The government of El Salvador will be represented at the La Palma talks by President Jose Napoleon Duarte. He is expected to be accompanied by Defense Minister Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, two vice presidents and the minister of the presidency, Julio Rey Prendes.
Duarte was elected president this year after 3 1/2 years of interim rule by several civilian-military juntas, including one led by Duarte, and the one-year provisional presidency of Alvaro Magana. He was elected president in May. The leftist opposition did not participate in the vote.
Since his victory, Duarte has been attempting to consolidate his authority over his longtime enemies, El Salvador's archconservative business and military establishments. Before his election, Duarte had pledged to hold a dialogue with the guerrillas, but after taking office he said he wanted to wait until he had dealt with the problem of right-wing death squads and their supporters in the military. Duarte reversed himself on the issue last Monday with a dramatic appeal to the left -- made before the U.N. General Assembly -- to meet with him Monday for talks.
Duarte, 58, is a civil engineer educated in El Salvador and at the University of Notre Dame in the United States. A lifelong Christian Democrat, he built up a political base as mayor of San Salvador. He ran for president in 1972 on the same ticket with Guillermo Ungo, now a leader of the left.
After seven years of exile in Venezuela, he returned to El Salvador following the Oct. 15 coup by reform-minded officers to find a polarized country. After he agreed to lead a junta formed in March 1980, many of his backers among the peasants and urban poor turned against him. But his electoral victory this year showed he still commanded a strong base of support.
Defense Minister Vides Casanova, 45, is expected to accompany Duarte to the meeting in La Palma.
Until last year Vides Casanova headed the National Guard, one of the security forces most frequently accused of human rights violations. Since being named defense minister, Vides Casanova has publicly supported Duarte's efforts to end the activities of the death squads.
Included in the delegation will be two of Duarte's three vice presidents, Abraham Rodriguez and Rene Fortin.