Political violence again flared in El Salvador on Thursday (6 March) as bands of militant left-wingers throwing petrol bombs set fire to cars and seized buses in the capital.
GV & SV Demonstrators carrying banners demanding public amenities walk along streets in San Salvador (2 shots)
SV Demonstrators writing slogans on walls
GV Demonstrators marching through streets carrying banners
GV Demonstrators in agricultural workers demo marching through streets carrying banners
GV Onlookers watching from balcony PAN TO Demonstrators marching and shouting slogans
TILT UP 'MAG'--Agricultural Ministry Sign above door of building PAN DOWN TO Man talking to crowd and crowd cheering (2 shots)
GV People holding up banner of Federation of Agricultural Workers outside Agricultural Ministry door
GV Militia driving through street in army truck
GVs People crouching behind lamp posts and armed militants standing on street corner (3 shots)
GV Burning car
GV Police car driving through street
Firemen hosing burning car
GV Damaged truck and bus with flat tyre standing in road (2 shots)
GV Army truck and police car driving through streets and past burned out car (2 shots)
GV Armoured truck through streets PAN TO Armed policeman questioning woman
SV Soldiers patrolling streets (3 shots)
SV PAN Crowd looking at dead body lying on pavement
CU Gat filled with money PULL BACK TO GV Body (2 shots)
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Background: Political violence again flared in El Salvador on Thursday (6 March) as bands of militant left-wingers throwing petrol bombs set fire to cars and seized buses in the capital. Two major demonstrations were staged by workers calling for improved public amenities and land reforms. Later the same day the ruling civilian-military junta imposed a state of siege throughout the country.
SYNOPSIS: The first demonstration was organised by members of the Popular Revolutionary Block, a left-wing group who recently called for abolition of the armed forces and the setting up of a revolutionary government in El Salvador. They carried banners demanding the installation of electricity and drinking water in the poor shanty-towns on the fringes of the capital.
A second group of demonstrators began their march from the National University campus. Many of the crowd were members of the Federation of Agricultural Workers. They were demonstrating in response to the junta's announcement earlier in the day of a long-awaited land reform programme. The government is expropriating land from two hundred wealthy families and will redistribute it among peasant organisations. The demonstration ended in a rally outside the Agriculture Ministry.
The announcement of the agrarian reform proposals triggered off a spate of violence in the city. Some of the land affected by the programme has already been occupied by bands of peasants, and they too will be evicted to allow organised redistribution. News of the land nationalisation scheme also intensified hostility to the junta from right-wing groups battling to retain their control of the economic life of the country.
As the violence grew the ruling junta imposed a thirty-day state of siege on the country to guarantee the implementation of the agrarian reform programme and reduce the risk of an anti-government backlash. The measure, one step short of martial law, prohibits demonstrations and unauthorised meetings, suspends the right of habeas corpus, and allows police entry without search warrants. It also prevents freedom of travel, and restricts freedom of the press and of association.
One left-winger was killed by police in a gunbattle between demonstrators and security forces during the day. But by evening San Salvador was unusually quiet as the state of siege was enforced.