San Jos'e, Costa Rica
A new Costa Rican plan for peace in Central America, though expected to undergo several revisions before winning general acceptance, appears well placed to pick up where the stalled Contadora process left off. Nicaragua's neighbors, whose Presidents met here Sunday, decided against endorsing the Costa Rican proposal, presented by President Oscar Arias S'anchez. But they did invite Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra to meet with them within three months to discuss the idea further.
Though Managua has yet to respond to the proposal, it would seem to require no major concessions by the ruling Sandinistas. And those that it does call for would also be required of other countries in the region fighting guerrilla wars, such as El Salvador.
Though Mr. Arias had hoped to win the approval of his colleagues for the plan, so that it could subsequently be presented to Nicaragua, Guatemalan President Vinicio Cerezo Ar'evalo is understood to have refused to support such an ultimatum.
The Costa Rican initiative, due to be discussed by all five Central American Presidents within three months, would have all governments that face armed rebellion declare immediate cease-fires and, within 60 days, amnesties.
They would also open talks with all ``internal disarmed opposition groups,'' allowing them full political rights in a campaign for elections to a planned Central American parliament, to be held in early 1988.
At the same time, all Central American governments would ask outside powers to cut off aid to any rebels they might be supporting and hinder such rebels' use of their own territory.
This would halt United States funding for the contra rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government, as well as Honduran complicity in such action, for example.
Although Arias suggested that the Contadora countries (Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama) help verify compliance with the planned provisions, he was clearly presenting his proposal as an alternative to the stalled Contadora peace process.
The four Presidents called the new plan a ``valid, timely, and constructive'' approach to the regional crisis.
Such language has hitherto been reserved only for the Contadora process, observers here pointed out.