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Intro JIM LEHRER: Good evening. Leading the news this Friday, a Japanese Red Army terrorist was named a key suspect in yesterday's USO bombing in Italy. A bomb exploded at a U. S. Air Force radio relay station in Spain, but no one was injured. And the contras and the Sandinistas began peace talks in Nicaragua. We'll have the details in our news summary in a moment. Charlayne Hunter Gault is in New York tonight. Charlayne? CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: After the news summary, we look at Democratic campaign strategy in New York with top aides from all three camps. Then, a background report on the Nicaraguan peace talks, followed by a newsmaker interview with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. And finally, a Roger Mudd essay in Vice Presidential options. News Summary LEHRER: Italian authorities have a suspect in yesterday's bombing of a USO club in Naples. Today, officials identified a 39 year old member of Japan's Red Army terrorist group as their prime suspect. They also said he probably had accomplices with Middle East connections. A caller to a French news agency in Rome said it was the work of the organization of Jihad Brigades. Jihad means holy war in Arabic. A U. S. Navy enlisted woman and four Italians were killed in the blast that came from a parked car. The dead American was identified as 21 year old Angela Simone Santos, a radioman third class from Ocala, Florida.The U. S. military was also the target of a bomb that exploded today in Spain. It went off at a U. S. Air Force radio relay station east of Madrid. A U. S. Embassy spokesman in Madrid said the facility was damaged, but there were no injuries. There was no immediate word on what people or organizations might have been responsible. Charlayne? HUNTER-GAULT: In Nicaragua, Sandinista officials and rebel leaders will begin top level peace talks in Managua today. The meeting is the first of its kind to be held in the capital. Meanwhile, on the Costa Rican border, high level commissions from both sides said they had achieved considerable progress in defining the mechanics of a cease fire, which formally went into effect April 1. The peace talks are required by a preliminary accord signed last month. Though they have fallen behind schedule, the peace talks remain the biggest advance to date toward ending the country's 6 year old civil war. LEHRER: Panama lodged an official diplomatic protest against the United States today. It came in a written note, accusing U. S. troops of violating Panama's sovereignty Tuesday night by closing down a highway. The road was closed during what U. S. military officials said then was a two hour firefight between 100 U. S. Marines and some 40 intruders in military uniforms. The marines were guarding a fuel storage depot outside a U. S. military base. There was no immediate response from the U. S. to today's protests. The Administration did officially inform Congress today on another foreign military matter, the sale of 555 battle tanks to Egypt for $2 billion. Congress has 30 days to overturn it. HUNTER-GAULT: The Kuwaiti hijack drama entered its 11th day today, with new death threats from the Arab gunman holding the plane. As the jetliner continued to sit on the tarmac in Algiers, two of the 30 hostages onboard made appeals to the Kuwaiti government. In messages similar to ones broadcast yesterday to the control tower, the hostages said they would be killed unless Kuwait met the hijackers' demands to free 17 pro Iranian terrorists being held in its jails. Kuwait has steadfastly refused to meet the demands throughout the crisis. LEHRER: There was another bad day for U. S. economic news. The Commerce Department reported wholesale prices jumped . 6% in March, the largest increase in 11 months. Yesterday's grim news about an unexpected increase in the U. S. trade deficit sent Wall Street into a 101 point decline. Today, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 8 points, closing at 2013. 93. And speaking of matters financial, today was federal income tax deadline day. Internal Revenue Service commissioner Lawrence Gibbs marked it by making a speech to the American Bar Association. He said the new tax law made it a difficult year for both taxpayers and the IRS, but he warned against new changes in the law.
LAWRENCE GIBBS, IRS: Certainly for some, the preparation and filing of the return was more difficult this year. But for a lot of folks, folks that aren't invested in the tax shelters, folks that can take the benefit of the standard deduction, use the simpler forms, and by the way, that's a substantial number of people, it was really easier this year, and I think for all of us, it's going to be easier as long as Congress leaves the law alone when we go through this next year. LEHRER: Also in Washington, a U. S. Postal Service official said the service is expecting to handle 30 million last minute tax returns. HUNTER-GAULT: In New York's, celebrated ''preppie murder case,'' Robert Chambers was sentenced today to five to fifteen years in jail for strangling 18 year old Jennifer Levin in Central Park. The 21 year old Chambers stood silently while Judge Harold Bell imposed a predetermined sentence. Three weeks earlier, Chambers pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter. Before the sentence was read, Chambers had this to say:
ROBERT CHAMBERS: Jennifer's looking down on this now at the circus arena, looking and wondering why it all happened. And I don't know. I never wished any of this to happen. I never wanted any of this to happen. But her name will live on, not through memories, but by her family and her feelings. And I wish to apologize to the family and to her friends for all the trouble that they've gone through. I've never wanted any of this to happen to anybody. HUNTER-GAULT: The slain girl's father, Stanley Levin, had asked to speak at the hearing. But the request was denied. LEHRER: Richard Nixon gave his 1988 political forecast to the nation's newspaper editors today. The former President told an editor's convention in Washington that the Republicans will probably win, but it won't be easy.
RICHARD NIXON, former President USA: It's going to be a very close election. Despite the fact that you have peace, you have prosperity, that there is always what I have described -- de Tocqueville did it much better, where he detected an interesting characteristic of American democracy -- was restlessness amidst prosperity. It's out there. And what is going to happen here is you're going to have a close election. Dukakis vs. Bush with Bush winning by a nose. It'll be decided in California, so plan for a very long night. LEHRER: Former White House spokesman Larry Speakes resigned today as chief spokesman for the Merrill Lynch brokerage firm. He said in a statement in New York that it was in the best interests of all concerned that he quit. He has been severely criticized since the recent release of his book, in which he admitted fabricating quotes for President Reagan. HUNTER-GAULT: That's our news summary. Still ahead, New York Democratic campaign strategy, Nicaraguan peace talks, Costa Rican President Arias, and Vice Presidential options. New York Stakes LEHRER: The politics of New York is our opening story tonight. Next Tuesday, Democrats in that very large state will say something very large about who will be the 1988 Democratic nominee for President. The polls say Michael Dukakis is the New York leader, with Jesse Jackson running second, Al Gore a distant third. Top officials of the three campaigns are with us to tell us what they think the New York race -- where the New York race stands at this Friday night moment. We're also going to take a look at some of the TV commercials each is running in New York State. Fred Martin is the Gore campaign manager, Gerald Austin manages the Jackson campaign, and Jack Corrigan is the operations manager for the Dukakis campaign. He joins us from Public Station WGBH in Boston. Mr. Corrigan, the polls say your man is ahead in New York. Does that jibe with your reading? JACK CORRIGAN, Dukakis Operations Manager: Well, to be honest with you, I think that the race will be much closer than the current poll is now showing. The one thing that we know about polls is that they are very influenced by turnout, and in a primary they're less reliable than they are in a general election. They're even less reliable in a caucus situation than they are in a primary. I think you'll see a much closer race between Governor Dukakis and Rev. Jackson than is evident in the public polls right now. LEHRER: How close, the polls say roughly a 10% division. You think it's going to be less than that? Mr. CORRIGAN: I think it could be, yeah. I think that every public poll taken before every upcoming, every preceding contest has underestimated the Reverend Jackson, and I think you'll see a significant turnout amongst his supporters. LEHRER: Mr. Austin, do you agree that your man is closing fast on the governor? GERALD AUSTIN, Jackson campaign manager: Absolutely. The time to close is now. The time to peak is Tuesday. And recent polls that we're aware of show us closing fast, and I think Jack's correct. This will be a very close race. LEHRER: Is it possible for Jesse Jackson to carry New York State? Mr. AUSTIN: It's very possible. It's going to take our ability to turn out our base vote, and to make sure that over this last weekend that kind of excitement that Rev. Jackson is able to generate is generated here in New York, and I think we're capable of doing that, and we'll see a very close race on Tuesday. LEHRER: Mr. Martin, do you agree that your man, Senator Gore, is all but out of it? FRED MARTIN, Gore campaign manager: Well, no, of course we don't. I think the polls aren't really the issue. I don't think the polls are what the voters care about. I think what voters care about really is who would make the strongest person, be the nominee for our party. And in addition to that, who would make the best person to be the Commander in Chief and the President of the United States. That's what I think is on their minds. It isn't poll numbers, which change and come and go. LEHRER: I know that. But what does it look to you, then? Put the polls aside, where do you, how do you think the finish is going to be? Mr. MARTIN: Well, it's impossible to predict what the final result will be. We've found in the last two months that the polls have been wrong in just about every single case. I can't hazard a prediction. We do feel that we have a lot of strength on our side, momentum is on our side, we've had some good endorsements in the last few days, including from Mayor Koch. And we're feeling very strong about the campaign here in New York. LEHRER: How important do you think the endorsement from Mayor Koch will be? Mr. MARTIN: Well, I think it's quite important. He is an important person, not only for New York, but for the whole country. He's a spokesperson for the urban agenda here in the country, he's also very popular here in the city of New York, where he won overwhelmingly the last time. The other reason I think that it's important is because the Mayor took a look at the polls, he could tell that Gore is the underdog in this race, and that didn't concern him. What concerned him was who was the best person to be the nominee. And that sends an important signal to the rest of the people in this state, I think. LEHRER: Mr. Austin, what kind of signal do you think it sends? Mr. AUSTIN: Oh, I think there's a difference between a mayor of a city as big as New York endorsing the Thursday before election and a mayor endorsing a month before the election. I don't see Mayor Koch's endorsement being very significant at all. LEHRER: What do you think, Mr. Corrigan? Mr. CORRIGAN: Well, I think it will help Senator Gore a little, but I don't think that Senator Gore will be successful in convincing anyone that a vote for Gore is a vote for Koch. There are -- you know, the Mayor made it quite clear that his first choice was Governor Cuomo. Governor Cuomo's not running. And so he turns to Senator Gore. I think it will help him a little, but I don't think it will resurrect him. LEHRER: Mr. Martin, there have been suggestions from people in your camp that the Dukakis people are going around saying that a vote for Gore is a vote for Jackson. Is that in fact true? And is that hurting you? Mr. MARTIN: Well, we have what we know, what we've seen in the press, and that is a statement by the Wisconsin Director of the Dukakis campaign, saying precisely that. And we've also heard reports here in the state that the Dukakis campaign has been spreading that. Our view is that that is an insult both to Gore and to Jackson. We're not interested in stopping Jackson. We're interested in stopping George Bush. And the factis the Gore campaign is proud of the Jackson campaign and candidacy. The whole country ought to be proud of this great breakthrough of this last two months or so. And we're not interested in trying to stop anyone. We believe that a vote for Gore is a vote for Gore. LEHRER: Mr. Austin, have you picked up the same thing? And is it hurting your candidate? Mr. AUSTIN: We're not paying attention to anything other than a vote for Jackson is a vote for Jackson. And the campaign that we've conducted over the last four months I think indicates that. And on Tuesday, people will come to vote for the candidate of their choice, and whether they're voting for one candidate or another, for some reason we think they're voting for Jesse Jackson for very positive reasons. LEHRER: Mr. Corrigan, are you all guilty as charged? Mr. CORRIGAN: No, we're not. And we've encouraged everyone to vote for Gov. Dukakis based on his record, his experience and his values. We believe that Gov. Dukakis is the best person to lead the Stop Bush movement. I think that Sen. Gore's problem is -- and we have pointed this out -- that he hasn't won a congressional district since Super Tuesday. He didn't win any before Super Tuesday, and he hasn't won any since. So he's not a viable candidate for the nomination of the party. We have made that argument, but we have never made the argument that Fred suggests, and the person who keeps repeating the argument is Sen. Gore himself. LEHRER: Yeah, Mr. Austin, any comment on that? Mr. AUSTIN: No. I think that's between the Dukakis campaign, and the Gore campaign. LEHRER: Mr. Martin? Mr. MARTIN: Yeah, if I could point something out. As to whether or not our candidacy is a viable one, I'd like to point out that of all of the votes cast so far in this primary season. Gore has won 22%. As opposed to 28% or so for the other two candidates. This is in truth a three person race. We have over 500 delegates now, which is perhaps only 200 below the other two. This is a three person race. We've got 15 contests still to go, and we're going all the way to the convention. LEHRER: Going all the way, even if the senator finishes single digits in New York? Mr. MARTIN: Absolutely right. We're going all the way, and we don't think we are going to finish there. In fact, we're quite confident that we're going to do very well here. LEHRER: Okay. Now, let's look at some of the commercials each of your campaigns have been running. We have two from each. The first group are being shown around the state, the second are about drugs and are aimed at the New York City market.
[Gore commercial] Sen. GORE: I'm a Vietnam veteran, one of the lucky ones. I didn't have to kill or be killed. But some of my friends unfortunately weren't that lucky. Because of them, I've worked hard in Congress for arms control, for peace, for a strong bargaining position with the Russians. To get a lasting peace, a verifiable peace, we need a President with the commitment, the understanding, the knowledge of how to do it. I believe no other Democrat running for President has the experience to make that fight. [Dukakis commercial] VOICE: His fellow governors voted him the most effective governor in America. The son of Greek immigrants, he served his country in Korea, and inspired by John Kennedy, he chose public service. In nine years as Governor of Massachusetts, he wiped out huge budget deficits, cut taxes, fought corruption, helped 40,000 welfare mothers find jobs, and led an economic turnaround they call ''a miracle. '' Mike Dukakis, a President for the 90's. [Gore commercial] Sen. GORE: If America's going to remain competitive in the future, in business, in science, in technology, we have to give our children a first rate education. We're just not doing that today. We're losing too many kids to drugs and an inadequate education. We need a President who's not just going to talk tough, but is willing to show some strength. And if that means recognizing that education is also important to national security, and if that means using the military to help stop drugs at our borders, then let's do it. [Jackson commercial] JESSE JACKSON: This street is one of the main drug trafficking areas in the world. Cocaine, crack, heroin, PCP. These illegal drugs are killing our children and destroying whole communities. But drugs are also in neighborhoods like this. As President, I'll do more than say No to drugs, I'll say Yes to an active war on drugs. Domestic policy? Yes. Foreign policy and defense policy. We must defend our borders against drugs. We the people can win this war on drugs. [Dukakis commercial] MIKE DUKAKIS: I'm running for President because I want to see a real war, not a phony war against drug and alcohol dependency in this country (applause). How can we tell our children to say no to drugs when we have an Administration that paid $200,000 a year to a drug peddling dictator from Panama? A chief executive can make a difference in the fight against drugs. I've done it in my state, and I want to do it for every state in this country. LEHRER: Mr. Austin, to you first. How important have television commercials been to this race in New York? Mr. AUSTIN: Well, I don't know yet. We just started our commercials on Wednesday upstate, and on Thursday here in the city. I don't think that we can judge exactly how much impact they've had yet. LEHRER: Do you agree, Mr. Martin? Mr. MARTIN: Well, yeah, I think it's hard to tell now. TV ads are just another way to convey information about the candidate, his cares and his concerns. He does the same thing through speeches, he does the same thing through campaigning on the street. And that's the principal purpose, that's our challenge, in fact, is to make our candidate known to people in New York. We have found in the last two months that when voters know who Gore is, they like him. And they vote for him. LEHRER: What was the message involved in putting him in the Army jacket in that first commercial? What is that commercial designed to say? Mr. MARTIN: Principally, it's designed to say that experience does count. The experience in the field of arms control, in foreign policy is important in this campaign. We've already seen that in the last few days. LEHRER: Mr. Corrigan, your candidate, Gov. Dukakis, is also stressing experience. How do you respond to those kinds of -- the point that Gore is making in his commercials that he's the most experienced candidate? Mr. CORRIGAN: Well, I think that Gov. Dukakis' experience as a governor gives him a unique claim amongst the Democratic candidates. He can point to his record of accomplishment in any one of a number of areas. In terms of creating jobs, in terms of building housing for people. He just got through the legislature the first universal health care program in the history of this country. Those are significant achievements that he can point to that give him credibility when he makes the claim that he is the candidate best suited to make government actually work for people and make a differencein the lives of people. So the experience issue is one we're happy to contest. LEHRER: Mr. Austin, Jesse Jackson has criticized the other two candidates for kind of being Johnny come latelies on the drug issue. What's the nature of that charge? Why is Jesse Jackson in a position to do that? Mr. AUSTIN: Well, Jesse Jackson over the last 20 years, not just as a presidential candidate, has called attention to this country of this terrible problem we have of drugs. If you were to take a look at a tape of the first debate, which was in October, hosted by Mr. Buckley, and listen to what the candidates were saying then, and what they're saying now, they sound an awful lot like Jesse Jackson. The kinds of issues that Mr. Jackson has raised in this campaign, drugs, the homeless and fighting for jobs, has been taken up by the other candidates because they know that these are the issues that concern the people of this country. LEHRER: Is that true, Mr. Martin? Mr. MARTIN: Yes, I think that is true. And Jackson deserves credit for calling attention to that issue. He was the first one that did. And the other candidates have learned, I think, from Jackson. And that's an important contribution to this campaign. I think each of these candidates has already made a contribution to the campaign, and the candidates evolve as the campaign goes on. And that's important. For our part we're pleased that the other candidates have come a little closer to us on the policy for the Middle East Each of these candidates has something important to contribute. LEHRER: Mr. Martin -- Mr. CORRIGAN: Can I expand on that? LEHRER: Yeah Mr. CORRIGAN: Gov. Dukakis has been actively crusading against drugs in Massachusetts as governor. A couple of years ago, the regional head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who is a federal appointee, called the Massachusetts program the best program in the country. So while Rev Jackson has shown real leadership over a long period of time on this issue, and I don't want to take anything away from him, there is a track record of Mike Dukakis as governor. He has visited hundreds of high schools, educating children about the dangers of drugs, and it's made a real difference in the usage rate of drugs among young people. So I didn't want to let that point go by without some refutation. Sorry to interrupt. LEHRER: Yeah. Sure. Mr. Corrigan, beginning with you, I -- in looking at the ads that all three of you have run and are now running, there hasn't been a lot of negative advertising in this particular campaign in New York. Why is that? Mr. CORRIGAN: Well, the premise of Governor Dukakis' campaign from the beginning has been that he would like to build the strongest possible campaign for the general election, so that we can end seven years of Republican Administration and the hardship that that has meant for people. So that our campaign has been premised around building a base, winning primaries so that you win the nomination. But then moving on to the general election. And negative campaigning doesn't do anything to advance that. MacNEIL: Mr. Martin, your candidate, Sen. Gore, has been very critical of the candidates in the debates and in statements he has made, and yet you are not running negative commercials. Any particular reason for that? What's the strategy there? Mr. MARTIN: Well, there's only a certain amount of time and resources in a campaign, and our principal task is to try to make the senator known to the voters of New York. And to do anything else distracts from that primary effort. But if I may make a point about this question of criticizing each other. In our view, we're doing more here than just having a contest as to who can fundraise the most or hand out more pamphlets. We're trying to choose the President. Our view is that one of these three candidates is going to be the President of the United States. And voters had better know and our country had better know, what that person believes, knows and cares about. And to do that we have to challenge them and challenge their assumptions and their thoughts. And I don't think there's anything bad about that, I think that's very good indeed for our party and for the country. LEHRER: New York Times columnist A. M. Rosenthal said this morning that Gov. Cuomo's criticism of Sen. Gore on this issue really hurt the senator, and you all are yet to recover from it. Is he correct? Mr. MARTIN: Well, I don't think so. In fact the state party chairman here in the state just told us a day ago that he thought that our discussing the answer given by Dukakis on the nuclear question was perfectly correct and the right thing to raise. I don't think it's hurt us. I think that voters want to know what's the experience and the knowledge and grasp of the fundamentals of government that these candidates have. I think that this is an important thing for the party. LEHRER: All right. Do you agree with that, Mr. Austin, that this doesn't hurt, this kind of give and take doesn't necessarily hurt anything? Mr. AUSTIN: Well, we've been the only candidate during the whole campaign that's been totally positive. We believe all along that a positive message is what the American people want to hear and Rev. Jackson has delivered that message and will continue to keep on the positive level that this campaign started on. LEHRER: All right, Mr. Corrigan we've already heard from you on this question, and we'll leave it there, gentlemen. Thank you all three for being with us. HUNTER-GAULT: Still to come, Nicaraguan peace talks, President Arias and running mate options. Talking Peace HUNTER-GAULT: We look now at the prospects for peace in Nicaragua and throughout Central America. As we reported, top officials of the Sandinista government and the contra resistance begin peace talks in the capital of Managua late today. The first such meeting in the Nicaraguan capital. These talks follow more technical cease fire negotiations that have been going on in the town of Sopoa, and which have led to a 60 day cease fire in the six year long civil war that has left more than 25,000 Nicaraguans dead. In a moment we'll have a newsmaker interview with the man who helped set this peace process in motion, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez. But first, from correspondent Charles Krause, a report on how the warring Nicaraguans came to the peace table
CHARLES KRAUSE: In many ways, what happened in Sopoa was as dramatic as it was unexpected. After three days of tense negotiations, the contras and Sandinistas announced a watershed agreement. The government agreed to the immediate release of 100 political prisoners. The U. S. --backed rebels agreed to a 60 day cease fire. Both agreed to a second round of negotiations which began today in Managua to try to reach a permanent cease fire and with it an end to six years of fighting. Negotiating for the Sandinistas, Defense Minister Humberto Ortega. On his negotiating team, Paul Reichler, the Sandinistas Washington lawyer. Reichler says the momentum for peace was made possible inadvertently early last month when the Reagan Administration failed to back a contra aid package sponsored by Speaker of the House Jim Wright. JIM WRIGHT, Speaker of the House: The ayes are 208, the nays are 216. And the bill is not agreed to. PAUL REICHLER, Nicaraguan Government attorney: Only five out of 170 some odd Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for that package, and as a result it went down in defeat. And with it, the contras' hopes for humanitarian aid were extinguished. The contras saw that, and this is not speculation on my part, this was talked about openly in the meetings that we had in San Juan. The contras saw that as a betrayal by President Reagan and the Republicans in Congress
KRAUSE: Alfredo Cesar is a top contra leader and was a member of the rebels' negotiating team in Sopoa. He says it's true, the contras decided to negotiate because they'd become disillusioned with the Reagan Administration. ALFREDO CESAR, contra leader: It was evident, at least for me, at a certain moment, that when we didn't see the actions from Congress nor the Administration, to keep on supporting the war, and as I said before, neither to abandon us completely, that we had to do something in the middle to prove to them that we were in fact capable and willing to test Sandinistas' intentions at the negotiating table. Really. And honestly and in good faith. And I think that's what Sopoa has brought about.
KRAUSE: Richard Millet is a professor of military history at Southern Illinois University. The author of more than 60 books and articles on Central America, he's perhaps the country's leading academic expert on Nicaragua. KRAUSE: What was most significant about the agreement in Sopoa? RICHARD MILLETT, Southern Illinois University: It's significant because it does shift the focus. The Sandinistas had previously to even recognize the legitimacy on the part of the armed opposition. The armed opposition had, I think, seen the possibility of victory, or at least of a U. S. victory which would put them in a commanding position in a later Nicaragua. And both sides I think began to realize the strategy was simply too costly, and so instead of searching for military victory, now searched for negotiated peace.
KRAUSE: The Sandinistas had never been in any immediate danger of being defeated militarily. But six years of war had left an estimated 50,000 Nicaraguans dead, and thousands more maimed and injured. In addition, Nicaragua's economy has been virtually destroyed. There are long lines for almost everything. Gasoline, food, water, electricity are all in short supply. By last year, unrest over the economic crisis and the military draft was beginning to threaten the Sandinistas politically. One result, President Daniel Ortega signed the Arias Peace Plan last August, promising to restore full political freedoms to Nicaragua once the contras agreed to a cease fire. Mr. REICHLER: Now that the two sides have reached agreement setting forth a procedure whereby the contras ultimately will lay down their arms and reincorporate themselves into the civil life of the country, the government is prepared to go forward toward full democratization that the Central American Peace Agreement requires.
KRAUSE: But for the contras and for the United States, the question now is, If the rebels do lay down their arms, can the Sandinistas be trusted to fulfill their part of the bargain, the full democratization of Nicaragua? Mr. CESAR: It's very difficult to believe, extremely difficult to believe them. But nonetheless, one has to be a realist.
KRAUSE: Cesar was President of Nicaragua's Central Bank until he split with the government in 1982. He says the has no illusions, but it's time to test the Sandinistas once again. Mr. CESAR: I mean, there are a series of important variables that have changed the situation in reality in Nicaragua over the past years. And I think it's a mistake if we go to the other way and just say, Never a Marxist/Leninist regime has negotiated in good faith or anything negotiated with that is dumb. They will never comply -- I think that's a mistake to take that attitude. I also think it's a mistake to believe 100% what the Sandinistas are now saying.
KRAUSE: Since the Arias Accord last summer, the Sandinistas have allowed Nicaragua's only opposition newspaper La Prensa to resume publication. And Reichler says the Sandinistas have assured him there will be free and fair elections as scheduled, two years from now. Mr. REICHLER: And if that means that another party wins, the Sandinistas lose, that they will gracefully hand over the government to whichever party wins the election. KRAUSE: And you believe them? Mr. REICHLER: I do
KRAUSE: But Millett for one is skeptical. Prof. MILLETT: I don't think these people are closet democrats who've only been forced to adopt democratic means because of the opposition. They were adopting some of these means long before there was an armed opposition. Their own speeches and writings make it very clear that they certainly have a preference for a Marxist/Leninist system, which is not within the Western context at least what we would call democratic. They consider themselves the vanguard of a revolution, which they believe is irreversible, and indeed any effort to reverse it they would see as virtually the equivalent of treason to the nation. But I think the Sandinistas have decided that they can place limits on their exercise of power without jeopardizing their holdout power. Limiting the exercise of the power, but always having if needed the ability to reinstitute such controls.
KRAUSE: In Washington, the Reagan Administration and many Democrats are also skeptical of the Sandinistas' real intentions. They have established close ties with Cuba and the Soviet Union. Ortega was in Moscow not more than six months ago, and the Sandinistas do consider themselves revolutionaries. But Reichler says the Sandinistas have also been tempered by years of fighting the contras, and are today less ideological. Like other governments, he says, the Sandinistas can be counted on to act in their own self interests. Mr. REICHLER: Establishment of a communist totalitarian, Soviet allied state is clearly not in their interests. Indeed, it leads inevitably to their own destruction. And they see that as well. It's not what they have in mind, it's not what services them. Mr. CESAR: In private, what they reflect is a lot more realism than I can remember six years ago. Six years ago, those people were thinking in terms that we're completely out of this world, in terms of what they could do and what they could achieve. I find them six years later a lot more down to earth in what the limits are.
KRAUSE: There are many obstacles to peace in Nicaragua. But perhaps the most important is the Sandinista party's control over the army and the police. Since the Sandinistas' triumph in 1979, what was a guerilla army has become by far the largest and most powerful conventional military force in Central America. With the help of Cuban trainers and Soviet equipment, Nicaragua now has more than 70,000 men and women under arms. They're well trained and well indoctrinated. The contras argue there can't be democracy in Nicaragua as long as the army and the police belong to one political party, not to the government and the country as a whole. Cesar says there can be no permanent cease fire until the Sandinistas agree to give up control. Mr. CESAR: How can we trust to live in a democratic Nicaragua if they control the guns? Now, that's the kind of answer that they have to give to our concern. We'll see in the future what the reaction is. We don't have any indication at this moment what their answer's going to be. Mr. REICHLER: I think that's a very important issue, I think it's going to be discussed seriously, and I think serious efforts will be made to try to come to a solution which will be acceptable to all sides. Prof. MILLETT: (unintelligible) commits you nothing. But beyond that, I think they recognize the fact that there has to be some at least face saving devices here, some, again, indications of a willingness to limit this area of their power. This is an important area for negotiations. The question, the bottom line is what are you really negotiating? And if the contras, the opposition, thinks that they're negotiating the Sandinistas having any ties with the military, if they're negotiating a military which could step in and throw out the Sandinistas, and would step aside and let somebody else do it, I don't think their approach is very realistic.
KRAUSE: The question now, Will the Reagan Administration support or try to undermine the peace negotiations which finally began today? Reichler says the U. S. attitude is crucial. Mr. REICHLER: If the United States wants this process to succeed, it will. It may succeed over the objections of the United States. It may. But it certainly will succeed if the United States supports the process.
KRAUSE: Cesar disagrees. KRAUSE: What do you see as the principal obstacles to a permanent cease fire? Mr. CESAR: The degree that the Sandinistas are willing to democratize Nicaragua. That's the main obstacle. If they're thinking that by only giving nominal concessions we're going to achieve a permanent cease fire, they're wrong. That's not going to happen. And our fighters would not do it. They would just do nothing. They stop permanently the war or lay down their arms. So the main obstacle will be how far the Sandinistas are willing to go into a full democratization of Nicaragua. That's the only way to achieve permanent peace.
KRAUSE: Clearly there are those within the Reagan Administration and the contra leadership who want the war to continue. But for the first time in six years the guns in Nicaragua are silent. And there's a chance that if the contras and the Sandinistas negotiate in good faith, what is now a temporary truce could become a permanent peace. Oscar Arias Interview HUNTER-GAULT: Joining us now, President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his Central America Peace Initiative. Mr. President, welcome. How optimistic are you about what is about to begin in Managua today? Pres. OSCAR ARIAS, Costa Rican President: I am optimistic. I think that we have proved in Nicaragua that dialogue sometimes is miraculous. That we can expect many, many things from negotiations. We have land that after so many years of war the best solution, the civilized solution is to try to solve our conflicts talking toeach other. And something else, we are teaching the whole world that we Central Americans can solve our world problems if we are left alone. In this case, the Nicaraguan people, the contras and the Sandinistas are talking to each other and this is what I have proposed for the last year. And I am optimistic because the results are quite positive. HUNTER-GAULT: The preliminary talks that were going on in Sopoa bogged down on negotiating the cease fire, and that was supposed to be the easy part. And so now the process is delayed getting started in Managua. What does that augur for the future of a permanent peace if there's this kind of difficulty over the so called easy part? Pres. ARIAS: Well, still there are many difficulties. Perhaps the main obstacle as we have found out is dogmatism, lack of tolerance, intransigence, lack of mutual confidence between the two parties. But my experience is that once you sit down and talk, you have to be prepared for long talks, you'll be able to reach agreements. So let's wait and we'll see that both parties don't want to go on with the war. The mothers, the peasants, the workers, the intellectuals. We are tired in Central America of so much war. The main responsibility of a political leader is to build the richer society, the more prosperous society. And in Central America, with exception of Costa Rica, the Central American peoples are getting poorer and poorer every day. That is the case of Guatemala, Salvador, Nicaragua, and even Honduras. And the main reason is lack of peace. HUNTER-GAULT: You just listed a series of things, including dogmatism, etc. , is there any one major obstacle to peace that you see? In the taped piece they talked about the Sandinista control of the army and police, and there are other things. Is there any one thing that you see has to be surmounted in order to get the settlement achieved? Pres. ARIAS: Well, if the cease fire is reached, I think a durable peace can only be obtained if democracy prevails. You know, perhaps the American people are not aware that the main difference between the contradora proposal and the Costa Rican peace initiative is the fact that Contera was mainly interested or worried about the security of each country. HUNTER-GAULT: That was an earlier peace proposal before. Pres. ARIAS: Yes. While in our initiative we are mainly concerned about democracy. Because we believe, and this is undoubtedly true, and this is something we share with the U. S. people, with all of you, without democracy we won't be able to reach the durable peace. And without peace we won't be able to increase the standard of living of our peoples in the region. So the essence of the Arias Plan, or the Costa Rican Peace Initiative, is democracy. So once a cease fire is reached in Nicaragua, perhaps the main obstacle will be to convince the Sandinista government and Daniel Ortega to democratize, to comply with the Guatemala Accord. And the essence of that accord is democracy for Nicaragua. HUNTER-GAULT: You spoke about, during your visit to this country this week, about Russian cynicism about the process. When you suggested to the Reagan Administration that they put Central America high on the list of agenda items to be discussed between the Soviet Union and the United States at the upcoming summit, how encouraged were you by the response you got, and do you think that this kind of high level U. S. /Russian involvement is essential to insuring the democracy that you talk about? Pres. ARIAS: Yes, I think it is very important for PresidentReagan to talk to Mr. Gorbachev about the conflicts in the region, in Central America. I don't know if you'll recall that I sent a letter to Mr. Gorbachev. I told him that in this country I had had the opportunity to talk to President Reagan personally and convey to him points of view concerning the problems in the region. I also addressed the U. S. Congress and through the mass media the U. S. public knows what I believe in. That's not the case with the Soviet Union. So I decided to write the letter to Mr. Gorbachev. And I asked him to stop supporting the guerillas in Central America and to cut military aid to the Sandinista government, because you know that the Sandinista army is the strongest army in the region. And when I had talked about cynicism is that the answer I got is that they are not involved in the region, that it is not true that they are supporting the guerillas in El Salvador and Guatemala, and this of course is not true. HUNTER-GAULT: Were you encouraged by the response you got from the Reagan Administration that this would be put on the agenda? Pres. ARIAS: Well, I do hope they haven't said that -- they haven't replied to me with a yes or with a no. But I do hope that this will be an important item in the agenda for the next summit. HUNTER-GAULT: Can I just turn very quickly to the situation in your neighboring state, Panama, where the situation seems to be stalemated after two months. Some of the members of Congress are critical of governments in the region for not speaking up on Noriega, that in effect they are leaving the dirty work to the United States to get rid of Noriega. What's your response? I mean, do the governments in the region want to get rid of Noriega? Pres. ARIAS: My impression, and my belief, more than my impression, is that in the case of Panama, again unless there is democracy you won't be able to resolve the Panamanian conflict. And there will be no peace in Panama unless the Panamanian people can elect through the ballot box the next president. Of course, we always believe that the military should be subordinated to the civilians. We don't want the military to rule, to govern in Latin America, and especially in Central America. HUNTER-GAULT: But how do you -- Pres. ARIAS: But how -- okay -- but how to deal with this. When President Felipe Gonzalez visited Costa Rica, it was only ten days ago, we proposed a negotiated solution to the conflict in Panama. We proposed the same recommendation that we offered to the Sandinista government, the mediation of the Catholic Church -- in this case, the mediation of Archbishop Magrac. And I must tell you that I'm very sorry because both parties, the Civic Crusade, the political parties from the opposition, as well as the Solis Palma government, have not been very supportive of the mediation Archbishop Magrac. But my main concern is that with the economic sanctions, you won't achieve anything. You are hurting the Panamanian people, but you are not hurting Noriega. HUNTER-GAULT: But there is some sentiment, some agreement with you on that, and those some who agree with you on that feel that the only answer is U. S. military intervention. How would that be regarded in the region? Pres. ARIAS: It would be opposed by it. The whole of Latin America. HUNTER-GAULT: So without negotiations on the table and opposition to a military solution, what's the answer? Pres. ARIAS: You see, why don't we put some more pressure on Noriega on one side, or the Panamanian government on one side, and the opposition on the otherfor this dialogue to be started? HUNTER-GAULT: More pressure, economic, or ? Pres. ARIAS: Well, no, let us persuade people. Why do we have to conquer people? Let us persuade people, convince people. Only two months ago, no one expected that the contras would be sitting with the Sandinista government in Sopoa. And look what has happened. So why don't we do the same with Panama? HUNTER-GAULT: Well, we'll look forward to that day. Thank you very much, President Arias, for being with us. Filling the Ticket LEHRER: Finally tonight, some thoughts about George Bush and selecting a Vice Presidential running mate. They are those of our Washington essayist, Roger Mudd. ANNOUNCER: After today, the next visit to Shea Stadium or any other ballpark for that matter, may be as the President of the United States. ROGER MUDD: George Bush is counting his chickens. George Bush is nailing it down. With only 250 delegates to go, George Bush is looking ahead, putting together his team to run the convention figuring on how best to use Ronald Reagan, playing hard to get for the fall debates. It's been a long time since a presidential candidate got such an early lock on the nomination. Which means there's only one George Bush game left to play, and they're playing it right here at the Vice President's residence. The game is: Who will be the running mate? Richard Nixon says it ought to be Howard Baker. Howard Baker says it ought to be George Deukmeijian. So everybody has a ticket. All the talk shows do tickets. Bush/Kemp, Bush/Dole. Bush/Dole? Bush/Cane, Bush/Thompson, Bush/Alexander, Bush/Armstrong. Robert Novac, the columnist, says, Bush/O'Connor. What does George Bush himself say? George Bush himself says it is too early to start thinking about any running mate. Could he be serious or could he be cautious again, wanting to wait perhaps until the Democrats pick their ticket? Bush says talking about a running mate before his own nomination is final projects a certain arrogance he does not want to project. But why not? What could be more important than a running mate? Let's go to the videotape. UNIDENTIFIED GENTLEMAN: Mr. Vice President, are you prepared to take the oath of office as President of the United States? GERALD FORD: I am, sir.
MUDD: The vice presidency is now the single most significant stepping stone to the White House. In fact, the original purpose of the vice presidency, that is, to have someone to step in, has been so warped by an imperial staff, a bloated budget an enormous residence, a personal jet, his own entrance music, that the incumbent begins with a huge political advantage over his competitors. For instance, fourteen of this century's 19 vice presidents have actually sought the presidential nomination. HUBERT HUMPHREY: I proudly accept the nomination of our party.
MUDD: And five, about to be six, but five of the last eight vice presidents have actually been nominated for it. In addition, accidental ascension to the White House occurs an average of once every 16. 5 years. Listen to the list. Since William Henry Harrison became the first president to die in office: 1841, Harrison, pneumonia; 1850, Taylor, cholera; 1865, Lincoln, shot; 1881, Garfield, shot; 1901, McKinley, shot; 1923, Harding, stroke; 1945, Roosevelt, cerebral hemorrhage; 1963, Kennedy, shot; 1974, Nixon, resignation. So by the law of historical averages, we are due again for some sort of vacancy in early 1990. Even with such forbidding statistics, many of our presidential candidates persist in selecting as running mates less than the best. Of the last ten presidential nominees four could be considered above average, two about average, and four actually below average One of the great enemies of careful selection of course, is haste. And the pressure of a convention, when the candidate and his staff are in a frenzy, worrying about a credential spite, a minority flank, or the acceptance speech. Even Walter Mondale, himself the beneficiary of Jimmy Carter's careful, systematic search for a running mate, failed to learn the lesson when he picked his own running mate in 1984. WALTER MONDALE: The nation is thrilled by this decision. You can hear it, you can see it.
MUDD: The dilemma appears close to insoluble. Running mates generally get picked for what they can do for the ticket in November, and not what they can do for the nation every 16. 5 years. Perhaps it's time to take a fresh look at the vice presidency. The vice president has no real duties to speak of. It costs the country a minimum of $3 million a year to have one, and it's hard to think of one who has actually earned his pay. Perhaps we should do what historian Arthur Schlesinger suggests: Pass a 26th Amendment to the Constitution, abolish the Vice Presidency and provide for a special election within 60 days of a vacancy between candidates selected by the national committees of the two political parties. Your move, Mr. Bush. Recap HUNTER-GAULT: Once again today's top stories. Italian police issued an international arrest warrant for a Japanese Red Army terrorist in yesterday's USO bombing in Italy. U. S. --backed contras are scheduled to return to Nicaragua's capital of Managua for the first time in several years, to begin peace talks with the Sandinista government. And President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica said on the NewsHour that U. S. military intervention in Panama would be opposed by all of Latin America. Good night, Jim. LEHRER: Good night, Charlayne. We'll see you on Monday night. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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This episode's headline: New York Stakes; Talking Peace; Oscar Arias; Filling the Ticket. The guests include In New York: GERALD AUSTIN, Jackson Campaign Manager; FRED MARTIN, Gore Campaign Manager; Pres. OSCAR ARIAS, Costa Rican President; In Boston: JACK CORRIGAN, Dukakis Operations Manager; REPORTS FROM NEWSHOUR CORRESPONDENTS: CHARLES KRAUSE. Byline: In New York: CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, National Correspondent; In Washington: JIM LEHRER, Associate Editor
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1988-04-15, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 24, 2024,
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APA: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from