President Jose Napoleon Duarte, in an emotional speech, said today that the "wolves" who kidnaped his daughter are "the personification of barbarity" and can invoke no possible cause to justify their actions.
"Not even in the most troubled times have I felt such suffering as I do now that one of my daughters is not with us, victim of the injustice, the cruelty and the barbarity of those who have kidnaped her," a drawn-looking Duarte told an Independence Day crowd in San Salvador's central square. "I tell you sincerely, I have never felt such sorrow."
Duarte's appearance at the Independence Day observances marked the first time he has addressed Salvadorans publicly on the abduction by unknown gunmen last Tuesday of his daughter, Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran, 35, along with a friend, Cecilia Villeda, 23.
Although Salvadoran officials tentatively have blamed extreme leftist rebels, no group has claimed responsibility.
Reuter news agency, quoting Salvadoran military sources, said what may have been an attempted contact from the abductors was aborted late Friday before any information was conveyed. Government officials have said they still do not know who kidnaped the president's daughter or why and are waiting for the abductors to identify themselves and present demands.
Duarte, appearing tired, with large black circles under his eyes, said he has been working throughout his career to end the violence and injustice that have marked Salvadoran politics for years and that have been cited by leftist rebels as reasons for their 6-year-old insurgency.
"So I say especially to those who have crushed the most sacred part of my being, fatherly love, the love of my children, that they have no moral reason to harm me, that it is not possible to put forward any causes or motives that would make me deserve this cruel affront, that there is no right in the name of which the banners of infamy and hate can be raised," he said.
"If those who carried out this terrible deed of the kidnaping of my daughter sought to torment a father who at the same time is president of the republic, then of course they have succeeded. But they also have provoked the anguish of a mother, the desperate tears of small children, the sorrow of a people and the astonishment of civilized nations."