The Salvadoran government today ordered the deportation of 23 religious workers, including at least 19 Americans, who were forcibly removed from a war zone where they were working with refugees.
The group, escorted by Salvadoran authorities and a U.S. Embassy official, left San Salvador at about 11 a.m. for an overland journey to the Guatemalan border. It was not known when they would reach the border.
One official source said they were expected to be placed aboard a flight to Los Angeles.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said the foreigners' visas had been revoked.
"The extrapolation is that they will have to leave the country," he said.
The workers--at least 19 Americans, two Canadians and two Australians--were forcibly removed by the army Wednesday from a town northeast of San Salvador. The group was accompanying about 600 Salvadorans trying to reclaim land they abandoned during El Salvador's civil war, now in its seventh year.
Earlier, in Washington, State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said the group detained by military authorities was in an "officially designated combat zone." He said the group had been taken to San Salvador, that it was planning to leave the country today and that there had been "no reports of mistreatment."
He said four of the Americans had given permission to have their names released: Joan Daily, Jake Eschen, Marie Edell Grosso of Virginia and Celeste Greco of San Francisco.
Reporters were not allowed to interview the workers but the Americans--most of them from the San Francisco area--went to the balcony of a building in the police compound and waved to journalists.
One worker, Emily Goldfarb, shouted from the balcony that the group had not been mistreated. Each was photographed, fingerprinted and required to fill out a six-page questionnaire, she said.
"The U.S. Embassy has done nothing to help us," Goldfarb said. "There is an agreement between (President Jose Napoleon) Duarte and (U.S. Ambassador Edwin) Corr to get us out of here."
"They are working hand-in-hand so we cannot accomplish our goals, which were to accompany the displaced to their homes," she said.