NICARAGUA'S Interior Minister Tomas Borge has rejected a call by the Nicaraguan Catholic bishops to open negotiations with guerrillas.
"This is a criminal suggestion," Barge said in an interview last week.
"The pastoral letter seeks confrontation" with the government "and violates the law of the land," said Sorge, who reiterated government opposition to negotiations with the US-backed guerillas.
The bishops issued the call for talks in an Easter pastoral letter. It was the first joint statement on the guerrilla fighting by the bishops.
Without negotiations "there will be no chance for an agreement, and our people, especially the poorest among them, will continue suffering and dying," said the pastoral letter.
"It is not always honest to justify internal agressions and violence on aggressions from outside. It is useless to fix the blame on past evils if the deficiencies of the present are not recognized," the bishops said.
Many Nicaraguans "live afraid of their present and unsure of their future, feel deep frustration, clamour for peace and liberty; but their voices are not heard, drowned out by war propaganda from one side or the other," they added.
Borge said, "We will never negotiate with the 'contras." "Contras," short for counterrevolutionaries, is what the government calls the guerrillas.
The bishops' letter also was strongly criticized by Barricada, newspaper of the Sandinista party. "According to the bishops, the Nicaraguan people should sit down to dialogue with assassins, give pardon to justly imprisoned criminals and give amnesty to the exiles who are paid by the United States to destroy and kill',, said a Barricada editorial.
Barricada also criticized the bishops for not mentioning that the guerrillas are supported by the United States.