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Should the US Release Military Aid to El Salvador?

The editorial ``Keep Heat on Salvador,'' Jan. 8, contains certain omissions and errors regarding US-Salvadoran relations. We share the outrage over the cold-blooded killings of the two US servicemen by the FMLN on Jan. 2. The editorial expresses concern, however, that this senseless atrocity might lead Congress to release presently withheld US military aid to El Salvador.

It is quite true, of course, that the purpose of withholding aid was to spur the peace negotiations. It has, indeed.

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But the continued congressional withholding was also tied to the occurrence of other positive or negative events. Current law allows immediate restoration of the aid if the FMLN commits any one of several possible violations, including violence against civilians, a sustained military offensive, and receiving supplies from abroad.

The FMLN's latest armed offensive, which has resulted in over 1,700 casualties, including hundreds of civilians, has seen the publicly acknowledged introduction of Soviet surface-to-air missiles from the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and a persistent refusal to agree to a cease-fire.

Each of these circumstances alone should cause release the aid under the law. The FMLN's actions are regrettable, and President Bush is correct in deeming them sufficient to help us defend our citizens and government with more US assistance.

Miguel A. Salaverria, Washington, Ambassador, Embassy of El Salvador

Guatemala's first transfer of power The article ``Guatemala Shifts Right with Choice of President,'' Jan. 8, incorrectly says the recent Guatemalan election marked the ``first transfer of power from one elected president to another.''

In fact, in 1950 the government of Juan Jos'e Ar'evalo, democratically elected in 1945, peacefully transferred power to the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. The Arbenz government was overthrown by a CIA-sponsored coup in 1954 ushering in a series of repressive military governments. My recent educational visits to Guatemala confirm that the military dominance continues to this day in spite of the two civilians the military has recently allowed to assume the presidency.

Joan Peters, Aurora, Colo.

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Gorby-mania and Stalin's fist The editorial, ``Russian Regression,'' Jan. 10, appeared as troops and tanks took up positions in seven Soviet republics. The editorial suggested that soon ``Gorbachev may be facing a Tiananmen Square-like decision in the streets of Latvia or Lithuania.'' Events in Vilnius two days later proved that decision had already been made.

By the time of the editorial, the Soviet president had already installed the requisite machinery for staging a coup in Lithuania, including a local ``national salvation council'' to invite his military to intervene.

We are supposed to conveniently forget that it is Gorbachev who promotes the legitimacy of this phantom ``council'' of communist hard-liners. Surely we are blinded by Gorby-mania if we don't see the mind of Machiavelli and the fist of Stalin at work.

Sandra Marefat, Lexington, Ky.

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