El Salvador's ruling junta has placed water and power services, communications, airports and ports under military jurisdiction.
GV Exteriors electricity plant in El Salvador. (3 SHOTS)
GV Helicopter flying over plant.
GV Plant workers.
CU PULL BACK TO SV & CV People queuing for food. (3 SHOTS)
GV & SCU Meat on sale. (5 SHOTS)
GV & SV Exterior people queuing for water. (4 SHOTS)
SV Interior control room of electricity plant. (3 SHOTS)
GV Exterior unionists and guards outside plant. (4 SHOTS)
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Background: El Salvador's ruling junta has placed water and power services, communications, airports and ports under military jurisdiction. A decree signed on Friday (22 August) said the measure was based on a constitutional provision authorising the government to militarise essential services in case of emergency.
SYNOPSIS: About one thousand key power workers walked out of their jobs on Thursday (21 August) to demand the reinstatement of dismissed colleagues and an end to alleged government repression. Electricity supplies were cut, virtually isolating El Salvador from the outside world. The only communications system still operating was the telephone. Most radio stations went off the air except those with their own electricity generating systems.
The government declared the strike illegal and sent in troops after negotiations broke down. The troops were deployed to key areas to prevent leftist guerrillas from taking advantage of the trouble. As well as the widespread electricity blackouts, the strike also caused shortages of food and water.
Leaders of the workers said the strike would continue indefinitely. They accused the El Salvador government of genocide.
Strikes have become an increasing feature of life in El Salvador in recent weeks. A strike early this month largely shut down the country and a national strike on the 18th of this month was expected to have similar results. But it did not. The general strike was intended to demonstrate the power of the left. But correspondents say the result suggested that Salvadorans were more interested in keeping their jobs than in revolution.
Following the intervention of the military, power supplies were restored. But that did little to pacify the strikers. Correspondents say it is the intransigence of the government in negotiating with the moderate left that has kept El Salvador in a state of turmoil.
The troubles in El Salvador have cost almost four thousand lives this year and threaten the stability of the entire region. Although the junta has talked of elections, there are no plans for them in the immediate future. Until they are held, no-one will know whom the Salvadoran majority supports.