(VOA Editorial)  (300)

(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America May 5,

reflecting the views of the U.S. government.)

Members of the last major group of contras, the rebel force that fought

against Nicaragua's Marxist Sandinista government in the 1980s, have

disarmed.  In exchange for demobilizing, the Nicaraguan government has

granted the rebels amnesty and agreed to provide them with land and to

incorporate some of them into the national police force.  The agreement

between the government and the last of the contras brings closer an end to

the insecurity, tragedy and violence in Nicaragua.

The road to national reconciliation in that country has been rocky.

President Violetta Chamorro has faced a daunting array of political,

military and economic problems since the Nicaraguan people elected her in

1990.  But as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs

Alexander Watson said in a recent speech in Managua, "In recent weeks, a

fragile optimism has taken hold.  It has been heartening to see political

rivals moderate their differences and accept joint responsibility for

ending political disarray.  With national elections just two years away,"

said Watson, "1994 is without question a critical year for democratic

consolidation and economic recovery in Nicaragua."

One major issue is the need to assert civilian control over the military and

intelligence services.  Lasting reconciliation cannot take place unless the

rule of law and civilian authority over the security forces are securely

established.  And only such reconciliation can end Nicaragua's political

violence and polarization and bring about renewed economic growth and


As Ambassador Watson made clear, in its approach to Nicaragua, the United

States will continue to support the democratic process.  Ultimately,

however, it is Nicaraguans and only Nicaraguans who can solve their

country's problems.