Reaction in the United States to the killings included the charge that a leaked paper of the Reagan transition team had contributed to the climate of violence in El Salvador.

Mary Temple, the executive director of the private Land Council that has worked with AIFLD on El Salvador and a friend of the men killed, said, "On Central America, there is no other clear statement than the leaked transition report, which was greeted with jubilation by the extreme right there."

The report criticized U.S. Ambassador Robert White for his efforts to press reforms in El Salvador and indicated that he should be removed and the rights issue deemphasized.

Reagan's ambassador-designate to the United Nations, Jean Kirkpatrick, who knew two of the men killed, said the president-elect felt statements he made could undercut the current administration. She noted that she had frequently said "the most appropriate policy of the U.S. government was support of the junta," which is the position of White.

"I am not terribly impressed with suggestions that what Reagan says or does not say is responsible for murders in El Salvador," she added.

Agrarian reform expert Roy Prosterman of the University of Washington said, "clearly those responsible believe that by killing three people they can kill the agrarian reform. I hope this will not prove true. It will depend on whether Mr. Carter and Mr. Reagan can use the moment of this tragedy to express a common policy . . . in projecting basic American values."