Elliott Abrams, the architect of the Reagan administration's Central American policy, said the bipartisan Contra aid package announced Friday by President Bush "does not solve the problem of what to do about communism in Nicaragua."
Abrams, former assistant secretary of state for Latin America and now a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative "think tank" in Washington, said in an interview that the $40 million humanitarian aid package "achieves one very important goal: It keeps the Contras alive as a potential pressure point on the Sandinistas. That is good."But, he said, "The bipartisan meeting is on very narrow ground. The question is what will the mood be in the fall when the Sandinistas cancel elections, or cheat."
Abrams said, "It doesn't seem to me to solve the problem of what to do about communism in Nicaragua."
He said the answer to Sandinista cheating should be a resumption of military aid to the Contras and he thinks that it would be possible to achieve that in 10 months "because there will be a tremendous amount of unhappy Democrats" if the Sandinistas renege on their pledge to hold free elections.
"The Sandinistas are not going to risk giving up power to the opposition," said Abrams, "and if they don't risk it, it will not be an election, it will be a farce. I think they won't risk it."
He said the aid package appears to be the first stop toward building a policy of bipartisanship on the issues of Central America.
Abrams, who was the most vocal supporter for continued military aid for the Contra forces, found himself isolated and mistrusted by members of Congress in his final year in office when evidence emerged in the Iran-Contra hearings that he had misled Congress on several issues, including the amount and the source of financial assistance for the Nicaraguan armed opposition force.