A top Sandinista comandante says Nicaragua cannot turn into 'another Cuba'
Comandante Carlos Nunez, the Sandinista in charge of negotiating on Nicaragua's political future with opposition leaders, says no one has to worry about Nicaragua turning into ''another Cuba.''
The shy low-key negotiator says anyone who suggests his country is heading toward a Cuban-style society is ''not thinking objectively'' about Nicaragua's political and economic conditions.
There is no possibility of ''declaring socialism'' because the conditions necessary for such a step do not exist in Nicaragua ''either in terms of the country's judicial forms, nor its economic organization, nor the development of its social structure, nor in view of the war of aggression being launched against it.''
A mixed economy is the only viable alternative for Nicaragua now, says Nunez.
The soft-spoken intellectual - viewed as relatively moderate politically - has had a generally low public profile until recently. But most of the moves associated with recent Sandinista liberalization of the political system come under his aegis. Comandante Nunez was in charge of organizing Nicaragua's Nov. 4 election, and he is the top negotiator in talks with the opposition.
In an interview with the Monitor, Nunez sketched out the kind of political future that the Sandinistas may have in mind for Nicaragua. Although he is a moderate in a directorate that includes some hard-line radicals, his comments given in such interviews generally reflect the consensus of opinion of directorate members.
The picture Nunez paints is of a Sandinista leadership that intends to keep basic control over Nicaraguan society, but one that is willing to make some concessions to the opposition. He suggests the Sandinistas are willing to give guarantees of a mixed economy and political pluralism and even to make significant concessions such as depoliticizing the Sandinista-controlled neighborhood block committees.
But Nunez also made it clear that the Sandinistas' understanding of political pluralism is a system in which fundamental control remains in Sandinista hands, and in which opposition parties must follow the Sandinista leadership in questions of national importance. The Sandinistas can follow this scenario, he suggests, because they feel the Nov. 4 election legitimized their control of government. This control is not to be an issue, he said.
''The National Dialogue (the Sandinista-opposition talks) cannot be a parallel instrument to the National Assembly (the recently elected Nicaraguan parliament) because if it would be, then it would have been useless to have the elections,'' he said. ''It would be ridiculous to hold the elections and then ignore the results.''
Nunez also said parties that did not participate in this month's election - and that includes some of the more important opposition parties - would not be included in the developing political system. But so far some members of the Coordinadora - the main opposition grouping of business organizations, labor unions, and politicians that nominated Arturo Cruz for president but then never participated in the election - have been included in current talks.
''The parties which did not participate will be left parties in names only. They have committed an important historical error. I see a shift of political alignments in this country. The supporters of the Coordinadora voted for other opposition parties instead,'' Nunez says.
The comandante suggested that the parties that did not participate in the elections might seek to ensure their continued political survival by integrating with parties that had taken part in the vote.
Nunez stressed the Sandinistas are willing to negotiate in greater detail points agreed upon in general in the Sandinista-opposition ''summit talks'' in October. These points include political pluralism and a mixed economy.
Nunez also suggested that a point of accommodation might come in a depoliticizing of Sandinista Defense Committees, better known as CDSs - the neighborhood block committees that Sandinistas have relied upon heavily to mobilize Nicaraguan society.
CDS officials, he said, could be elected rather than appointed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
''We think it is more vigorous, healthy, and convenient, that the the CDS leaders come from among its members. We want the them to be elected,'' Nunez said.
Turning to international worries that Nicaragua will turn into ''another Cuba ,'' Nunez stressed that his nation is not in a position to adopt a Cuban-style system.
Nicaragua, he said, was ''suffering from aggression, a country dominated by North America, a country whose revolution has to cope with the heritage of Somocismo, (the political system of the late Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, whom the Sandinis- tas ousted in 1979), the problems of economic development, and the effects of war.'' Therefore, he said, it is unrealistic to think Nicaragua can suddenly surmount such problems to become like Cuba.
Nunez went on to suggest that many of the opposition involved in ongoing talks about Nicaragua's future want far more than a political pact with the Sandinitas and far more than prevention of ''another Cuba.'' He believes that the right wing of the opposition, the businessmen's council known as COSEP, and others, want to see a US military intervention.
As for the rest of the opposition, he asks rhetorically:
''What do these people want?
''I think they want to force the Sandinistas from power. . . . They want to change the revolutionary road for a process which is essentially reformist, like Social Christian political processes throughout Latin America. Basically, they want the disappearance of Sandisimo as a real force.''
Nunez stated that the Sandinistas would never agree to this because ''this would mean the sacrifice of the process, the suicide of the revolution.''
Several Sandinista sources, in private conversations with this writer, said a social pact between the Sandinistas and the opposition is possible.
They think it probably could not come in the large, formal, relatively unwieldy context of the current talks but instead in private talks between Sandinista and opposition leaders.