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Salvadoran Guerrillas Arrive in Cuba With Salvador

October 26, 1985

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Two planes carrying 99 Salvadoran guerrillas exchanged for President Jose Napoleon Duarte’s kidnapped daughter arrived in Havana Friday, the official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported.

A guerrilla leader who went to the Cuban capital to meet the flights told reporters at Jose Marti airport that the kidnapping was ″an extreme last resort″ to obtain medical treatment for the rebels, the agency said. It described the airlift as the end of ″a complicated and long diplomatic negotiation.″

The group apparently included all 96 wounded guerrillas and three of the 22 political prisoners released Thursday as part of the exchange agreement. The rebels freed Ines Guadalupe Duarte Duran, 35; Ana Cecilia Villeda Sosa, 23, who was kidnapped with her, and at least 23 kidnapped mayors who were included in the negotiations.

Duarte’s government freed three other political prisoners earlier.

Mrs. Duarte Duran and Miss Villeda Sosa were held 44 days. The mayors had been abducted in separate operations since last spring.

Guerrilla commanders Mario Lopez and Salvador Guerra, along with doctors, nurses and 10 ambulances, met the Salvadorans at the airport, Prensa Latina said.

The wounded were taken to a hospital and some will go to Europe for medical treatment, the agency reported. France announced that it would take some of them.

″The kidnapping was not part of the line followed by the FMLN but was an extreme last resort, forced by circumstances, and to demonstrate that the FMLN never abandons its jailed, wounded or disappeared combatants,″ Prensa Latina quoted Lopez as saying.

The Prensa Latina dispatch referred to guerrillas ″wounded or mutilated in war.″ Many in one plane that stopped in Panama had lost arms and legs.

Thirty of the rebels arrived on one plane and 69 on the other, Prensa Latina said.

Eighteen political prisoners remained in El Salvador, apparently to rejoin guerrilla forces.

Among the arrivals were a 13-year-old boy and Nidia Diaz, a guerrilla commander who took part in last year’s peace talks with Duarte’s government, which have not been resumed.

During a stop in Panama, Miss Diaz described the deal that obtained her release from a women’s prison as ″a great victory″ for the rebels. The 32- year-old commander is considered the most important of the political prisoners freed in the exchange.

She is a top leader of the Central American Workers’ Revolutionary Party, a tiny faction of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). Her faction claimed it carried out the June 19 attack that killed four U.S. Marines and nine others in two San Salvador cafes. A year ago, the former Mexican college psychology student met with Duarte as one of two FMLN representatives in the first rebel-government peace talks in the mountain town of La Palma.

She was shot and captured on April 18. Also captured were FMLN party files considered important by the Salvadorian army.

″We have reached the political-military victory,″ Radio Havana quoted her as saying when she arrived in Cuba. The broadcast was monitored in Miami.

Also flown to Havana was Honduran doctor Marcelino Reyes, also a member of the guerrilla party.

″This victory means it is possible to reach a ... political negotiation with the government of El Salvador,″ the radio station quoted Reyes as saying.

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