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December 22, 2016
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December 2, 2011
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Publication Date: 
March 19, 1986
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Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/02 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706300003-6 NEW YORK TIMES ~~P ~ 19 March 1986 ...Why Not Tr Y :Diplomacy Instead? By Wayne S. Smith W~ISHINGTON - The United States' choices in Nicaragua are not, as the Administration asserts, be- tween aiding the "contras" and see- ing the whole region engulfed by Communism. There are alternatives, if wee would but grasp them. Among the rnost promising are the efforts of moss Latin American countries to produce a diplomatic solution. Meeting in Caraballeda, Venezue- la, on Jan. 11 and 12, eight major countries -Mexico, Venezuela, Co- lomt~ia, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Pen. and Uruguay -agreed on steps to revitalize the Contadora process. Two days later, five Central Amer- icanstates pledged their full support. Believing that the United States' aid to the contras and its refusal to re- RE:vive the Contadora process sumo bilateral negotiations with the Sancinistas were two of the principal obstacles to a settlement, on Feb. 10, the Foreign ministers of eight Latin American countries converged on Was'~ington to urge Secretary of State George P. Shultz to halt aid and re- turn to the negotiating table. Mr. Shultz refused, and the Presi- dent showed his outright disdain for the ::-atin American effort by going ahead with his request for $100 mil- lion in contra aid -aid that the Con- tadora countries regard as totally in- com ~atible with their own peace ef- fort. Colombia's foreign minister la- bele'I President Reagan's action "in- transigent and extreme." The presi- dents of several other countries said the ;aid request was a mistake that would produce tragic results. The United States is now virtually isolated on this issue. With the possi- ble exceptions of El Salvador, Para- guay and Chile, no Latin American ' country supports our contra policy. Even Honduras is threatening not to allow any more aid to be shipped across its territory. In the face of this united opposition, the best the Admin- istration can do is to claim that the Wayne S. Smith is adjunct professor of Latin American studies at the Johrs Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Latin Americans say one thing in pub- lic, quite ahother in private. Even if that were true, it would leave Washington in the dubious posi- tion of basing policy on something whispered furtively and off the record. Few, however, believe it is true. As Representative Michael D. Barnes, Democrat of Maryland, put it last week: "Every Latin American government official I have talked to has said the same thing in private that they say in public: that is, they disagree with our policy." Only the Administration's intransi- gence is blocking a Contadora agree- ment, which would address all our se- curity concerns. Managua has em- phasized that it is ready to resume talks at any time within the Conta- dora context. It was prepared to sign a Contadora agreement in September 1984 and would be prepared to do so now provided Washington were still willing to sign a protocol committing itself to respect that agreement. Obviously, Nicaragua cannot agree to reduce its armed forces and send home Soviet and Cuban military per- sonnel unless the United States agrees to matching steps in the area. But the Administration refuses to take any ac- tion unless the Sandinistas first sit down with the contras and negotiate the holding of new elections. To insist on this as a condition is to b[~^ ProAres,_ s, or t e an inistas regard the contras as tso ate mercenan s organized by the entral Intelli?ence A ene led b far too man National Guar m t e Somoza re 'me and re resenttn no one mst a tcara a. Many o ervers in a United States agree with that assessment. That's one reason Congress does not want to give the contras more aid. The Administration is right about one thing: national reconciliation is needed in Nicaragua. The Contadora countries recognize this and are trying to bring about an internal dia- logue. They do not, however, insist that the contras be included; rather, it would be between the Sandinistas and the opposition parties in Nicara- gua. Would that the Latin Americans could impel the Administration to a solution in Central America as the Filipinos did in the Philippines. Unfor- tunately, the Administration has a far greater capacity to gam up the works in Central America. So long as it is sid- ing the contras and refusing to associ- ateitself with a Contadora agreement, there can be no hope of a settlement. Tragically, by so arrogantly blocking the diplomatic initiatives of the very countries it claims to be defending, the Administration dooms them to contin- ued turmoil and bloodshed. ^ Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/02 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706300003-6