MEXICO CITY -- Moving away from his coalition's ideological roots, the senior military commander of the Salvadoran rebel army asserted this week that his group could no longer be considered a Marxist movement and added that one-party rule in El Salvador would be "absurd."
In his first major public comments since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Joaquin Villalobos said his coalition's goals would not be achieved through armed revolution, but through participation as an unarmed political movement in a pluralistic, "competitive" democracy.
Describing what he termed an important transformation in the rebels' thinking in the wake of recent world events, Mr. Villalobos said the guerrilla coalition had moved beyond Marxism, which he called "just one more political theory, like any other."
He said its military goals had shifted from defeating or reforming the Salvadoran army to winning a permanent disarmament of both
sides under United Nations supervision.
Portraying orthodox communism as an extreme position comparable to El Salvador's right wing, Mr. Villalobos said his coalition, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, now hoped to model El Salvador's future on such prominent capitalist countries as Germany, Japan and nearby Costa Rica, which has no army and is closely tied to the U.S. economy.
"In El Salvador there is a need to isolate or cut off the extremes," Mr. Villalobos said. "In our case, that means the thinking of dogmatic Stalinism and traditional, classic communism. At the other extreme, it is the orthodox right wing, which in El Salvador is something from the Stone Age."
Mr. Villalobos' comments, made in an unusual set of interviews in recent days, came amid continued news of guerrilla attacks and military clashes in El Salvador as the country moved toward municipal and legislative elections Sunday.