TR El Salvador Human Rights Group appealed this week to the kidnappers of the two British bankers to extend the deadline that they have set for the "execution" of the prisoners.
The two men — Michael Chatterton, a Catholic, and Ian Massie — were abducted by guerillas of the Armed Forces of the National Resistance (FARN) on November 30 last year. The guerillas have threatened to kill them unless the govern ment agrees to meet a set of demands, including the release of all political prisoners, a solution to pending labour conflicts, the publication of a political manifesto and an unexpected ransom.
They have also been holding a Japanese businessman and a Salvadorean coffee magnate.
Lat week they hinted that the Japanese man might be released after they heard that his company might be willing to negotiate. But they accused the British Government of putting problems in the way of negotiations over Mr Chatterton and Mr Massie.
Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador has also attempted to intervene on behalf of the kidnapped men. Along with two others, he has had talks with his namesake, Carlos Romero, the President of El Salvador. However, he was unable to extract any concessions from the Government to the guerrillas, political demands.
The Archbishop — an outspoken opponent of the El Salvador governemnt — has repeatedly called for the release of political prisoners and has denounced the strong-arm tactics of the regime's security forces.
Meanwhile, another South American government has stepped up its pressure against political dissidents.
On Tuesday, four leading Peruvian journalists were dragged by police from the cathedral in Lima, the country's capital, where they were holding a hunger strike to• protest against restrictions on press freedom.