Salvador's release of four rebels seen as sign of good faith in negotiations
| San Salvador
The Salvadorean government has released four of the left-wing guerrillas demanded by those who kidnapped President Jos'e Napol'eon Duarte's daughter Sept. 10. The release, which occurred Tuesday but didn't become known until Wednesday night, is meant as a sign of good faith in the negotiations and as a demonstration of the government's stated willingness to release more captured rebels in order to obtain the release of In'es Guadalupe Duarte Duran.
The captors have asked for the release of a total of 34 guerrillas, according to government officials. The government is willing to release the 25 it has but says it doesn't have the other nine. These nine are a sticking point in the negotiations.
Government sources identified the four guerrillas as high-ranking ``intellectual'' members of one of the two largest guerrilla organizations, the Popular Liberation Forces (FPL). The four were captured during police raids in San Salvador within the last several weeks.
The government made a goodwill gesture to Ms. Duarte's captors Monday when it pardoned a Costa Rican pilot. The pilot was captured in 1981 and sentenced to 25 years in prison for allegedly smuggling arms from Nicaragua.
Julio Romero Talavera, however, claims he flew to El Salvador to remove wounded guerrillas. He says he was tortured by the Treasury Police for three years until finally sent to prison in 1984. Mr. Talavera is to be released within the next few days.
The government hasn't publicly stated its demands in the negotiations. But sources say that, along with Ms. Duarte, the government wants the release of the 24 mayors being held by the Farabundo Mart'i National Liberation Front (FMLN) guerrillas.
The kidnappings of the mayors began last spring in the eastern part of the country and recently spread to the north.
While almost all sources agree that the captors of Ms. Duarte are connected to the FMLN, the group hasn't publicly taken responsiblity for the abduction. Many political observers think the Pedro Pablo Castillo Front, which did claim responsiblity, is a cover for the guerrilla organization.
Ms. Duarte's captors have maintained anonymity during negotiations to prevent possible Army retaliation, such as heavy bombing of the areas the guerrillas occupy.
The recent kidnapping of Ms. Duarte and the June killings of six Americans, five Salvadoreans, a Chilean, and a Guatemalan have increased the nervousness of San Salvador's wealthy elite.
They remember the kidnappings for ransom that occurred frequently in the late 1970s. The wealthy live behind high walls and drive armored cars filled with bodyguards.