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March 23, 1980
I write to request that you and the members of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee oppose the provision of U.S. military assistance to the present government in El Salvador.
This position of the U.S. Catholic Conference has been formulated in light of the extraordinary step taken by Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador. On February 17th, he addressed a personal plea to President Carter asking him, in the name of human rights, to "prohibit the giving of military aid to the Salvadorean government", and to guarantee that the United States would not "intervene, directly or indirectly, with military, economic, diplomatic or other pressures to determine the destiny of the Salvadorean people."
By this letter 1 wish to echo the Archbishop's plea, this time from within the church in the United States. The position of our Conference is taken because of the information coming to us from the church in El Salvador. Rather than a view of a beleaguered government caught between extremists of left and right, the picture we receive is that the military arm of government in El Salvador is itself an instrument of terror and repression, quite unable to win the political support needed to govern in peace.
It is for this reason that I commend respectfully for consideration Archbishop Romero's position that the United States not provide any military assistance to the government in El Salvador.
Bishop Thomas C. Kelly, O.P.
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