GUATEMALA CITY — Secretary of State George P. Shultz said Tuesday that he has found a growing level of support among the members of the Organization of American States for U.S. efforts to overturn the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
"Nobody has a good word to say for Nicaragua any more," Shultz said, after private talks with leaders attending the general assembly of the OAS.
In contrast to the near unanimity he claimed to have found among the delegates, Shultz was barraged with critical questions from Latin American journalists during a press conference on the lawn of the U.S. ambassador's residence here.
"I have no doubt at all that there would be a general sigh of relief if we saw a shift to a pluralistic democracy in Nicaragua and an end to the effort to subvert its neighbors," he said. He ruled out direct U.S. military intervention in Nicaragua. He said flatly: "There won't be any."
Shultz did not directly mention U.S. support for the contras --the rebels who have begun to receive $100 million in aid from the United States--but he said: "We cannot give lip service to democracy when it is convenient and costless, but turn our backs on it when there are costs or risks."
Central America Luncheon
In addition to his talks with all OAS representatives, Shultz conferred with the foreign ministers of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica at a private luncheon before the press conference. Nicaragua was the only Central American nation excluded from that meeting.
Earlier, in his speech to the OAS assembly, Shultz warned that Central America will never achieve peace or stability until there is an end to Soviet Bloc influence in Nicaragua.
"Foreign intervention in the form of alien ideologies and foreign cadres--from Cuba, the Soviet Union, East Germany, North Korea, even Vietnam and Libya--is at this moment promoting instability and violence in Central America," he said. "The only road to peace and stability is to eliminate that alien threat."
Shultz bluntly told Latin American leaders that the region will be an East-West battleground as long as the Nicaraguan government maintains its close ties with Moscow. He made it clear that Washington was unwilling to share its position as the predominant power in the region.
Blames Communist Bloc
"Does anyone really think the United States wants to turn Central America into a vortex of East-West turmoil?" he said. "The United States provided aid to help Nicaragua rebuild after the fall of (former dictator Anastasio) Somoza in 1979, but what did the Nicaraguan Communists do? They sought arms from the Soviet Bloc and used them to deny the Nicaraguan people their right of self-determination.
"It is impossible to imagine peace and stability returning to the region until this massive growth in armaments is constrained and, ultimately, eliminated," he said.
"Failure to confront this threat will only guarantee that the region will be increasingly drawn into great-power rivalries," he added.
Although Shultz told reporters Monday that the United States continues to support the efforts of the Contadora Group--Mexico, Panama, Venezuela and Colombia--to mediate a Central American peace settlement, he showed little enthusiasm for the process in his speech.
"Unfortunately, nearly four years of effort by the Contadora countries and, more recently, by the Contadora support group, have not produced a workable agreement," he said.