I don't believe in objectivity. Everyone has a point of view. But I won't be a propagandist for anyone. If you do something right, I'm going to take your picture. If you do something wrong, I'm going to take your picture also. – John Hoagland
|During the Vietnam War, John Hoagland filed for and received conscientious objector status.
Paradoxically, nine years after that war's end, he died in El Salvador by a bullet from
a U.S.-made M-60 machine gun. His parents first heard of his death on the radio--they later
received their condolences from the State Department.
Hoagland's death was not unexpected since his name was on the death squads' lengthy"hit list." To the embarrassment of officials, his photographs recorded the brutal Salvadoran civil war, which was largely financed by the Unites States. According to Frontline: Our Forgotten War (WNET, New York, 1985), military and economic aid to El Salvador was 3 billion dollars since 1980. Two-thirds of the 750,000 people who fled El Salvador ended up in the U.S.: many were deported back to join the imprisoned or the disappeared. Archbishop Oscar Romero was gunned down in 1980 while conducting mass, and many church workers, mostly Jesuits, were assassinated. Three nuns and one layworker from the U.S. were also raped and murdered, their bodies found in a collective grave at a dumpsite. By the time of Hoagland's death in 1984, 65,000 civilians were murdered by the National Guard and right-wing paramilitary forces.
(Charles Clements, Witness To War: An American Doctor in El Salvador. NY: Bantam, 1984. Clements was a graduate of the Air Force Academy who later flew 50 missions during the Vietnam War. After leaving the military, he became a Quaker and a physician, treating Salvadoran torture victims in California. He later went to El Salvador as physician for the Revolutionary Democratic Front. See also Cynthia Brown, ed. With Friends Like These: The America's Report on Human Rights & U.S. Policy in Latin America. NY: Pantheon Books, 1985.)
Despite this contradictory evidence, President Reagan's National Bipartisan Commission on Central
America (Macmillan, 1984) justified massive military support to El Salvador because of their promise
reform." Critics of Reagan's policy, however, claimed that the main objective was to use El Salvador
as a wedge between the "Marxist" Sandinistas and the Cubans.
(to view individual photos, click on the Thumbnails)
For information about Hoagland's life, I am indebted to David Helvarg, curator and publisher of TWO FACES OF WAR, an exhibition at the Eye Gallery, San Francisco, CA, November 14-December 15, 1985. I also wish to thank Al and Helen Hoagland for their generosity. --mj
Maggie Jaffe's publications include How The West Was One, Continuous Performance, 7th Circle and 1492: What Is It Like To Be Discovered?, a collaboration with the artist Deborah Small. In 1993-94, Maggie was a visiting lecturer in the Czech Republic. She is the recipient of a 1997 California Arts Council grant and is poetry editor for Cedar Hill Review.
I remember a conversation that was my political awakening. I was about 10.
The family was at dinner. The conversation was about the holocaust, the ovens
and the six million Jews. I became hysterical. They gave me aspirin and
rum to calm... (continued)
When the 12-year civil war in El Salvador came to an end in 1992 with the
peace accords signed by both the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo
Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), many activists began to think of the
struggle of that small country as off the agenda of the US progressive movement.
Peace had come to... (continued)
by Maggie Jaffe
She's a minor union functionary.
For weeks she and her co-unionists
have negotiated with the government
to set a minimum working wage for children.
Her file is directed to appropriate channels.
The White Hand (Las Manos Blancas),
funded by the government,
break into her house, decapitate
her five children, seat
them around the kitchen table.
One soldier drives a nail through
the youngest child's head
to keep it from slipping.
In the barracks that night
soldiers watch their favorite TV programs:
The Adventures of Bat Man and Robin,
followed by a local Televangelist,
trained in the USA,
who confirms what everyone knows:
there are murderous
In El Salvador
make things happen.
more poems by Maggie Jaffe
Copyright 2003 Peter Rashkin and the individual authors.. All rights reserved.