Now San Salvador can brag that "James Baker slept here," an overnight adventure never attempted by former Secretary of State George Shultz. It is a small side note, but an important one, to the signing of the peace accords ending a brutal civil war that took 75,000 lives in a dozen years. To use a favorite Latin American term, there is "political space" at last in El Salvador -- space for rightists, for leftists, for centrists, for United Nations troops, even for Yanquis.
If the cease fire is to take hold, however, if the Marxist rebels are to give up their arms and the oversized army is to be cut in half and accept real civilian control, there can be no political space for those Baker branded as "traitors. . ..vigilantes of violence on either the right or the left."
During the next eight months, El Salvador's task is to implement an accord that is at once ambiguous and yet agonizingly detailed. Disarming and downsizing the opposing forces are only the most obvious of the obligations ahead. Land ownership questions have to be settled in areas effectively controlled by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. A new civilian police force, with personnel drawn from both sides, has to replace the dreaded death squads. Political and judicial reforms must be implemented to ensure a liberalization of Salvadoran society.