Sandinista critic says less-than-free vote may still be worthwhile
Nicaragua's Sandinistas have consolidated their power so thoroughly over the past five years that their victory in November elections is almost inevitable. But opposition leaders may take part in the election anyway because it will ensure some measure of pluralism in Nicaragua, a key opposition leader says.Skip to next paragraph
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This political figure, who is highly respected here, says an election - even if it is not completely free - could help steer Nicaragua toward Mexico's style of democracy and away from the Cuban-style political system, which does not allow opposition parties.
''This revolution is a boat that sailed from Havana, but could end up landing in Acapulco,'' says the senior Nicaraguan opposition leader, who asks that he not be named.
The Sandinistas, he believes, are sponsoring an election Nov. 4 in order to help reduce US military and economic pressure on Nicaragua and to stimulate the nation's private sector to help get the economy moving. This is a view shared by a number of other knowledgeable observers of Nicaragua.
The sort of political deal offered by the Sandinistas would ensure that theSandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) continues to run the the government in the same way the ruling party in Mexico does, this politician says.
But opposition parties would be allowed to function, as in Mexico, and a certain amount of political freedom would be allowed, he says. The private sector and opposition would be given a limited role in the power system.
This prominent figure thinks that the success of the Sandinista plan depends on how vigorously the political opposition is willing to take part in the election. If only fragments of the opposition - such as Clemente Guido's wing of the Conservative Party - participate in the vote, the Sandinistas will decide their olive branch has been spurned and will begin to harden their rule along more radical lines, this politician says. They would radicalize because they know the international community would not extend aid to a nation whose election was considered a farce. Some opposition leaders think Mr. Guido's wing of the Conservative Party is linked too closely with the Sandinistas.
The prominent observer says that the one man with sufficient moral authority to rally the opposition parties for a vigorous campaign would be Conservative Party leader and former junta member Arturo Cruz Porras, Nicaragua's former ambassador to the US. The observer hopes that Mr. Cruz, who now lives in Washington, D.C., will return to Nicaragua to run for office.
The opposition parties must now decide whether they can live with the election plan outlined by the Sandinistas, the opposition leader says. Many opposition leaders would like to come to terms with the Sandinistas but are afraid of being labeled as Sandinista collaborators if they do so, he says. The opposition is suspicious of the Sandinistas' intentions but may prefer the electoral option to the grim alternative of possible US intervention in Nicaragua. But for the opposition leaders to make a deal and accept the plan, this figure says, ''They must first lay aside, once and for all, false hopes that Reagan and the US Marines will come galloping in on white horses to save them from the Sandinistas.''