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Contadora, an effort to achieve a peace treaty between the Central American nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica in the late 1980s. The sponsoring countries were Mexico, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela, with a support group consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay. Contadora was so named for an island off the western coast of Panama where the first meeting took place in 1983. The principal objectives were to stop the war between the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and the U.S.-backed counterrevolutionary force based in Honduras, and to remove foreign military influence from Central America.

Daniel Ortega, representing Nicaragua, signed the first draft of Contadora in September 1984, but the other Central American executives balked. New language was inserted to pressure Nicaragua to adopt more democratic institutions. In June 1986, Ortega and Guatemalan president Vinicio Cerezo were ready to sign, but the United States achieved the abstention of Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador. In February 1987, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias presented a new plan based on the original Contadora provisions. On 7 August 1987, all five countries signed the Arias Peace Plan (for which Arias received the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize).

The Contadora sponsors and support group have provided teams for the International Corps of Inspectors and the Verification Commission which have monitored various phases of the Arias Plan. In 1993 the functions of Contadora were absorbed by the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

See alsoArias Sánchez, Oscar; Cerezo Arévalo, Marco Vinicio; Esquipulas II; Organization of American States (OAS); Ortega Saavedra, Daniel.


Morris Blachman et al., eds. Confronting Revolution: Security Through Diplomacy in Central America (1986).

Center for International Policy, "Contadora Primer," in International Policy Report (November 1986).

Jim Morrell, "The Nine Lives of the Central American Peace Process," in International Policy Report (February 1989), pp. 1-7.

Additional Bibliography

Bagley, Bruce Michael. Contadora and the Diplomacy of Peace in Central America. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1987.

Zamora R., Augusto. La paz burlada: Los procesos de paz de Contadora y Esquipulas. Madrid: SEPHA, 2006.

                                      Mark Everingham