Ines Guadalupe Duarte Dur'an, the kidnapped daughter of El Salvador's President, may become a political pawn in the struggle between the United States-backed government and the leftist guerrillas. If, as most political analysts here say, Ines Duarte was kidnapped by the extreme left rather than the extreme right, she could prove to be an effective bargaining chip for the guerrilla movement anxious to obtain the release of several of its key leaders captured recently by the Salvadorean Army.
At press time, no one had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, which took place Tuesday afternoon in front of the New San Salvador University where Ms. Duarte studies journalism.
The kidnapping was carried out by between five and eight heavily armed men, according to witnesses. One bodyguard was killed and another gravely wounded. The gunmen forced Duarte into a car which sped away. Witnesses say she appeared uninjured.
All three branches of the government security forces, as well as a special investigative unit trained by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation in Puerto Rico, are investigating the kidnapping, according to government spokesman Julio Adolfo Rey Prendes.
Over the past year the Army has captured three top guerrilla leaders. The most famous of the leaders is Nidia D'iaz, a ``comandante'' of the Central American Workers Revolutionary Party. She was wounded and captured last April. Ms. D'iaz was one of the four rebel representatives at peace talks with the government last October.
Last December the Army captured two top guerrilla leaders in eastern El Salvador, which prompted the rebel Revolutionary Army of the People (ERP) to kidnap more than a dozen mayors from zones where ERP is the de facto government.
The government at first admitted it had captured ERP commander Janeth Samour Hasbun and Maximena Reyes, but then denied it was holding the two. ERP says it will release the mayors only if the government frees the captured guerrillas or consigns them to a military tribunal.
The kidnapped mayors, in a recent interview with journalists, expressed concern about the lack of government efforts to obtain their release.
Many Salvadoreans are cynical about police investigations, given the government's alleged responsibility for many of the political killings in the past.
Salvadoreans have noted that the only two cases of political killings to be ``solved'' have been those involving Americans -- the rape and murder of four American churchwomen by National Guardsmen in December 1980 and the recent case of the killing of four US marines in a San Salvador caf'e.
This cynicism was reinforced by the investigation of the US-trained unit into the June killing of the US marines and nine other people. The man the police had listed as the head of the squad that attacked the caf'e was found to have been in prison for the past year. In addition, the man is an invalid who walks and talks with difficulty. Still, the arrests of the man and two other suspects last month were considered unprecedentedly rapid by Salvadorean standards.
Meanwhile, President Jos'e Napole'on Duarte has canceled a visit to the US scheduled for later this month.