In his first state-of-the-nation address, President Jose Napoleon Duarte said today that he has advanced peace efforts and reduced human rights abuses.
The president reviewed his accomplishments one year after he assumed office as El Salvador's first directly elected civilian president in half a century. He had served earlier as head of a junta.
"Yes, we have made efforts in the search for the road toward peace," Duarte said, referring to two meetings with left-wing guerrillas and to Salvadoran support for the peace process sponsored by the four-nation Contadora group. He said that he had strengthened the armed forces and that they were displaying improved "discipline and procedure."
"We have accepted the challenge to humanize the war," the president said in the televised speech to the Legislative Assembly, Cabinet and other officials. He did not respond specifically to a communique released by the rebel alliance Thursday demanding resumption of the peace talks, which currently are stalled.
Duarte repeatedly attacked the rebels, saying that the civil war that developed here in late 1979 and early 1980 had been "imposed" on El Salvador by the Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua.
Duarte appealed for release of mayors kidnaped by a hard-line guerrilla faction.
Five times he recalled the promise of his campaign slogan -- "a government that governs" -- and said it had been fulfilled.
Duarte barely mentioned the right-wing political opposition, using much of the speech either to attack the left or to respond to it. Citing progress in democratizing the country, he noted that a Salvadoran daily newspaper, for the first time in years, had published a guerrilla communique.