The $97 million in additional military aid the U.S. government soon will funnel to war-torn El Salvador would be better used if designated for humanitarian causes, said Ruth Navidad, who is active in the repopulation movement in El Salvador.
Navidad, a former teacher who serves on the board of directors of the Christian Committee for the Displaced of El Salvador, is active in resettling people displaced by war in her country. She came to Bangor Friday as part of a nationwide tour to talk about the devastation El Salvador has suffered in 11 years of intense internal struggle.
Since the early 1980s El Salvador has been wracked by war between its rural population and its military forces. Resisting an oppressive regime, the rural natives of El Salvador have been victims of a scorched-earth campaign by the military that has driven 1.5 million of the country’s 6 million people from their homes, according to Navidad.
Navidad will speak in Bangor at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, date in today’s paper was wrong, at St. John’s Catholic Church, 207 York St., and at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, at the First Universalist Church, 120 Park St. Navidad, who does not speak English, was accompanied by Julianna Barnard of the U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities project.
At a Friday press conference, Barnard translated reporters’ questions into Spanish and Navidad’s comments into English.
Bangor is a “sister city” to Carrasque, a community of 300 families in northern El Salvador that is rebuilding after being destroyed by war. The local group of Peace in Central America sponsors the sister city project with Carrasque in Chalatenango Province.
Navidad praised the U.S.-El Salvador project, which has offered moral support and hope for El Salvadoran people, she said.
Eighteen American cities currently take part in the project which has three goals: to stop U.S. military spending in El Salvador, to provide moral support to communities attempting to rebuild after the destruction of war, and to provide humanitarian financial aid to the Central American country.
Donna Gilbert of Winterport, who went to El Salvador last summer as part of the Sister Cities project, said the program provides cultural and emotional benefits to both countries.
A handful of people from PICA sang songs as Navidad arrived at Bangor International Airport Friday morning.
Brian Stewart of Harrington, a PICA organizer, said the group has provided $2,500 to an El Salvadoran community to help start a bakery and stock a medical store for 600 families in the region. The group also sent needed items like children’s shoes and used eyeglasses, Stewart said.