Reward for murder

September 18, 1991

Reward for murder

By Robert Graham

A talk given earlier this year by Noam Chomsky explains how the US government was able to feign outrage at the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador in November 1989, while continuing to fund the government that is implicated in the killings.

The US Congress voted to withhold $42.5 million of aid in protest at the failure of the Cristiani government to carry out a thorough investigation of the murders. At the time, President Bush protested, but not as strenuously as some had anticipated.

According to Chomsky, two months prior to the killing of the Jesuits, the Bush administration had arranged for the International Monetary Fund to lend El Salvador $50 million. At the time, El Salvador did not qualify for aid under IMF conditions, and the body had not lent any money to that country for eight years.

The $50 million in IMF funds freed up $100 million in commercial bank loans, by acting as a guarantee for them. Furthermore, the US government gave El Salvador $100 million in debt relief during this time.

On December 7, 1989, $50 million was taken from the future military aid budget to "cover the temporary hole". In total, this amounted, in Chomsky's words, to a "$300 million dollar reward for killing the Jesuits and covering up the assassination. If one takes into consideration the fact that the Bush administration restored the original aid cut of $42.5 million just two months later, the $300 million became clear profit."

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