Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nicaragua's Future? after 100 Days, Chamorro Faces Plots, Contra Demands

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Nicaragua's Future? after 100 Days, Chamorro Faces Plots, Contra Demands

Article excerpt

PRESIDENT VIOLETA BARRIOS DE CHAMORRO has managed to hang on to her presidency through 100 day in office, but in so doing, she has had to compromise her mandate and has not been able to achieve what Nicaragua needs most; the creation of a national consensus that would unify the polarized factions in the nation's political arena.

The compromise candidate of the United National Opposition (UNO), Ms. Chamorro was nominated because of her inoffensiveness, not because of her strengths, and elected when voters rejected Daniel Ortega in order to end the contra war, call off Washington's economic blockade and obtain US financial assistance. Now, to succeed in her goal of national reconciliation, she must draw together elements of her own party, particularly the right-wing faction led by Vice President Virgilio Godoy, while appeasing militant Sandinistas and reintegrating the contras.

But instead of frequenting smoke-filled meetings to iron out differences, Chamorro has frowned on spending the time constructing political bridges to feuding elements within her own coalition, preferring instead to surround herself with inexperienced technocrats. This leaves the many strong, if unsavory, players in the Nicaraguan political arena out in the cold, feeling slighted and looking for other ways to exert influence.

But if the future of Nicaragua lies in the search for consensus demanded by the harsh political and economic realities now facing the nation, the process has been seriously derailed through the partisan efforts of the Sandinistas, Godoy's plotting, and the opportunism of the ex-contras.

Former President Ortega seems to be unsure of his proper role, promising to cooperate one day as the leader of the loyal opposition, yet vowing to "govern from below" the next. The recent nationwide work stoppages called by pro-Sandinista unions only succeeded in undermining Chamorro, with the disruption leaving six dead and millions in property damage. For the leader of a party that claims its roots lie in a popular struggle to overthrow oppression, Ortega is not giving an entirely convincing performance.

Far more menacing, however, are Godoy's activities. …

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