After returning from a meeting with top rebel leaders, Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas said Wednesday that he believes the kidnaped daughter of President Jose Napoleon Duarte will be released this week.
Rivera y Damas said he met on Tuesday with six commanders of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the alliance of five rebel groups battling the government, to discuss the release of Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran, 35. Duarte Duran and a female companion were kidnaped Sept. 10 outside a university here.
A previously unknown group calling itself the Pedro Pablo Castillo Command of the Farabundo Marti Front claimed responsibility for the kidnaping, but the Farabundo Marti front has never publicly acknowledged any role in it.
"I think a substantial part of the problem of Ines Guadalupe has been resolved," Rivera y Damas told reporters.
'Just the Mechanics'
Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez said that one of the five groups carried out the kidnaping, but the entire front later took over the negotiations. Rosa Chavez said an agreement for the women's release has been reached and "just the mechanics" are being worked out.
The government also has been seeking the release of 23 mayors kidnaped by rebel groups since last April, but Rosa Chavez said the mayors now are "a separate negotiation. . . . It is more complicated because there are more people, but the negotiations are on the right track."
The abductors, trying to draw attention to what they believe are continued human rights abuses by authorities, have been demanding the release of 34 political prisoners, nine of whom the government insists have never been in official custody.
Missing Prisoners Issue
Rivera y Damas said officials have given the rebels proof that they do not have the nine missing prisoners and that the government has set up a commission to investigate each of their cases. He called the move "a positive step."
"Before, things happened and no one worried about them. Today, there is a serious concern to clear this up," Rivera y Damas said.
Among the missing are Yanet Samour and Maximina Reyes, two commanders of the People's Revolutionary Army, the largest of the rebel groups. The two disappeared last April, and the guerrillas say they were picked up by the Salvadoran military.
Sources close to the case said the traditionally powerful armed forces have given Duarte the green light to release the other political prisoners.
Rivera y Damas said he has a recent tape-recording from Duarte Duran that proves that she and her friend are alive and well. The government had demanded the proof before it would release the political prisoners.