Four major leaders of Nicaragua's powerful business community were arrested yesterday in a move that appeared likely to spark a new political crisis for the Sandinista revolutionary government.
The government did not announce the reason for their arrests, but observers here pointed out that the business leaders recently distributed here and abroad a communique criticizng the government's "undeniable Marxist-Leninist line."
Nicaragua's ambassador in Washington, Arturo Cruz, said the arrests were made because the communique "was construed to have a destablizing effect on the economy." He pointed out that at least one leader of Nicaragua's small Communist Party was also arrested on similar charges.
The communique signed by the businessmen was quoted Tuesday in U.S. Senate discussions before the Senate approved an amendment to a foreign aid bill providing a $33.3 million aid package for Nicaragua, but limiting all funds to the country's private sector. At least one of the arrested men, Enrique Dreyfus, president of the High Council of Private Enterprise, had visited Washington frequently to lobby for the amendment.
The other men reportedly arrested are Enrique Bolanos, president of the Chamber of Commerce; Benjamin Lanzas, president of the Chamber of Construction, and Gilberto Cuadra, president of the Federation of Nicaraguan Professionals.
Since taking power in July 1979 Nicaragua's Sandinista rulers have insisted that they want to organize a mixed economy with the cooperation of the private sector. But the uneasy alliance has been plagued by difficulties, with the businessmen accusing the Sandinistas of restricting political and economic freedoms and the revolutionaries accusing the businessmen of failing to contribute to the country's economic development.