Friday's second round of peace talks between the government and Salvadoran rebels is to take place in a small, modern Salesian Fathers seminary 9 miles south of the capital, it was announced today.
Speaking for Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas, the official mediator in the talks, Msgr. Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, said today a decision to use the seminary had been reached during secret talks he held with rebel representatives outside the country Saturday and Tuesday.
The bishop said both sides had shown "realism" in planning for this meeting and that he was convinced they both were determined to see some "minimum agreement" come out of the talks to avoid the kind of disappointment that followed the first inconclusive meeting Oct. 15 in the northern town of La Palma.
"There is a desire on both sides to come up with something that will meet the people's expectations," the bishop said, indicating that one item that might be brought up was the rebels' proposal of a Christmas truce.
Unlike the first meeting in La Palma, however, the meeting in the seminary of Ayagualo is going to be a low-keyed affair. Although thousands of people converged on La Palma at the invitation of President Jose Napoleon Duarte last month to stage a massive demonstration for peace, this time the public is not being urged to attend. Those who seek to do so will be kept away from the site by soldiers and International Red Cross workers. Only when the meeting breaks up will those who have passed security checks be allowed up the hill to the seminary to hear the joint communique to be read by Archbishop Rivera y Damas.
Because the meeting is to deal with procedural rather than substantive issues, neither the government nor the rebels will be represented by their top leaders. Duarte announced last week that he would send a four-man delegation led by his minister to the presidency, Julio Adolfo Rey Prendes.
Rosa Chavez confirmed that the rebels' most important political leader, Guillermo Ungo, who met with Duarte in La Palma, would also stay away this time. The rebel delegation, he said, would consist of Ruben Zamora and Hector Oqueli, both members of the guerrillas' political and military commission, Dagoberto Gutierrez, who has been identified as a member of the Salvadoran Communist Party, and Facundo Guardado, a commander of the guerrillas' Popular Liberation Front faction.
Zamora and Oqueli are expected to fly into El Salvador from Mexico on a Mexican plane with several foreign ambassadors for safe conduct. Guardado is expected to travel by land from his headquarters in northern Chalatenango province.