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Negotiations with Frente Andres Castro will not be easy
From Strategic Pastoral Action, 14 September 1997
While in Managua several Ministers are packing their bags to spend the Fiestas Patrias (Central American Independence Day) in other countries, in the mountains of Siuna and the North Atlantic the members of FUAC (Frente Unido Andres Castro) are on the lookout for how they might spend the 23 September, during the meeting between the general staff of their armed rising and representatives of the government. In discussions in recent months, the government has concentrated its efforts on disarming FUAC; on its part, the insurgent organization has said that this won't be done until its demands are met, which are mainly socioeconomic, and which are backed by the campesinos.
"We've been tolerant," says Lt.Col. Leonardo Guatemala, chief of the military unit in Siuna, "but FUAC has not respected the areas to which they were assigned by the government. [The policy of the government for some time has been to define geographical areas as reservations wherein the various re-armed groups must confine themselves.] Nevertheless, we are going to exhaust all the mechanisms because there is no way out but negotiation, and they're finally going to see this." But apparently the members of Frente Andres Castro are thinking of solutions deeper into their demands, when they say that they're not going to disarm only with promises and signatures on paper. "We're waiting the results of the talks between the Army and our own general staff; if they perform, we'll perform; and if they say that we're going to fall at the top, we'll see it here; if they want "runga", we'll give them "runga" [=undeclared war], declared a confident young campesino, Juan Ramos, from Hormiguero, who has been enlisted for seven months in FUAC and now in charge of the detachment guarding the bridge over the Rio Wani.
On his part, Humberto Ruiz, known as "Montan~ita" in the ranks of FUAC, said that they're close to fulfilling the agreements that they singed at Labu, and that on the contrary it's been the Army that has failed to respect the areas, provoking a confrontation, which is not a prudent attitude on the part of its chiefs. Nevertheless, he warned that the siutation must not be repeated.
The old warrior said that the Army recently called on all the cattle ranchers and producers to feel out the situation in the zone and they told them that to touch FUAC would be very dangerous because they have much backing among the campesinos. "All the communities here are FUAC, we are not just a hundred of us, and to touch the people of Andres Castro is "jodido." [the dirtiest word in Nicaragua: it means ruined, deteriorated, something like totally fucked up. It was reportedly A.C. Sandino's last word, when he was assassinated by Somoza's thugs.] Many campesinos that live in the environs of the Saslaya National Park hope that the armed movement will include in its negotiations with the government a promise to take out the families that have invaded the forests round the park, who are threatening the water levels of the area's rivers.
"Now Camilo Turcios goes with all these demands in his knapsack," said Humberto, who also expressed that they rose up in arms as the only alternative to defend themselves from the armed bands that have killed hundreds of campesinos for the only offense of being Sandinista cooperants or sympathizers. Among other demands, FUAC demands respect for the property of cooperatives and the beneficiaries of land reform, security in the countryside, financing for production, the meeting of basic services for the campesino population in the areas of health, education, protecting natural resources, work opportunities, and the irradication of misery in the countryside.
[from BARRICADA, 13 September] BARRICADA is the official organ of the Frente Sandinista Liberacion Nacional (FSLN). FUAC seems to be doing in the 90's what the FSLN did in the 70's.