Page 1


BREAKTHROUGH .

socialist bloc for substantial material aid, the changes in the world do have a deep impact on us. There's now practically one single power in the world, the United Stares. There is no longer a bloc or a country that can counter-balance U.S. foreign policy. This we need co accept. I don't mean accepting it and not fighting it, bur accept it as a Fact and figure out how ro move forward in such a situation. We need a new revolutionary strategy, nor j usc the same one we've had for the past ten years. There was also a deep political effect within the FMLN after the Sandinisras lost the 1990 election. After all, Cuba and Nicaragua were like our brothers and sisters. What would be the future of our own revolutionary process? How could we develop a new revolutionary strategy? Where could we look for international solidarity? And we concluded that we were on our own. Now, it's true that there will be some kinds of solidarity, and this will continue. Bur it will be limited. and it will not qualitatively affect the military situation. After eleven years ofwar, we had reached an equ il ibrium at the military level. We couldn'cdecisively defeat the Salvadoran Army militarily, and they certainly couldn't defeat us. There is no assurance that either side could win even if fighting continued for many more years. Under these conditions, practically all the political and social forces in our country were demanding an end to the war. Bur they were also demanding a peace accord that advanced our people's fight for economic, political and social democracy. We decided ro end the war, bur notatanycost. End the war, yes, bur create an opening to continue the fight for power in the political arena. To achieve that, it was necessary co win changes in the constitution, the army, human rights - all things that we fought for in the negotiations. We are establishing the conditions that will allow this confrontation to happen on equal terms. Not with an army chat is enforcing irs will on the entire society. The UN also played an important role, as political brokers. At the beginning of d1e negotiations, the U.S. 路 tried to undermine the UN. When it realized this wasn't possible, they slowly changed their attitude. In the end, the U.S. understood that the negotiations could nor proceed without the UN and, even though they disagreed with some UN positions, they accepted the UN role.

What are the aspects ofthe agreement that you think

provide the basis for moving towards a more open democratic space?

The key aspect is that the military's power is going to be undermined. Of course, they are going to maintain some power. Bur the reality is this: the negotiations provide mechanisms to submit the military ro civilian oonrroL That's the key ach ievemenc ofthe negotiations. Many things are going robe dismanded- the civil

defense, the civilian patrols and, of course, the hegemony that the military has created over the entire security apparatus. They could attempt to recoup that kind of power, but they will be forcefully opposed in that case. For example, the FMLN isn't going to dismande irs military apparatus until we see that the agreements are on an irreversible path coward being fulfilled. We will have nine months between February 1 and October 1 with our military force as a guarantee that those agreements will be implemented. Don't forget that we have accumulated a great deal of military experienceduringtheseyearsofwar. Youdon'tlosethat just because you aren't fighting for a year or two. If we need to, we have the potencial to put together a new military force in a shon period of time. We are also hoping that the peace agreement will open up me conditions for all the other social and political forces in our country to play a role right now, and to develop the mass struggle. And not only that. The international community will be involved in the verification of all me agreements.

How can you achievefondamental economic change in ELSa/vader, given that thepower ofthe oligarchy ham iyet been broken, and that they will have the support of intematumal monetary agencies and the U.S. as they put Jont~ard their econqmic models? First, through negotiations we achieved me written commitment for me continuation of the agrarian reform program. We also won a guarantee for a line of credit for the poor producers, and we also were able to guarantee mat land in me areas ofcontrol of the FMLN is going to be given to the people that are living there. The government fought mar, arguing that only people who own land right now should have ownership rights. But there are many people who are living on land in the zones without legal right to it, who have not been able to work the land because they don't have credit, or because they were bombed or forced to move again and again. Under the peace agreement, mese people will get meir land. We have to accept some realities right now. One of mem is that capitalism is not going to disappear overnight in El Salvador. We do not accept the capitalist solution, but we understand that until we change the correlation of forces to our favor and achieve political power, we will have to be in the opposition. And we'll be a strong opposition. We are completely convinced that the FMLN is the most influential political force in El Salvador. And this is an advantage that we have right now. Everyth.ing in El Salvador will be upside down in the next few years. So many things will change - the military, the constitution, etc. But in the middle of mat will be a class struggle, the rich versus the poor. The poor will have better conditions to wage that fight than they had in the past. That is the difference.


E

SUMMERI992

We believe that the ARENA government has already made a big mistake in their economic strategy. lf they accepted some kind of deal or compromise with the FMLN and the popular movement around economic issues, they would be in a better posicion to win the elections of 1994. So far, however, they haven't even accepted basic things like establishing price controls, and raising the minimum wage. That sees the terms for a big fighc over these things this year. And the inscabili ty is going co continue.

What economic role doyou see Latin American countries like Mexico, Brazil or Venezuela playing in El Salvador over the nextfew years? The Latin American governments are really nervous about the international situation. They know chat the U.S. is going to try to impose its will on them, and this is feared. On the other hand, all these governments need financial support. They try co create a balance between these two fu.ctors. Also, these governments need to project an image of leadership if they wane some independence from the United Scates. Thac's why Mexico, for example, was so involved with the negotiations in El Salvador. So there's a small space in which we can work with these governments. ln terms of expecting massive economic support from Latin America, forger ic, char's not a reality. All the governments in Latin America know chat it's necessary co develop economically. They know chat the only way co get help is from the industrial countries of the capitalist world. Bur they know chat many of the economic policies ofthe capitalist world, like the austerity programs of the IMF, work co undermine any support they might have among their own people. This has been the dynamic - and you can see that nobody stays in power in Latin America for more chan one term. That's why all these governments are ttying co implement the IMP policies cautiously, by doses, not by shock therapy. In the case ofEl Salvador, the U.S. has an obligation co finance- for at least some period of timethe reconstruction. Why? After all the commitment the Reagan Administration made to winning the war in El Salvador, if chey now simply say "good bye," whac image will it project as they try to provide leadership co the world? Ac least they have to cover their backs.

So you expect them to aid ARENA? Noc necessarily. They face a tricky situation. Two forces exist, one couldn't defeat the ocher. This hasn't changed yet. The U.S. may not want to jusc keep pouring money in while the social unrest continues.

But don't you expect them to provide some leveL of

economic support to ARENA in order to help ARENA win the political struggle? Defini rely! They're going co do that, but at the same cime they're going to look for ways to avoid a social confrontation. Because if they only give the money to ARENA, and ARENA imposes an economic austerity package, this is not going to work in El Salvador. They have to recognize that there is another powerful force in the countty. That force is the FMLN and all the organi2ations around it, in alliance. Those are hard realities that the United Scates has co accept. Of course we're going to be at a disadvantage in terms of financial resources, but remember chat, with our meager resources, we have been fighting chis war for eleven years. We are quite capable of doing more with less.

You ve talked about the advantages thatyou seefor tht FMLN in the current situation. What do you see as the clangers in entering this peace process? The dangers we see are these: First, chat a sector of the army and ARENA will tty to open up a dirty war. That's for real. They are going ro try to transfer what the security forces have been doing to a new clandestine network. We don' t see how they will succeed. Of course, they can killsomecompafierosandcompafieras, but they won't be able ro overrurn the process just with death squads. The other danger we see is chat the army still remains a power. How the army's hands will be tied is not yet completely clear. So that is a danger. But they will be weakened and cheywon'tbe receivingchesamelevelsof military aid, or command the same percentage of the Salvadoran budget. The third danger would emerge if the death squads and army combine and don't allow the accords to be implemented. Then the election ofl994 will be a fraud, and you will see a new war opening up in El Salvador. Because this is not something that the FMLN is just going to accept. That's the worst case scenario, but we don't see the conditions for chis to occur right now. There are too many political forces involved with th~ process, there are too many tendencies chat support the negotiations and support the agreements. I'm not say路 ingthatARENAcan'tworkrochangecheseconditions, but they will have ro confront a massive popular upheaval if they tty. We see these agreements as a partial victory, because we're not yec in power. Bur these agreements are going to transform Salvadoran society. We're scilJ going to be competing with ARENA, but we're transferring that confrontation to a different field. It will be a difficult struggle, bur if we succeed, we will have shaped a new strategy thac will have tremendous impact throughout Latin America. 0


II SUMMERI992 appears to be homogeneous, unconflicted, orderly," when our states are united and our leaders speak for us all. "Such order always depends upon the subjection of localized, fragmented knowledges, which is a necessary condition for the appearance of the ' toralizing' discourses of authority." Discourses - posrmodern jargon for, one might say, the stories that explain us to ourselves- are totalizing when they claim to apply to everyone, when they define "human nature," "common" sense, "obvious" truths, "American" history. Native American artist Jimmie Durham asks, What made the I ron Age the Iron Age? What if there were some much more important developments at the same time which we overlook because the age has been assigned to iron? My folks, then, were in the Stone Age when you guys showed up. But if groceries were the standard, we were in the Maize, Tomatoes, and Beans Age and you were in the Turn ips Age. For you, today is the White Bread Age. Euro-American insistence that progress is our most important product determines our view of all human history; then we turnaround and use history to "prove" that our faith in technology is justified (a faith shared, by the way, by Marxism and capitalism). PM theory asks whose interests the myths of science and technology serve. All thought systems- science, history, economics, psychology- which claim co be everyone's property and to serve all equally - are totalizing discourses. These are the philosophies and knowledge systems which tell a total story: heterosexuality is natural; scientific knowledge is objective knowledge; technology brings progress; capitalism guarantees freedom; socialism guarantees freedom. Postmodernists hope to open up spaces in which suppressed knowledge stemming from difference can surface. The gender myths, history myths, and science myths which have accompanied, allowed, and justified the development of Western society must be questioned and challenged; otherwise, different, localized wisdom will always succumb to the reason and the logic of the center. Who can argue against the "compelling logic" of the "scientific method" or "the march of progress" in "the course of history"? But these systems of knowledge which claim to work always, everywhere, and for everyone are subtle disguises of domination. If progress requires that irrationality and superstition be subjugated by reason and science, thenirrational peoples must be colonized for their own good; even Marx thought so. These totalizing rationalities are not "conservative politics"- they are Western ideology, and the left has its share of discourses- including, Jane Flax points out, "defining women as a 'question' or the 'sex' or the 'other' and men as the universal or at least ungendered 'species-being"' - that are notalternatives. True alternatives, Flax writes, "must necessarily pay attention to varieties of experience and value whatever they can find of the local and particular. They cannot

offer a viewpoint, a universal subject, a way to liberation, development, or happiness, or a truth that will set us free." But they can challenge the dominant power by exposing that its totalizing thought systems are total and often deadly- fiction.

WHAT OTHERS SAY PM theory reverses the polarity of domination and Otherness. Simone de Beauvoir developed the concept of the Other in The Second Sex (1953) to explain how in patriarchal culture woman is set up as the abnormal opposite of the male. In The Dialectic ofSex (1970), Shularnith Firestone argued that gender, not as anatomy but as idea, structures every aspect of women's lives. Now the Other is extended to include all who, from the dominant culture's point of view, are outsiders: not man, not white, not heterosexual. These definitions can be literally true, as poet Gwendolyn Brooks discovered: Here is what my lircle green Webster's New World has to say about a world shaking word: black (blak), adj .... !. opposite to white: see color. 2. dark-complexioned. 3. Negro. 4. without light; dark. 5. dirry. 6. evil; wicked. 7. sad; dismaL '8. sullen.... Interestingly enough, we do not find that 'white is "opposite of black." That would "lift" black to the importance-level of white. white (hwit), adj .... I. having the color ofpure snow or milk. 2. ofa light or pale color. 3. pale; wan. 4. pure; innocent. 5. having a light-colored skin. It's through defmition, by language and image, that racism, sexism, heterosex.ism are inscribed in society. Rigid definitions ofidentity are spread throughoutma.ss consciousness by the simple device ofrepetition ofstock images. "On television," Ishmael Reed observes, "black men are typically shown naked from the waist up, handcuffed, and leaning over a police car." Yet Black feminist bell hooks makes a definite distinction between that marginality wruch is imposed by oppressive structure and that marginality one chooses as a sire of resistance, as location of radical openness and possibility. hooks argues against accepting a simple formula for identity and against" essenrialisrns" that constrict ideo路 city to any one determinant such as race alone, gender alone, or sexuality alone. Posing identity as a complex intersection of gender, race, and class position, she criticizes feminists who believe that "women who work to resist racism are not supporting feminist movement" and black women who "fear that they will be betraying black men if they support feminist movement." For hooks, essentialism or" idencity politics" easily falls prey to the "logic" of dominant culture; for example, the discourse of black resistance has almost always equated freedom with manhood, the economic and see Postmodernism, p. 39


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womel! ofcolot:, is pushing the AIDS "Jnqvement to : onlyway to teally4:ie able ~P m~e. ilies~ lci nds ofchanges address issues whlGh are tinfa.miliar. As this article has ~- rome$· through group ··discussions that lead· t() selfattempted to show; the concerns ofBlack women with _ernp~wer!?erit. .D~~n. Btin~~ AlpS ·illforin~do~ to AIDS are,eo~lex a1;1d, d~pite some similarities, quite grq~ps ·Qf ~o.rn~ w;o11gh ~- ~healdly !ove party,'." She . diff:e~~nr.from tho$e faced by.gay meQ. Issues such .as . brings ijrera~e...~4. 1rifonna~~p :ro ~pe~se 0~ safer needle: eichP1ge, the design of.researcJ:l Studies and · sex.; IV P:rug:yse and;.AJO~. ·· ., . · . protoeols fpt dJniqil drug trials1 ~d historic medical . The·pJ~c::pi:ation g~ :J:>.eyorid -~ cliriicalJecrure on experimeniaric;>n on African Americans are problems ·ftl.bS .to ·help \¥omen create;, a broaaer definicion of that gay white AlB$ activists need to t,m'detstand. -· ., :. ~ .. ., ·he3.!t.Q.y sex~ pciqices. l.Jnder$tan.d~'-:th...ai not' ~ Looked ~F in ·i~·gt~bal p~rspectlve; the vast majority , ·,... . ~ wom~n feel'~ey cap.~de.p:1and that a·m,an lise a condom, , : ofthemiUions o£peopleinfected y.rithAIDS in hard-hit · , ~he qe!llqn~~tes how:...tq~e~r ~.,,co9~()IJ?- on with yo_~ eotintries:in A:&ica and other parts of the ·developing mo-qth, so theman:doesn.:.t even nonce. She also.carnes. world ·are he~~ros<?Cual. Gay mc::n in~e up a srnall ; gr:ilibag of ~oommo~ '·h~l!sihold ite~· fro~ which perc~nt~ of the population.affected. Discrimination ·. , ·ea:th.woman gets·to choose·an-a sayhow shewoula lise ~nst gay tn.~,ri,- though, is real and AIDS would h.~ve ' · . ·: · . i~~as -~sex r0 y..Di.xort tii~, to retll'rq to.the sain~ .groups beeq .mote dfec~;;:ely·.ttea~ed ,if maighc Whit~ people .: ,, · a -llC:Cood. time to ask about changes ~ -wha~'s hard; pad gonenAIDS .6..i:st. :At thesatile time, gay men.have .. what:s·i'iasy,,wliat kindS o(suppon do thewomeri need ,b'een· able to cap. irit6 greater rciou:rces, eduCation, . 'to'ih~g~: liowdn'rheyh~p·.e;).chother.Thee)j:p,eri,ence . ~nnecci.ons and money.: to. .fiih:t with the mediCal · h~,s4own herthatjl1St.handing our i¢'ormationWith- . e.sra.i?lishmenc, and to ga:i.Q aceess {o the inner circles of ·-o~r' 'provl'cli,'ng ~<?~~:.kind 9f.suppoit system_ <l.fliong · . go.v,e:rqllleh~ health insti~tlo.QS,to"pr~J.ue for change;: ·, wotiJ'~~ to: 'mak:~: the i'ie~ cpang~ doesn't vvor~ .' TN-s: ~~ had a posjcive impact o~ ~e extent to which . Hov.vev-er; Pi:Xon,gets no public. fp.hding ~ -she is AIDS is·even di:sCU$Sed and re<;ogn:ized as a-crisis. Yet, as ' forced.to. ~ Sis~e.dove through' pp.ifte grant~. In fact, ' Daz<>n' DiXon.·points out, ' this positive power ·of.gay · !. ~ding_ for people of "?k>r ·co.do :AIDS ~ducacipn h~ activists s01:netimes ··.has ·'a n~gative side, sometimes · .:beeq ~tremely difficult:to eome by, T,he CDG recently resultingfin·lirriicing.othe.r people's access to money and . · i;ut 43o/o, of~~ t'fatiomi.l: T ~kEorce oo A):DS'I?rev'en- ~liticil clout in the :struggle.."It is ironic that activists cion'$'19_92J>~4get. Jhe .task force is th~ only' ni tional -, ~ . ~ave srru_ggled so h¥d to cq~~i~ce,people that risky ·" · prpgt!alU.a4dr~in'g issues for:gay and bisexual ~en pf. -: behay!qr,.nonisk groups, are-at issue, yet because ofthe · ~~<?f, (Jii~'Of the; mOSt jp~lot~·gr~upS· ofp~ople being- ·' b_ppress.ioP,gay ~en suff~r, the moVe,ment is teluctant tO _:dev~titedby:AlDS. Pixonsa!dliJjd.ingpeople ~~ 'fun4 · lef gc;>.qfAiD.$. ~ priJ.Uarily a gay-defined issue.~· . ' ;; ' t - . . : ' . prog~arnsforwomen has been extrernelf difficult:'Only . Dixon·:give ail. example of how this problem carne ·· ·; in ,~~ lastsix ~on~·hav;c:_ furidlng soill.'ees:cn~ep-ed'~p~ d~~· b'ui:y.ra,S~ti&essfully resolvedthroughstiu~le. In ; · .b~c?!Jj.e. peo,p).e. pn po lbl1.gei:' ignor~ the probl~Cg. .of. , 1 Q90,Wo.t:ldAI.DS.Dayfoo~~onwomenandAIDS. • . . , :AJps·amoi?-g·'\V~men, "Prog~i~~ fow1~atiolls- in·t!'ie< · ;Whe?:sh~ prop~sed a confere~c~ at ~pellman ~ollege : ·, -rto¢_leastand.j),n ~~ w~~c.Oiist;grve;no*yi but mosr _(aB);:t~i5-W<?ft:l~n s.:s,cho~l here mAcl~ta) focusmg on . ~-'·,.:of it.st~y$lociL lp 'the; ~kLrth,' m~re jlJSt·aren:'tmany ..,,;BhiC:k' -wom~n and. AIDS, 'o/itli alL.Afi:i~-1).rnerican · progrekive.(ounaations·w.ith ii:;l.p'ney·available.:' Such: a .. presehte~; sh~.ran into resistance frqm white gay men. ~iwat1on ' m1lt serv~:· t~:runqe(tirie the .fa~~ lnat.the . The .meri ob~¢ted because they felt th'~t the World .go~'erriinenr.sho'U!ciheaifo~tin.g:muchmoremoneyto Health Oi~zation,-:wiuch sponsors World AIDS confront·this epi4emie. · -· , , · : · · · Day, would never declarea foaus on gays. Dixon <igreed .•"·.:. • .. •' ' . •, . ' •, ~ . . ,; . . ' . .. . that ¢e situation reprr.sented rfle.homophobia ofthe · ~, q~G~ 'fHEAIDS ~OVEME:NF . WJ-!0. I:Iowever, she also felt'!t w~ ·imp.ortant to calk ; - As'the"natiire·o(the:A!DS ,epidemic in the t,rs. h~,' :.. ~bou~ women.and·AIDS, since women are the fastesr·~y~lved, itbi!(~~ ~~O.:for ,~ .mul~ceted and rpq~e ;,; -.wbwing\group with AIDS iii: ~e country and, in a nse by:AlD.S;acrivists.. WhenAIDS;w~ .;: gl.Qbal per.spec.tive, womc:il a,ealarg~percenrageQfrhe . oomplex respo_ . · . seen <!s';:t disease affeai:ir)tWrimarjly white gay rrtdr, the,;. •. peqpleWithAfDS. In the end, the conferencehappened ·. <;hall~~g~ to th~ illoi.e'ili,%i:Jt'r~q~iied addie5si~ hea-d- , w~fh.' a.f?cus:qn ]3la~kwom:en, after which there was a 1: on rJie ~omo(?h<?Dia: .9f l./:S: ~oci~t:}" and political and unjt)r rallf,:.a.t:}d 'march through downtown Atlanta, ·- medical establishment:$~ .T~e5e issue,s are .by,nomean.s where everyone ~ghtiJ?.gAIDS could be represented. ·' ~ehi.gd_us_, }be:respo'n~~ tQ¥W.2J6~o~.·~an.noun~ · Th~.AIBS: 3:cciyfst:' tp.ovementhas lqng s.aid that ._ine.nt that he v.vas~ .HJY..p().s.itive ·,--= but i)op gay - . AIDS is a met;lical cri$iS, and-should be dealt ~th as , .- , · indicates; amdngot4er. thi'ngs, th:at:gtiy:S&ualio/ W:cl its' sU<;:h;rather th~· as ::rgame·ofpc;>litital roule~e.. Buno ; : . ·-- '· ·: :sci~~ci<?n by mbst.:of.sociery is still one ofilie ~ttst re,solve themedical crisi~req!,lires·~~gnizingthediffer. ,t:9ings·.that peaple- thirlk: about when the' subject c;>f e(\ces between .cUlnire,S and societies and seeking-the · · AIDS c6.tn~ up. '. , .". ..- . · · ,· . leapershipofotheraffectedc.Oinn1uniciesinhowtobesr .· · x~r, t?-d.s~ar{~gjd~o~phi~ pf ~e ~ps :epj-·· ~<i>r~ize a ~oordina~ed d~andf<?:r ~~th care and an . '~em,tc;, p.~icul.acly ,,the,.unpact NDS ts havmg qn - •. end to the AIDS ep1demtc: 0 4

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Breakthrough 22 Summer 1992  

political journal of Prairie Fire Organizing Committee

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