September 25, 2007

AT THE CORE OF POWER WITHIN THE CHA- morro government is a small group known as "the yuppies," all of whom belong to a think-tank called COR- DENIC (Commission onthe Recuperation and Development of Nicaragua). It was founded on April 8, 1988 by current foreign minister Enrique Dreyfus. CORDENIC brought together Nicaraguan businessmen and intellectuals of differ- ent political viewpoints, to design alternative solutions to the nation's economic crisis. Some had been very close to the FSLN during and after the revolution. All had studied abroad -the majority in elite universities in the United States. Dreyfus claims he was inspired by his participation in the Sanford Commission, along with Economy Minister Fran- cisco Mayorga. The Sanford Commission, named for its initiator, Sen. Terry Sanford (D-NC), emerged after the Esquipulas peace process began in 1987 as a non-partisan forum for designing regional economic development poli- cies. Its 47 members from Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Japan represent a relatively broad political spec- trum. CORDENIC's members viewed the Esquipulas process as the beginning of the end of the war and an opportunity to rebuild the country. They began working quietly, organizing seminars and conferences of businessmen, workers and politicians, and playing a very active behind-the-scenes role in the process of concertaci6n ("coming together") pro- moted by the Sandinista government during 1989. CORDENIC is very careful to avoid the inflammatory language characteristic of the other major business group, COSEP. While COSEP refuses to recognize the effects of the war on the economy, for example, CORDENIC's program, released in 1988, attributes the current economic debacle to both the "counter-productive economic policies" of the Sandinista government and "counterrevolutionary activ- ity." CORDENIC also emphasizes the importance of the state's role in assuring a high standard of living for the population and the need for "a pragmatic conviction on the part of the most privileged sectors to do justice to the needs of the poor." When Mayorga was asked in 1988 if CORDENIC was a new political movement or similar to the "Group of Twelve" notables who sought to end the Somoza dictatorship, he replied: "The commission does not want to get involved in political debate for two reasons: First of all, none of the members are politicians or have political links or belong to a specific party, and secondly, because we all agree that while so many groups are mixed up in the problem of power and politics, no one is putting in the effort to plan the rebuilding of the economy after peace has been achieved." Despite their claims to be apolitical, this group is the real power behind Violeta Chamorro. It is they, particularly Antonio Lacayo, who conducted UNO's negotiations with the FSLN leading to the "protocol agreements" by which Humberto Ortega remained as head of the army. Compared to the Somocistas in Miami and the leadership of the Contras, CORDENIC appears a moderate and indispensable inter- mediary to avoid civil war and make Chamorro's words of "national reconciliation" a reality.

Tags: Nicaragua, Violeta Chamorro, CORDENIC, elite

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