Chamorro Keeps Support for Salvadoran Rebels CONCESSION TO GUERRILLAS

Article excerpt

IN an apparent rebuff to the United States, the government of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro has agreed to let leftist rebels of neighboring El Salvador keep offices open here for political activity, according to a leader of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front.

Salvador Samayoa, leading spokesman for the Marxist-inspired guerrilla coalition, says the decision came after a series of meetings between FMLN representatives and the two top advisers of Mrs. Chamorro's government, Antonio Lacayo, minister of the presidency, and Alfredo Cesar, ex-contra director.

"Our activity will be more discreet (than before) but it won't be secret," says Mr. Samayoa, noting that the Chamorro's government wants to play a role in resolving other civil wars in the region. "All the logistical and military support...that we were said to receive will not be acceptable even by the "softer" members of the new government. But we'll still be able to do political work."

For the past decade, the FMLN has turned its close relationship with the Sandinista comandantes into a logistical base that serves a variety of purposes: for rest and relaxation, for medical attention to wounded fighters, for high-level consultations, for transmissions of Radio Venceremos, for training with new weapons and artillery, and even - as the US has constantly charged - for arranging shipments of arms to El Salvador.

The US government, concerned with stopping Nicaraguan support for the FMLN, has justified supporting contras by saying they were preventing Nicaragua from exporting revolution.

With unusual frankness, Samayoa acknowledged that the FMLN often arranged arms shipments through Nicaragua. He even said the rebels, with Sandinista cooperation, arranged the mysterious planeload of SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles that took off in Nicaragua and crashed in a Salvadoran field in November. …