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How much time do you give a revolution?

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An almost self-conscious pluralism strikes the visitor immediately after clearing immigration in the spotless Managua airport. There, on one wall of the baggage recovery area, is an impressive streamer proclaiming the need for continuing revolution. On the next wall cornering with it is a large plastic four-part sign putting everyone on notice that American Express, Visa, Mastercard, and Diner's Club credit cards are honored in Nicaragua. Can this be the Marxist-Leninist state that Reagan aides have been anxious to destabilize?

There is more pluralism on the highway into Managua, lined with heroic-sized billboards of opposition parties, as well as of the ruling FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional). There is pluralism on our official program prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which calls for meetings with the COSEP (Superior Council of the Private Sector), as well as with the editors of the independent newspaper La Prensa. Among COSEP members are businessmen who led the shutdowns that destabilized Somoza at the crucial final stages of the revolution.

I would later meet with leaders of the opposition: Alfonso Robelo, former junta member and first president of COSEP; the Social Christian Adan Fletes Valle; the Social Democrat Wilfredo Montalvan; the Conservative Jose Castillo Osejo, who owns a radio station.

The fact that the meetings were possible at all appeared to substantiate government claims of ongoing pluralism. ''Show me,'' junta member Sergio Ramirez challenged us, ''another revolutionary country where no American company has been expropriated, where there is a free press and where there is private enterprise with incentives.'' (The government had just announced a new package of incentives for private exporters.)

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