A JOB FOR EVERYONE

September 25, 2007

BEFORE BEING NAMED VICE-MINISTER OF defense on June I. Col. Juan Orlando Zepeda was thehead of the army's First Brigade. Previously. he was chiefof intelligence at the Estado Mayor (El Salvador's jointchiefs of staft). As such, he is one of the small circle ofhigh-ranking officers who define the political and opera-tional line of the Armed Forces. The Colonel was inter-viewed by NACLA following the elections in March.

I/owlion will the flew Cristiani iovern,nent (/Iant'e the arnivs will the new Cristiani government change the armn's approaih to the aplproa(h to the war? war?
InIn temis of identifying the enemy we must be much terms of identifying the enemy we must be much clearer, all Salvadorans. as to what part each of us must clearer, all Salvadorans, as to what part each of us must play in this war. For example. protection of the national play in this war. For example, protection of the national economy, control of the mass struggle. pares. demonstra economy, control of the mass struggle. paros. demonstrations,tions, strikes, all these are expressions of terrorism strikes, all these are expressions of terrorism.... .... They They havehave more than just military content, so the people must more than just military content, so the people must playplay a role. The authorities must organize all the people, a role. The authorities must organize all the people, mustmust he more demanding and harsher in making people be more demanding and harsher in making people obey the law. obey the law.
As regards this question of propaganda which seeks to As regards this question of propaganda which seeks to radicalize society, the military response is very limited. We radicalize society, the military response is very limited. We are not going to send troops into Channel 12 or El Mundo are not going to send troops into Channel 12 or El Mundo simply because they publish communiques of the FMLN simply because they publish communiques of the FMLN and are the mouthpieces of the FMLN.* But we must insist and are the mouthpieces of the FMLN.* But we must insist that it is a crime to publish the communiques of an anar that it is a crime to publish the communiques of an anarchic. illegal group. There are sectors of society that for chic, illegal group. There are sectors of society that for economic interestSthe media is an exampleSare playing economic interest the media is an example are playing into the subversives hands, damaging the country and dam into the subversives' hands, damaging the country and damaging the Armed Forces. aging the Armed Forces.
I think it is time that each of us does his job. Terrorism I think it is time that each of us does his job. Terrorism must he controlled, repelled, and experieiued by the people must be controlled. repelled, and experienced by the people themselves. The people must protect the economic infra themselves. The people must protect the economic infrastructure.structure. We must find ways of organizing to stop the We must find ways of organizing to stop the transportationtransportation boycotts. All this can he done with forces boycotts. All this can be done with forces trom the population itself, paramilitary forces. We can or from the population itself. paramilitary forces. We can organizeganize block defenses. block defenses.

But a civil defense already (kists. But a civil defense alrealv eivsts.
Those are auxiliary organs of the judiciary and they Those are auxiliary organs of the judiciary and they havehave a defensive military function. But most important...is a defensive military function. But most important...is their contact with the civilian population. for they reflect their contact with the civilian population, for the) reflect the aspirations and interests of their communities. This is the aspirations and interests of their communities. This is importantimportant because it is a way for us to present ourselves to because it is a way for us to present ourselves to the population. It is a big structure, though it is not militar the population. It is a big structure, though it is not militarily powerful. ily powerful.

So your idea is not only to use these tories to i,'uard towns. So your idea is Inot o1il" to use these forces to ,uardtowns. hut to i tend against paros and sabotage? hut to defend against paros and sabotage?
For example. guarding the economic infrastructure can For example, guarding the economic infrastructure can be done perfectly well by paramilitary forces. IThey canl be done perfectly well by paramilitary forces. IThey canl guard the telephone booths, the gasoline stations. bridges. guard the telephone booths. the gasoline stations. bridges. electricalelectrical posts. This will give us in the army more offcn posts. This will give us in the army more offensive capacity. iParamilitary forcesi can also control these sive capacity. IParamilitary forces can also control these demonstrationsdemonstrations in the street, the mass struggle... in the street. the mass struggle...

This kindThi.s kind of no,'k requires very disciplined troops who nih of work requires verY disciplined troops who will hot 1)1' provoked. not be provoked.
Nevertheless, there has been a great deal of enthusiasni Nevertheless, there has been a great deal of enthusiasm toto join. But what happened? President Duane was very join. But what happened? President Duarte was very scared of these kinds of organizations. Because a demo scared of these kinds of organizations. Because a democraticcratic society should not have limits. But unfortunately we society should not have limits. But unfortunately we are at war. I have here two civilian organizations of profes are at war. I have here two civilian organizations of professionals, called Civic Committees, which are helping me sionals, called Civic Committees, which are helping me very very much in generating their own neighborhood se very very much in generating their own neighborhood security. Any stranger.whocurity. Any stranger who comes into their area, they detect comes into their area, they detect it and denounce it. These are the levels of organization we it and denounce it. These are the levels of organization we need: the organization of the society towards a given need: the organization of the society towards a given objective peace.objectiveSpeace. To bring the society together against an To bring the society together against an enemy,enemy, which is Marxism. which is Marxism.

And And Duarte was opposed to this? Duarte was opposed to this?
He was very scared of these organizations because he said He was very scared of these organizations because he said they restricted democracy. A society had to be completely they restricted democracy. A society had to be completely free. If not, there is no democracy. It's a very nice concept. free. If not, there is no democracy. It's a very nice concept. Very utopian. But the problem is we are at war. Very utopian. But the problem is we are at war.

To return to military matters, will the small unit warfare of To return to military matters, will the small unit warfare of the last few years continue to be your principalfocus? the last few years continue to be your principal focus?
That's correct, but we haveThat's correct, but we have to modify the training a bit to modify the training a bit because we now must operate in the cities. We have to because we now must operate in the cities. We have to achieve efficiency in urban combat. Until now the main achieve efficiency in urban combat. Until now the main lineline was dispersion, circumstantial concentration, high was dispersion, circumstantial concentration, high mobility, night operations.mobility, night operations. But for urban warfare one must But for urban warfare one must change the organic structures, the training and the equip change the organic structures, the training and the equipment.ment. You must use small arms and do a great deal of You must use small arms and do a great deal of intelligenceintelligence workScollection of information, management work collection of information, management of your sources,of your sources, analysis of the information you have. You analysis of the information you have. You carrycarry out missions to check people out, roadblocks, out missions to check people out, roadblocks, searches. ..these are the characteristics of an urban struggle. searches...these are the characteristics of an urban struggle. TheyThey bother the population, but you cannot fight urban bother the population, but you cannot fight urban guerrillasguerrillas without doing these things. without doing these things.

WeWe are not losing the war and we never will lose it. We are not losing the war and we never will lose it. We are maneuvering on all the fronts we are presented with. are maneuvering on all the fronts we are presented with. Political maneuvers, too, which must be done by the politi Political maneuvers, too, which must be done by the political structures, the government. Of course, they have to cal structures, the government. Of course, they have to support us. And we will do the military manuevers... support us. And we will do the military manuevers...
SM&BO SM&BO

(*)* TheThe ChannelChannel 12 nightly news is one of the most aggressive and 12 nightly news is one of the most aggressive and professional in El Salvador. One of its soundmen, Mauricio Pifleda, professional in El Salvador. One of its soundmen, Mauricio Pifieda, had been shot dead by government soldiers at a roadblock less than had been shot dead by government soldiers ata roadblock less than
48 hours before Zepeda gave this interview. El Mundo is one of 48 hours before Zepeda gave this interview. El Mundo is one of three major Salvadoran newspapers, and the only one not controlled three major Salvadoran newspapers, and the only one not controlled by the hardline ultra Right, even thought its owner supports ARENA. by the hardline ultra Right, even thought its owner supports ARENA.

Tags: El Salvador, Juan Orlando Zepeda, Elections, ARENA


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