Arias: War is not an alternative

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The following remarks by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias are taken from an interview with the Monitor held on Thursday, Aug. 4.

On recent Sandinista crackdown: The Sandinistas ``have unmasked themselves.

``They are proving to the world that there is no political will in Managua, that they were not really honest when they committed themselves to democratize and advance toward a pluralistic society.''

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On military aid to the contras: ``All I can tell you is more military pressure is going to allow the Sandinistas to find an excuse for more repression. ... [They will] use it to take more backward steps than they've already made, to eliminate all kinds of pluralism, and make the Nicaraguan government a much more authoritarion, tyrannical, and dictatorial regime.

``For the first time, Washington [instead of Nicaragua] is not isolated. But as soon as aid to the contras is approved again, once more they won't get the support of the Western Hemisphere.''

On humanitarian aid: The contras ``need to be fed. There are some people so poor that they are crossing the border into Costa Rica. This is why I am in favor of humanitarian aid.

``But I don't think the contras are an alternative as a military force in the near future.''

On the contras: ``When we criticize the Sandinistas, it is because of this identification between the government, the party, and the Army.

What would happen if [contra leader Col.] Enrique Berm'udez wins?

``It would be the same. Enrique Berm'udez would be part of the government and head of the Army. The Nicaraguans have fought for something different.

``The contras with Enrique Berm'udez as a leader is not an alternative.''

On contra-Sandinista negotiations: ``The hawks on both sides are dominating the scene now. ...

``These people fear freedom and democracy more than tanks and airplanes and machine guns. It is indeed very sad.''

On the peace plan: ``We cannot be entirely happy after a year of the Guatemala Accord. We haven't complied to what we have committed ourselves to do one year ago. But the alternative is not war.''

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