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El Salvador

Volume 124: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he intends to seek to make an official visit to El Salvador in the next year.

My right hon. and learned Friend has no present plans to visit El Salvador.

Will the Minister comment on the likely effect on the civil crisis of statements such as that made by General Bustillo, the Chief of the Armed Forces in El Salvador last Friday, in which he criticised the Left-wing opposition in El Salvador, criticised Amnesty International and made ominous warnings to the Government of El Salvador? Will he make it quite clear that the making of such a statement is utterly incompatible with the training of El Salvadorian military personnel in Britain?

May I say, first, that no military personnel from El Salvador are being trained in Britain at the present time. The whole question of the compliance of all countries in the region with the peace agreement will be considered on 15 January by the five Presidents, as agreed under the Arias plan. It is best to suspend judgment until then.

Does my hon. Friend recall that the Inter-Parliamentary Union will meet in Guatemala in the spring? Will he take this opportunity to express his satisfaction with the restoration of diplomatic relations between this country and Guatemala and perhaps reflect on the part played by the British group in the IPU in furthering that process?

Of course we look forward to the IPU meeting in Guatemala. We are delighted that we have been able to restore diplomatic relations with Guatemala and it may he possible to discuss that further in the next question.

Is the Minister aware that while public attention has been concentrating understandably on the spectacular progress made in implementing the Central American peace plan by the Government of Nicaragua, there has been a regression in the situation in El Salvador? Death squads are back in the streets of San Salvador, two human rights activists have been murdered and the Far Right is flexing its muscles again. Will Her Majesty's Government urge President Duarte to start a dialogue with the opposition and end the murderous attacks on the civilian population?

I do not think that the use of emotive language is very helpful in relation to what is happening in the region. May I state gently to the hon. Gentleman that full civil liberties have still not been restored within Nicaragua. Only recently President Ortega said publicly that the Sandinistas would not hand over power if they lost elections—if elections are held—but would use the army to undermine any elected Government.