The campaign by Latin American diplomats to draw up a peace treaty for Central America has been given up for dead many times in the last three years, but only in the United States. Latin political leaders understand the consequences of continued warfare in Central America better than their counterparts in Washington.
In the next few weeks there will be several important meetings in Central America that may bring the Contadora Group (Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Panama) closer to its goal of a comprehensive peace treaty between the revolutionary government in Nicaragua and its neighbors in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala. The first was Thursday's gathering of Latin American leaders in Costa Rica for the inauguration of that country's new president, Oscar Arias. The informal discussions that occurred at Arias' inauguration will be followed by an official Contadora Group meeting May 16 in Panama. Then on May 24 Central American presidents will hold a summit meeting in Esquipulas, Guatemala.
Latins hope this spate of diplomatic activity will produce enough momentum to carry the Contadora Group toward a pivotal meeting June 6. That is the target date set earlier this year for signing a regional peace treaty. But chances that a Contadora treaty could be signed by then are slim, because recently Nicaragua's Sandinista government has become more difficult. The Sandinistas insist they will sign no peace treaty until the Reagan Administration stops aiding the contras fighting to overthrow them . The United States says it will not let up on the Sandinistas until they agree to more democracy in their country.