(VOA Editorial)  (310)

(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America October 22,

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

A principal goal of U.S. policy in Latin America is to strengthen

democratically elected governments and market-oriented economies.  In

recent testimony before members of the U.S. Congress, Assistant Secretary

of State for Inter-American Affairs Alexander Watson said the United States

strongly supports efforts to achieve these goals in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua currently faces simultaneous political, military and economic

crises.  The three main political forces in the country -- the government,

the Sandinista National Liberation Front, and the National Opposition Union

-- have become mutually antagonistic to the point of paralysis.  The United

States believes that the most important decision the parties can make is to

1ursue a dialogue.  Only national reconciliation can end Nicaragua's

political violence and polarization and bring about renewed economic growth

and development.  The consequences of continued inflexibility will be more

civil unrest, violence, and economic chaos.

President Violeta Chamorro has faced a daunting array of problems since the

Nicaraguan people elected her in 1990 -- especially in her efforts to

assert civilian control over the military and intelligence services.  The

United States believes that only when the rule of law and civilian

authority over the security forces are established can true national

reconciliation take place.  The United States has urged the Nicaraguan

government to resolve outstanding human rights cases, which would reinforce

civilian control over the military.

Assistant Secretary of State Watson made it clear that there are limits on

what the United States can do to help.  While the United States will

continue to support the strengthening of democratic institutions in

Nicaragua, ultimately only Nicaraguans can solve their country's problems.

As Assistant Secretary of State Watson said, Nicaraguans should seek a

national accord through dialogue and compromise.