In 1988 The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of CISPES against the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning the agency’s multi-year campaign of harassment and surveillance aimed at anti-intervention, solidarity, and sanctuary activists. Subsequent Congressional hearings revealed the extent to FBI activities, and ultimately lead to restrictions on the conduct of FBI agents.
The thousands of pages of files also showed that the FBI, to justify its actions, accepted as fact a right-wing conspiratorial world-view which saw dissent as treason and resistance to oppression as terrorism.
The Bay Area CISPES chapter had radically politicized a core of 3000-4000 activists in a San Francisco ballot initiative. During the drive for the ballot initiative, Henry Kissinger was speaking at the San Francisco Hilton, and CISPES organized their thousands of democrat-identified ballot activists to attend. Riot police surrounded and corralled the protest, blatantly attacking the demonstrators. This served to radicalize all of those activists, who San Francisco CISPES continued to incorporate and organize.
In April 1987, with substantial union support and important allies from the anti-apartheid movement, CISPES led the combined forces of solidarity in mobilizing 100,000 people onto Washington’s streets for a joint Central America-South Africa rally. The photo at right shows the giant student contingent at the rally, calling for President Reagan to be impeached.
Give Peace a Dance was an event organized by the Bay Area CISPES chapter that raised over $100,000 in 1986 and 1987. Set up as a dance marathon, over 3000 dancers participated each year. In 1986, the winning team in the team dance competition part of the night was “Somos Homos,” with “Thanks but No Tanks” coming in a close second.
First May Day Delegation that sent 80+ delegates to El Salvador to commemorate assassination of Oscar Romero and march in May Day parade. Met twice at Embassy. First time they served us Oreos, 2nd time we were met by a CIA agent who let us know he knew were from CISPES. That was the last of the large scale delegations until cease fire.
In 1986, the Salvadoran labor movement re-emerged with a massive march on Mayday. The National Unity of Salvadoran Workers (UNTS), formed in February 1986, had become the nation’s strongest and broadest coalition of labor groups, emerging in the aftermath of intense repression that left 10,000 trade unionists dead.
It was an act of enormous physical and moral courage for the UNTS to march in the face of heavily armed riot police fingering the triggers on their U.S.-supplied guns. But the march went forward, denouncing economic austerity programs imposed by the Duarte regime, and international solidarity formed a vocal contingent.