Kissinger panel's $1 billion solution
Washington — The Kissinger Commission on Central America is expected to recommend the formation of a superagency that would coordinate the spending of some $1 billion in a long-range effort to develop the troubled region.
This call for economic development will be the most innovative recommendation in the panel's report, which is due Jan. 10, according to well-placed sources.
These sources predict the study group will make no politically startling recommendations.
Also, the commission study is expected probably not to include a dissenting minority report, despite press stories of internal division between liberals and conservatives on the panel, say those close to the commission's work.
The bipartisan commission, set up by President Reagan in July, faces the dilemma of arriving at conclusions somewhat acceptable to both a Republican administration and Democrats, while at the same time putting forth real solutions to Central American problems.
Other sources say the group's chairman, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, is determined that the commission arrive at useful recommendations.
The panel is expected to draw some parallels between potential solutions to the Salvadorean and Nicaraguan situations, calling in both cases for free elections permitting the full participation of all major political factions.
Sources predict the commission will stress the necessity of negotiations leading to the participation of the left in national elections in El Salvador. But it will not recommend ''power-sharing,'' that is, the setting up of a provisional government including the left before any such elections.
Forming a provisional government in El Salvador to supervise elections is considered difficult. Leftist forces say the present government is unwilling and unable to control right-wing terror campaigns, and elections supervised by this government could not be free. The left says it will refuse to go to the polls in the Salvadorean elections scheduled for this spring.
Liberal circles in the United States, Latin America, and Western Europe have pushed power-sharing as a way to guarantee free elections and the participation of the left. Others, especially leaders of Latin America's social democrats, say no civil government could control the killings unless there is structural change in the armed forces. They suggest the only way out of the impasse would be for the US covertly to sponsor a coup by progressive military officers who would improve the Army and hold elections.
The Kissinger Commission is expected to recommend that the Reagan administration simply intensify the efforts it has made in the last few months to get the present government in San Salvador to control the situation and persuade the military establishment to discipline right-wing extremists in its midst. Toward this end, the commission will recommend that the US use all the leverage at its disposal, including economic and military assistance and military training programs. The commission is expected to state its belief that the Salvadorean military will respond to such pressures. Sources say even these relatively mild recommendations could subject the commission to criticism from the Reagan administration's more conservative supporters.
In Nicaragua, the commission is expected to recommend that the Sandinistas hold free elections, in which antigovernment leaders now in exile, such as Alfonso Robelo and Eden Pastora, participate. Sources say that the commission will not call for power-sharing arrangements between the radical Sandinistas and their more conservative opposition before the elections, although such power-sharing has been proposed as a means of ensuring free elections.
The commission will reportedly recommend that Nicaragua be included in US financial aid programs only if it holds these elections, provides democratic guarantees, and stops aiding the Salvadorean guerrillas.
Other recommendations will be the tying of any renewed economic aid to Guatemala to human-rights progress in that country (although some Latin American leaders testifying before the group have opposed all aid to Guatemala's right-wing military regime) and a call for more assistance to the financially troubled Social Democratic government in Costa Rica.
Sources predict the commission might include a warning on the potentially disruptive effect of an overly high US military profile on political stability in Honduras. The group is expected to call for social reforms in that country.
The report will consider three models for development in the region: the one now existing in most of the area (in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama) where most economic and political power is in the hands of the upper classes; the communist one pushed by Cuba and its allies; and one roughly following the social democracy of Costa Rica. The commission is expected to reject the first two models in favor of the third.
The group will focus on structural problems impeding development in the area - addressing problems such as the need for land reform and agricultural diversification. It will recognize that the Kennedy-sponsored Alliance for Progress of the 1960s came to grief because it did not distribute to the region's poor most of the income generated by the alliance's programs. The commission will propose the formation of centrist, reformist political forces in the region as a way of avoiding a repetition of this mistake.
The commission's economic plans and development models are likely to arouse criticism in both right- and left-wing circles here and abroad. Conservatives are likely to react negatively to the commission's characterizations of existing social structures in such countries as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Many liberals and radicals will probably criticize the report as not going far enough, stressing that a mild Social Democratic government like Costa Rica's is suited only to that country's relatively egalitarian society and could not be strong enough to break the stranglehold the upper classes have historically had in nations like Salvador.
One diplomat from the region, echoing many US liberals, contends that the commission's need to have recommendations potentially acceptable to the administration makes it impossible for the study to arrive at ''effective'' conclusions. He adds that the resolution of Central America's problems would require taking steps the administration is not prepared to take.
One State Department official commented: ''The commission will come up with something readable, but it is hard to say how creative it will be. The main benefit will be to take advantage of the fact that US public attention is focused on Central America and get the US to make some long-term financial commitments to the area.''
When Central America is no longer in the public eye, he adds, at least the money will still be flowing in.