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There’s Still Hope

One searches for almost any ray of hope amid the violence in Central America these days, so it is at least reassuring that Nicaragua’s Contra rebels have agreed to resume the peace talks with that country’s Sandinista government.

Contra spokesmen made the announcement in Washington after a meeting with their chief sponsors in the Reagan Administration, which has funded their war against Managua despite the misgivings of most of the United States’ Latin American allies and despite occasional resistance in Congress. The Contras said that they will meet with Sandinista representatives in Guatemala City this week in order to lay the groundwork for face-to-face negotiations starting later this month. The first round of peace talks ended in June, amid mutual recriminations.

Although there are still plenty of hard-liners on both sides in Nicaragua--as well as in the Administration--who would prefer to continue fighting, it appears that the elements are there for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The two men who will head the negotiating teams, Nicaraguan exile leader Alfredo Cesar for the Contras and Nicaragua’s Deputy Foreign Minister Victor Hugo Tinoco, are both skilled negotiators who represent the moderates on each side. Contra military leaders seem to have realized in recent weeks that they cannot defeat a much larger Sandinista army and that their patrons in the White House are not likely to wrest any more aid for them out of a reluctant Congress, so their best hope of winning any concessions from Managua is through negotiations. For its part, the Sandinista regime is facing increasing pressure from Nicaragua’s exhausted population to end the war and begin the difficult process of rebuilding Nicaragua.

After a decade of almost constant warfare that began with a popular uprising against dictator Anastasio Somoza in September, 1978, the thing that most Nicaraguans want now more than anything else is peace. If both sides keep that point in mind as they approach the renewed negotiations, progress is not only possible but also likely.

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