Peace plan problems

Robinson, Linda

CENTRAL AMERICA PEACE PLAN PROBLEMS OBSTACLES & OPPORTUNITIES Can the Central American peace plan bring peace, democracy, and stability to the region? The Reagan administration says it is not...

...One senior U.S...
...Holding power, he pointed out, is not the same as exercising it...
...While Costa Rican President Oscar Arias told me that the Sandinistas were quite clear about the meaning of the provisions they have agreed to, their rhetoric gives rise to some concern...
...Congress is not inclined to review contra aid, or take any action that would give the Nicaraguan government an excuse not to fulfill its obligations under the plan...
...will address this problem itself...
...The administration cannot get its way without congressional support, which it does not have at the moment...
...The most immediate danger is that the timetable for compliance will be extended indefinitely, in effect frustrating the clear-cut peace-for-democracy bargain envisioned in the plan...
...This raises the other problems with the peace plan, namely whether it can achieve security, demilitarization, and regional stability...
...Second, it can be reversed by those in power...
...The reason that critics doubt this definition is sufficient is the Sandinistas' failure to live up to similar commitments they made to the OAS in 1979...
...might have secured a cutoff of Soviet bloc aid in exchange for cutting off contra aid, it will not have that bargaining chip if the Central American peace plan goes through...
...The international verification commission is supposed to do this, but many fear that its diveirse composition makes for endless disputes that will cripple its effectiveness...
...The Cubans have said that they will not negotiate with the U.S...
...The peace plan refers all matters of troop and arms levels and foreign bases to the Contadora process for resolution...
...The Sandinistas firmly believe that they are entitled to govern because they fought for and won power...
...There is no question that the military and security apparatus they have is capable of maintaining them in power...
...Without simultaneity, the plan does not have a chance of working...
...If this optimistic scenario occurs, the opposition will have more time to prepare for presidential elections...
...This means Congress should withhold aid but send a clear signal that it would approve aid if the Sandinistas do not comply with the plan...
...It could offer the Soviets some quid pro quo such as a cutoff of U.S...
...while the U.S...
...concerns...
...aid and advisers...
...In order for this to happen, the other countries must insist that the basic freedoms are fully permitted, and the opposition must make full use of them...
...Finally, one security issue is not dealt with in either the peace plan or the Contadora framework foreign advisers and foreign military aid...
...The Guatemalan military decided to hold free elections when its domestic and international standing reached a low ebb, even though it was not forced to turn over power...
...diplomat in the region noted that if the democratization proceeds, the security problems could diminish...
...It may choose to, preferring to risk being left without a policy...
...The Reagan administration has correctly identified the weaknesses in the Central American's peace plan, but it has not yet set about remedying them...
...This gives the opposition an opportunity to gain a more secure platform, and it will test the Sandinistas' willingness to democratize...
...The basic idea of the peace plan is to trade peace for democracy, on the theory that democracy would remove the reason for war...
...linda Robinson Linda Robinson is an associate editor of Foreign Affairs and recently spent three weeks in Central America...
...One high Nicaraguan official told me, "We are here to stay...
...and it could offer the Cubans any number of improvements in bilateral relations...
...Of course, any elected government wants to retain power, but it must allow the possibility of being voted out in a democratic system, The Reagan administration would like the Sandinistas to stand in elections right away to test their intentions...
...Nicaragua would have required a quid pro quo from its neighbors namely, that they refrain from receiving U.S...
...Between these two positions lies a 580 third one that would reinforce the plan's ehances of success and also meet U.S...
...If this happens, a Guatemalan official argued, the Sandinistas may find the political system changing in ways they cannot control, at least short of using brute force, which would damage greatly their fragile international standing...
...the question is whether the plan sets out a clear definition of democracy...
...The fear is that the Sandinistas may not care whether they are seen as democrats, particularly if they have disarmed the contra threat...
...The next administration, one hopes, will be up to the challenge of serious diplomacy...
...The current plan's provisions, if implemented, may produce an opening that could grow into democracy...
...The Reagan administration says it is not sufficient, and insists on continuing to aid the Nicaraguan contras and requiring additional measures of the Sandinista government...
...the Central Americans are not less eager for the Nicaraguans to stop receiving Soviet bloc military aid, but there is a very good reason why they could not make this part of either multilateral plan...
...But it sets no starting or concluding date for negotiation...
...The signatories agreed to implement the basic freedoms of association, press, political parties, and other civil rights...
...can help them do...
...over Nicaragua, but they are also eager to remedy their own 581 economic and political problems, which the U.S...
...this is a serious deficiency, given that Contadora has been unable to produce an agreement after four years...
...Still, several Central American officials profess confidence in a standing Contadora "factorization" formula, which would permit equivalent but different force structures...
...But the Central Americans would do well to set a deadline that would give impetus to the process...
...Beyond this, there are two difficulties in such a swap...
...The United States must accept that...
...aid to the Afghan rebels...
...A basic difficulty is that the countries' military needs differ, especially in El Salvador's case if its war continues...
...Some partial solutions are possible: the Salvadorans have proposed a bilateral agreement with the Nicaraguans that would monitor and verify that each is not aiding the other's insurgencies...
...It has been weak and divided, and the returning exiles need to build a political base in the country...
...While the U.S...
...Given its reluctance to talk with the Nicaraguan government, the U.S...
...No negotiated settlement could surmount either difficulty completely...
...What made agreement possible on this concept was the provision that both peace and democracy would be implemented simultaneously...
...The Salvadorans in particular would not have accepted such a deal...
...It is unclear whether the political momentum generated'by the current peace plan will lead to the conclusion of a security agreement...
...The Reagan administration would like Soviet and Cuban advisers and aid halted...
...might have been able to secure such a provision had it been willing to negotiate, the Central Americans did not have sufficient leverage to do so...
...might find this latter option more palatable...
...The Sandinistas have offered to discuss this with the U. S. in bilateral talks...
...to raise the issue directly with the providers...
...Many Central American officials hope that the U.S...
...the other possibility is for the U.S...
...The plan also calls for 1988 elections for a regional parliament, and the Nicaraguan constitution calls for municipal elections...
...First, democracy cannot be implanted overnight...
...The Honduran July 31 proposal would have established such a timetable, but this was rejected...

Vol. 114 • October 1987 • No. 18


 
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