Despite news of increased violence and civil war in El Salvador, the big news was the continuing unfolding of events in the former East Berlin on this November 13th, 1989.
Beginning with word from San Salvador that a large offensive had opened up, the biggest since the conflict began some ten years earlier. The results of a bombing at an Anti-Government labor union and the pulling out of peace talks by the Rebels. Casualties were heavy and one American teacher was among the dead. Alfredo Cristiani, whose right wing government received some $1 million in aid from the U.S. every day, went on the air to declare a state of siege. In doing that, Cristiani suspended constitutional rights and made demonstrations illegal – all radio and television stations were heavily censored or closed and the government imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the Capital city. At the time of this newscast, Rebel forces had remained in control of many parts of the Capital.
Meanwhile, in the former East Germany – there was little future in being an East German Border Guard – the government abolished the Death Strip, along the 850 mile border with West Germany, opening those once dreaded areas to public access and abandoning the Watch Towers. Sweeping changes in the East German legislature with elections for Speaker – it was the chamber’s first-ever secret ballot with several candidates vying for the position and the vote was carried live on East and West German Television. West Berliners were busy welcoming newly landed East Berliners from a new opening in the Berlin Wall. The East Germans were busy removing the concrete sections of the wall earlier. Unlike earlier days, the flow of people into West Berlin was slow, and many returned to work in East Berlin – but knowing travel was now free between East and West kept the party atmosphere going. Ironically, of the 3 million East Berliners who walked freely across the border since it was opened – only some 23,000 elected to stay in West Berlin – but that number expected to change in the coming days. Still, souvenir hunters were busy chipping away at the Wall, dragging away pieces to keep and sell.
And that’s just a small slice of what went on this November 13th in 1989 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.