Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 80 | Febrero 1988


Central America

Conclusions of the CIVS Report on Compliance

Envío team

Documents (unofficial translations) (Conclusions)
1. The International Commission on Verification and Follow-up of the Guatemala Procedure has noted the clear desire of the Central American peoples for peace, their longing for the establishment or perfection of democratic, pluralistic and participatory government, which are the result of their will as freely expressed at the polls and which will assure the full enjoyment of human rights, economic development, and the overcoming of unjust and obsolete social structures, as well as the legitimate right to decide their own free destinies without outside interference. This strong desire of the Central American peoples for peace and political, economic, and social democratization is being blocked by a geopolitical fight that does not concern them and by domineering interests that have nothing to do with their own aspirations.

2. Hoping to help achieve these legitimate aspirations, which are the underlying reason for the Esquipulas II agreements, the International Verification and Follow-up Commission wants to make the following points regarding compliance by the five Central American governments with the commitments they made when they signed the Guatemala Procedure for establishing firm and lasting peace in the region.

3. The five Central American countries, despite some initial reservations, have complied with the commitment in the Procedure to form National Reconciliation Commissions.

4. There has not been a uniformity of interpretation by the five countries regarding either the criteria for organizing the National Reconciliation Commission or the way in which they make decisions. It would be well if the difficulties that have arisen were overcome.

5. In the spirit of reconciliation that sustains the Procedure it is desirable that the countries "that are experiencing deep divisions within their societies" include among the members of the National Reconciliation Commission figures who represent the political parties or groups that are politically close to the irregular forces or insurgent movements, with the aim of strengthening their mission of reconciliation, as is the case in Nicaragua and was the case in El Salvador.

6. In effect, in the case of El Salvador, the original organization reflected the criteria set forth in the previous paragraph, but the withdrawal from the National Reconciliation Commission of the representatives of the opposition political parties has created an unforeseen situation which affects its work.

7. As concerns the commitment to dialogue with all internal political opposition groups and any who have accepted the amnesty, the International Verification and Follow-up Commission has found that in Nicaragua, where this dialogue was begun, it has been suspended because of the withdrawal of the opposition parties. In the case of El Salvador, the International Verification and Follow-up Commission has found that the government has carried on dialogue with wide sectors of the political opposition but that some of them consider the government to have given priority to the dialogue with the armed opposition. In Honduras and Costa Rica, according to information provided by the government in the first case and the opposition in the second, the internal dialogue takes place through the exercise of unrestricted freedom of expression in the political institutions of those countries which result in elections. For the rest, with respect to the dialogue with the political opposition, the International Verification and Follow-up Commission is convinced that it is necessary to persist and deepen the national reconciliation efforts.

8. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have issued amnesty decrees, despite reservations in the case of Honduras regarding the applicability of this commitment.

In the case of Costa Rica the International Verification and Follow-up Commission does not consider it necessary for it to issue an amnesty decree. However, since certain foreigners who reside in Costa Rica are the beneficiaries of amnesties decreed in their countries of origin, the International Commission recommends that this government study these cases so they may obtain their freedom.

9. As concerns the content and goals of the amnesty decrees, critical assessments have been made in certain cases. In the specific case of El Salvador, where a general amnesty has been issued based on the idea of forgive-and-forget, the International Commission has noted that the amnesty decree has benefited political prisoners; but that only a period of fifteen days was allowed for those under arms to avail themselves of it.

10. In the case of Nicaragua, although the government of this country has issued an amnesty decree to those who have taken up arms that continues to be in force and has issued a law of pardon, the entry of the amnesty decree into force for prisoners has been conditioned on certification by the International Verification and Follow-up Commission of compliance in the cessation of aid to irregular forces by states within and outside the region, as well as the non-use of territory for destabilizing attacks.

11. As regards the scope of application of the amnesty, the International Commission has heard testimony that previous governments in several countries systematically practiced to a varying degree the physical elimination of captured members of irregular groups or insurgent forces who could have availed themselves of the recent decrees issued by the present governments.

12. It should be understood that the purpose of the amnesty is to open up political spaces in some countries to allow opposition groups, mainly those who have taken up arms, to rejoin democratic life. It is consequently premature to issue a definitive judgment on the effectiveness of the amnesty decree as an instrument of national reconciliation.

13. Point 3 of the Guatemala Procedure sets forth a broad scheme for democratization, difficult to achieve in scarcely five months in a region characterized by a turbulent history.

14. It is fair to recognize the stability and broad level of development of the democratic institutions of Costa Rica.

15. In the case of Nicaragua, the International Commission has been able to confirm that it has made concrete steps toward initiating a democratic process in spite of the wartime suffering. Nevertheless, certain spokespersons of opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations have said that greater distinction needs to be observed between state and party institutions and the exercise of civil and political rights needs to be more widely assured.

16. According to the vast majority of information sources consulted, the intention of the Central American Presidents to make the effective participation of diverse currents of opinion in democratic life possible and to promote the protection of human rights is impeded in certain countries by abuses of authority by security forces and by the action of paramilitary groups. The International Commission also received accusations of human rights violations committed by irregular forces or insurgent movements.

17. The International Verification and Follow-up Commission has confirmed that no state of exception, siege or emergency exists in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. The Commission has received information that a decree-law is in effect in El Salvador that allows authorities to detain a person for more than seventy-two hours. In Nicaragua, the lifting of the state of emergency is subject to the Commission's certification that the aid to irregular forces from states within and outside the region has been stopped and that use of territory for destabilizing other states has ceased. The government said that the application of the state of emergency is applied flexibly in practice. In more than one country the inoperativeness, in practice, of the right of asylum or of habeas corpus means that detentions often occur longer and under worse conditions than provided by law.

18. The International Commission has noted with satisfaction the preparations for establishment of the Central American Parliament in the five countries. The creation of this important institution will represent a significant advance in the democratization process and will fortify the political, social and economic unity of the countries in the region.

19. Despite the efforts made, the lack of agreement on a cease-fire in the countries with irregular forces or insurgent movements and the intensification of fighting since the signing of Esquipulas II, with the consequent human and material losses, is reason for deep concern.

20. There has been no success with the appeals to irregular forces or insurgent movements in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua to agree on a cease-fire to avail themselves of the amnesty and join the political process in their respective countries, as foreseen in the Guatemala Procedure.

21. Despite the exhortation of the Central American Presidents, the government of the United States of America maintains its policy and practice of providing assistance, military in particular, to the irregular forces operating against the government of Nicaragua. The definitive cessation of this assistance continues to be an indispensable requirement for the success of the peace efforts and of this Procedure as a whole.

At the same time we have received the accusation of the government of El Salvador that Nicaragua is secretly sending help to the irregular forces in its country and that suspension of this aid is an indispensable prerequisite for the success of the peace efforts of the Procedure as a whole. The International Verification and Follow-up Commission has received the denial given by the government of Nicaragua regarding this accusation.

22. With respect to the commitment not to utilize the territory of one state to attack another, the International Commission has noted accusations by certain governments of the region and the testimony of nongovernmental sources about the aid that other Central American governments are providing to irregular forces or insurgent movements and the use of territory of certain states to attack others. In this sense, it has received accusations by El Salvador against Nicaragua and by Nicaragua against Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica. The respective governments said that they could not accept such accusations without knowing their basis and substantiation. They expressed their willingness to allow an unconditional inspection of their territories. The International Commission must note that the use of territory of the region’s states to attack others with or without the consent of the government whose territory is being so used facilitates the activities of these irregular forces or movements and makes the attainment of peace. more difficult The International Commission is not yet in a position to verify what was said above because to date it has no power to set up mechanisms for on-site inspection.

23. Regarding compliance with the mandate in point 7 of the Guatemala Procedure, the International Verification and Follow-up Commission took note with satisfaction of the meeting in Caracas on December 10, 1987, to implement the decision of the executive Commission meeting in San José on October 27-28, 1987 to continue negotiations on the pending aspects of the Contadora Act on matters of security, verification and control, and on the disarmament of irregular forces that are ready to avail themselves of the amnesty decrees. The meeting took place with the participation of the five Central American countries and the Contadora Group in exercise of its mediating function.

The negotiations resulted in a refinement of the terms of reference of future negotiations, e.g. commitments on arms and troops; military exercises; procedural and operational aspects of the formation or statutes of the Verification and Follow-Up Commission in matters of security; and means for disarmament of irregular forces.

Agreement was reached on organizing future work and meetings to take place in the Contadora Group countries with their coordination. The next meeting will take place in Panama in the first week of February 1988 and Colombia has offered itself as the site for the subsequent meeting.

24. As regards refugees, the International Commission has noted with satisfaction the steps taken in both creating institutional forms and concrete acts such as protection, assistance and voluntary repatriation, which are clear advances in the search for humanitarian solutions to the region’s problems. In this sense, the holding of an international conference on Central American refugees in the course of this year, sponsored by the governments of the area with collaboration by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees would be a significant contribution to the peace effort. The situation of displaced people continues to be a grave humanitarian problem whose solution requires additional urgent efforts. Achievement of the goal of Esquipulas II would contribute substantially to a real solution of the problem of the refugees and displaced.

25. The goals of Esquipulas II that encompass the achievement of peace through a cessation of hostilities, amnesty, democratization, cessation of aid to irregular forces and insurrectional movements, and the non-use of territory for attacking other states have not been completely achieved as of this date. The fact that peace has not been attained does not detract from the validity of the Guatemala Procedure. It makes a lasting political will for overcoming these obstacles even more imperative.

26. In evaluating the process in complying with the Procedure For Establishing a Firm and Lasting Peace in Central America signed in Guatemala on August 7, 1987, it is important to understand that, just as its name implies, this procedure is a continuing process of ongoing actions. For this reason, 150 days after the signing of the accord, it would be as untrue to deny progress as it would be to claim success.

27. It must be remembered that just as the deterioration of Central America’s political, economic and social structure did not occur suddenly, so peace in the area also cannot be obtained suddenly. The factors are by their nature complex and operate at different levels at the same time. Many of the actors on the Central American scene are not part of the accord signed by the interested parties, who are the region’s heads of state. The challenge is enormous because it wishes to put into practice a consistent, universally satisfactory, simultaneous and verifiable agreement, which applies to certain parties that are part of the conflict but not signatories to the agreement. The task at this stage is not therefore to proclaim the success or failure of a process that is ongoing but rather to evaluate the progress attained, identify the work to be done and find ways to do it.

29. It is necessary to note the concern manifested by various non-Central American members of the International Verification and Follow-up Commission with respect to the modality of participation by the Central American countries, which are parties to the conflict, in the verification task. The Presidents may examine these concerns in their next meeting in order to make a practical distinction between participation in what is properly referred to as verification by the non-Central American members of the International Verification and Follow-up Commission and by the Central Americans. Rigorously defined, this would not require changes in the letter of the Procedure. This subject is at the same time related to another problem, which has been noted in the course of the meetings of the International Verification and Follow-up Commission, which is the lack of a more operative decision-making procedure.

30. One of the primary considerations of the International Verification and Follow-up Commission was the need to establish practical modalities for verification of the accords contained in the Guatemala Procedure. In order to verify the commitments made in security matters—to wit, the cease fire, the non-use of territories for aggression against other states and the cessation of aid to irregular forces and insurgency movements, the necessity for in-situ inspection is a sine qua non requisite for verification if it is to be done objectively, independently and effectively. All members of the International Verification and Follow-up Commission accept this basic premise and no one doubts the need for this mechanism to be duly established in order to be able to begin verification and follow-up.

31. In this regard, the foreign relations ministers who are members of the International Verification and Follow-up Commission agreed to bring to the attention of the Heads and State of the Central American countries the usefulness of asking the Secretaries General of the United Nations and the Organization of American States to send an urgent Technical Mission to the region with the object of finalizing the details of establishing mobile units in the five Central American countries with the characteristics outlined in the second Mission Report.

32. With reference to commitments in the area of democratization, among them respect for human rights as well as free elections of candidates for national office and for the Central American Parliament, and for refugees and displaced persons, the International Verification and Follow-up Commission considers that its verification and follow-up work could be aided by action by international organizations.

33. The International Verification and Follow-up Commission considers it pertinent to note that other factors exist than those of a structural nature that could affect compliance with the Procedure in their totality. These factors are described below.

34. The nature of Esquipulas II consists, more than in formal juridical obligations, in the political commitment that sustains it and in the incontrovertible fact that it has wide grassroots and unanimous international support. Nevertheless, the Procedure could be complemented by stipulations that would facilitate its practical instrumentation, such as a plan of execution and a schedule for the fulfillment of commitments.

35. It has become publicly well known that what permitted an agreement on the Guatemala Procedure was the smoothing out of differences between the parties regarding the sequences of compliance with the different commitments through an agreement that they would be fulfilled simultaneously. The international community expressed admiration for this formula, which healed the apparently irreconcilable differences regarding the conceptual problem of precedence between pacification and democratization.

36. The divergences of opinion, precisely regarding the sequence of actions, brought to light the reality that simultaneous compliance, if not articulated in more detail than the general framework foreseen in Esquipulas II, will be difficult to realize in concrete terms. This is a fundamental and urgent problem that is still not resolved despite the efforts that have been made.

37. The outline of an orderly, chronological plan for implementation of the Procedure assumes negotiation. This complicated and unavoidable task could move ahead decisively during the opportunity offered by the meeting of Presidents in San José.

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