The U.S. State Department has responded with outrage to the release of those accused of killing four U.S. Marines in the 1985 Zona Rosa shoot out ("Salvador Pardoning of Americans' Killers Hit," Part I, Nov. 15). In one light, this indignation over the blanket amnesty declared by President Jose Napoleon Duarte's government is a welcome sign. By labeling this misapplication of justice as "morally wrong" the State Department is finally injecting a note of ethical concern that has been tragically lacking in our government's policies in the region for the last eight years.
Sadly, our government takes exception with the amnesty law only to defend the rights of "Americans," something that rings particularly hollow in contrast to the State Department's deafening silence over the killing of some 40,000 Salvadorans at the hands of death squads and security forces.
The State Department is worried that a dangerous precedent is being set with the release of the accused Zona Rosa killers. But if we are going to strike such a high moral posture we must look at the larger implications of the amnesty law, how it reflects on the more fundamental question of justice in El Salvador, and also how it impacts the peace process in the region that precipitated the amnesty in the first place.