The sheep guarded by the wolf, the hens protected by the fox, and the Honduran mediation entrusted to Oscar Arias.

When an event is repeated, so the saying goes, the first time it happens as tragedy and the second time as farce. The big farce of the moment is that of Oscar Arias, who for the second time is acting as “mediator” in a “Central-American conflict”. In this case, we have a dialogue (negotiation?) to end the seizure of the government of the Republic of Honduras in a coup d’etat. Such a scenario was customary in Latin America prior to 1990, but it now threatens the foundation of bourgeois democratic institutions, which have been constructed since that time as an action and reaction effect between the neoliberal hegemony imposed by the dominant classes, and the political space wrenched from them on the part of the traditionally dominated social sectors.

Could anyone have thought of a worse mediator? Yes, in Otto Reich and other disciples of the deceased United States senator Jesse Helms, but they are all occupied giving advice and support to the coup plotters. Also, the “Honduran mediation” is a “role play” in which a “bad cop” is needed—to adopt an intransigent posture (as Micheletti is doing, Reich’s protege)— and a “good cop”—who treats the aggressor and aggrieved parties “as equals”, and in which “both sides have to give up something” (as Arias is doing). 

Oscar Arias, who was president of Costa Rica between 1986 and 1990, and who presently occupies that post in the term between 2006 and 2010, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his part in the negotiated settlement resulting in the Esquipulas II Accords, signed in August of the same year. In that role he gave his name to something which should have been called “Plan Reagan”, but to conceal the authorship of one of the most retrograde and bellicose administrations of the United States, it was publicly referred to as the “Plan Arias”. 

Though undeserved, the Nobel Prize given to Arias recalls the one Henry Kissinger accepted in 1973 for leading the United States delegation that negotiated the Paris Accords, and which put an end to the Vietnam war, an occasion in which the chancellor of North Vietnam, Led Duc Tho, refused in a dignified manner to “share” that “prize” with the Secretary of State of the power which for years committed a brutal genocide against his people. 

The “Plan Arias” was the incarnation of the political two track approach of the euphemistically named low-intensity warfare of the Ronald Reagan administration (1981-1989), executed against Nicaragua during the Popular Sandinista Revolution. The first track was military aggression by counterrevolutionary organizations from bases in Honduras and Costa Rica, combined with the threat of direct intervention by the United States. The second track was to offer the government of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) a political solution, “negotiated” in the terms imposed by the aggressor, that is to say, “to negotiate” the end of external aggression—an act that by definition was a violation of International Law and which, therefore, is not negotiable-. This would have meant a change which involved an essential restructuring of the internal political and judicial order of Nicaragua—which corresponded, uniquely and exclusively, to the Nicaraguan people. To negotiate that which should not be negotiated to put an end to an illegal act of force? Does the reader note something similar to the current Honduran situation? 

But if that wasn’t enough, in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras revolutionary movements had used armed struggle against the counterinsurgency regimes of those countries. The “negotiations”, therefore, needed to be unilateral and asymmetrical. North American imperialism could not allow for the negotiations to take place on the basis of a clean slate for all the governments, and another for all the “insurgent forces”. In the case of Nicaragua it needed to impose “a logic” (that was unfavorable to the FSLN government, and favorable to the “contras”), and an opposite “logic” (that was favorable to the counterinsurgency governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and unfavorable to the insurgent movements and forces of the left in those three countries). 

The twin track policy of the Reagan administration, incorporated in the “Plan Arias”, was the antithesis of the peace gestures undertaken by the Contadora Group and the Contadora Support Group, whose members, finally feeling defeated, abandoned their plan of negotiations and adopted the “Plan Arias”. From that moment on, the eight member countries of those groups went on to form part of an International Commission of Verification and Continuation (CIVS), charged with the sad role of convincing Nicaragua—in a repetitive, incisive and unilateral manner—that it should fulfill and over-fulfill the agreements that it had been forced to adopt through the process of negotiation, and like its counterpart, to turn a blind eye to the total non-compliance of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to their part of the agreement. 

But there was more to come! What was said up to this point is not the key issue, namely the way in which Arias provided cover for the gringos was what allowed the government of the United States to continue acting in its part of the “negotiating process” like the big absent presence. In other words, it allowed the USA to act as a judge in the Central American conflict, and, at the same time, as the aggressor against Nicaragua, the vital support to the counterinsurgency regimes of the region, the “external power” that imposed the rules of negotiation and the supreme power that determined whether or not the results were acceptable.

The paternity of the second track, which Arias assumed publicly, allowed the US government to stay “behind the scenes”. Thanks to the fact that “the plan” was “by Arias”, and not of their own making, the Reagan administration managed to impose the terms of a negotiation in which it did not take part. In this way, the United States government did not find itself compromised with the Esquipulas I or Esquipulas II Accords, allowing it to continue—as, in effect, it did—developing a “hidden war” against Nicaragua. This long after the Sandinista government, in a good faith gesture, not only fulfilled its obligations but went one step beyond, in a unilateral manner, the letter and spirit of both accords, implementing a long chain of additional conditions which it put into place a posteriori. 

In his comments at the forum “At XX years of Esquipulas II, a history narrated by its architects”, celebrated on august 21, 2007, the foreign minister of Nicaragua during the FSLN government and the current president pro tempore of the General Assembly of the UN, Miguel d’Escoto, revealed the role played by the government of Costa Rica, and especially by Oscar Arias, in the Central American conflict. 

Concerning Contadora—says Miguel d’Escoto—a lot has been written. The books written to date recount how the United States torpedoed the process, through Costa Rica and Honduras, principally.[…] 

In that task, foreign ministers Monge, Fernando Volio and Jose Gutierrez, all played an important part, but the star foreign minister of the gringos, the one who best represented their interests and who blocked the peace accords, was the incomparable Rodrigo Madrigal Nieto, may he rest in peace. He was, no more or less, the foreign minister of Oscar Arias. This is why the whole world was surprised when only Arias was garlanded with the Nobel Peace Prize. This is something I am allowed to say now, because, when foreign minister Madrigal was still alive he said the same thing in the presence of the other foreign ministers. 

That’s enough of this excerpt from father d’Escoto; time to sum up a past which some people don’t know and which others would like to forget.

The history of the Central American conflict and the Esquipulas negotiations is not too far afield and the testimonies of what happened, like that of Miguel d’Escoto and many others, are disposed to remember and to denounce it. 

We will not permit a wolf, a fox, or an Arias to fool us with his farce.
A CubaNews translation by Greg McDonald.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.