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Dissecting El Salvador's Disaster

Dissecting El Salvador's DisasterDevastation of Recent Earthquake Exacerbated By Neglect By U.S., Says Tufts Expert.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.14.01] Despite recent attention on El Salvador following a deadly earthquake, the country has been ignored by the United States for too long, a Tufts expert in humanitarian aid wrote in the Boston Globe.

Once a hot spot in America's fight against Communism, El Salvador has suffered since the end of the Cold War, wrote John Hammock -- director of Tufts' Feinstein Famine Center -- in a Boston Globe op-ed.

"As soon as the peace agreement was signed, El Salvador disappeared from the American media," Hammock wrote in the Globe. "Government aid to the country was slashed dramatically and El Salvador receded into poverty."

The results have been devastating, Hammock wrote.

"As El Salvador has slid into greater poverty, the impoverished are more vulnerable. It is always the marginal that die -- the ones living on deforested mountains, on the riverbanks, in swamps that until recently were uninhabited. We can pretend that these are natural disasters but they are not."

The Fletcher School professor, who co-authored the op-ed, wrote that the U.S. -- which may be blame, in part, for El Salvador's declining economy -- can plan an important role in restoring the region's stability.

"The future of Salvadorans in El Salvador is closely tied to the United States. It is time to break down to artificial borders," he wrote. "El Salvador recently agreed to make the dollar the national currency. Now the United States should embrace the notion that peace in El Salvador required the active participation of the U.S. Salvadoran community here. The United States must give Salvadorans secure status."

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