Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, archbishop of Managua and primate of Nicaragua, has proposed mediating a cease-fire between the Sandinista rulers of Nicaragua and the contra guerrillas. His proposal should be heeded by President Daniel Ortega, who has resisted all appeals for negotiations with the contra guerrilla leadership, and by the contras themselves, who appear interested above all in pursuing the war and sabotaging the Central American peace plan.
The archbishop speaks with a special authority, for he is the chairman of the national reconciliation commission created in Nicaragua under terms of the Aug. 7 peace agreement. Furthermore, his proposal appears to have the strong endorsement of President Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica, the primary architect of the peace plan.
Ortega has preferred to impose, without negotiation, unilateral cease-fire arrangements for specific provinces--an initiative that has has had mixed results but inevitably has not inspired significant acceptance of a companion offer of amnesty.
The contra leadership in the United States has demanded full-scale negotiations with the Sandinistas, and now is talking about mounting its own unilateral diplomatic offensive, flying to Managua to force the talks while the war continues. That sort of grandstanding only encourages suspicions that the real contra goal is to sabotage the peace agreement one way or another.