INTRODUCTION: Unidentified gunmen in San Salvador murdered two American lawyers and the President of the Salvadorean Institute of Agrarian Reform on Sunday (4 January).
GV EXTERIOR Sheraton Hotel in San Salvador, El Salvador
SV INTERIOR Disturbed breakfast tables in dining room (2 shots)
SV & CU Bullet holes in door and wall (4 shots)
SV Body of shot American in City Morgue (2 shots)
CU Body of second American shot through head (3 shots)
SV Body of Rodolfo Viera Lizama specialist in farm cooperatives carried into morgue (3 shots)
CU (LIBRARY FILM) Mr. Viera speaking to farmers in field in Spanish
CU Howard Lane, U.S. Embassy spokesman speaking in English
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
SEQ. 8: LANE: "It was well known that the Agrarian reformers were detested by both the left and the right. These people have been threatened by both the extreme left and the extreme right."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Unidentified gunmen in San Salvador murdered two American lawyers and the President of the Salvadorean Institute of Agrarian Reform on Sunday (4 January). The lawyers were identified as Michael Hammer and Mark Pearlman who had been meeting Institute President Viera Lizama to discuss new legislation to distribute more than half of El Salvador's land to peasants.
SYNOPSIS: The three men were shot by two attackers shortly after midnight as they were drinking coffee in the luxury El Salvador Sheraton hotel, west of San Salvador. Eyewitnesses said the gunmen burst in and sprayed the victims with machine-gun fire.
Five weeks ago, four American women, three nuns and a social worker were murdered in the same area. It's believed nine-thousand people died and there thousand disappeared last year in the battle between left-wing guerrillas and the ruling junta.
The lawyers worked for the American Institute for Free Trade Development, an auxiliary of a Trade Union Federation. Mr. Pearlman had been in El Salvador for seven months. Mr. Hammer arrived only days before the shooting. Prior to the incident, the country's left-wing opposition group called for a major drive to defeat the administration. The move was seen as an attempt to topple the Government prior to Ronald Reagan's confirmation as U.S. President.
Mr. Viera was wounded in an assassination attempt eight months ago. The Institute of Agrarian Reform which he led, is responsible for carrying out the Government's land redistribution programme. Mr. Viera will be buried in San Miguel next week. Mr. Viera had been a peasant leader for 37 years and was a specialist in farm co-operatives. His work in that area had taken him to the United States where he studied various types of farming. After the shooting the El Salvador Government pledged its full co-operation in tracking down the killers. A U.S. Embassy spokesman Howard Lane said it was common knowledge that the Agrarian Reform group had many enemies.