Ortega Calls Contra Truce Proposal a ‘Provocation’
President Daniel Ortega said Wednesday that a cease-fire proposal presented by the Contras is a “provocation” drafted by the Reagan Administration, but he vowed to press ahead with peace talks.
Ortega named a high-level delegation headed by Victor Hugo Tinoco, assistant foreign minister, to attend the first round of cease-fire negotiations with the U.S.-backed rebels, scheduled to begin today in the Dominican Republic.
“Our first impression is that this is a document drafted by the most right-wing sectors of the Reagan Administration,” Ortega said. “This document is aimed at killing the possibility of reaching a cease-fire.”
On at least six occasions, Ortega referred to the Contra cease-fire proposal as “the Reagan Administration’s proposal, delivered by their mercenaries.”
But he said a government delegation will be in Santo Domingo today to start indirect negotiations with the Contras through the mediation of Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo.
In addition to Tinoco, Ortega said, the delegation will include Maj. Ricardo Wheelock, chief of Sandinista military intelligence; Luis Guzman of the Interior Ministry, and Oscar Teyes of the Foreign Ministry.
The Contras have said they are sending a four-man team to the talks, led by Fernando Aguero, a conservative politician linked to the regime of former dictator Anastasio Somoza, who was ousted by a Sandinista-led revolution in 1979.
Although the two delegations will probably not meet face to face, it will be the first time the Contras and Sandinista officials have held formal peace discussions.
Ortega said the Contra plan--presented to the government Monday by Obando--was aimed at provoking the Sandinistas into rejecting it, casting them as the spoilers of the regional peace accord that went into effect Nov. 5.
The Contra proposal says that a cease-fire, from Dec. 8 to Jan. 17, must be accompanied by sweeping changes in the Nicaraguan government, including the transformation of the Sandinista army into a smaller, all-volunteer force.
“This is a stupid, clumsy proposal, but it has its logic, a logic of provocation,” Ortega said. “But we will not fall for this provocation. . . . We will continue to work for a cease-fire.”
An 11-point cease-fire proposal Ortega presented to Obando in Washington three weeks ago calls for a monthlong cease-fire to begin Dec. 5. It states that Contras must gather in three small areas designated by the government and must be disarmed at the end of the truce.