NICARAGUA'S UPHEAVALS have attracted the customary crisis crowd of debt collectors, foreign mercenaries, reporters and secret agents. But the Intercontinental Hotel in Managua now harbors an unusual group whose common denominator is that they are thin, male, white Americans and very quiet for a crowd of 108.
They are a peace squad dispatched by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, or as they label themselves, "Executive Gobernors of the World Government of the Age of Enlightenment."
Every morning and afternoon they gather to meditate in a hermetically sealed hall, where the floor, to the consternation of the hotel staff, is covered with 50 mattresses and sheets.
"We are part of a world program to neutralize violence based on the transcendental meditation technique," explained Jonathan Gordon, a former city planner from Cambridge, Mass.
The group, Gordon said, has taken the so-called advanced Sidhi program.
"We have heightened our skills to exercise influence over an area with our minds," he said. "We are able to increase orderliness, generate more positivity and so through the fundamental field of human consciousness calm down the environment."
Nicaragua was the first nation to receive such a group, but there are now teams in the neighboring countries "to make things smooth in Central America generally," Gordon said. More such governors, most of whom have given up their jobs to join the peace program, are to be dispatched to Iran, South Africa, Rhodesia and Thailand, he said.
According to coordinator Thomas Zimmer, "We are now offering our services to all governments so they can hire teams to come in before violence escalates."
The men, who keep the hotel cooks busy thinking up vegetarian meals, rarely leave the building except for a small group that scouts for new meditation recruits in town and has met with embattled President Somoza. There was no comment on what the president said.
Two weeks ago a U.S. consul informed the group that the hotel where they were staying might be attacked and that American diplomats had already hastily moved out.
"We called the maharishi in Switzerland to ask him if we should mive," said Zimmer. "More potential violence?" the maharishi asked. 'Good, stay there and I will send down reinforcements.'"
Did this group know that there were people killed in Nicaragua every day and that the atmosphere here was like a pressure cooker?
"We don't read the papers," Gordon replied. "We just do our work and we're confident that it's us who are keeping the lid on."