Nicaragua's revolutionary Sandinista leadership appears to have reached a series of compromises with the nation's private business leaders, effectively ending the worst political crisis here since the revolution in July.
The crisis began last month with the resignation of the only two non-Sandinistas in the five-member governing junta and a strike that shut down Nicaragua's only independent newspaper.
Business leaders initially feared that they might entirely lose their voice in Nicaragua's increasingly leftist government. But the Sandinistas moved quickly to reassure the private sector in a series of meetings.
Well-informed sources say that talks between the Sandinistas and businessmen are continuing, but the the Sandinistas already have met several key demands made by the nation's entrepreneurs.
Early this week the Sandinistas publicly announced an end to the state of emergency that gave the government sweeping powers for the last nine months. They have also initiated a law giving private citizens, the right to appeal government action in the courts.
Sources close to the negotiations with the businessmen said that the Sandinistas have agreed to work harder to end illegal confiscations of land and factories by peasant and worker organizations.
A new law guaranteeing freedom of the press, requested by the private sector, is expected to be one of the first acts taken by the newly formed, 47-member Council of State. The council is primarily an advisory body.
A key bargaining point between business leaders and the Sandinistas was the question of when elections for municipal posts and a constitutional assembly will be held. The issue has not been entirely resolved, but usually well informed sources said they expect that on or before the July 19 anniversary of the Sandinista triumph, the Sandinista Front will announce a specific date for municipal elections next year.
During the bargaining sessions, which in recent days have stretched from late afternoon to the small hours of the morning, the private sector indicated it would not participate in the Council of State unless its demand were recognized.
The leader of the National Democratic Movement, businessman Alfonso Robelo, whose resignation from the governing junta on April 22 helped precipitate the crisis, maintains that Sandinista-backed changed in the composition of the council are illegal. The changes raised Sandinista representation from one-third to a majority.
Nicaragua's business organizations backed Robelo and demanded that the council be returned to its earlier form.
Until yesterday, there remained a chance that several of the country's smaller political parties and the six representatives of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise would boycott the Council of State, along with Robelo.
But today at the first meeting of the council, the Superior Council on Private National Democratic Movement definitively refused to participate and the Naitonal Democratic Movement had only one council seat.
"I don't think we will ever join," Robelo told a reporter. Speaking of the uncontested elections of all the council's officers today, Robelo said, "You see right there the Sandinistas' absolute majority working. It's not very democratic."
But, democratic or not, the choice of administrative officers also clearly contained another concession to the private sector.The uncontested nomination of a member of the Superior Council on Private Enterprise as one of the three council vice presidents was made by Bayardo Arce, the council's ranking Sandinista and its new president.
The cooperation between the leftist Sandinistas and the private business interests of Nicaragua is widely considered vital to the reconstruction of the nation's nearly bankrupt economy.
The record of the Sandinistas so far suggests that despite the Marxist orientation of many of their leaders, they are considerably more conciliatory toward business than toward leftist extremists who are pushing for more radical socialist policies.
The Nicaraguan Communist Party was not allowed to participate directly in the Council of State. Its affiliated labor organization, the Center for Union Action and Unity, was given one of the 47 seats. When the union attempted to appoint one of its jailed leaders as the delegate, however, the Sandinistas refused to accept or release him. Another delegate was chosen and most of the extreme left-wing leaders in the country still remain imprisoned or in hiding.