El Salvador

EL SALVADOR Progress in El Salvador's peace process gives rise to hope that a more favorable environment will be created for journalism there. Already, there are fewer problems than in the past. On April 18, the Association of Foreign Correspondents of El Salvador protested government reimposition of a requirement that journalists obtain military-issued safe conducts to travel to areas of conflict. As a result of this requirement, newsmen were blocked on April 14 and 15 from traveling to several parts of Chalatenango province and on April 16 to the town of Arcatao. Previously, the government had been more flexible about allowing journalists to travel. In mid-July, Juri Dimitriev, the correspondent for the Soviet news agency Tass, was deported. He had arrived with a visa issued by the Salvadoran embassy in Managua to cover the Central American summit meeting. Dimitriev was detained at the airport by immigration authorities and deported 12 hours later. Pedro Rioseco, Managua bureau chief of the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, charged that he had to cancel his trip to El Salvador to cover the summit because Salvadoran immigration authorities annulled his visa at the last moment. The Central American Refugee Center of Los Angeles charged on August 9 that members of the armed forces had attacked Salvadoran journalists trying to cover an eviction in the capital. As far as could be determined immediately, the incident was limited to verbal exchanges. During the past few months there also have been verbal attacks or claims against Salvadoran dailies. Among them are the following: In a letter June 23 in the Catholic weekly Orientacion, San Salvador Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas accused El Diario de Hoy of conducting a campaign against efforts to complete construction of the San Salvador cathedral. The newspaper has published stories citing reports that allege the building lacks adequate protection against earthquakes. The archbishop sald all necessary safety precautions were being taken. A declaration by Bernard Aronson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for InterAmerican Affairs, put an end to denunciations by the Marxist left about the fire in the installations of the newspaper Latino, concerning which this organization has already given a report. Aronson said the fire had been set by the leftists themselves in order to place the blame on the government. "We have absolutely convincing proof," said Aronson in declarations to the U.S.SenateForeign Relations Committee. The whereabouts of five journalists from the National Information Center (CIN), missing during the guerrilla offensive against San Salvador in November, 1990, are still unknown. According to declarations by some of their family members, some of them are presumed to be alive and in the power of the guerrillas.