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An important part of the Christian/Ecclesial Base Communities’ mission and identity is the prophetic denouncement of given historical realities that do not promote the building of the reign of God. Monseñor Romero’s life and ministry is a clear example of how the Church is called to announce the Gospel and denounce injustice, and the communities continue to give voice to this prophetic spirit. As FUNDAHMER, we call ourselves to be witnesses to the struggle of the communities and to accompany their journey towards the reign of God. Here, we share a communique from the Ecclesial Base Communities regarding specific political decisions in El Salvador that shows this prophetic spirit alive and at work among the Church of the poor today.
National Coordination of Ecclesial Base Communities of El Salvador
San Salvador, El Salvador, 31 de mayo de 2013.
Given the recent declarations made on May 7, the commemoration of the Day of the Soldier, the president of the Republic, Mauricio Funes, announced that the government will negotiate the purchase of ten A-37 military aircraft (http://www.laprensagrafica.com/funes-anuncia-compraaviones-usados-a-chile-; http://elmundo.com.sv/funes-pidio-prestamo-de-8-6-mlls-para-aviones), which the Chilean government has offered under conditions which, according to our President, favor our country. It is worth mentioning that the A-37 aircraft was specifically designed for the Vietnam War and was developed between 1955 and 1970 by the North American manufacturer Cessna. It is not too much to say that these aircraft are old-fashioned and that the manufacturer Cessna does not make this model anymore. Additionally, during the armed conflict which El Salvador lived, the United States donated A-37 aircraft to our country, which are currently out of use due to the difficulty the exists around finding replacement parts for said model.
As Ecclesial Base Communities, we express the following to public opinion: Mauricio, buying junk planes… Why? It would be better to buy dialysis machines.
We do not see the accquisition of these warplanes to be necessary, since we feel no threat from our neighbor countries, and because re-arming ourselves would send a bad message to them. During the armed conflict that bled our country, this kind of aircraft was used to bomb the civil population, and we do not want this history to repeat itself.
Additionally, we identify with the initiative of Disarmament Week, which is celebrated from October 22-28 each year, as announced by the United Nations in 1978: “So that war may stop being the way to resolve conflicts and that the use of force and threats may be eliminated from international life.”
The value of these aircraft is set at $8.6 million (eight million, six hundred thousand dollars), and we believe that this budget could be used to address the lack of medicine in the hospitals and the lack of medical equipment in hospitals and laboratories. Teacher’s salaries could be raised, pensions for the retired could be raised, the budget for the National University (UES) could be increased, giving many young people a way forward, since currently the military budget is almost double the budget for the National University and is 43% of the total budget for the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
What we hope to express is that the development of our country will not be achieved by buying antiquated airplanes, which can be found in the Military Museum, but rather it will be through integral education, and by improving the services that we deserve with dignity.
If Mr. Funes professes to be a follower of Monseñor Romero, we see this decision to be contradictory to the spirit of Monseñor, who, in his homily on January 6, 1980 expressed: “I believe that those who truly want to govern the people for a true good have to include the sincere participation of the noble people of El Salvador and not use that name merely as a staircase for moving upward without afterwards taking into account the true People, which is who the government has to serve.”
(Ecclesial Base Communities of San Salvador, La Libertad, Usulután, and Morazán)