NICARAGUA - FACTORS AND FIGURES IN THE PROCESS LEADING TO A TRANSITION GOVERNME

Created: 9/7/1978

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jWW CA3TSR USRARV MANDATORY REVIEWV"7

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MEMORANDUM

SUBJECT: actors and Figures in the Process Leadingransition Government

Prospects remain din for any internally generated compromise in Nicaragua that would leadransitional government. The political polarization, lack of aopposition leadership or program, and the general perception that the US is the keyiable solution militate strongly against any peacefully agreed upon transition among Nicaraguan principals alone.

We believe, however, that an active mediation rcle by thewithout guarantees toufficient catalyst to bring moderates, andmost groups in the Broad Opposition Fronto the bargaining table. Their receptivity to anaided resolution of the political crisis is increasing as events unfold. For example, thererowing anxiety in opposition ranks that the present situation can only leadiolent faceoff between Somoza and the radical extreme, with the moderates in the middle the big losers. This sentiment is strongest among those with the most towill orobably spread among the political components of the FAO. Another factor is their belief that the US isitself from Somoza; active mediation would be read by the opposition as an implicit effort to budge Somoza from his intransigence.

Members of the Nicaraguan Development Institute, the country's largest business organization, havecontended to the US Embassy that they and most FAO members would accept US or some third party mediation. These representatives' views are probably close to those of several other FAONicaraguanMovement head and businessman Alfonso Robelo. Rene Sandino of the officially recognized Conservative Party has already risked opprobrium by meeting privately with Somoza. Other Conservative Party factions andmiddle-of-the-roaders, typified by Raniro Sacasa

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of the breakaway Liberal Party faction, wouldtheir moderate instincts and participate in;_v_

Otherartisans, such as Union ofLiberation leader Cordova Rivas end opposition newspaper editor Xavier Chaaorro might cling to their precondition that Somoza must go, but in the end would probably prefer to be partediation effort that might involve, for example, both the US and the Church, rather than to be on the outside looking in. Some of the more extreme elements of-the FAO, such as the small Socialist Party, appear to have been left behind by the rush of events and would probably flow with the current. The decision of the Group of Twelve might turn on the current state of anti-Somoza agitation and the potential role in mediation talks of the Sandinista guerrillas, for which it acts as spokesman. If Somoza should hold his ground through the strike, then US involvement and the possibility of substantial pressure being brought to bear on the President would offer even the more extreme opposition the proBpect of an outside catalyst that might further erode Somoza's power base. These groups nevertheless would be suspicious participants in aeffort, ready to pull back and charge bad faith.

The opposition is likely to enter into mediation in the same disorganized and acephalous manner in which it has operated to date. Attempting to agree on minimum demandspokesperson beforehand could prove Positions would settle on the least commonSomoza roust go immediately. Trying to settlepokesperson would introduce new strain into what is, atragile unity.

Opposition Personalities

To and

The anti-Somoza movement is made up of numerous and shifting forces. It is possible to identify the key organizations and leaders, but exceedingly difficult to assign relative strengths, since fortunes rise and fall each week and the movementmorphous. Thesuccess, for example, of the current national strike will determinereat extent the future weight of strike promoter Alfonso Robelo in the opposition's drive, some degree, the voice of the Group of Twelve waxes wanes with the levol of Sandinista guerrilla activity

the key coordinating mechanism for the opposition in recent months has been the broad opposition fronthich includes virtually every arlti-somoza group except the fsln guerrillas. the fao's sole point of consensus is that somoza oust go. itooseof convenience and opportunity and does not purport to represent any of the other interests of its member organizations. consequently, the fao couldseful conduit by which the opposition might be brought to the bargaining table with somoza, particularly if there were some assurance that he might leave office early. after that initial step, however, -there could be somewith private sector organizations, traditional parties of the right, and leftist groups espousingin degree, if not in kind, over the details and process of transition.

the leading figures in the private sector, which has the clout tooice in negotiationsransition in government, are kanuel jose torres of the nicaraguan development institutelfonso robelo of the nicaraguan democratic movementndfrom the federation of chambers of commerce and the chamber of industries (cadin).

among the traditional opposition political parties which would also have to participate are the officially recognized conservative partyed by rene sandino, and the "authentic" and aguero" factions of the pcn, led by emilio alvarez montalvan and fernando aguero the other less important oppositionin the union of democratic liberation (udel) headed by rafael cordova

nicaraguan socialistn),

with an old guard faction led by luis domingo sanchez sancho and another faction under julio firiceno davila.

the constitutionalist liberal movement fmlc) led by ramiro sacasa.

social christian partyith

one faction led by alvaro taboada teran and another (not in udel) under jose esteban gonzalez and roger miranda gomez.

Two additional opposition forces would have to be included, chiefly because of their popular followings. These are the newspaper La Prensa, whoao director is Xavier Chanorro Cardenal, and the Group of Twelve, which might speaJc effectively enough for the FSLN guerrillas to negate any claiia for direct Sandinista participation. Presumably because ofj/their diverse makeup, the Twelve have no designated spokesman, but they ought to be able to select, at the most, three or four of their number to represent them.

The Catholic Church, probably in the person of Managua Archbishop Miguelravo, could serve as intermediary, but would in any eventeryparty. Although some student (RevolutionaryFront, FER) and labor (CGT-I, CTN, COS) opposition groups exist, neither sector is extensively organized, and both have some representation through other

Somoza's Backers

Somoza and his supporters are likely to enter into mediation for one simplebelief that it can be turned to Somoza's advantage. Somoza's goal remains to servend he will participate initially with that as his bottom line.

The two chief elements in Somoza's active powerNational Guard and the Liberalhave always depended entirely on Somoza's effectiveand protection, of their interests. If he should be persuaded or compelled, however, to step down before his term endsoth of these groups would need independent assurances that their rights anddistinguished frombeat least through representation in anyleading to his departure.

This means that the Guard as an institution would have to be consulted on the transition. General Jose R. Somoza, the President's half-brother and second-in-command, and Major "Tachito" Somoza, the President's son, are probably too closely identified with the dynasty to speak for the Guard as an entity under such unique and unsettling circumstances. Of course, the rest of the Guard hierarchy also has close personal ties to thebut if Somoza were to leave office, most officers

would be forced to perceive their own interests asfrom his. Some have been thinking in these ternsahead to Somoza's scheduled departure inspeaking of institutionalizing andthe Guard in order to make it acceptable to any successor.

We expect that if the Guard as an institution ispartyegotiated transition, the existinghierarchy will prove to be representativehole. In short, Chief of StaffFernandez would be trie most likely andsingle spokesman for the Guard. He isand by far one of the most capablethe Guard ' "

one of the other five menbers of the General Staff, General Jose Ivan Alegrett, would perhaps beto reject Fernandez1 lead. Alegrett is ambitious,

He has, in command ofroughly seven months, giving him some control over troops. He does not appear toignificant personal following. The combat units in Managua, the bulk of the Guard's fighting force, are presently under Jose K. Somoza's command and presumably would not be allowed to fall to a' maverick Alegrett. The departmental commands are less certain, but they are also less Among retired officers, Minister of Finance Samuel Genie and Ambassador to Japan Julio Gutierrez are also widely respected potential spokesmen for the Guard.

The Liberal Party (PLN) is probably less certain of its own interests as divorced from Somoza's. Over the years, those Liberals who have argued in favor of making the PLN something moreersonal vehicle and control mechanism have had to leave the party ranks and set up dissident Liberal organizations. Clearly the party would like to remain on the political sceneompetitive force. Unlike the Guard, however, it lacks the physical might to assureoice and it probably does not have the image or hierarchical structure to function independently of the President. Nevertheless, the Liberals would have tooice in any negotiations, presumably through their board of directors. The board's chief officers, aside from Somoza

as party president, are: Vice-President Lorenzo Guerrero Gutierrez, Secretary Alceo Tablaca Solis, and Treasurer Pablo- Rener. Among thether board--senbers, the most important are probably Francisco Urcuyo, Orlando Montenegro, and Comelio Hueck.

Somoza has passive support in the governmentamong retired Guard' officers, and in some business circles, but their'interests could be effectivelythrough the Guard and the PLN.

Mediation Process

Howediation effort and possibletruce might last would depend upon how and by whom it was conducted. eekonth, it would eventually founder as it confronted the central issue--whether Somoza would step down If the US does not bring to bear whatever additional pressure is necessary to prompt Somoza tc agree to his earlyfrom office, then the mediation process will likely fail, with both sides returning to the status quo ante, and the possible attendant violence.

From the lineup of Nicaraguan players and positions and from our perception of the pivotal and unique US role, we are not inclined to see other third party or multilateral mediation as offering much prospect for success. There is some growing receptivity amongoppositionists to an OAS or third country role, chiefly engendered by the fear of spiraling violence. However, an eventual solution to the underlying problem of Somoza's continuance in office will likely stillthe US to weigh in heavily. ultilateral vehicle would help camouflage US responsibility, but not reduce it.

Presuming the US convinced Scmoza that hisegotiated compromise that involved his departure, he would still bargain hard for every point, every concession. Somoza would argue for asolution as close to the1 elections as possible. He would resist strongly any permanent ban on family members holding political office or military command and attempt to keep his economic empire intact. President Somoza would still not believe that his family was finished in Nicaraguan political

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life and would be calculating an eventual return. Such tactics would also draw out the negotiating process and Sotaoza, with an eye on US polls andlection, would hope this might operate to his advantage.

The converse would be true of the opposition, whose demands would revolve around Somoza's quick resignation, the departure of his half-brother and son from theGuard,ransitional government leading to early elections. If the Somozas were ousted, themight be willing to observe constitutionalthat would involve the--selectionutually agreed upon Liberal Party successor to Somoza. Thewould set in motion the legal procedures leading to an early election.

Again, the US role would be critical. The closer Somoza can come to holding out until nearnd the shorter the time span between Somoza's stepping down and the date for elections, the losswill be the solution for the opposition. There' are some in the an ti-Somoza ranks who would see the President'sby thestep down even0ignificant victory. If they believed the US stood firmly behindompromise, they and others might settle foreal rather than risk the unpalatable alternatives.

Many in the opposition, however, would be inclined to believe that if the US and the flow of events could force Somoza to agree to leave office then he could be forced to leave earlier, and they would beto hold out. The fear of again being outsmarted by the Somoza clan would be an underlying factor that would increase in direct proportion to Somoza's ability to worklan that maintained him until close to the US election lan would thereforeignificant risk of splitting the opposition and undermining prospectsolution.

For these reasons, some transitional government not under Somoza's thumb would be crucial to acceptanceompromise by much of the opposition. It wouldufficient buffer to inhibit Somoza's interference in the campaign and electoral process. It also would allow sufficient time to ensure that Somoza and his relatives had indeed severed ties with their old power structure,

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thereby reducing the chances that Somoza could at the last.minute undermine the election and. .gamble that the US presidential campaign would prevent^oecisive US action.

Given resolution of all theseransitional regime, and earlythe form of the transition process and such details as the opposition's share of cabinet posts and electoral tribunal seats would probably be more easily resolved.

In sum, presuming the US has the capability toSomoza to step down early, it may be necessary to carry that initial concession to its absolute logical conclusion. The closer the US can come to giving the opposition what itearlyignificant period of transition government to permit political organization and campaigning, and freewell in advance of the US presidentialthe better the chanceoderate compromise that will have the time and elements necessary to take root and growiable democratic alternative to Somoza rule or Marxist encroachment. The National Guard and the Liberal Party can probably be brought to see their long term interests as being served in this way. Conceding to Somoza some of his demands on timing could blunt his efforts to take his case to supporters in the US or in the international arena, but it is difficult to see how it would enhance prospects for the long term successemocratic opening. OEJJcI)

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