Magazine article UN Chronicle

ONUCA Mission Deemed a Success; Nicaraguan Resistance Demobilizes, Surrenders Weapons

Magazine article UN Chronicle

ONUCA Mission Deemed a Success; Nicaraguan Resistance Demobilizes, Surrenders Weapons

Article excerpt

ONUCA mission deemed a success

Demobilization of 21,863 members of the Nicaraguan Resistance forces ended on 29 June, within the deadline set by the UN Security Council. The massive, complex and politically delicate operation was successfully carried out in 14 locations throughout Honduras and Nicaragua by the United Nations Observer Group in Central America (ONUCA). Its 1,060 members are under the command of Major-General Agustin Quesada Gomez, a national of Spain.

"I am happy to be able to inform the Security Council that, as 1900 hours local time on 28 June 1990, demobilization had been completed at all locations, except for one ...", Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar reported (S21379). Some remaining Resistance members were demobilized the following day and the last location closed.

Senior commanders of the Nicaraguan Resistance and their staff were demobilized on 27 June in the village of San Pedro de Lovago. The country's President, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, other top government officials, the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Pedro Obando y Bravo, and Major-General Quesada Gomez attended the ceremony.

Demobilization had begun in Honduras on 16 April, when 260 members of the Atlantic Front (Yatama) of the Resistance handed over their weapons and other military equipment to ONUCA officers at La Kiatara, in a remote Honduran part of Miskitia. The region, standing Honduras and Nicaragua, is mostly populated by the Miskito, an indigenous people.

Some 30 members of ONUCA's Venezuelan battalion used soldering torches, explosives and sledge-hammers to destroy or diable on the spot all surrendered weapons, as Major-General Quesada Gomez, senior ONUCA oficers, some unarmed observers, a medical team and civilian support personnel stood by.

Over the next few weeks, 2,607 Resistance members were demobilized in La Kiatara and three other Honduran locations--Danli, Yamales and Zacatal.

A slow start

In Nicaragua, the process had begun on 8 May, but moved slowly until the signing of the Managua Protocol on 30 May, Mr. Perez de Cuellar reported (S/21341). The Protocol, signed by President Chamorro and Israel Galeano (Commander Franklin of the Resistance), committed the Nicaraguan Government to resettle demobilized Resistance members in especially created "development areas", to give them economic aid and allow them to join a police force to be set up in those areas.

Resistance members totalling 19,614--16,361 of them armed--were demobilized in eight security zones and two temporary posts set up in Nicaragua by ONUCA.

Among the weapons of demobilized Resistance members in Honduras and Nicragua which were destroyed were: 15,144 small arms (including AK 47s, other assault rifles, rifles and light machine-guns), 1,333 grenades, 1,282 grenade launchers, 146 mines, 137 light and medium mortars, 119 "Redeye" and SAM-7 surface-to-air missiles and four heavy machine guns.

"ONUCA was informed both by senior officers of the Nicaraguan Army and by the leaders of the Nicaraguan Resistance themselves that the Resistance had always been a lightly armed and mobile force that hardly ever deployed heavy weapons inside Nicaragua", the Secretary-General stated.

Nevertheless, he added, ONUCA paid special attention to two categories of heavy weapons reportedly in the hands of the Resistance: heavy machine-guns and surface-to-air missiles.

Explaining why only four heavy machine-guns had been handed in to ONUCA, Mr. Perez de Cuellar said that, according to the leader of the Resistance's Northern Front, all weapons had been returned to the original supplier before members of the Front returned to Nicaragua during April and May 1990.

"I have been given reason to believe that some of these weapons were disposed of in this way but that the bulk of them were known to have become unserviceable", Mr. Perez de Cuellar added. …

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