85. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • “Group of Twelve”
  • Sergio Ramirez (intellectual)
  • Miguel D’Escoto (priest)
  • Emilio Baltadano (businessman)
  • Richard Feinberg, Member, Policy Planning Staff


  • Objectives of the Sandinistas

Sergio Ramirez and Miguel D’Escoto said that a truly radical solution could very well leave Nicaragua worse off. The Sandinistas were not anti U.S. Indeed, in the document released during the seizure of the National Palace, which Ramirez described as moderate if poorly [Page 232] written by the combatants themselves, the U.S. was barely mentioned; moreover, one of the references to the U.S. was favorable.

D’Escoto described the objective of the Group of Twelve as being to unite the various opposition forces, a task that had been accomplished in forming the FAO (“Frente Amplio”). The FAO has called for the renunciation of Somoza and the formation of a national unity government, as has Archbishop Ovando y Bravo. However, when pressed, they did not have a clear idea as to how this new government would be formed, saying that would have to be decided as the process developed. In the seizure of the Palace, the Sandinistas had not demanded Somoza’s resignation because it was impractical, not because they did not seek that goal.

Ramirez said that there were only three forces in Nicaragua—the National Guard (GN), the private sector, and the Sandinistas—and all had to be included in any solution. The traditional parties were largely vestigal. The GN certainly had some relatively honest officers who could participate in a civico-military government, although they did not know who they were (D’Escoto mentioned privately that while most Sandinistas would be happy with this solution, the Proletarian Tendency fraction could be a problem).

They warned that the FSLN would rapidly radicalize if bloodshed continued. Obviously an FSLN that came to power after militarily defeating the GN would be radical.

As for U.S. policy, they agreed with the concept of non-intervention, asking only that policy be clarified and made consistent with Carter’s stance on human rights. D’Escoto recognized that President Carter’s recent letter to Somoza2 was being distorted by Somoza and the media. Ramirez added that Somoza was very responsive to U.S. opinion, and that the U.S. could remove him if it wanted.

Feinberg suggested that they maintain contact with the U.S. Embassy to keep it informed of their positions. They responded that it was not convenient for them to be seen associating with the Embassy. They asked that this meeting be kept secret, and said they would deny it had occurred if asked.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 33, Nicaragua: 8/78. Confidential.
  2. See Document 76.