, especially
the most recent report of Amnesty International released on September 21,
1977, and the report of the Argentine Commission on Human Rights released
on November 10, 1977, the human rights situation in Argentina did not
improve during 1977.
Integrity of Person
Arbitrary arrest and detention are commonplace in Argentina today.
Amnesty International estimates that at least 15,000 persons, or one out
of every 1,000 adults, have disappeared in the last two and one half
years. They have been abducted by both uniformed men and men in civilian
clothes who often identify themselves as members of the military or the
police forces. The government claims to have no knowledge of the situa-
tion of the victims, and usually they are not acknowledged as being under
detention. While many of the disappeared persons are now presumed to have
been killed, it is estimated that 6,000-8,000 of them are being held at
unofficial military camps. They are not officially recognized by the
authorities as political prisoners. In addition, as of September 21, 1977,
Amnesty International estimates that there are about 8,000 political
prisoners recognized as such by the government. Of these, more than 6,000
have never been charged or brought before a court of any kind, but are
detained indefinitely at the disposal of the Executive. All writs of
habeas corpus since the coup have been denied, and those detained are
usually not allowed to see lawyers. The number of persons currently
detained-both as recognized and unrecognized prisoners--who rarely have
access to legal recourse is estimated between 14,000 and 15,000, or 9-10
persons per 10,000 adults.
Argentine government officials have explained that only by conducting
a widespread purge can the government free itself from what it considers
to be the scourge of a worldwide political subversive movement threatening
to destroy Argentina. Thus President Videla stated that he had "an
absolute conviction that in order to have human rights for the majority
in Argentina, we are struggling against a minority which does not deserve
to be called Argentine." Thus he described the enemies of Argentina as
"authors of political subversion ...who do not use bombs, but who create
far more damage because they destroy the mind." In the context of such
a total struggle anyone who disagrees "with our way of life" must be
Those few prisoners who have been allowed access to judicial pro-
ceedings find their rights severely curtailed. All proceedings are con-
ducted under military law by military tribunals chosen by the government.
The death penalty has been re-instituted and now, according to law, can
be invoked for many crimes including "disturbing the public order."
Prisoners permitted to consult lawyers allegedly find it difficult to
secure legal advice since the lawyers who have represented political
prisoners have found themselves targets of repression. Critics of the
regime claim that more than 100 lawyers have disappeared in eighteen
months, and many others have gone into exile. One estimate asserts that
only 2% of the political prisoners have lawyers.
Studies of the human rights situation in Argentina generally agree
that torture has become institutionalized in Argentine prisons, official
jails, and unrecognized detention camps. The reports of numerous inter-
national organizations indicate that persons who have been abducted or
I/ London Times, April 20, 1977.
detained, whether recognized as prisoners or not, are often subject to
severe, systematic and scientific torture. The estimate of the number
of people tortured is 22,000 persons, or 14 persons per 10,000 adults.
Amnesty International maintains that "there does not appear to have been
-any serious attempt by the Argentine government to stem the use of
torture." Evidence indicates that the systematic use of torture did
not abate during 1977.
Argentine government officials have acknowledged excesses in their
"bloody, dirty war" to combat ruthless subversion. Some Argentine
officials have reportedly acknowledged that "you need to torture 10
people to know that 5 are terrorists." Given that the military govern-
ment had to fight rampaging terrorist extortions, kidnapping, and murders,
many officials feel that ruthless measures were necessary, and that indeed
despite such measures the military are fighting for human rights in
Although precise data on political assassinations in Argentina are
unobtainable, it is generally agreed that incidence is high. Estimates
of the number of deaths between October, 1975 (when this emerged as a
serious problem) and December, 1977 are between 4,000 and 6,000. This
suggests that between 2.5 and 3.8 persons per 10,000 adults were killed
i/ Amnesty International, Report of an Amnesty International Mission
to Argentina, November 6-15, 1976, p. 36.
2/ Interview with aide to President Videla by Ernest Conine, Los
Angeles Times, March 6, 1977.
3/ Quoted by Ysabel Trujillo, Chicago Tribune, October 22, 1977.
30-616 0 78 3
during this period. Official government statistics list the number of
people who died in political violence in 1976 as 1,354. The Argentine
government ascribes a majority of the deaths to armed confrontations
between leftists and the military, or to the shooting of prisoners
attempting to escape. Considerable doubt has been voiced by many
lawyers, members of the church and journalists about the truth of these
official reports, and many believe that the majority of the deaths result
from the actions of members of the security force, either as summary
executions or the end result of torture.
The Argentine Government acknowledges that excesses have occurred,
but states that the higher purpose is to eliminate what is perceived to
be a serious communist threat. Dr. Jose Martinez de Hoz, Minister of
the Economy in an interview admitted that people had been disappearing
in Argentina often as victims of private "anti-terrorist" groups, however,
he defended this as a defensible reaction to activities of terrorist groups
whom he accused of beginning the cycle of violence. President Videla in
an interview with Los Angeles Times reporter, Ernest Conine conceded that
excesses sometimes occur, because the war against terrorism is fought by
small military and police units made up mostly of "young people very
impulsive, very vehement, low in rank, who do not always have the serenity
of the adult person.'- He said, moreover, that his government is striving
with some success to bring the problem under control.
1/ Amnesty International, Report of an Amnesty International Mission
to Argentina, November 6-15, 1976, p. 33.
2/ London Times, September 16, 1977.
3/ Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1977.
Basic Human Needs
Argentina has traditionally been recognized as one of the most
advanced developing countries, and its people have historically
enjoyed a relatively high standard of living. It is generally
recognized that the economy was badly managed under Mrs. Peron,
and the economic efforts to control inflation have imposed severe
hardships on middle and lower income groups. Argentina's inflation
rate--347.5% in 1976--is one of the highest in the world. For the
first six months of 1977 the official figures for the annual rate
of inflation was 53%, but members of the Argentine business community
declare that this does not describe the actual situation, and argue
that the inflation rate for 1977 will reach 200% The removal of
price ceilings and the freezing of wages has meant that real wages
are lower than they have been since 1950. The official estimate is
that there has been a 60% decline in the purchasing power of wages
in the last year and one half. The fall in real wages is combined with
a high unemployment rate. In 1976 the official unemployment rate was
9.5%, and despite government statements that it has fallen, there are
few indications that the employment picture has Improved. The govern-
ment itself announced large scale lay-offs of public employees in
The decline in real wages has had a serious effect on the standard
of living of the majority of the Argentine people. Some sources indicate
1/ Latin American Economic Report, August 26, 1977.
that in 1976 the consumption of food dropped by 40% and purchases of
clothing by 50% reflecting the 300% rise in the price of clothing.
Reportedly the quality and accessibility of medical care has
deteriorated significantly: several hundred physicians have been dis-
missed from state hospitals, and the staffs of all public hospitals have
been reduced. Along with this, charges have been imposed for medical
care and medicines at all state hospitals. The government has declared
that psychiatry fosters subversion and is attempting to eliminate the
psychiatric profession. Departments of psychiatry within medical schools
have been closed, psychiatric divisions of hospitals reduced to 10% of
their previous capacity, public mental health centers closed, and numerous
psychiatrists and social workers disappeared.
The Physical Quality of Life Index for Argentina as compiled by the
Overseas Development Council, is 84, based on data for the mid-1970's.
The recent deterioration in the standard of living and health care in
Argentina is not reflected in this index. It is impossible to present
precise current data regarding infant mortality and health, since the
junta has not published its vital and health statistics.
Civil and Political Liberties
The Argentine Military Junta has constrained the public's right to
information and freedom of opinion. Immediately after the coup it
announced "all dissemination through the mass media of the personal
opinions of those persons without specific permission to speak on matters
of public interest is to be avoided." The junta established a Bureau of
Public Information to censor all materials before they could be published.
A recent report of the International Association of Writers reported that
all of the major radio and T.V. stations were owned by the state and
totally subject to the military. The report also said that the censor-
ship that is enforced is both direct government censorship--seen in the
frequent closing of newspapers, magazines and other organs of the media--
and self-censorship fostered by the severe repression directed against
journalists and writers. Furthermore, the report estimated that 200
journalists have disappeared, been killed, or are being indefinitely
detained with no formal charges against them. According to a report
by the International Affairs Division of the AFL-CIO, based on its fact-
finding mission to Argentina in October, 1977, "the Argentine press has
been muzzled, occupied, and usurped by the military."
President Videla has described freedom of the press as an ultimate
goal of his government. "We expect to achieve a system with a completely
free press. We have largely achieved it, although the state keeps responsi-
bility for some news media, because we are on the way to free press but
we haven't got there yet. Far from it."
Jewish organizations in Argentina and elsewhere have expressed con-
cern that the government has deliberately picked on Jews and made use of
anti-semitic propaganda. Such concerns were strengthened following the
i/ P.E.N. (International Association of Writers). Freedom to Write:
Global Report. New York, Oct. 28, 1977.
2/ La Macion, March 6, 1977.
the arrest of Jacobo Timerman, Zionist and former publisher of the once
independent newspaper La Opinion. The allegations of anti-semitism have
been denied by the Argentine government.
While people have the right of freedom of movement, this right is
circumscribed by controls which exist in all public places, on all
highways, and on all railroads. Argentines are, by law, free to emigrate,
although many have been detained while attempting to leave the country.
It is estimated, that thousands of Argentines are political emigrees in
the strict sense, and thousands more have left the country because of
The Argentine constitution provides that in a state of siege, per-
sons indefinitely detained without charge are given the "Right of Option"-
the right to leave the country. This right was revoked after the coup.
In September, 1977, the military junta announced that it was restoring the
Right of Option, with the qualification that this right would not be
extended to persons whom the military junta believed to be a threat to the
national security, raising the charge that, in fact, the Right of Option
Prior to the military coup, many political refugees from neighboring
Latin American countries sought asylum in Argentina. The maximum number
allowed to register is 12,000 but it is estimated that there are 20,000
refugees presently in Argentina. They too allegedly have often been
I/ Interview with Jose Martlnez de Hoz, Argentine Minister of the
Economy, London Times, September 16, 1977.
the targets of kidnapping, assassination, and arbitrary detention. There
.have been reports of coordination among the security forces of Argentina,
Chile and Uruguay; and, world-wide attention was drawn to this possibility
when two prominent former Uruguayan Senators, Zelmar Michelini and Hector
Gutierrez Ruiz, and former Bolivian President Juan Torres, were kidnapped
and murdered in May, 1976. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and
the International Commission of Jurists have expressed extreme concern
about the condition of refugees, and recommend their immediate resettle-
ment in other countries.
The citizens of Argentina are not permitted to participate in the
government in any democratic way. There are no elections, all political
parties have been suspended (and several declared illegal), and all poli-
tical activity has been forbidden. All executive and legislative powers
are exercised by the junta which has one representative from each of the
armed services. The only other government body is the Legislative Advisory
Commission, a group also composed of military officers. The current
legal structure is based on decrees issued at the time of the coup. All
rights of freedom of association have been suspended. This includes not
only all trade union activity, but most professional and management associa-
tion activities as well. All dissent is forbidden, and all forms of dissent
are now considered subversion.
According to military spokesmen the Argentine republic's reorganiza-
tion--rebirth-requires the unquestioning, united effort of every true
Argentine. Thus Navy Commander Admiral Eduardo Emilio Massera in a Buenos
Aires television broadcast on March 6, 1977 stated that "this effort has
to be made by everyone. Each civilian must be a combatant. The country
is calling for a general mobilization of all its reserves, and no one
has the right to refuse this appointment with his fatherland. No man,
no woman is more or less important than another in these decisive times.
Here, protected by the memory of those who founded the fatherland, the
men of arms demand the active presence of every civilian." According
to the decrees issued following the coup, subversion now applies to any-
one seeking reform "by means other than those contained in the rules
governing the country's political, economic and social life," and these
rules are those decrees which invest absolute power in the hands of the
junta. Since all strikes are prohibited, worker protest often takes
the form of slowdowns or the disruption of production. According to an
AFL-CIO report, such labor unrest is now viewed by the Argentine Govern-
ment as subversion and the workers involved are considered terrorists.
Recent press reports indicate that tensions within the ruling junta
are increasing. Informed sources are cited as generally describing Presi-
dent Videla as a moderate who perhaps should be supported. In this view,
if Videla's power decreased, the human rights situation might deteriorate
even more, with the increase in power of more hardline military elements
1/ Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Latin America, March 7,
2/ Report on Human Rights and the Situation of the Lab9r Movement in
Argentina, International Affairs Division of the AFL-CIO, November, 1977.
favoring even harsher measures against all dissent. Navy Vice Admiral
Luis Mendla, considered an advocate of more stringent measures has stated
that the government must "continue to fight until the ideologists, the
corrupt and false leaders, the economic criminals, and the pastors who
helped irritate matters, are eradicated from the political, social,
spiritual, economic, cultural, and educational life of the country."
U.S. Policy Response
The Argentine Military Junta's policies toward human rights have
been initially acknowledged in U.S. policy. In February, 1977, for example,
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance announced that the Carter Administration
decided to reduce the Security Assistance Program budget for Argentina
for FY 78 from the $32 million recommended by the Ford Administration
to $15.7 million, explicitly linking the decision to violations of human
rights by the Argentine regime. Specifically, the recommendations was
to eliminate $15 million in Foreign Military Sales (FMS) credits. This
would leave available to Argentina $15 million in FMS credits, and would
not affect the $700,000 which has been recommended for Military Education
and Training, the cash sales, the U.S. advisors and the unexpected $54.4
million in the pipeline. The military junta responded by announcing that
it considered the U.S. move an interference in Argentina's internal affairs,
and rejected the $15 million left in the Security Assistance Program for
1/ Quoted in Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1977.
This initiative by the Carter Administration was well received in
both Houses of Congress. In May, 1977, the House Internationi Relations
Committee recommended that the $15 million in FMS credits which remained
in the budget be cut in the Foreign Aid Authorization bill. In June,
the House reaffirmed the $15 million cut in FMS credits and voted to
end the U.S. military training program for Argentina on an amendment to
the FY 78 Foreign Aid Appropriations bill offered by Representative
Edward Roybal. Also in June, 1977, Senators Kennedy and Church intro-
duced an amendment to the 1977 Security Assistance bill to stop all FMS
credits, FMS cash sales, military training, and commercial sales to
Argentina. As adopted, the amendment postpones the cut-off of all forms
of military assistance to Argentina to FY 79.
The strong opinion in both Houses of Congress that no military aid
should go to Argentina is reflected in the final legislation, The Inter-
national Security Assistance Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-92), which prohibits all
military assistance and sales to Argentina after September 30, 1978.
This includes loans, training and cash and commercial sales of weapons
and material. Additionally, in FY 78 there are to be no U.S. loans to
Argentina for weapons purchases, nor will there be any money available
for training of Argentine personnel.
Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-Amerlcan Affairs, Terence A.
Todman, visited Argentina in August, 1977, met with President Videla, and
announced that he believed that the human rights situation is Improving.
Secretary.of State Cyrus Vance was in Argentina November 21-22, 1977,
and, as reported in the world press, delivered to the Argentine authori-
ties a list of 7,500 political prisoners currently detained. This list,
compiled by the Argentine Information Service Center, is a partial list
of the estimated 15,000 political prisoners. It was delivered with the hope
that the Argentine government will publish a list of all political prisoners.
Since the overthrow of the Goulart government in 1964, the military has
governed Brazil autocratically with but a shadow of civilian participation.
A series of decrees have given the president the power to modify the consti-
tution and annul any law in the interest of national security. While a new
constitution was promulgated in 1967 and modified in 1969, decree law consti-
tutes the legal framework in which the government functions. Congress has had
little power. Civil liberties have been curtailed and political parties abol-
ished. In their place, tolerated politicians were regrouped into two politi-
cal parties: the pro-government National Renovating Alliance (ARENA) and the
legal opposition, the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MBD). Under the compre-
hensive security laws, the organization of any other political group is an act
of subversion. Judicial independence has not always been respected and legal
guarantees -- most importantly habeus corpus -- remain suspended.
During what has been described as the most repressive period of military
rule (1968-73), there were persistent reports of human rights violations. Or-
ganizations attached to both police and military forces at the state and na-
tional levels were accused of torturing thousands of political dissidents.
World attention focused on Brazil in 1972 when Amnesty International issued a
report which identified 1,081 persons who had been arrested and allegedly tor-
tured. In 1975-76 several prisoners including a noted journalist, Valdimir
* Prepared by James P. Kiernan, Consultant.
I/ Amnesty International. Report on Allegations of Torture in Brazil. Lon-
Herzog, died while being detained by military police. Although officially
all had committed suicide, there was such a great public outcry that Pres-
ident Ernesto Giesel dismissed the army commander responsible and ordered
police to stop the torture of prisoners.
In the past two years reports about of Brazil have paled in comparison
to more vivid and frequent reports of political violence in neighboring
countries. Observers have noted a significant decrease in the incidence of
reported torture. However, allegations of human rights violations continue.
Recognized torture centers, the army's Departamento de Operacoes Internas
(DOI) in Sao Paulo and its counterparts in other cities, continue to func-
When Ernesto Giesel, the fourth military president, came to office in
1974 he instituted a program of liberalization which has moved with an un-
certain and uneven pace. One clear impact, however, has been on the press,
most of which is no longer subject to pre-publication censorship. The les-
sening of control has permitted increased criticism of the regime, including
more open reporting of human rights violations. The prominent Jornal do
Brasil, for example, recently published the latest in a series of documents
smuggled out of prison, a letter by fifteen political prisoners that de-
scribed how they had been systematically tortured by military police.
l/ The Amnesty International Report 1975-1976. London, 1976, pp. 89-92.
2/ New York Times, Jan. 10, 1977, and Larry Rohter. Brazilian Prisoners'
Torture Claim Stirs Rights Issue. Washington Post, Nov. 1977:
3/ Presos politicos divulgam carta denunciando torturas. Jornal do Brasil,
Oct. 27, 1977, p. 20.
The comparative ease of gathering information about human rights violations
in Brazil testifies to both the improved situation and enduring political
Integrity of Person
The 1976 annual report of Amnesty International indicated that there were
"around 700-800" political detainees. The estimate for 1977 is approximately
200. This does not include the thousands arrested during student demonstra-
tions since May 1977. Most were released within several days but many of the
student leaders are still being detained in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and
Brasilia. Amnesty International has received several reports of torture and
some students have been sentenced to long prison terms. The Partido Com-
munista Brasileiro (the Communist Party) and the Maoist Partido Communista
do Brasil have been the particular targets of security police and members de-
trained in 1977 have reportedly been tortured. However, many of those de-
tained were members of the legal opposition, MDB. Arbitrary arrest while
less frequent, is still common.
Since 1968, The Brazilian Catholic Church has become increasingly crit-
ical of government violations of human rights. In November 1976 the National
Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB) condemned the military's "rule of
1_/ Amnesty International, Cable to Amnesty International, New York, Oct. 21,
2/ Amnesty International News Release, July 22 and Aug. I, 1977.
3/ Ibid., Jan. 5 and Feb. 2, 1977.
force" and the ideology that national security be placed above personal se-
curity. The CNBB has claimed that the military government is responsible
for a climate of "arbitrary violence and fear." With the apparent decrease
of political torture, the church has advocated a wider protection of human
dignity. The International Congress of Catholic Jurists for Peace and Jus-
tice condemned the "dehumanizing and degrading treatment of common delin-
quents" in Brazil, especially minors. Similar is the testimony of two
American missionaries, Thomas Capuano and Rev. Lawrence Rosenbaugh. Ar-
rested in Recife in May 1977 while collecting for the poor, they were held
for four days in a small concrete cell with 15 other nude prisoners. Meet-
ing with Ms. Rosalynn Carter during her June trip through Brazil, they de-
scribed the brutal treatment of adolescents and other non-political pris-
owners that they claimed to have witnessed.
Another human rights concern of the church has been the treatment of
the indigenous population of the Amazon. The massive governmental effort
to develop the Amazon region has involved violent clashes between Indians,
settlers and land developers. Minister of the Interior Rangel Reis has de-
clared that Indians, wards of the state with legal rights to occupancy but
not ownership of their lands, would be rapidly integrated into Brazilian
I/ Brazil's Bishops Condemn Military Regime. New York Times, Nov. 20, 1976.
2/ The Christian Requirements of a Political Order. Latinamerican Press,
Mar. 17 and 24, 1977, pp. 3-6 and 3-5, 8, respectively.
3/ Missao constata torturas. 0 Estado de S. Paulo, Mar. 2, 1977.
4/ Capuano, Thomas. Scenes and Echoes of Torture in Brazil. New York
Times, Sept. 1, 1977, p. 31.
society. The church's National Missionary Council (CIMI) has condemned as
genocide the government plan to reduce the Indians living in their native
state to 20,000 from the current estimate of 220,000-350,000. The CIMI's
organization of Assemblies of Native Chiefs to defend their lands and cul-
tural identity has been labeled Marxist-Leninist subversion by the govern-
ment. Although the order that all missionaries withdraw from Indian
areas has been rescinded, several foreign missionaries have been forced to
Amnesty International has raised the question of Brazil's responsibil-
ity for human rights violations of foreign nationals in Brazil and the ex-
tent to which that security forces of Latin American governments cooperate
in the covert arrest and repatriation of political exiles. Two Argentine
socialists, Miguel Ricci and his wife Elisa Ricci, when faced with arrest
by security forces in the town of Rosario, fled to Brazil. Arriving in Sao
Paulo, they were arrested; their whereabouts is unknown.
Economic Policy and Human Needs
Brazil's accelerated rate of development has been called an "economic
miracle." Between 1964 and 1975 the growth of GNP was greater than 10 per-
cent per year. Rapid industrialization and expansion of non-traditional ex-
ports were essential priorities. The government has stressed the develop-
ment of hydroelectric and now nuclear power, energy sources needed to propel
1/ Manchester Guardian, Jan. 9, 1977, p. 19 and Latin American Political
Report, Jan. 14, 1977. p. 17. Henceforth cited as "LAPR."
/2/ Amnesty International News Release, Jan. 14, 1977./
If Amnesty International News Release, Jan. 14, 1977.
Brazil to great nation status in the next century. However, in the last
three years, economic growth has slowed and it seems doubtful that Brazil's
exceptional development will be maintained.
Mounting balance of payments problems, spurred on by the service on a
huge external debt, trade deficits and the crippling cost of imported oil,
have severely limited Brazil's ability to import the goods necessary to sus-
tain high levels of internal consumption and a rapid rate of development.
Some businessmen are now calling for the return of civilian rule; the middle-
class base of the regime is shrinking.
The military regime has, in part, justified exceptional security mea-
sures and political repression as a necessary prerequisite for rapid devel-
opment. This has entailed rigid control of labor unions and containment of
wage demands. By design, minimum wage adjustments have lagged behind con-
sumer prices. The Brazilian minimum wage (U.S. $ 60 to 70 per month, region-
ally adjusted) is at important economic indicator; salaries for most non-
agricultural employment, in either multiples or fractions, are based on it.
There is evidence that the real minimum wage has steadily declined since
1965 and that income distribution is more unequal now than it was before
the military coup. The poorest 40 percent of the population earn only 10
percent of the national income.
1/ LAPR, Sept. 9, 1977, pp. 278-9.
2/ Singer, Paul. A Crise do Milagre. Sao Paulo, 1974, pp. 58-60.
30-616 0 78 4
The wage squeeze has worsened in the last three years as the rate of
inflation doubled to near 50 percent. Reportedly 70 percent of a laborer's
wage is used to buy food. Demands for pay raises have increased. Although
strikes are prohibited, there has been at least one work stoppage (of bus
drivers) in Sao Paulo.
While Brazil's GNP/capita grew at an impressive annual rate of 6.3 per-
cent between 1964-75 a large sector of the population did not share in this
development. One of the poorest regions of Latin America, the Brazilian
Northeast contains 30 percent of the population. There the GNP/capita was
half the national average and infant mortality was twice as high. Acceler-
ated urbanization, particularly in the South, has resulted in sprawling slums,
with few social or sanitary services. Brazil registers a mediocre score (68)
on the ODC's Physical Quality of Life Index. While the economy has grown,
infant mortality, which had been steadily declining until 1964, has been
stabilized since then at a relatively high level.
As a partial reflection of increased government expenditures for public
education, illiteracy in Brazil had declined slightly to 34 percent. Yet
Brazil still has the second highest rate of illiteracy and the third lowest
rate of government expenditures on public education per capital in South
I/ New York Times, Aug. 1, 1977; Vega, Apr. 27, 1977, and LAPR, Sept. 16,
1977, p. 285.
2/ Overseas Development Council. Agenda, 1977. London, 1977, pp. 166-
167; Singer, A. Crise...., p. 73; and Yunes, J. and V.S.C.
Ronchezel. Evolucao da mortalidade geral, infantil e propocional
.no Brasil. Revista de Saude Publica, 8 (June, 1974), pp. 3-29.
America. In keeping with the military's developmental philosophy, a greater
portion of increased government expenditures has gone to technical and uni-
versity rather than primary education.
Civil and Political Rights
While less controlled than it was at the beginning of the decade, the
press still experiences clear limits to its freedom. Official displeasure
may result in the withdrawal of government advertising or in the arrest of
individual journalists (most recently, Lourenco Diaferia, Folha do Sao Paulo
and Carlos Chagas, 0 Estado de Sao Paulo). P.E.N. has identified 24
writers and journalists arrested in Brazil between 1972-75 who are still im-
prisoned or who have disappeared. Books too critical of government pol-
icy or ideologically offensive have been supressed and, in the case of Kurt
Mirow (A Ditadura dos Carteis) and Renato Tapajos (Em Camara Lenta an ex-
pose of political tprture), the authors have been arrested. Films and tele-
vision are closely censored. The opposition is virtually excluded from
the use of the media. MDB was limited to two one-hour programs of political
I/ Inter-American Development Bank, Economic and Social Progress in Latin
America. 1974 Annual Report. Washington, D.C.
2/ Amnesty International News Release, Sept. 19, 1977 and LAPR, Oct. 14,
1977, p. 320. Also see Garrardo, Eduardo. Brazil Papers Offer-
ing More Politics. Miami Herald, Sept. 27, 1977, p. 5.
3/ P.E.N. (International Association of Writers). Freedom to Write:
Gobal Report. New York, Oct. 28, 1977, pp. 11-12.
4/ Latinamerican Press, Feb. 24, 1977 and Amnesty International News Re-
lease, Aug. 16, 1977.
commentary per year. After using its first hour (in June 1977) to criticize
economic policy and demand greater protection of human rights, even this ac-
cess to the media was eliminated.
President Giesel has orchestrated a cautious liberalization of politi-
cal life, permitting elections for congress (1974) and municipal councils
(1976) in which the MDB made substantial gains. However, legal opposition
has been limited by the removal from office and disenfranchisement for ten
years (cassacao) of the regime's most vigorous critics. Among those casado
in 1977 were Alencar Furtado, MDB congressional leader, and Alenio Peres
and Marcos Antonio Klassman, members of the Porto Alegre municipal council,
who protested the continuance of political torture. Liberalization in
see-saw fashion periodically undercuts the growth of political opposition.
Despite repeated demands from more hard-line factions of military of-
ficers for stronger censorhsip curbs and suppression of political activity,
the present government has attempted an accommodation that would increase
the participation but not the power of civilian opposition. However, these
reforms, curtailing judicial independence, incorporating repressive security
laws into the constitution and preserving "controlled democracy," were re-
jected by MDB. Their counterproposals included amnesty for political pris-
oners and the return of habeus corpus. In response, on April 1, 1977, Pres-
ident Giesel closed Congress. By decree he changed the electoral rules,
I/ New York Times, July 28, 1977: 9.
2/ LAPR, Feb. 18, 1977, pp. 49-50.
thereby demoralizing the opposition and guaranteeing victory for the govern-
ment party in the congressional elections of 1978. Congress was then re-
opened. This reflects the more flexible but conservative position of
President Giesel and the castelista faction of the army. Hi. -iction re-
minded MDB of the limits of political freedom and assured hard-line critics
of his government's strength and resolve. This public demonstration that
the opposition would always be denied access to power has, however, inten-
sified the campaign for the restoration of civil and political liberties.
The military government has reached a critical juncture; never since
1964 has the demand for the return of civilian rule been so open and wide-
spread. In March Raimundo Faoro, president of the Brazilian Bar Associa-
tion, while lamenting the absence of habeus corpus, called for a constituent
assembly. MDB, with little recourse after the closure of Congress,
adopted that as the ultimate goal of their campaign for civil and political
rights. In May, for the first time since 1968, students demonstrated at all
major universities, denouncing the economic and political repression of the
military regime. Journalists and newspaper editors grew more aggressive
criticizing President Giesel directly. Twice during 1977 more than a
1/ Kandell, Jonathan. Brazilian Army Tightening Its Grip. New York Times,
Apr. 15, 1977: p. 1.
2/ LAPR, Apr. 29, 1977, pp. 12-13.
3/ New York Times, Aug. 3 and 24, 1977, pp. 2 and 7, respectively.
4/ Ibid., July 9 and Aug. 21, 1977, pp. 3 and 3 respectively; and The
Times (London), Oct. 3, 1977.
thousand of Brazil's most prominent writers, professors, scientists and film
directors, petitioned the government to lift all censorship curbs. A
group of 110 army and air force colonels, calling themselves the Movimento
Democratic Constitutionalista sent a manifesto to President Giesel, demand-
ing an "end to censorship and inhuman repression" and a return to full de-
The present situation is complicated by problems of presidential suc-
cession: who will be the candidate chosen by a dozen high command generals
from among themselves and presented to congress for rubber-stamp election?
Vociferous opposition to President Giesel's policy of limited liberaliza-
tion has developed and General Silvio Frota, war minister and chief propo-
nent of renewed repression, used his position to promote himself as Giesel's
successor. Forestalling a possible coup, Giesel fired Frota in October,
1977. The future of his policy of liberalization is still in question.
It is unclear what concessions to hard line officers Giesel will feel con-
strained to make to maintain the military consensus he needs to govern, and
the direction is not yet clear, the real possibility exists that recent
progress in human and political rights might be halted or even reversed.
1/ Latin American Press, Feb. 10, 1977, p. 7 and LAPR, July 22, 1977, p.
2/ LAPR, May 27, 1977, p. 155.
3/ Ibid., Oct. 21, 1977, p. 323.
United States Policy and Brazilian Response
The Brazilian government has responded decisively to U.S. Congressional
human rights policy. As a requirement under the International Security As-
sistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976, the State Department prepared
a report on human rights in Brazil. In March Brazil rejected the report
along with 50 million dollars of U.S. military assistance credits. The
Foreign Assistance and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1978 (P.L. 95-
148) prohibited military credit sales to Brazil because of human rights re-
straints. During the course of the year, the Brazilian government ab-
rogated a series of other military agreements with the United States. The
result of this, as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil John Crinmmins explained, was
the end of "all formal structure of military cooperation between the two
Withdrawal of aid may not prove an effective device to promote human
rights in Brazil. The Center for International Policy has reported that
while the USAID program has been phased out, multilateral lending agencies
(i.e., the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank) and com-
mercial banks have increased their investment in Brazil.
1/ Ibid., Mar. 11, 1977, pp. 73-74 and Opiniao, Mar. 18, 1977, p. 16.
2/ Washington Post, Sept. 21, 1977: 4.
3/ New York Times, Nov. 2, 1977: p. 8.
4/ Center for International Policy. Human Rights and the U.S. Foreign
Assistance Program. Part I -- Latin America. Washington, 1977,
The period of greatest U.S. military assistance coincided with the de-
velopment of Brazil's repressive security system. Between 1966-75 Brazil
received 28 percent of U.S. military assistance to Latin America, twice as
much as the second largest recipient, Argentina. Amnesty International ac-
cused the U.S. of directly contributing to repression in Brazil through AID
public safety programs and police training. Ironically, the U.S. with-
drawal of military credits because of human rights violations comes when
U.S. assistance accounts for only 2.5 percent of the Brazilian military
budget and when Brazil's arms industry manufactures 75 percent of its own
Human rights issues alone have not dominated United States-Brazilian
relations in 1977. The priority objective of the Carter administration
has been to modify the West German-Brazil agreement to develop nuclear
weapons technology in Brazil. The two questions have become linked in
Brazil. Some military officers accuse the Carter administration of using
the "false issue" of human rights to destabilize the military regime in
the hopes that a new government will have a less independent nuclear pol-
I/ Ibid., pp. 25-29 and LAPR, Apr. 22, 1977, p. 115.
2/ 0 Estado de S. Paulo, Mar. 4 and 6, 1977.
3/ New York Times, Nov. 23, 1977, p. 9 and Veja, Nov. 30, 1977, pp. 20-
4/ LAPR, Apr. 8, 1977, p. 106 and Jornal do Basil, Nov. 17, 1977, p. 8.
The cordial relations between Brazil and the United States since World
War II have been strained, but not broken. There has been no executive ac-
tion particularly addressed to human rights in Brazil. During visits to
Latin America both Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Rosalynn Carter
reaffirmed United States concern for human rights. Those in Brazil demand-
ing the restoration of civil liberties have been encouraged by this posi-
tion. Human rights activists in Brazil maintain that because of Carter's
policy the military government will respond less repressively to the pres-
ent campaign for human rights.
This paper discusses human rights conditions in Chile in 1977. The
main sources for the study were: the "1976-1977 Amnesty International Report,"
the Center for International Policy's "Human Rights and the U. S. Foreign
Assistance Program for fiscal 1978," the "Third Report on the Situation of
Human Rights in Chile," by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,
and various newspaper articles.
On September 11, 1973, the socialist government of Salvador Allende
was deposed by the military, which had a long tradition of non-interference
in Chilean politics. The junta, headed by General Augusto Pinochet, declared
a state of emergency, which has been in effect since the military came to
power. In addition, the new government dissolved Congress, suspended political
parties, censored the media, prohibited elections of any kind, and limited
labor union activity.
In the ensuing period charges of widespread torture and reports of
thousands of political prisoners being detained by the military focused
worldwide attention on Chile's human rights conditions. Various international
agencies reported on conditions in Chile and the U. S. Congress limited
assistance to Chile.
*Prepared by Roslyn Roberts, Analyst in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs
and National Defense Division.
1/ Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-559) Sec. 25 prohibited
military aid and limited economic assistance to $25 million during FY 1975;
International Development and Food Assistance Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-161) Sec.
320 limited economic assistance to $90 million; and Sec 406 of the International
Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-329) terminated
military assistance including prohibition of military education and training,
placed a ceiling on economic assistance of $27.65 million during fiscal year
1977 and the transition quarter, and specified conditions relating to human
rights under which economic assistance might be increased by an additional
Many recent actions in Chile to improve the human rights conditions
have been credited to the pressure of President Carter's human rights
campaign, as well as congressional interest in the human rights situation
in that country. This report deals primarily with the period from November
1976 to December 1977.
Integrity of person
Since the election of President Carter, Chile, until very recently,
appeared to be trying to improve its human rights image. Only days after
Carter's election, 300 political prisoners were released. Shortly afterwards
there was an "exchange" of 17 prisoners, after which the government claimed
only one political prisoner remained. Amnesty International, however, insists
that this claim is not consistent with information available to them. The
differences, it suggests, are definitional ones. According to Amnesty
International, current terminology in official and unofficial use in Chile
makes it possible to distinguish three categories of political prisoners:
1. Dentendios por el estado de siti: (those detained under the State
of Siege legislation, without trial or formal charges against them.)
These are the only prisoners recognized as "political"
by the Government of Chile, and most of them were released in November
2. Procesados y condenados: (those detained awaiting trial, pending trial,
or serving sentence.) Prisoners in this category are not considered
political prisoners by the authorities even in those cases where charges
and court proceedings were of a political nature. A May 1975 decree
decree makes it possible to opt for enforced exile in lieu of a prison
sentence, but a significant number of pleas for exile have been refused.
3. Detenidos desaparecidos: ("disappeared" prisoners.) Even in cases where
official documents provide proof of arrest, the authorities refuse to
acknowledge the detention of these prisoners.
The Government of Chile recognizes as political prisoners only those in first
category. Amnesty International contends that the vast majority of political
prisoners are in the second and third categories.
Various sources report that November and December 1976 marked a period
of increased disappearances. The Chilean Catholic Church reported that 20
persons "disappeared" in the last four months of 1976 and that mutilated
and unidentifiable bodies were being found more often. Amnesty International
reported that mainly Communist Party members and leading trade unionists
were arrested and subsequently disappeared in 1976. The report noted also
that workers' families have been the worst affected, with several members of
individual families often disappearing. During the first four months of
1977, Amnesty International received no reports of disappearances, but during
May and June there was a new wave of arrests. Disappeared persons are estimated
at 1,500 by Amnesty. According to the Catholic Church, 80 political arrests
1/ Amnesty International Report; 1 June 1976-31 May 1977, p. 131.
2/ Washington Post, Jan. 21, 1977, p. A2.
3/ Amnesty; pp. 131-132.
had been made by September 1977 with six "disappeared."
A United Nations panel inquiring into conditions in Chile reported
that although arrests and detentions were on a much reduced scale and
accounts of torture were not as shocking as some previous reports, a new
practice of short-term detention, torture of the individual and harassment
of relatives had been instituted.
Over the years, the Chilean secret police has been accused of being
responsible for widespread torture and many disappearances. Involvement
by National Intelligence Directorate, commonly known by its acronym DINA,
has been established in court, but subsequent court and government investi-
nations have not resulted in indictments.
In August 1977, however, DINA was dissolved and was replaced by the
National Information Center (CNI). Critics of the government were skeptical
about any real change because the CNI operated out of the same headquarters,
as had DINA and employed the same leaders and agents. Moreover, the
Government would not allow Hoy, a newspaper giving coverage to dissenting
views, to print side by side the two decrees governing the agencies presumably
because they were almost identical.
1/ New York Times, 11/12/77, p. 40.
2/ U.N. Document A/32/227; Sept. 29, 1977; p. 60.
3/ Washington Post, 9/5/77, p. A12.
4/ New Times (Moscow), Oct. 1977, no. 42, p. 12.
It has been reported recently, however, that the head of the secret police
has changed, that some former secret police agents are under investigation
in connection with torture of political prisoners, and that soldiers had
been convicted for abuses against civilians. In addition, it has also
been reported that a Santiago military court threw out a long list of DINA
charges, that two men had been released on suspended sentences after being
found guilty of possession of explosives, and that a large number of former
DINA agents had been dismissed since the announcement of the abolition
of DINA. Spokesmen for the Chilean Catholic Church see these actions as
encouraging, but argue that "as long as there is not a clear set of laws
and enforcement by civilian courts, citizens' rights are not really protected."
Basic Human Needs
The Overseas Development Council's Physical Quality of Life (PQLI) Index
for Chile is 77. Given its per capital GNP of $830, Chile's rating is slightly
above the norm for Latin American countries. Though the deviation above
the norm is not significant, the differences between Chile and other Latin
1/ Washington Post, 11/11/77, p. A15.
4/ For a discussion of this Index, see pp. 360-363.
American countries with similar per capital GNPs are. Nicaragua, Peru,
and Brazil all rank well below Chile, but Costa Rica ranks well above.
The PQLI measure does not, however, answer the question of whether the
values it reflects have been advanced or retarded by the dramatic shift
from the egalitarian social welfare policies of Allende to the focus on
reducing inflation as a precondition to further economic growth under
Pinochet. In July of this year, inflation was at a five year low of
83.5 percent, down from an estimated high of 700-1000 percent in 1973.
Over the same time period, foreign reserves have increased from $10 million
to $700 million.
Critics of the government concede that there have been some economic
accomplishments, but they maintain that the poor have paid a tremendous
price. They say that the elimination of price subsidies, the drastically
slashed public welfare budgets, and the government's refusal to bail out
inefficient business are maintaining unemployment and aggrivating the poverty
problem. One economist with close government connections has reportedly
said, "If you start looking at the faces of the poor people, you can't get
anything done," and admitted that elimination of election had made the
process of combatting inflation much easier.
1/ Manchester Guadian Weekly, Sept. 18, 1977, p. 6.
2/ New York Times, Sept. 25, 1977, p. 1.
3/ New Yor. Times, August 21, 1977, p. 2.
Government supporters, on the other hand, maintain that programs
to reduce hunger and infant mortality among Chile's poorer families
are "better under the military than ever before." They point to a 25
percent drop in infant mortality despite the severe economic conditions
and credit the availability of contraceptives provided by the national
health clinics as responsible for the sharp drop in the birth rate.
As part of the junta's special nutrition, health and relief program,
President Pinochet, upon his return from Washington, D.C., in September
1977, reportedly handed out keys to prefabricated homes to 500 former
residents of one of Santiago's worst slums. This, and a program whereby
some 38,000 small farmers are to be made individual proprietors, are two
projects pointed to as examples of efforts to improve conditions of the
lowest economic strata, the 20% considered to be experiencing conditions
of "extreme poverty."
Civil and political liberties.
Before the junta's takeover of the government, the Chilean mass media
were termed "free-wheeling" and were ideologically varied. During the past
four years censorship, closure and confiscation of newspapers and radio
stations, suspensions, arrests and expulsion of dissenting editors have been
employed by the Government to bring the once independent media into step
with the military rulers. Presently the news media carrying information on
1/ New York Times, August 21, 1977, p. 3.
2/ New York Times, September 29, 1977, p. 2.
human rights and economic issues not in agreement with the government
have dwindled to three radio stations, the Jesuit monthly magazine
Mensaje, and the newspaper Hoy. Two of the three radio stations are
privately owned and the other is owned by the Catholic Church.
Direct censorship declined during 1975, but was resumed in early
1976. The closing of Radio Presidente Balmaceda, said to have commanded
an enormous audience, was considered a major setback in the area of
freedom of information. On January 29, 1977, the station was declared
closed for the duration of the state of emergency. The justification
for the shutdown was that it was owned by the Christian Democratic Party.
It had been closed four times previously, the longest closure being 17 days.
In addition, the station had been subject to censorship for brief periods
in 1975, and its director had been banished to a small town in the Andes
mountains for more than three months.
La Ercilla, the last independent mass-circulation publication, moved
into the pro-government sphere in January, 1977 when it was bought by pro-
government financiers in September, 1976, and, four months later, its
managing editor, Emilio Filippi, resigned. It is reported that pressure
from the government, such as the confiscation of the entire issue of the
1/ Washington Post, Feb. 3, 1977, p. A14.2/
30-616 0 78 5
magazine at a cost of $850,000, created substantial losses, which prompted
the sale. Filippi now is director of a weekly magazine called Hoy, which
gives coverage to dissenting views.
When the state of siege was renewed in March, 1977, restrictions on
the press were increased and mail censorship was enacted. The Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights reported that the authorities have issued warnings
and threatened to apply the internal security laws of the State and the
regulations governing the prohibition of political parties. They also
report that the government has total control over the National Television
and the three university channels. However,, they were informed by several
organizations that it is possible to discuss problems with government
officials. The Center for International Policy noted continued intimidation
of professors and students. It was reported that academics and scientists
of international reputation and conservative views, who had previously
supported the junta, are being expelled and arrested because the military's
policy is not only to purify the university ideologically, but to redefine,
reorganize, and restructure the university's mission.
1/ Washington Post, Feb. 3, 1977, p. A14.
2/ New York Times, Aug. 26, 1977, p. A7.
3/ Center for International Policy. Human Rights and the U. S. Foreign
Assistance Program: Fiscal Year 1978, Part 1 -- Latin America, p. 41.
Foreign journalists and publications are allowed in Chile, but as
late as September 13, 1977 foreign correspondents were summoned to the
Chilean government press office and told not to publish outside Chile
News of bombings in the country. They were told that imprisonment or
Expulsion would be the punishment for such publication.
There are no known reports of restricted internal travel or forced
i migration. However, there-are reports of loss of nationality and forced
exile. In response to questionnaires from the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights, the Chilean government admitted that five persons--Anselmo
Sule Candia, Hugo Vigorena Ramirez, Orlando Letelier del Solar,* Volodia
Teitelboin Volosky and Juan Suarez Bastidas--have been deprived of their
nationality. While the government says that such action is appealable and
that none of the five has taken advantage of the appeal, the Inter-American
Comission on Human Rights described the penaLty of loss of nationality as
"anachronistic, outlandish and legally unjustifiable in any part of the
world," and further noted that although appeal is allowed, it is of no
consequence becasue the nature of the penalty is such that the victim is
outside his own country when it is imposed, so appeal is impossible or futile.
1_/ Washington Post, Sept. 13, 1977, pp. Al, A22. v/
*Letelier, former Ambassador to the United States during the Allende
Administration was assassinated in Washington, D. C. on September 21, 1976.
Supreme Decree 504 of April 30, 1975 allows those convicted by the
military to change their sentences to that of exile. Approximately 800
have been released under this law. The Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights is concerned about the alternative of detention or exile for
persons who have not received fair trials.
According to State Departement sources, there are about 1 million
refugees from Chile; however, they feel that the majority left Chile for
economic reasons rather than political reasons.
Participation in government, once an important feature of Chilean
politics, has been drastically curtailed under the junta. When the military
took power in 1973, Congress was dissolved, constitutional guarantees were
suspended, trade union activity was limited, the media were censored,
political parties suspended, and military courts were permitted to try
civilians. On September 11, 1976, three additional "constitutional acts"
were promulgated to take effect in March 1977. The first of the new
constitutional acts proclaims Chile as a democratic republic with all power
concentrated in the junta. It contains no provisions for representation.
The second additional act lists all of the civil, political, and juridical
rights and liberties previously granted Chilean citizens; however, the
third act allows the government to re-establish a state of emergency and to
suspend such rights as freedom of expression, of information, or association,
and the right to work and hold meetings. It also permits the government to
appropriate individual goods or impose other limits to the right of property.
Earlier law had set a 5 day limit within which a detained person was
to be brought to trial, and 48 hours within which the family was to be
notified of the arrest. The new constitutional acts that took effect in
March, 1977 extend the 48-hour limit for family notification to 10 days
when the country is in a state of emergency, and families of disappeared
prisoners are denied the right to present writs of habeas corpus. In
addition all political parties were dissolved (before they had only been
suspended from public activity) and mail censorship was initiated.
The expressed purpose of the military takeover was to "re-establish
order and constitutional law." In keeping with this objective President
Pinochet in July 1977 outlined a plan for the restoration of civilian
government in Chile. The plan provided for a partly elected and partly
appointed legislature in 1984 or 1985, but it was later qualified in a
speech by Pinochet in which he stated that there would be a return to
democracy "in eight to ten years, in the best of circumstance" and then
only "if the country continues to show positive signs."- While critics of
I/ Center for International Policy, pp. 39-40.
S2/ Center for International Policy, p. 40.
3/ Ibid; p. 39.
4/ New York Times, Aug. 25, 1977, p. A2.
the government feel an immediate move should be made toward civilian
government, President Pinochet justifies the long range date by saying
that a series of steps are required to achieve the "authoritarian, protected,
technified and authentic social participation system" he envisions. In
addition there are certain technical problems such as the absence of
voter rolls (which were destroyed after the junta came to power) and the
time needed to issue new, tamper-proof identity cards.
Whether President Pinochet's plan materializes or not, many contend
that the announcement opened political debate that had not been tolerated
previously. In the final months of 1977 various newspapers and radios
gave coverage to dissenting views on the governments' economic policies,
especially relating to unemployment and wage rates. In addition coverage
was given to a Christian Democratic Party declaration issued in Caracas,
Venezuela rejecting the 8 year plan. Man-on-the-street interviews carried
in one of the newspapers appeared to indicate that people were no longer afraid
On November 18, 1977, it was reported that the first street protest
in Chile since 1973 was staged, with about 100 persons peacefully protesting
the disappearance of political prisoners. About forty of those were arrested,
but most were released the same day.
On December, 1977 Pinochet called for a national plebiscite in response
to a critical United Nation's General Assembly resolution condemning Chile's
1/ The Times, Aug. 17, 1977, Pt. 6, p. 1, 7.
2/ The New York Times, Aug. 26, 1977, p. A7.
human rights record. On January 4, 1978 in what has been described as a highly
controlled national plebiscite Pinochet reportedly received 75.3% of the 5.5
million votes cast. The wording of the referendum was such that national
loyalty to Chile against "international intervention" was confused with
political support for Pinochet. Chilean observers speculated that Pinochet's
victory might reverse the rather tenuous advances in human rights experienced
during 1977. Reportedly even important members of the military fear that
the plebiscite returns may result in Pinochet assuming more power at the
expense of the judicial branch and even of the military junta, and in
increasing repression of union and political party activity.
The government has recently taken drastic measures against dissent
in at least two cases. In November 1977, the government denied re-entry
to three Chilean women who had travelled to the United Nations to publicize
the arrest, torture, and disappearance of their relatives. Although they
have valid passports, they have been labelled exiles by the government and
will be required to sign statements that they will not be involved in any
political activity before they can return to Chile. In the second action,
President Pinochet ordered seven dissident labor leaders confined to a
remote mountain village, in response to a partial work stoppage at the El
Teniente mine and a slowdown at the major ports of Valparaiso and San
U. S. POLICY RESPONSE
The Carter Administration is considered one of the foremost sources
of outside pressure on the Chilean human rights situation. During his
election campaign President Carter spoke out strongly for human rights.
His position was given some credit for the release of 300 political prisoners
in Chile days after the election. President Carter met with President
Pinochet at the signing of the Panama Canal treaties, arguing in response
to critics of the action that it is "healthy" to meet with, rather than
isolate, leaders of countries with human rights problems.
In July and August,- two administration representatives travelled to
Chile--Allard Lowenstein, a member of the U. S. delegation to the United
Nations, and Terence Todman, Assistant Secretary, of State for Inter-American
Affairs. They both reported improvement in the human rights situation
in Chile, but sought to convey the Administration's view that human rights
would improve more if the state of siege were ended.
The Administration expressed pleasure with the dissolution of DINA,
the decline in arrests and disappearances, the announcement of a plan to
restore civilian rule, and the fact that President Pinochet is considering
allowing U. N. observers to carry our an investigation in Chile.
For the first time this year there were reports of a disagreement with-
in the Carter Administration over whether to make economic assistance
loans to Chile, because of the human rights situation there. Proponents
felt that the two AID loans, one for $7 million and the other for $2.6 million,
would aid the poor and that economic well-being was as much a human right
as are political rights. Those opposed to the loans felt that the granting
of the loans would be a repudiation of the Carter Administration's human
rights campaign. The decision was to delay the loan for 30 to 60 days,
after which Chile requested that the AID program be terminated.
U. S. military aid continued to be prohibited in 1977 under Section 106
of the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of
1976-1977 (Public Law 94-329). A ceiling of $27 million was placed on
economic assistance to Chile for fiscal year 1977 with provisions for
increases up to an additional $27.5 million, if there were significant
changes in the Chilean human rights situation.
In researching the issue of human rights in Cuba one is faced
with two important constraints. The first is that access to informa-
tion is inadequate and most of what is available is highly partisan
in character. Although objective background material is increasing,
as exemplified by the Area Handbook for Cuba (DA-Pam 550-152; 1976),
biased information from both leftist and rightist sources is still
prevalent. This problem is compounded by the fact that those
attempting to document human rights violations in Cuba have largely
ignored quality of life issues, concentrating instead on the
controversial problem of political prisoners. Information on
political prisoners of necessity is largely based on sources with-
in the Cuban exile community, since Cuban officials have generally
declined to comment on the issue and have not permitted such groups
as Amnesty International, the Red Cross, or the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights to enter Cuba for purposes of investiga-
tion. However, this may change in the coming months. Barbara Durr
of the Cuba Resource Center in New York City reports that the Center
has received permission from the Cuban government to do a study on
Prepared by Kathryn Johnston Shrivastava, Consultant.
I/ Other background material on Cuba would include-books
and aritcles by the following authors: Jorge Doninguez, Richard
Fagen, Irving Louis Horowitz, Abraham Lownthal, Herbert Mathews,
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Jaime Suchljicki, Jose Yglesias, Maurice Zeitlin.
human rights which will focus on treatment of political prisoners
within the judiciary and penal systems. The study, scheduled to
begin in 1978 and encompass two fact-finding trips to Cuba, will
include inspection of prisons and interviews with prisoners, their
I families, and Cuban officials.
A second constraint is the operational definition of human
rights in Cuba. As Pat Fagen points out in a recent article on
US-Cuban detente, "The Cuban government operates to protect and
augment what are viewed as collective rights, those of the majority.
When individual rights are thought to endanger collective rights,
they are sacrificed, a position generally disapproved of among
Western liberal democracies." Bearing this in mind it is not
surprising that the government has attempted to surpress or abolish
such vestiges of the pre-revolutionary class system as private
property, private beaches, and private schools. A closely related
problem concerns the parameters of "counter-revolutionary" crime
in Cuba. Those incarcerated under the rubric of political prisoner
may be in jail for crimes as diverse as currency speculation,
absenteeism, sabotage, treason, or possession of counter-revolutionary
literature. Thus, theft of government property may be considered
a politically-motivated crime.
I/ Fagen, Pat "Toward Detente with Cuba: Issues and
Obstacles. International Policy Report, Vol. Ill, No. 3, Nov. 1977
(Center for International Policy, Wash., DC) p. 17.
Integrity of person
Although early revolutionary tribunals unquestionably abused
their judicial powers, conditions have improved over the last decade.
Assassinations or disappearances are rare; even affidavits by former
political prisoners state that most were able to see their families
on a regular basis. Citizen harassment in general has declined
as the government has become more secure. The Amnesty International
Report 1975-76 observed that, "the persistence of fear, real or
imagined, of counter-revolutionary conspiracies was primarily
responsible for early excesses in the treatment of political prisoners.
By the same token, the removal of that fear has been largely respons-
ible for the improvement in conditions."
Activities of the DSE, the state security agency charged with
the investigation of counter-revolutionary crimes, have become less
zealous, or at least have been re-directed. Crusades against such
new types of offenders as homosexuals and dissident intellectuals
have replaced action against unrepentant capitalists, saboteurs,
and infiltrators. The neighborhood associations initially established
as vigilance agencies--Committees for Defense of the Revolution
(CRDs)--have balanced their policing function by assuming other
1/ Jack Anderson, Washington Post, September 9, 1974.
2I/ Amnesty International Report 1975-76, London, 1976, p. 96-97.
civic responsibilities such as health care. As of the mid-1970s,
the major forces for public order and security were no longer these
organs, but rather the vast propaganda network controlled by the
government and group pressures to conform.
Although part of personal security is freedom from govern-
ment repression, an equally important part encompasses protection
from criminal elements in society, and there is considerable evidence
that in certain areas conventional crime has diminished since 1959.
Presumed deterrents include the imposition of severe sanctions and
the willingness of courts to impose harsh penalties, the community
orientation of the local court system and the comprehensive security
apparatus of the Ministry of the Interior and the CRDs.
Reports by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and
Amnesty International which have been based, for the most part,
on information from Cuba-exile sources allege that political
prisoners have suffered deprivations, abuse and torture. Earlier
allegations of torture described beatings, simulated drowning,
pretended executions and medical experimentation. Other reported
abuses have included denial of food and medical treatment, hard
labor and unclean and overcrowded conditions. There is some
indication that psychological pressures such as the denial of
mail or family visits and enforced wearing of the uniform of
a common criminal have to some extent superceded physical abuse.
Journalist Theodore Jacqueney, a critic of the regime who visited
Cuba in October 1976 and talked to former prisoners and their
families, describes deprivations and poor conditions but mentions
that he heard "no allegations that systematic physical torture or
beatings take place in Cuban prisons at this time." In any event,
there is no indication that Cuba has used the sophisticated mechanical
torture devices of Chile or Brazil.
The Cuban government has never denied that it holds political
prisoners, but it has been vague about their number and identity.
Castro himself cited 2000 to 3000 prisoners in a 1977 interview with
Barbara Walters--down from his 15,000 figure a decade earlier.
Amnesty International, in its 1977 report, and a number of U. S.
government officials use 2000 to 3000 as an accurate figure, whereas
the exile community and some members of the State Department claim
the number of prisoners is as high as 20,000 to 100,000. Frank
Calzon, an exile and a member of the editorial board of a human
rights magazine concentrating on Cuba, has stated that the periodic
waves of political arrests and prisoner releases may indicate
that the total number of Cubans experiencing imprisonment is
larger than any of these figures.
I/ Jacqueney, Theodore "The Yellow Uniforms of Cuba," Worldview
Vol. 20, No 1-2. Jan/Feb. 1977, p. 6.
2/ Jacqueney, Theodore, Ibid., p. 95.
The prisoners are a heterogeneous group, comprising peasants,
students, women, intellectuals and former revolutionaries. Calzon
indicates that a large portion are from rural backgrounds. Few
of the members of the Batista regime are still incarcerated, most
were shot or have escaped. All prisoners are encouraged to participate
in a rehabilitation program and most do. The program encompasses
political indoctrination and salaried work and those involved usually
acquire special privileges and serve no more than two-thirds of their
sentences. According to the Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica, about 20
percent of the political prisoners refuse to go to rehabilitation camps
on point of political principle. This is the group--variously
estimated between 800 and 2000--that receives the most publicity
and about which there has been the most concern. These prisoners
are kept in the worst jails and under the harshest conditions.
They have no option for parole and their sentences may be 20-30
years. Moreover, it has been alleged that a good number whose
terms have expired have been re-sentenced without ever leaving
custody, allegedly on the grounds that they were not ready to
re-enter the society.
The 1970 report by the Inter American Commission on Human
Rights charged that many prisoners were tried but without benefits
of due process. In theory, under the new Cuban constitution
I/ Daily Cleaner (Jamaica); June 1976.
2/ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Report on Cuba
(1970) O.A.S. Washington, D.C.
such rights will be respected. Those accused will be presumed
innocent until proven guilty, entitled to legal counsel and a
trial within 20 days of arrest, and have the right to remain
silent or appeal a lengthy sentence. Cuban officials have stated
that the penal code, currently being revised, will further expand
the above guarantees.
Basic human needs
The principal goal of the Revolution was to eliminate social
and economic inequalities, and there are many reports that to
a great extent it has been successful in doing so. The initial
leveling of the society was accomplished both through government
policy and the unanticipated exodus of most of the upper and much
of the middle classes. Government policy was aimed at improving
opportunities for blacks, women, and the poor. Observers of
the Cuban scene agree that the poor, especially those in rural
areas, have been the real beneficiaries of the Revolution.
Government policies have emphasized the provision for basic
human needs over the freedoms of an open market. Since the early
days of large-scale redistribution of income, the revolutionary
planners have deliberately decreed austerity for the population
through a policy of rationing consumer goods in order to free
a maximum amount of agricultural and industrial production for
export. Initially this meant considerable hardship for a majority
of Cubans, and especially for those from wealthier backgrounds.
However, reports indicate that conditions have improved and the
pressures of going without have lifted considerably.
The success of the redistribution schemeshas been reflected
in qualitative improvements in the lives of most Cubans and in such
quantitative measures as the Overseas Development Council's Physical
Quality of Life (PQLI) Index. According to these data Cuba is
listed as a lower-middle income country (per capital GNP $300-$699),
but ranks substantially better in terms of social indicators (PQLI,
birth and death rates, life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy
and percent of GNP spent on education) than the average of either
countries in its income bracket or that of the members of the OAS.
Though these distributive achievements are impressive, they have
been accompanied by a failure to achieve significant growth in
overall per capital income. Indeed, a per capital growth rate of
GNP for 1965-74 of only .3 percent, puts Cuba at the very bottom
of both the OAS countries and the world's lower-middle income
countries with respect to this measure. Most economists would
agree that this lack of growth was a function of considerable
and unsuccessful economic experimentation in the 1960s.
I/ The above taken from "The Right to Eat" Cuba Review
Vol. VI, No. 4, Dec. 1976 p. 6 shows example of food rationing.
30-616 0- 78- 6
Some of the most conspicuous successes of the Revolution have
been with health, welfare, and education. Despite the fact
that a large portion of doctors and other medical personnel
left the island after 1959, the government has managed to construct
a network of hospitals and clinics throughout Cuba and the universi-
ties have trained adequate replacement staff, so that by the mid-
1970s Cuba had developed a health care system regarded by competent
foreign authorities as among the best in the Hemisphere. A
comprehensive social security system, the growth of day-care
facilities, and the provision of adequate--if overcrowded--housing
are also among the social benefits. Although dress and diet have
been characterized as exceedingly dull ("Cuban bread is still
totally uninspired" reported scholar Abe Lowenthal), there is
enough and quality is improving. Rather than relying on the
market mechanism, the policy of food distribution attempts to
direct resources to priority groups: infants and children
followed by pregnant and nursing mothers, aged ill and those
employed in exceptionally heavy phyiscal labor like cane cutters
or exposed to potentially toxic substances like miners.
1/ Area Handbook for Cuba, p. 186.
2/ "Right to Eat" op. cit.
"Education is the Revolution" is a much quoted statement by
Castro indicating the depth of commitment not only to formal educa-
tion, but to the re-education of all Cubans in the socialist mode.
Combinations of work and study and massive attempts to build cohe-
sion and understanding between urban and rural dwellers have led to
highly inventive approaches to non-formal education. The growth
of the formal education system has also been enormous, with enroll-
ment in the system as a whole nearly quadrupling between 1959 and
1975. Moreover, educational priorities have been structured to fit
manpower needs, which, while disallowing individual interests some-
what, is more likely to place talent in critically needed areas than
the educational systems of most Latin American countries.
Civil and Political Liberties
Judged against standards of individual liberties embodied in
liberal democratic constitutions, revolutionary Cuba does not fare
well. Individual freedoms are either eclipsed or qualified by so-
called collective rights, the foundation of which is "the un-
questioned justness of the Revolutionary process" itself. Thus,
the mass media, the universities, and most types of associations
are government controlled, and movement within and outside Cuba
is restricted. The present regime does not represent dramatic
change for Cuba in this respect because in the past the political
system has not been characterized by the participatory or checks
and balances institutions of western liberal democracies. What is
different is the revolutionary rationale justifying deprivation of
civil and political liberties.
Many Cubans have found this situation intolerable and have
emigrated to the United States and elsewhere. It is not possible
to state precisely how many individuals left the island between
1959 and 1971. When the Cuban government finally terminated the
refugee flights to Miami, an estimated 100,000 people were still
anxious to depart. There are an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 Cuban
refugees in the United States today. People are still allowed
to emigrate, but it is an arduous and lengthy process, during
which the individual allegedly must first resign from his job.
A small number of exiles--between 10,000 to 20,000--have
been repatriated, and ani increasing number have been allowed to
return for visits. The lifting of U.S travel restrictions in March
1977 precipitated a rush of applications for visits but Castro
later said that no exiles would be granted visas except on a case
by case basis.
Internal travel is fairly unrestricted, although a person
may not move to another job in another place without the consent
of his fellow workers, who determines whether or not he can be
The new constitution theoretically provides the protection
of certain basic human rights within clear limits. It guarantees,
according to the Cuban Government, the inviolability of personal
integrity of the citizen and denounces the use of pressure or
force in eliciting testimony. The Cubans also say it assures the
rights of freedom of speech, assembly, and religion, as long as
these do not violate the framework of the socialist society. Exercise
of freedoms in violation of the objectives of the socialist state,
however, is punishable by law.
The rights to information and freedom of expression are
similarly constrained. The government encourages feedback on-
the performance of government agencies, but reacts harshly to criticism
of the basic goals of the Revolution. Thus, discussions are concerned
not with questions of alternative policy choices but rather with
the effectiveness of the policies as given. Mass media are regarded
as an organic part of the complex of institutions shaping national
development and integration, and as such are the closely guarded
prerogative of the government. Both newspapers with nationwide
circulation are official organs of the Communist party and their
main source of information is the government owned news agency.
Some material from abroad is available, mostly from other Communist
nations. Cuba has often welcomed foreign journalists, many of
whom subsequently published books on their experiences.
1/ A few of the American journalists to write about their
experiences/impressions have been: James Nelson Goodsell, Joe
Nicholson Jr., Theodore Jacqueney, and Herbert Matthews.
Decisionmaking on matters of national and international policy
has remained the privilege of a small elite, all of whom are members
of the Communist party. The CDRs and other mass organizations have
been engaged primarily in implementation of policies over which they
have little influence. Nevertheless, some reports maintain that the
closer one comes to issues critical to a particular locale or workplace,
the more one finds vigorous debate, leading to what political scientist
Richard Fagen 'has termed a "subculture of local democracy."
Moreover, since the early 1970s there hay been attempts to
institutionalize the socio-political system created since the Revo-
lution through increased participation in and decentralization of
government functions. The constitution adopted by the 1st Party
Congress in December 1975 outlined the legislative process called "Poder
Popular," (Popular Power) which was initiated through local elections
the following year. Cubans elected delegates to the municipal
assemblies from candidates they had chosen through the CDRs or
their rural counterparts. According to an article in the national
newspaper, Granma, 72 percent of the population participated in
such meetings. Municipal assemblies then elected delegates to
both the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly from
lists of candidates made up by the CDRs and the Communist party.
After the National Assembly was constituted in late 1976, its
members selected a Council of State which would function when
the Assembly was not in session; and, in consultation with the
President of the Council, Castro, selected a Council of Ministers.
It is too early to determine the full effects of the institutional-
ization process, or whether attempts at decentralizing participation
and decisionmaking have been successful. One former political
prisoner interviewed by Jacqueney criticized the elections as not
being free, station that only Communists or Communist-approved candi=
dates could be elected.
Since the early 1970s have been a number of moves by both the
executive and legislative branches toward normalization of relations
President Carter has consistently maintained the improvement
of human rights in Cuba as a condition--if not a pre-condition--
for resumption of full diplomatic relations with Cuba. On February
13, 1977 during a press conference in Plains, President Carter said
that the human rights issue was the key element in relations between
the United States and Cuba. Similarly during a press conference
on August 12, 1977, U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young criticized Cuba's
treatment of its dissidents and said that human rights questions
will play a role in the move toward improved relations with Cuba.
Three perspectives have been influential in congressional activity
relating to the Cuban human rights issue. All groups have protested
1/ Jacqueney, op. cit., p. 8.
human rights violations, but place varying emphasis on the place of
human rights in the negotiation process. First there are those who
oppose lifting the embargo and improving relations as long as "Cuba
is dominated by Castro and Communism." Senator Stone Congressman
Pepper leading spokesmen for this group, which would also include
Representatives Chappell, Burke, and Murphy and Senators Byrd, Stone,
Talmadge and Helms. A second group, including Senators Brock and
Percy and Congressmen Fascell, cite improvement of human rights
among other things, as preconditions to bilateral economic and
diplomatic relations. A key issue with this group is that inter-
national human rights agencies be allowed to enter Cuba to document
the situation surrounding political prisoners. A third category
comprising Representatives Schroeder and Bingham and Senators Kennedy,
McGovern, Javits and Pell, to mention a few, urge that a move
toward normalization include attention to human rights and other
issues, but not necessarily be determined by it. In a speech in
August 1976, Senator Kennedy stated, "the negotiating process must
include the condition of human rights and the condition of political
Legislation enacted during 1977 had a direct bearing on the
issue of human rights and normalization of relations with Cuba.
1/ Congressional Record, Senate, Aug. 6, 1976.
Section 511(b) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal
Year 1978 (P.L. 95-105) expressed the sense of Congress that Cuba's
"direspect for the human rights of individuals" is among the elements
which must be taken into account in any negotiations toward normaliza-
tion of relations of relations with that country.
El Salvador is a poor, largely rural country. Access to information
on the current status of human rights is limited; statistics are often
incomplete. Since an escalation of human rights violations has been
reported in recent months, figures on "disappeared" persons and detainees
are not yet available.
Sources consulted in preparing this report include Amnesty Inter-
national materials, publications by the Salvadoran Catholic Chruch, the
Overseas Development Council Physical Quality of Life Index, statistics
and reports of the Salvadoran government, AID, the Inter-American Develop-
ment Bank and other international agencies, the 1962 Constitution of
El Salvador, The Political Almanac of the World, congressional hearings,
human rights reports, and newsclippings.
Since 1932, except for a brief period in 1944, military forces in
alliance with the landed oligarchy have ruled El Salvador. For the past
15 years, military leaders of the National Conciliation Party (PCN) have
controlled the government. The following brief summary of human rights-
related events of the past eight years provides a useful introduction to
the analysis of the status of human rights in El Salvador during 1977.
*Prepared by Cressida S. McKean, Consultant.
In 1972, the official party (PCN) candidate, Col. Arturo Armando
Molina, was the declared winner in allegedly fraudulent presidential
elections. The presidential candidate for the opposition, Jose Napoleon
Duarte, has remained in forced exile since an attempted coup in March
1972, following the elections.
On July 30, 1975, government security forces, reportedly on the
command.of Defense Minister Carlos H. Romero, trapped on a bridge and
fired upon a student demonstration protesting alleged police brutality.
Amnesty International reported that twenty-one students were seen dead
or dying following the attack. Though official accounts acknowledged
only one fatality, reportedly none of the twenty-one students has been
President Molina's government plan for 1973-77 included a mild
land reform measure, which he considered "integral" to his program
for social and economic development. In October 1976, the Legislative
Assembly, consisting exclusively of official party representatives,
substantially modified the "Agrarian Transformation." In effect, the
landed oligarchy pressured the government into postponing the land
reform indefinitely. The Catholic Church, known to support agrarian
reform, was growing increasingly impatient with the government's tacit
approval of persecution by the landowing class in the rural areas. ORDEN
I/ New York Times. April 8, 1977.
(Nationalist Democratic Organization), a para-military organization
closely controlled by the military and allegedly directed by the
Defense Ministry, was known to have intimidated or harmed members
and supporters of opposition parties, and murdered at least 15 peasant
leaders, between January and September 1977. In February 1977,
the government forcibly expelled or denied re-entry to 10 priests,
several on charges of subversion. On March 5, in an historic Pastoral
Letter, the Salvadoran Bishops Conference, whose members are generally
known for their caution, confronted the government, demanding that
the Army and other security forces stop all violence. They stated
that "torture as a means of intimidation has increased."
Following the February 20, 1977 presidential election, the
government declared the official party candidate, General Oscar
Humberto Romero, the winner over Colonel Ernesto Antonio Claramount,
the candidate for the National Opposition Union (UNO), a coalition
of parties. In the week following the election, up to 60,000 opposition
party members peacefully protested in the central plaza, alleging that
the election had been a fraud. On February 28, the Army opened fire
on the demonstrators who were demanding an annulment of the election.
Amnesty International reported approximately 100 persons killed. On
March 1, President Molina stated that the government gave "public warning
to extremists and disrupters of public order, forewarning them that they
1/ Amnesty International. El Salvador: General Background. External
Report. AI Index No. AMIR/29/18/77. p. 6.
would be forcibly removed from the plaza and the adjacent areas. Since
there was no response to the call to leave, the government, through use
of Public Security Forces, removed these persons from the areas previously
mentioned." An Associated Press correspondent on March 1 reported that
"the security forces attacked at one in the morning without warning."
According to a March 1 press release by the Salvadoran Embassy,
"President Molina stated that communism and international subversion were
the guilty parties in the violent incidents which took place in the capital
yesterday." (Feb. 28, 1977).
That same day, the Legislative Assembly made up exclusively of
official party representatives (Party of National Conciliation) voted
in a "suspension of guarantees," in effect, a State of Siege. This
measure placed all courts under military control, and denied Salvadorans
freedom to enter or leave the country, freedom of expression and the
press, privacy of correspondence, and the right of assembly. According
to a press release by the Salvadoran Embassy, the "suspension of constitu-
tional guarantees," also known as a "state of siege, was decreed on
I/ Embajada de El Salvador, A contecimentos Elecciones Presidenciales.
Washington, D.C. March 3, 1977.
2/ Ibid., Anexo no. 1, March 1, 1977.
3/ Ibid., March 1, 1977.
March 1, because of "serious alterations in the public order."
Between February and June 1977, the government forcibly exiled or
expelled dozens of persons, closed down a newspaper, broke up demonstrations
occupied villages, and forcibly detained and even killed many persons
through the use of National Guard, ORDEN or Army forces. It is commonly
assumed that as Defense Minister, Carlos Humberto Romero, exerted strong
influence in these government activities.
On June 30, the day prior to General Romero's inauguration as president
the State of Siege was lifted. President Romero sought to disassociate
his administration from the previous regime. He denounced violence on all
fronts and initiated a dialogue with the Church and the Christian Democrats.
The government stepped up security measures, partially to protect the
threatened Jesuit community and partially in response to increased activity
by left-wing guerillas. Certain rights--freedom of movement and access to
civilian courts, for example--are generally respected by the Romero govern-
ment, except in the rural areas. Informed observers credit international
pressure for President Romero's condemnation of violence and government
protection of the Jesuits. However, since July 1, 1977, persons in the
I/ Amnesty International. El Salvador: General Background.
2/ Latin America Political Report. 1, July 1977. Vol. XI No. 25.
3/ Newsweek. Aug. 1, 1977. p. 50.
New York Times. July 21, 1977. p. A3.
custody of security forces have continued to "disappear" or be killed.
Also, recently passed legislation designed to combat "terrorist" gives
increased leverage to security forces.
Integrity of the person
In a country of just over 4 million persons, several hundred persons
have been killed or simply "disappeared" during 1977, according to documen-
tation collected by the Catholic Church in El Salvador and Amnesty Inter-
national. The fully documented cases of 45 persons, who have been killed,
and of 27 who have simply "disappeared," were presented to the O.A.S.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, prior to their in-loco mission
in January 1978.
Since January 1977 Amnesty International has received documentation
on the murder by security forces of 31 peasant leaders and the disappearance
of an additional 26 peasant leaders. Also according to Amnesty International,
another 100 persons were killed in the attack on demonstrators by security
forces following the February elections. Since President Romero's inauguration,
at least 14 people have been killed and 17 have "disappeared" while in the
custody of security forces.
The Catholic Church has reported the murder of two priests and three
catequists. The White Warriors Union, an extreme right-wing death squad
which presented the Jesuits with a death threat in July 1977, claimed
responsibility for one priest's death. Persecution of the church is closely
linked to persecution of peasants and of rural organizations, as religious
personnel have worked increasingly for the poor in the rural areas.
Five members of the upper class, including Salvadoran Foreign Minister
Mauricio Borgonovo Pohl, former President Osman Aguirre, and industrialist
Raul Molina Canas, were killed in 1977. The FPL (Popular Liberation Front)
claimed responsibility for three deaths. Two other wealthy individuals
were kidnapped. The FPL kidnapped the foreign minister, Dr. Borgonovo,
and threatened to execute him unless the government released 37 political
prisoners. The government did not accede to its demands. Many of these
37 prisoners "may no longer exist", according to a May 1977 article in
Excelsior. At least two of the 37 "disappeared" are presumed dead by
In El Salvador, apparently arbitrary detention by government security
forces leading to "disapperances" and probable elimination has become an
increasingly common pattern. In 1977, Amnesty International's fundamental
concern was these "disapperances" and probable murder in custody. In almost
all of the documented cases of "disappeared" persons arrested by security
forces, the government has not acknowledged their detention.
In 1977, at least 12 persons including four priests report having
been tortured. In most cases, according to their testimony, government
I/ Amnesty International. El Salvador: General Background. p. 14.
2/ Excelsior, (Mexico City), May 10, 1977.
security forces carried out torture, including use of electric shocks.
Dozens more persons report severe mistreatment and beating while in the
custody of government authorities.
An accurate number of detainees is not presently available, largely
because the government denies the existence in prisons of many persons,
reportedly seized by security forces under the State of Siege. The bulk
of the detainees have not been charged or tried in court. With the lifting
of the State of Siege, detained persons are to be tried by civilian
rather than military courts. Legislation that is designed to control
terrorists was passed in November 1977. It gives the government's enforcement
agencies wide latitude in handling any threat to the public order and
the established government. In addition, while habeas corpus gives the
judiciary the right to check on abuses by security forces, in practice
the Supreme Court has done little to monitor actively the executive's
Basic Human Needs
With a territory roughly the size of New Jersey and a population
density of 500 per square mile, El Salvador is both the smallest and most
overcrowded nation on the American continent. Its 3.5% annual population
growth rate further aggravates competition over the country's extremely
1/ Amnesty International (External Paper) "Habeas Corpus in El Salvador:
Legal Remedy in cases of illegal detention and "disappearance". AI Index No.
30-616 0 78 7
limited resources; the average annual population increase for Latin
America is 2.9%.
El Salvador's economy is based primarily on agriculture. In turn,
distribution of goods is strongly influenced by land ownership and control,
which is heavily skewed in favor of a wealthy few. The largest four per
cent of the farms account for over 60 per cent of the land area, while the
smallest 70 percent of all farms account for only eleven per cent of the
land area. Overall GNP per capital is $410; however, the small rural farmer's
average income per capital is $133. Moreover, there has also been a sharp
increase in the number of landless families. (30,451 1961; 112,108
- 1971; 166,922 1975)
Figures on life expectancy, infant mortality and literacy can be used
as initial indicators of a country's "quality of life." On the Overseas
Development Council Physical Quality of Life Index, based on a composite
I/ Government of El Salvador, Consejo Nacional de Planificacion y
Coordi-nacion Economica (CONEPLAN). Plan de Desarrollo Economico y Social
1973-1977. San Salvador, Casa Presidencial, 1973, p. 35, Table #35.
2/ Inter-American Statistical Institute of the O.A.S., America en
Cifras, 1972, Table 311-04. F.A.O. Preliminary Results of the World Census
of Agriculture, 5th, 19th, and 21st Issues, as cited in Wilkie, James W.,
Statistical Abstract of Latin America, Vol. 17, 1976. Los Angeles, UCLA
Latin American Center Publications, 1976, (Herein referred to as SALA), Table
3/ Agency for International Development, Fiscal Year 1978 Subcommission
to the Congress Latin American Programs, February 1977, p. 77 (AID).
4/ Bruke Melvin, "El Sistena de plantation by la proletarization del
trabijo Africola en El Salvador," Estudios Centro Americanos Universidad
Centroamerican Jose Simeon Canes, 335/336 Sept.-Oct. 1976, p. 476.
of these indicators, El Salvador registers 67. Given its per capital GNP,
this is modestly above the norm for Latin American countries. The infant
mortality rate is 54 per thousand live births and life expectancy at birth
is 58 years. However, 73.4% of all children under 5 years are malnourished.
After Haiti, El Salvador's population has the lowest daily calorie consump-
tion and the fewest number of doctors per person in all Latin America.
Over 50% of all deaths occur among children under 5 years old.
El Salvador has a literacy rate of 57%, but the need for education is
:the most acute in the rural areas, where literacy is closer to 30%. Also,
according to AID figures, persons on farms under 1 hectare have a literacy
*rate 62% lower than that on farms 10 to 20 hectares.
The percentage (4.4% in 1960 and 8.4% in 1970) of economically active
persons in El Salvador served by social security is the second lowest in the
Hemisphere. In recent years, the number of workers covered by social
1/ A.I.D., Agricultural Sector Assessment: El Salvador, August 1977,
2/ Economic Commission on Latin America of the United Nations, (ECLA),
El Desarrollo Latino americano y la Coyuntura Economica Internacional, Ter-
cera Parte, 1975, p. 69 (as cited in SALA, table #105) and p. 59 (as cited
in SALA, table #802).
3/ A.I.D. Agricultural Sector Assessment, p. 19.
4/ Ibid., p. 24.
5/ ECLA, Economic Survey of Latin America, 1973, p. 677 (as cited in
SALA table #810).
security has risen slightly.
Former President Molina made modest efforts to respond to the worsening
situation of the rural poor. However, government expenditures on social
services have not kept pace with the rapid population growth, the dislocation
caused by rural to urban migration, and the sharp rise in the prices of
basic necessities. For 1973-77, the government budgeted less for social
services, as a percentage of total government expenditures) than was budgeted
for 1967-73. The government budget included a 1.9% drop in education
expenditures, a 1.6% drop in community development funds, a .4% drop in
health-related expenditures, and a 3.8% decrease in housing expenditures.
The only sector designed to reach the poor that showed a budget increase
as a percentage of total government investment was road and water transport
One of the original objectives of President Molina's government was
income redistribution. Some form of agrarian reform was considered of the
"greatest urgency." Though a Salvadoran Institute for Agrarian Transfor-
mation was established in 1975, the government did not announce its first
agrarian reform project until June 1976. This project would have involved
I/ IDB, 1976 Report, pp. 241-242.
2/ Government of El Salvador, CONEPLAN. Plan de Desarrollo, Table #6,
"Comparacion de la Inversion Fisica (1968-1971) y (1973-1977).
3/ Ibid., p. 57 and p. 102.