"Contra negotiators say they were surprised by the concessions the Sandinistas made at the talks. Alfredo Cesar, a rebel director and negotiator, said....the Sandinistas made concessions that in effect gave the contras their main objective—keeping their troops armed and in the field while at the same time allowing contra representatives to enter political talks with the Sandinistas…

"‘Our troops get a two-month rest with supplies while we test the Sandinistas’ willingness to comply’ Mr. Cesar said. `It’s an agreement we couldn’t turn down.’"
New York Times, 26 March 1988

The sixty-day ceasefire negotiated between the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and Reagan’s murderous hirelings on 23 March is a good deal for the contras but it represents an ominous setback for the Central American revolution. In their anxiety to promote the so-called peace process launched by the "Arias Plan," the FSLN leaders have so far capitulated to virtually all of the demands of the contras and the pro-imperialist "democratic" opposition. The core of the settlement boils down to the following:

1) in exchange for two months of "peace" the FSLN has agreed to release some 3000 jailed counterrevolutionaries and former National Guardsmen (who Ortega repeatedly promised the masses of Nicaraguan working people would never be released) and to let exiled contras return without punishment;

2) the Sandinistas commit themselves to proceed with the "democratization" of Nicaragua—guaranteeing the sanctity of private ownership of the bulk of the economy and granting unrestricted access to the media for the bourgeois opposition (and its CIA financiers);

3) the settlement is to be "verified" by Cardinal Obando y Bravo, the chief clerical contra and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, which the Cubans used to aptly refer to as the American "ministry of colonies." The Sandinistas have also indicated their willingness to have Canadian and other imperialist troops monitor observance of the accord.

This is not the first time the FSLN has attempted to "turn the other cheek" to the murderous contra killers. Thousands of Somoza’s praetorian National Guard members were freed in the first days of the revolution--as a futile gesture of "national reconciliation." These scum, who should have been subject to the revolutionary justice of the Nicaraguan masses, were reorganized by the CIA and then proceeded to murder, terrorize and maim many tens of thousands of innocent Nicaraguan citizens. Last year the FSLN released 1000 counterrevolutionaries in another futile attempt to ingratiate themselves with imperialist world opinion. In an interview with the New York Times published 9 February Tomas Borge, the Sandinista Interior Minister, admitted that most of the 1000 counterrevolutionaries amnestied in 1987 "have reincorporated themselves into the ranks of the armed counterrevolution." Nonetheless the regime has now committed itself to freeing another 3000 counterrevolutionaries.

The Arias plan was designed to isolate and reverse the Nicaraguan revolution and thereby stabilize the fragile neo-colonial regimes of the region. Costa Rican president Arias figures that if the FSLN agrees to "democratize" (i.e., to give the bourgeoisie a free hand politically as well as economically) then well and good. And if at some point the FSLN refuses to cooperate in dismantling what remains of the gains won through the heroic struggle of the Nicaraguan masses which smashed Somoza’s capitalist state, then they can be branded as hypocrites, warmongers and enemies of peace. One "senior Costa Rican official" quoted in the 16 March New York Times proposed: "Cut off the contras, make them go back as a political party. If the Sandinistas crack down on them, then Reagan can do whatever he wants, but give this a chance." It is the duty of all leftists to defend the Nicaraguan revolution against imperialist aggression. But support to this latest move by the petty bourgeois nationalists of the FSLN is a betrayal of the revolution.

The FSLN’s 1987 constitution guaranteed the right to own private property. But so far this has been something of a moot point because the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie, which still controls the bulk of the economy, was deeply alienated from the FSLN regime and constituted a "fifth column" for the contras. The line of demarcation between revolutionaries and pseudo-leftists on Nicaragua has been the advocacy of a break with the bourgeoisie and the expropriation of the capitalists. Such a perspective necessarily entails spreading the revolution throughout the region--a prospect which terrifies the other rulers of Central America. The signing of this sellout accord puts Nicaragua on the road to ending up as another Algeria, Angola or Zimbabwe. The Third World pseudo-socialist rhetoric of these regimes cannot disguise the reality of their subordination and integration into the economic system of world imperialism.

Time is running out for the Nicaraguan revolution. But it is not too late to fight. The accord with the counterrevolution must be ripped up. The contras must be smashed and their capitalist backers in COSEP expropriated. And the revolution must be spread beyond the boundaries of Nicaragua to the desperately exploited workers throughout the region. But the Nicaraguan workers and poor peasants cannot look to the petty bourgeois Sandinistas to carry out this perspective—they need a Trotskyist party based on the lessons of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 and irrevocably committed to a program of internationalist class struggle against the nationalist class collaborationism of Ortega et al.

28 March 1988

Posted: 19 December 2004