The growing hope that El Salvador might be emerging from its long political and economic nightmare has suddenly dimmed -- with the Carter administration rightly or wrongly getting much of the blame for this latest turn of events.
Although definite confirmation is lacking, observers in both the United States and El Salvador say that pressure by the US to get the Central American country to crack down more severely on leftist terrorism fed into the hands of rightist militants, weakening El Salvador's moderate government.
In wake of this pressure, three members of the ruling junta resigned, as did most of the Cabinet.
"Washington's emphasis on ending leftist terrorism and its connivance with rightist elements," a Cabinet minister said, "has virtually scuttled our attempts to right the wrongs of the past."
The two remaining junta members -- both Army colonels who staged the coup that brought the present government to power -- are searcing for a way out of the impasse. What little hope remains for saving the present government rest on talks between the military and the centrist Christian Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, both congressional and diplomatic sources in Washington back up the allegations that the US applied pressure on the Salvadorean government to deal with leftist terrorists.
The US, according to these reports, was concerned that this terrorism could spill over into other Central American countries. The US State Department, however, said the administration would have preferred to see El Salvador continue in "its direction of change."
In san Salvador, top government sources blame the Carter administration for "throwing a monkey wrench into our efforts to effect the social and economic reforms needed to answer the pleas of Salvadoreans, by placing so much emphasis on getting rid of leftist violence."
As the three civilian members of the nearly three-month-old ruling junta resigned, attacks by leftist terrorists signaled a wave of new political violence.