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THE PATCHWORK OF PEACE WORK : SOME VIEWS FROM WITHOUT THE WHITE HOUSE : Arias : Leave Implementation of the Peace Plan to Us

January 24, 1988|Oscar Arias Sanchez | Oscar Arias Sanchez, the president of Costa Rica, writes about prospects for peace for The Times.

The major summit outcome was that once again we have proved that dialogue bears fruit and it can constitute the civilized road to settling disputes and differences between human beings.

The Central American presidents must recognize that the commitment undertaken by each of us five months back has not been fulfilled in its entirety and we urge those who have failed to do so to comply immediately.

For my country it was most reassuring to reconfirm, from our reading of the report prepared by the International Verification Commission, what we have maintained all along: That Costa Rica is not a problem for Central America, but that Central America is a problem for Costa Rica. In Costa Rica there is no need for reconciliation because we live in peace and because our style of living is a model. Insurgent forces do not endanger, from our territory, the security of other countries, because we are unswerving and refuse to allow that to occur. The commission recognized that Costa Rica does not require an amnesty law, because this is a country where no citizen is either in exile or incarcerated because of his political beliefs.

We reiterate that without peace there is no development for the region, and without development, the consolidation of the fragile democracies emerging in Central America will be extremely difficult to achieve.

The major obstacles to achieving peace continue to be hardheadedness, inflexibility and lack of political will. I urged my colleagues at the summit that we must honor our words.

My role has always been to build bridges rather than raise walls. If we fail, the alternative is war. Costa Ricans do not wish to see their brothers in the region suffer any longer. We cannot remain untouched by the spilling of blood of youth who should be in classrooms rather than on battlefields armed with machine guns.

Major obstacles remain blocking full implementation of the peace plan. During the course of the last summit meeting, the presidents recognized that some of the countries had not complied with the plan. Lengthy debates ensued in which one president reproached another, stating that he could not comply while the other failed to do so. We must seek to end this stalemate and I think that Daniel Ortega should be the one to do so. With the release of all political prisoners and concrete steps towards democratization, there will be no justification for continuing aid to the Contras. I respectfully told Daniel Ortega that if I were in his shoes, this is precisely what I would do.

To the U.S. public I would repeat the same words I delivered upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize: "It is for the new generation that we must understand more than ever that peace can only be achieved through its own instruments: dialogue and understanding, tolerance and forgiveness, freedom and democracy.

"I know well you share what we say to all members of the international community, and particularly to those both in the East and the West, with far greater power and resources than my small national could ever hope to possess. I say to them, with the utmost urgency: Let Central Americans decide the future of Central America. Leave the interpretation and implementation of our peace plan to us. Support the efforts for peace instead of the forces of war in our region."

Peace in 1988 depends on the prevalence of reason over madness. Those fueling this war are neither the ones dying in the battlefields nor the mothers who, with heavy hearts, see their sons go off to fight.

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