Nicaragua's Revolution is, in my judgment, in danger of dying in its infancy.

I joined the Revolutionary Government with appreciation and pride. I served it with a loyalty founded on the conviction that the Revolution would be good, first and foremost, for Nicaragua. My experience has disillusioned me: dogmatism and adventurism seem to have wiped out the democratic and pluralistic ideals which, in 1979, united all Nicaraguan advocates of freedom. My lamentation and criticism is that these ideals have been shattered and the moral defenses of the Revolution have well-nigh vanished. It was because of my profound dissent from the conduct of that government and the direction of the revolutionary process, as well as the realization of my own inability to influence them, that I subsequently chose to return to private life.

Now, as a Nicaraguan citizen, I reiterate my belief that the Revolution should be the most important landmark in our nation's history. Moreover, I confess that I am unable to understand how the Revolutionary Government, which in July 1979 enjoyed the almost unanimous support of the Nicaraguan people and the respect and admiration of other peoples and governments throughout the world, has suffered, in less than four years, a tremendous erosion in international solidarity and has become isolated from its neighbors and important sectors of the nation. The insurgency it faces is the more painful insofar as it is launched both by the true enemies of the Revolution and by many of its own children, who wish to rescue it from the present course which they consider an error.

Moreover, it has to be admitted that the lamentable condition in which the Revolution finds itself is not solely due to the fact that Washington has reached the limit of its tolerance, or to the ideological opposition of the reactionary sectors of Nicaragua. There is also an element of self-destruction in the present conduct of the Revolution. Certain Sandinista revolutionary leaders' rejection of pragmatism is puzzling. The allegiance to an internationalist ideology, which they seem to profess-perhaps unwittingly-at the expense of the basic interests of the nation-state of Nicaragua, is unacceptable. The deaths from both sides in this nightmarish conflict must cease.

Elucidating these delicate and sensitive questions is a taxing endeavor. The polarized debate over Nicaragua, particularly in the context of the Central American crisis, quite frequently focuses on one of two arguments. Some say that it is a clear case of rebellion against injustice; others see it as a reflection of the East-West confrontation and thereby as affecting the security of the United States. Very few approach the analysis from the premise that there may be a combination of both factors. In order to accurately explain my views, I must rely on my personal experiences not only with the Sandinista Revolution and its leaders-several of whom I personally hold in high regard-but also with representatives of other groups or organizations within the original broad alliance, with most of whom I still have a good rapport.

I have never belonged in the sanctum sanctorum of the Sandinistas, let alone been privy to their innermost secrets. However, I have dealt rather closely with their leadership. In a way, I have been a participant and an observer from a unique vantage point. Based on that experience, I can say that had the Revolutionary Government sought to achieve domestic peace with greater determination, and pursued, perhaps with more sincerity, a truly nationalist foreign policy, the Revolution might not be as seriously threatened as it is today.

I do not wish to sound as if, from a position of comfort and safety abroad-far from the tragedy-I am pontificating about the responsibilities of the revolutionary leaders, who, in Nicaragua, must deal with insurgency, acute economic problems and international confrontations. I merely wish to single out those areas where I think the Revolution has gone wrong. I do so with the same candor I employed during the time I served the Revolutionary Government.

It may not be naïve that many Nicaraguans continue to hope that the United States will soon vigorously implement a policy of accommodation with the Revolution in my country. Likewise, not a few Nicaraguans pray to God Almighty that the Sandinistas-who are courageous in war and show real concern for the destitute-may see the wisdom of admitting the government's errors and, more important, that they may have the will to redress them in order to save the Revolution for the sake of Nicaragua.


One day in 1977, in a room in the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., I listened with immense delight as three compatriots told me that the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) would soon be ready to meet Somoza's armed forces (the Guardia Nacional) in full combat, defeat them and establish a democratic Revolutionary Government in Nicaragua. I was then asked to join a group for political support to the embryonic Sandinista movement, which later became known as "Los Doce" (The Twelve). Due to the understandable personal limitations imposed by my career as an officer in an international institution, sometimes my contribution, of necessity, was somewhat marginal.

Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought such a long shot would succeed. I had many reasons to admire the Sandinistas: they had displayed tenacity, valor and a selfless willingness to sacrifice their own lives in order to free the Nicaraguan people from the asphyxia of a dictatorship too long in power. I realized that among these young men and women there was an abundance of heroes that my generation had lacked. Of course, there had been martyrs before, but heroes in the struggle against Somoza had been rare. There were two distinguished exceptions. One was the anti-Somoza leader, Fernando Chamorro-Rappacioli, who in 1960 led a daring attack against the garrisons of the towns of Jinotepe and Diriamba, holding them a whole night against overwhelming odds. The other was Pedro Joaquín Chamorro-Cardenal, the editor of La Prensa, who courageously preached freedom and social justice.

The turning point in the Revolution was Pedro Joaquín Chamorro-Cardenal's assassination in early 1978. Nicaraguans from all walks of life were incensed, and world opinion demanded an end to the Somoza dynasty. Thereafter, Somoza's days in power were numbered. Nicaragua was ripe for upheaval. A revolutionary ferment pervaded the country-notably among the young, including children of affluent families-and a new social order was warranted.

It was no secret that the hard core of the Sandinistas was Marxist. However, the non-Marxists in this alliance of political parties, labor unions, businessmen, students and professionals were comforted by the pluralistic spirit which then prevailed. Nearly everyone felt confident that the Marxist vanguard was going to promote a social democracy. Theirs was not blind faith. As a matter of fact, there was a clear demand for assurance that the following elements should be present in the anticipated revolutionary system:

- The creation of non-political armed forces.

- Democratic elections to be held at a reasonable time after victory.

- The promotion of pluralism and the preservation of legitimate private property.

- Self-determination under the objective conditions influencing a nation-state placed by Divine Providence in the Western Hemisphere.

Furthermore, three events, shortly before victory, buttressed this confidence:

- The appointment of two highly-respected individuals to the five-member Junta: Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, widow of the martyred journalist, and Alfonso Robelo, a businessman and political leader.

- The approval by the Junta of a government plan which was supposed to become the basis for achieving political pluralism, a mixed economy and external nonalignment.

- The Organization of American States' (OAS) decision to expel Somoza so that a provisional government might undertake the task of establishing democracy and pluralism. The Junta committed itself to those goals.


On July 19, 1979, a delirious people greeted the Junta in Managua: "Había llegado un nuevo amanecer"-the days of happiness had arrived.

I was offered, and accepted, the presidency of the Central Bank. Although I was already 55 years old, my opposition to the Somoza dynasty had precluded my working in the public sector. The Central Bank had managed to preserve itself as an island of professionalism and honesty. It resisted, almost to the bitter end and under trying circumstances, the political pressures which were rampant in the previous regime. My predecessors, Francisco Laínez, Gustavo Guerrero and Roberto Incer, had the foresight to train abroad-including studies in "Ivy League" universities-a large number of professionals who constituted the best cadres in the civil service of Nicaragua. I was reassured by the fact that many of them stayed with us. Unfortunately, the primitive "anti-bourgeois" rhetoric which was soon to appear and the stress of forced participation in neighborhood committees "for the defense of the Revolution" was too much for some of my new colleagues. As a result, they became part of the first waves of brain-drain. What a mortal blow to any prospect for reactivating the national economy!

The new government found a chaotic economic situation. However, foreign aid came to the rescue of the fledgling Revolution, in substantial amounts and with great speed. To offset the lack of hard currency during the first week (we found only $3.5 million in the treasury), the United States provided an $8.5-million grant, and the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, Antonio Ortiz Mena, obtained for us a $20-million bridging loan from the Venezuelans. Other balance-of-payment support followed shortly thereafter, including an International Monetary Fund compensatory loan. Multilateral and bilateral aid was flexible, e.g., conditions to be set prior to disbursement of funds were eased.

The United States favored the approval of loans to our country in international development institutions. In addition, existing Agency for International Development loan agreements were adapted to the new requirements. U.S. Ambassador Lawrence Pezzullo and his aides, Thomas O'Donnell and Lawrence Harrison, worked in earnest to provide the government with emergency supplies of food and medicine. A $75-million loan was likewise approved; unfortunately, due to restrictions attached by the U.S. Congress, it was never totally disbursed, thus furnishing the radicals with fuel for anti-Yankee speeches and for taunting the non-Marxists.

With all the financial and technical cooperation being received from the Western world and, on a more limited scale, the Socialist bloc, a rapid return to normalcy should have been achieved. But weeks went by and we could not see the same spirit that was shown by the people of Managua in December of 1972, when, just two days after an earthquake had obliterated the city, one could see signs amid the rubble announcing that shops were again operating.

We did everything possible to encourage businessmen and farmers by making credit available on soft terms. Notwithstanding, production did not fully recover and the private sector made no new investments. It was becoming clear that it would be hard to implement socialism in Nicaragua.

The government nationalized the banking system and exports of the main commodities. (Shortly afterward, a new government in El Salvador did almost exactly the same.) These measures were predicated on the fact that it was necessary to reassure depositors, preserve Nicaragua's international credit, guarantee a more effective collection of foreign-exchange revenues and taxes, and provide higher prices to producers.

The most serious problem was-and continues to be-the absence of investment by the private sector. This has been the main stumbling block since the inception of the Revolution. Thus far, it is estimated that only about half of the investment required for a sustained growth of the gross domestic product is being obtained-and almost entirely from the public sector.

It soon became obvious that the paralysis of the economy was basically due to the private sector's fears about an uncertain future. So far, the radicals in the Revolution have closed their eyes to one reality, i.e., that no economic model will be viable if there is not a political system acceptable to the mainstream of the nation. They stubbornly insist on imposing a system that is viscerally rejected by most Nicaraguans. They delude themselves by watching their own propaganda films of students picking cotton. Meanwhile, as a result of arbitrary expropriation and other abuses, the best cotton planters (who are as sophisticated as their U.S. counterparts) have fled the country. It is for this reason that, after four seasons, production has failed to reach the level of a normal 500,000-bale crop.

On the other hand, in the early stages of the Revolution the Sandinistas launched some programs worthy of praise and targeted at improving the living conditions of the Nicaraguan people. Among these were a literacy campaign and a public health service reform designed to benefit the entire country. However, the new leaders seem to overlook the simple fact that social programs must be financed out of public revenue. Frankly, we virtually emptied the well of fiscal revenue with the establishment of the so-called People's Property Area (PPA). This is a holding composed of properties formerly owned by Somoza and his closest followers. An additional large number of farms and factories owned by other citizens-which have been de facto occupied, nationalized or expropriated-have similarly been incorporated into the holding. Therefore, the much ballyhooed 60-percent private/40-percent public ownership of property is no longer accurate. The PPA is a guzzler of resources. It is neither a good credit risk nor a reliable taxpayer. The government refuses to recognize that what is really significant for the state is the control of surplus. Instead, it is obsessed with state ownership of the means of production. The consequences of such policies are increases in the money in circulation, arrears in public loan portfolios, and fiscal and balance-of-payment deficits. Nicaragua is condemned to be an international beggar.


The latter part of 1979 became a period of jockeying in a contest to define the ideological content of the Revolution. It also was a time of "sloganeering." The slogan chanted most frequently and loudly was "Vencimos en la Insurrección, Venceremos en la Alfabetización" . . .etc. ("We were triumphant in the insurrection . . . we shall triumph in any other undertaking.") This slogan epitomizes a macho attitude which appears to be the hallmark of Sandinista rhetoric. The pundits, radical ideologues of the party, would consider defeatist the mere thought that our limitations should lead Nicaragua to take a more pragmatic attitude, accepting compromise as a means, rather than a hindrance, to reaching the Revolution's objectives.

Nevertheless, I would be unfair and ungrateful if I failed to publicly recognize the Sandinistas' gestures of political goodwill and generosity toward non-Sandinistas, one of which was my own appointment to various official positions.1 It is indeed significant that "San Antonio," the largest Central American sugar plantation, continues, as of this writing, under the ownership and management of scions of the wealthiest Nicaraguan families. "San Antonio" is a model enterprise.2 In contrast, the frequent and arbitrary seizure of farms, houses and factories, for example of "Jabonería Prego," Nicaragua's most important soap-manufacturing company, is a gross injustice. Its owners paid salaries above the levels required by law, had no debts and invested their profits in the country. The expropriation, so far without compensation, of medium-sized properties that are often the products of the arduous work of self-made men, is even more regrettable.

It is thus distressing to observe how totalitarian trends are gaining the upper hand in the process of defining Nicaragua's Revolution. In the pursuit of a thorough emasculation of the "establishment," the radical zealots are prone to exhibit iconoclastic contempt for highly respected people and institutions. As a result, the moral authority of the Revolution has been impaired.

One error was the unwarranted vilification of Fernando Aguero, former president of the Conservative Party of Nicaragua and head of state, and Eduardo Montealegre, founder and president of Banco Nicaraguense, which headed a financial conglomerate. This has not gone unnoticed in Nicaragua. Under the circumstances prevailing in Somoza's Nicaragua, an opposition politician like Aguero could not have avoided participating in the political arena; nor could an independent banker such as Montealegre eschew formal relations with the government. Ironically, they were treated as rigorously as if they had been collaborationists, when in fact each in his own field strongly opposed Somoza.

The Sandinistas have also sparked public indignation by their rough treatment of the highly respected president of the Nicaraguan Red Cross, Ismael Reyes.

The harassment of Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo is yet another example of the boorish behavior which is costing the Revolution a political fortune. After all, the Archbishop is Nicaragua's most charismatic personality, beloved and respected by his people. Moreover, the Popular Church, sponsored by the Sandinistas in order to mortify the traditional Church, is more fiction than reality, designed to appeal to the staunch supporters of the Revolution, especially those abroad, who want to see the Sandinista Revolution through Pollyanna's eyes.

And there are no words to describe the shabby treatment of the Pope.

Censoring La Prensa-falsely calling its editors CIA stooges-is not only a violation of the freedom of the press, but a folly which jeopardizes any popular legitimacy of the Revolution.

It should not be forgotten that "dissidence" by non-Marxist revolutionary individuals or groups is the opposite of "counterrevolutionary" sentiment. It does not represent a challenge to Sandinista power, but rather an appeal to moderation. No one rejects the Sandinistas' preeminence, and this is not simply because of their military power. They earned their moral authority during the war of liberation.

As was to be expected, though nonetheless regrettable, extreme leftist radicals consider dissent as treason. Therefore, the dissenting views of the former guerrilla chieftain, Edén Pastora, provoked chagrin and wrath on their part-and, by symbiosis, these feelings are shared by the extreme right. With the announcement in Costa Rica of his dissident stand, on April 15, 1982, "Cero," as he is popularly known, released the dissidents from their "straitjackets." They can now march with him, a man viewed by many Nicaraguans as a true Sandinista hero. They may be called "traitors" by fanatics, but the Nicaraguan people know the truth. Pastora has the power to greatly increase the number of dissidents.

It is truly a pity, tragic by any standards, that Nicaragua's Revolutionary Government may waste an opportunity to build a unique, model revolution, not just a replay of any other. I have heard people say that the reason revolutions in Latin America choose socialism is that it conforms to our cultural preference for authoritarianism. However, I strongly believe that my country does not have an indigenous vocation for tyranny. On the contrary, it has every right to aspire to a revolution as originally proposed by the Sandinistas, from which they are currently deviating and to which they should return. Any people, however backward, aspiring to justice and freedom, cannot accept absolutism as synonymous with revolution.

Likewise, those who have the good fortune to live in democratic countries, but prescribe socialism without freedom for developing nations, might, unintentionally, be adopting postures as patronizing as those who are nostalgic for paternalistic exploitation. The greatest disservice to Nicaragua's Revolution has been the "blank-check" solidarity given to its leaders through thick and thin-and regardless of their faults-by some governments and groups abroad. I am not suggesting that foreign aid be stopped. On the contrary, it must be continued. Nonetheless, I think that those sympathetic governments, if they are true friends of the Revolution, should use their leverage to bolster freedom and justice in Nicaragua. Otherwise, they may be fanning the fire for the self-destruction of Nicaragua's Revolution. Unconditional support, whether for reasons of idealism or partisanship, risks taking my country on a round trip; from the past to the past. As a matter of fact, Ernesto Cardenal, a renowned Nicaraguan poet and currently Minister of Culture, in one of his poems, scores the United States for its chutzpah: having first intervened in the internal affairs of Nicaragua to put Somoza in power, the United States then used the principle of "non-intervention" as a pretext for keeping him in power in spite of his dictatorial rule.3 Today, faced by the new reality of a Marxist dictatorship, some supporters of the FSLN seem to react with a similar double standard.


In April of 1980, after nine months in government, I was confronted with a difficult decision. I had already become deeply disturbed by the indiscriminate and speedy radicalization of the Revolution amid a great deal of confusion and sudden changes. As I confided to one of the revolutionary commanders, I was learning the meaning of "vertiginous speed"; in fact, I felt dizzy. More seriously, I was frustrated by revolutionary "purification," which was eliminating not only the weeds but sometimes the roses as well. I was approached to fill one of the vacancies on the five-member Junta created by the resignations of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and Alfonso Robelo. Mrs. Chamorro is a lady of great moral stamina; Alfonso Robelo an excellent administrator. Although they had borne the brunt of participating in a troubled alliance, they had now reached the limits of their patience, as a result of the unexpected increase, above and beyond the number originally stipulated, in Sandinista representatives on the Council of State.

After a painful process of soul-searching-which included weighing opinions across the spectrum-I joined the Junta a few months before the celebration of the first anniversary of the Revolution. I remained in that position somewhat less than a year.

During that period, I observed a push for the "Sandinisation" of almost everything in the land. It seemed as if the Sandinistas, in their paranoia, were driven by an urge to assert their authority, their primacy, and this, in turn, provoked an overreaction among the non-Sandinistas. Sensing their rejection, these groups would occasionally test the Sandinistas' tolerance, to the point of quasi-provocation. This unfortunate situation had several negative effects. In the first place, it discredited broad alliances, making them appear to be mere tactical devices used by the Marxists to attain power. Consequently, the struggles of other revolutionary movements in the region were rendered more arduous. Internally, it meant that the unification of the Nicaraguan nation would be more difficult-and perhaps even impossible.

At that time, our foreign policy began to show how senseless our goals were. Instead of dedicating all our energy to building the ideal society for which our people had hoped, we were chasing chimeras abroad. It was a game with a high cost, bringing us to where we are today: we have exchanged the well-being of Nicaragua for a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. Declaring ourselves nonaligned, we were, in fact, leaning to the Socialist bloc. Our actions belied our lip-service to nonalignment; it was difficult to explain our position vis-à-vis the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. No less astonishing was our silence about the heroic struggle of Solidarity in Poland. Political analysts detected the contradictions, the most bewildering of which was that we did not seek the establishment of relations with the largest Socialist nation on earth-the People's Republic of China. Furthermore, the Taiwanese ambassador, envoy of a government which had been openly pro-Somoza, was among the first to present his credentials. It seemed that, acting as a loyal pawn, we were applying an old principle of political conduct-"My friend's enemy is my enemy; and my enemy's enemy is my friend." Were we about to change our status from "hacienda" to satellite?

I reached the conclusion that, given my position as a member of the Junta, the dissent which I manifested publicly on various occasions was not in harmony with the unity-I do not mean unanimity-which should exist in the executive branch of government. I considered it my duty to resign.


Upon my resignation from the Junta, I accepted with enthusiasm my appointment-which I specifically requested be limited in duration-as Ambassador to the United States. Before departing for Washington, I was assured by the National Directorate of the FSLN that they were moved by a genuine desire to reach an honorable settlement with the United States. I now faced the overriding question of how to reconcile Washington's understandable concern for U.S. national security with Nicaragua's inalienable right to self-determination. I have always felt that, for negotiations to be successful, it is essential that both sides have good intentions. It should not be a game of each side trying to outsmart the other.

During my first days in my new post, I received the impression that the United States would not tolerate a leftist military victory in El Salvador. In addition, some remarks by the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Lawrence Pezzullo, hammered persistently on my mind. Ambassador Pezzullo, I venture to say, had developed sincere feelings of sympathy for my country. It was one day in the spring of 1981-some time after the failure of the Salvadoran guerrillas' January "final offensive"-when he pleaded, amicably and candidly, that the government in Managua refrain from aiding insurrection in the neighboring nations. The Ambassador stressed that this was important for Nicaragua's own well-being.

In August of 1981, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Thomas Enders, met with my superiors in Managua, at the highest level. His message was clear: in exchange for non-exportation of insurrection and a reduction in Nicaragua's armed forces, the United States pledged to support Nicaragua through mutual regional security arrangements as well as continuing economic aid. His government did not intend to interfere in our internal affairs. However, "you should realize that if you behave in a totalitarian fashion, your neighbors might see you as potential aggressors." My perception was that, despite its peremptory nature, the U.S. position vis-à-vis Nicaragua was defined by Mr. Enders with frankness, but also with respect for Nicaragua's right to choose its own destiny. He indicated that there was a fork in the road: one way leading to friendship between the United States and Nicaragua; the other to separation between the two countries. Maybe, he said, Nicaragua had already advanced along this second route. However, it was not too late to discuss an understanding.

When the conversations concluded, I had the feeling that the U.S. proposal had not been received by the Sandinistas as an imperialist diktat. However, nothing positive developed; Managua and Washington remained at loggerheads; tensions increased.

In the meantime, the frequent shutdowns of La Prensa and the imprisonment of business leaders for criticizing the government undermined me personally. At such a delicate time, when a head-on collision with the United States was imminent, I realized that, in view of the fact that I dissented from my government regarding its domestic policies and disagreed with its foreign policy, I could not continue being an effective envoy. I therefore left the government permanently.

In retrospect, I see that, as a Nicaraguan citizen, in spite of my loyalty to and admiration for the Sandinistas, I was never able to accept-without a popular referendum to sanction their pretensions-the belief that an offense to their government is an offense to our fatherland; that the actions of their political party are the actions of our people.


At this point in time, the conclusions that can be drawn regarding Nicaragua's revolutionary process are the following:

-The Sandinista leaders as guerrillas were authentic classics-daring, shrewd, flawless. They conquered power.

-They have not proved successful statesmen and are over whelmed by the responsibilities of government, which they render more complex by their own dogmatism.

After 45 months of Sandinista rule, the nation is in a calamitous state. The people are divided by hatred and resentment; the economy is in a shambles and war rages, threatening to reach the level of intensity that existed when Somoza was put at bay.

I am dedicated to my profession and do not consider myself as having a vocation for politics. However, like most of my compatriots, I remain keenly interested in my country's future. I am sympathetic to Edén Pastora and the other leaders of the Alianza Revolucionaria Democratica (ARDE) because they profess to seek the democratic rescue of the Revolution. It is my understanding that Pastora has made proposals for a dialogue; and, since April 1982, he has indicated that he favors a policy of persuasion. Unable to effect a dialogue with the Sandinista leadership, Pastora finally has resorted to the use of force but claims he would still be open to a peaceful solution.

I follow, with disenchantment, the continuing and traumatic erosion of the Revolution. As its former followers become increasingly discontented with the regime, the United States is hardening its position. Disillusioned, key men in the Revolution are leaving the government. The departure, for instance, of Alfredo César, who served the government with distinction and had the full support of the FSLN in the renegotiation of the foreign debt and in other delicate assignments, such as minister-president of the Central Bank of Nicaragua, is a setback for the Revolution.

Counterrevolutionary forces, backed by the United States, are bolder in their attacks against the Revolution.

The confrontation with the United States has reached its outer limits. Washington has admitted its involvement in Nicaragua, even qualifying its intentions toward the Revolutionary Government-"We do not seek its overthrow . . . . Our purpose . . . is to prevent the flow of arms to El Salvador . . . ." Indeed, the President recently outlined his Central American policy before a joint session of Congress, referring to Central America's problems as directly affecting the security and well-being of the American people. Moreover, he stressed the strategic importance of the isthmus, and has labelled the Sandinistas' government "a new dictatorship." However, I respectfully express my confidence that subsequent remarks attributed to the President by the press do not amend his statement that U.S. support of insurgent forces is not intended to overthrow the Sandinistas.

Embarrassingly for the Sandinistas, the Brazilian authorities caught red-handed four Libyan airplanes loaded with weapons and ammunition destined for Nicaragua, which the Libyans had declared contained "medicines." How tragic it is that my country's government gambles with the security (and safety) of its people-misguided by its delusions of grandeur, seeing itself, foolishly, as an important piece on the chessboard of world politics.

Pablo Antonio Cuadra, an exemplary and erudite citizen, in one of his forceful editorials in La Prensa, reminded the Sandinistas that, if indeed they love Nicaragua, they should start by being prudent in order to protect it from any harm and avoid exposing it to danger.

The Frente Democrático Nicaraguense (FDN), whose "contras" are successfully carrying out guerrilla activities deep inside Nicaraguan territory, and which-they boast-is "backed by the mightiest nation in the world," represents a moral defeat for the Revolution. It is indeed humiliating to those who really care for the Revolution that some FDN members who were civic cadavers have been resuscitated politically and vindicated morally by the excesses of the Revolution. Other members are citizens who have been victims of oppression-like the Miskito Indians and small farmers-or those who simply wish to see a different political system in our country. An even more significant indication of the despair experienced by a wide range of citizens is that the national directorate of the organization is composed of people with good credentials, such as Adolfo Calero, Marco Zeledón, Alfonso Callejas and Lucía Salazar.4 The fact remains, however, that most of those persons in positions of military authority within the FDN are ex-members of the National Guard, who unconditionally supported Somoza until the end, against the will of the Nicaraguan people.

In the event of a complete FDN victory, however remote the possibility, this national directorate would bear the difficult responsibility of controlling events so as to prevent the reinitiation of the vicious cycle of extreme right-wing oppression and exploitation, followed by insurrection and, finally, the return to power of extreme leftist absolutism; and, more important, to prevent acts of revenge.

Carrying perhaps an even greater responsibility, those who sustain the forces inimical to the Sandinistas must not ignore the fact that idealistic young boys and girls constitute the Revolution's rank and file. Therefore, those who aid insurrection in my country-whose disenchantment with the Revolution's course and concern for the security of their own country I do not dispute-should be aware of the risk they take of bearing a historical responsibility for contributing, albeit indirectly and unintentionally, to a possible mass execution of the flower of our youth. A line of distinction should be drawn, now more than ever, between "contras" and armed dissidents.

Backing the "contras" indiscriminately could prove self-defeating to the United States. It weakens the moderating forces and strengthens the role of the extremists in Nicaragua. I do not pretend to ignore the disposition of these Sandinista radicals to totalitarianism. But neither do I wish to advocate selective U.S. support for Nicaraguan insurrectionary elements. Nonetheless, no one should ignore the strength of Edén Pastora's will, clearly shown after less than four years of FSLN dictatorship, to rebel. (During 45 years of the Somozas' rule, neither the National Guard as an institution, nor the Somocistas as a political party, ever showed a genuine will to resist their tyranny.) More important, Pastora's insurgency does not seek the destruction of the Revolution, but rather its redemption from Sovietizing influence-for which, I believe, our people are deeply yearning.

It is ironic that Nicaragua may have missed an opportunity to liberate its political destiny from eternal dependency on the United States. We could still achieve our self-determination if only the revolutionary leadership would choose a new path for the Revolution-one of less notoriety, where we could bury the grudges of the past, live in the present with realism and move into the future with optimism. Unfortunately, we have again become entangled with the United States, in great measure by our own doing. As in the past, Washington might once again become the arbiter of our destiny.

President Reagan has asked Congress for a bipartisan U.S. policy toward Central America. I hope this can be accomplished so that the United States may deal with our crisis in a more objective way. Perhaps a more uniform human rights policy can be applied to Central America as a whole. In my judgment, a bipartisan policy would facilitate a consensus between Congress and the Executive, which is necessary to deal with this issue, so vital to the United States and to Central America. Such a consensus could lead to a better understanding by the United States and its allies of how to assist Central Americans in the achievement of permanent peace. Likewise, a human rights policy applied with equal rigor to both leftist and right-wing regimes would enhance U.S. credibility.

The present crisis is a monster with two heads. One of them is underdevelopment and social injustice. To deal with it, social reforms and financial assistance are required. However, this will be a futile effort if the other head-violence-is not also severed. Consequently, and as President Reagan indicated, negotiations to remove all foreign military advisers and troops from the region are most desirable. However, in order to ensure success in this search for peace, efforts to attain a settlement in the region, such as those being undertaken by the Contadora group, composed of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Panama, and the proposal for a dialogue put forth by Ambassador Sol Linowitz and Galo Plaza, former secretary general of the OAS, should be promoted. Outside support of insurrection in El Salvador as well as in Nicaragua must be halted.

Even if rescuing the Revolution may now appear an unattainable goal, the fact is that the Revolution ought to be irreversible. Therefore, the United States, while preserving its security from any threat, should understand that the Nicaraguan Revolution, while in a state of sickness, is still worthy of an effort to heal it.

It is my honest opinion that Edén Pastora is today one of our most valuable political assets and that we can call upon him to uproot the contradictions and vices hindering the process of social, political and economic transformation in Nicaragua which justice and decency demand. "Cero" has an important role to play in our history. In his last proclamation, on April 15th of this year, "Cero" reiterated his commitment to peace and explained his decision to launch an armed struggle against his former comrades as his answer to a call from the people to defend the national honor and expel from our soil the new intervention-the "internationalists" who virtually occupy Nicaragua today. In addition, Pastora swears to uphold freedom and democracy. He reaffirms his conviction that rescuing the original revolutionary project is the only way to attain these goals. A warrior like "Cero" who vows to put an end to despotic militarism deserves respect.

The United States has already shown its resolve to oppose Nicaragua's exporting of Marxist revolution through Central America. Its most effective and least confrontational weapons are economic measures. The recent reduction in Nicaragua's sugar quota is Washington's warning of what might follow, e.g., suspension of purchases of beef, coffee, shrimp and other products, and of sales of critical equipment. Even if the Socialist bloc were willing and, above all, able to replace the United States as the main trading partner, it could do so only under such poor conditions that Nicaragua would achieve at best a pyrrhic victory. On the other hand, if Managua were ready to give the United States acceptable assurances for a solid settlement, Washington should restore its economic relations with Nicaragua, on a basis of mutual respect.

An initial reconciliation between the FSLN and ARDE, as proposed by Edén Pastora and his allies, remains a valid option: commitment to pluralism, a mixed economy and normal relations with the Soviet bloc. Subsequently, this reconciliation should include all Nicaraguans-which is essential to ending the diaspora or exile of thousands, freeing those in prison, and redressing injustices. When that is accomplished, and only then, will there be peace and stability. This is a cause that the United States should consider promoting, as a sign of its acceptance of revolution in this hemisphere. As for the Sandinistas, while it would be unreasonable to expect them to negotiate with armed groups, they should avail themselves of well-meaning intermediaries in order to find a way to ensure peace and progress in Nicaragua.

1 One of the three members of the current Junta is a conservative. Likewise, the Cabinet, Supreme Court of Justice and Council of State include non-Sandinistas.

2 The most important sugar operation in the region, with extensive sugar cane plantations, it is controlled by the Nicaragua Sugar-Estates Corporation. Among its principal stockholders are members of such prominent families as Pellas and Benard. Management has a distinguished record for efficient production and a genuine social concern for the well-being of its workers.

3 He wrote about U.S. support to Somoza: "Lo subió la intervención y lo mantiene la no intervención."

4 Jorge Salazar, her late husband, was an outstanding, fine and courageous man who helped the FSLN to overthrow Somoza and worked with great devotion to organize unions of small producers; he was a gallant defender of democratic principles. His assassination by state forces, in circumstances never clarified, casts an ugly shadow on the Revolution.



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  • Arturo José Cruz was head of the Central Bank of Nicaragua from July 1979 to March 1980. He then joined the government Junta from April 1980 to March 1981. In April 1981, he became Nicaragua's Ambassador to the United States and resigned from that position in November 1981.
  • More By Arturo Cruz, Jr.