Canadian observers to monitor ceasefire; PM salutes peace plan in El Salvador

Canadian observers to monitor ceasefire; PM salutes peace plan in El Salvador
(The Globe & Mail Page A12)
Wednesday, January 22, 1992

San Salvador, EL SALVADOR — BY JEAN KAVANAGH Special to The Globe and Mail — With the arrival of 30 soldiers from Canada and relocation of another 24 from throughout Central America, Canada will field the second-largest military observer team to monitor El Salvador’s ceasefire, Associate Defence Minister Mary Collins announced yesterday.

The Canadian contingent will be composed mainly of majors and captains from diverse army and infantry units to be part of the 1,000-member unarmed observer force to be placed in conflict zones throughout the country for the Feb. 1 ceasefire.

Last Thursday, the government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) signed the ceasefire in Mexico City to end the 12- year civil war.

Ms. Collins met yesterday with Salvadorean President Alfredo Christiani, who told her that the difficult work of implementing peace lies ahead now that the ceasefire has been signed.

Ms. Collins brought a personal letter from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney congratulating the President on the long-awaited peace accord. Today she will travel to what was one of the tensest areas of the ountry, accompanied by the Salvadorean minister of planning, to give $300,000 in Canadian aid for houses
for peasants who spent 10 years as refugees in Honduras during the worst years of the war.

She said she has not planned to meet with members of the FMLN who control the area, but did not dismiss the possibility of a meeting should they approach her.

Ms. Collins was the second-highest foreign government official to visit El Salvador since the ceasefire was signed, following U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, who arrived last Friday.

She said her visit is intended to “show support for the peace accord and the work that has been undertaken by all parties to bring about peace.”

Neither Ms. Collins nor Canadian Colonel Ian McNabb, chief of staff of the military division of the UN observer force, provided a dollar figure for the Canadian participation.

Col. McNabb said Canadian troops will be placed within the four regions where government and FMLN forces are to be separated. Despite speculation here that far-right paramilitary groups unhappy with the accord may target the UN forces,

Col. McNabb said he is confident that the peace process will unfold without problems.

“We are observers here. We assist the parties to find peace and work out peace themselves, whereas in peacekeeping missions you carry a more active role,” he said.