ACCESSION NUMBER:296000 FILE ID:LEF319 DATE:07/21/93 TITLE:CIVILIAN CONTROL OF MILITARY MAJOR ISSUE IN NICARAGUA (07/21/93) TEXT:*93072119.LEF *LEF319 07/21/93* CIVILIAN CONTROL OF MILITARY MAJOR ISSUE IN NICARAGUA (Maisto confirmation hearing 7/21) lf (650) (Spanish coming) By Louise Fenner USIA Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- Civilian control of the military "is probably the most important single issue that exists in Nicaragua today," John Maisto, the nominee for U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua, told a Senate confirmation hearing. He said civilian control must encompass not just the armed forces in Nicaragua but all security forces -- including the intelligence sector and the police -- as well as the justice system. Maisto told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 21 that "we have let the government know in no uncertain terms our views following the discovery of the arms cache" in Managua, referring to the discovery of a clandestine cache of missiles and other weapons linked to the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador. "We expect the government of Nicaragua to investigate that matter; we expect strong measures to be taken against those who are responsible for it. We expect progress to be made with regard to full civilian control of the military." Maisto indicated that he believes the Nicaraguan military and security sectors were aware of the arms cache. Addressing the issue of property claims, Maisto noted that 117 cases involving property confiscated by the former Sandinista government have been totally or partially resolved out of some 1,000 outstanding cases. "That's forward movement, but it's painfully slow," he said. Human rights violations also "are a key problem in Nicaragua," Maisto told the committee, noting that the Tripartite Commission is investigating reported violations and has completed two reports. "It's up to the government of Nicaragua to take action," he said. "They still have a lot to do in that area, and it is something we have to watch very closely." "The primary problem in Nicaragua, in my view, is political -- they cannot seem to sit down and sort out their political problems. They are going to have to do it. Only they can solve their political problems.... We want to help, but it is their responsibility." If a political resolution isn't found, Maisto said, Nicaragua "could have 1ostilities" that exceed the sporadic incidents of violence that now occur. "Nicaraguans realize that." The senators were highly complimentary to Maisto and to Alan Flanigan, the nominee for U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), who chaired the hearing, indicated that both nominations were likely to be approved by the committee the following week. The full Senate will then have to vote on the nominations. However, Sens. Jesse Helms and Paul Coverdell, republicans from North Carolina and Georgia, respectively, used the hearing as an opportunity to criticize the Nicaraguan government on issues such as the power of the military, the progress of land claims settlements, and the investigation of human rights abuses. They warned that unless property claims and other problems are resolved, there is "no incentive" for foreign investment in Nicaragua. Helms repeated his opposition to any form of aid to the government of President Violeta Barios de Chamorro as long as, in his words, "the Sandinistas are running the country." Coverdell said the Chamorro government "is facing a power it cannot control" in the form of Nicaragua's military. Even Sen. Dodd, a strong supporter of aid to Nicaragua, said the problems there are making it harder to argue for continued aid when the United States is trying to cut its deficit. He indicated his belief that the Nicaraguan military and intelligence sectors knew about the FMLN arms cache. "When caches of arms of significant size are found and there are problems with civilian control -- even for supporters like myself it gets awfully hard to make a case" for foreign aid," Dodd said. "That message needs to be carried back (to Nicaragua)," he told Maisto. NNNN .