The Arias Peace Plan Six Months Later
by Robert Adam and Neil Henderson
At the time of its signing, the Arias peace plan was hailed by many as a victory for peace in Central America. Now, almost six months later what was apparent to Marxists is clear to all: rather than providing a benefit to Nicaragua, the peace plan is an attempt to prop-up the four U.S.-backed dictatorships in the region while isolating the Nicaraguan revolution.
The motivation behind the Sandinistas signing the accord was a belief that they could out maneuver the Reagan administration leading to an end of contra funding and an end to the war itself. This aim led many solidarity activists to support the plan under the mistaken belief that the plan could actually bring peace to the region. This balloon was punctured in late December when the contras launched a massive attack against gold production centres in northeast Nicaragua the day before the peace talks were to resume between the Sandinistas and the contras. At the same time, the U.S. Congress agreed, with bipartisan support, to authorize up to $14.4 million in “non-military” aid to the contras. By this standard alone, the Sandinistas’ attempts have failed.
More significant than the failure to bring “peace” to the region are the concessions the Sandinistas made in order to comply with the accord. Under the guise of bringing democratic reforms to Nicaragua, the Sandinistas have allowed the CIA-supported Nicaraguan bourgeoisie to operate a radio station, to organize politically, and to once again publish the political voice of counterrevolution La Prensa. Perhaps more dangerous is the requirement that the Sandinistas halt aid to “irregular forces or insurrectionalist movements.” In essence the Sandinistas have given up their right and duty to support the FMLN of El Salvador. In short, by complying to the Arias peace plan, the Sandinistas contribute not only to the isolation of their own revolution but also the isolation of revolutionary struggles throughout Central America. If the Sandinistas were to renounce this fake peace plan, they would undoubtedly come under intense international condemnation; however, the dangers posed by continued compliance to the accord far outweigh the risk of offending world bourgeois opinion.
At the heart of the Arias peace plan rests the fear of the Central American bourgeoisie that the contras will be unable to destroy the Nicaraguan revolution. The failure of the contras may lead to direct American military involvement in the region and a destabilization throughout Central America coupled with a revolutionary upsurge by the workers and the peasants. The lessons of Southeast Asia have not been lost on the architects of the Arias plan. The Arias plan was devised to prevent socialist revolution from triumphing in Central America: the belief that the Central American bourgeoisie could design a peace plan of benefit to revolutionary Nicaragua is to accept the same illusions that led Allende to bloody defeat in Chile.
As revolutionary Marxists, we stand unconditionally on the side of the workers and peasants of Central America against imperialism and their own bourgeoisie. In Canada we need to build a mass-action oriented movement against imperialism in Central America and to construct a revolutionary workers party capable of leading a successful socialist revolution in North America. In the case of Nicaragua, it is clear that the revolution cannot stand still, it must advance or fall back. We argue, therefore, for the expropriation of the Nicaraguan capitalists, who still control 60% of the Nicaraguan economy, and for the completion of the revolution. Socialism cannot be built in a single country, thus the fate of Nicaragua lies in a perspective of spreading the revolution throughout Central America and the final victory of the workers and peasants in the region.