Radio Address to the
Nation on the Situation in Nicaragua
September 12, 1987
Wednesday, all across America, we'll be celebrating
the 200th anniversary of the document that has brought freedom and hope to so
many millions: the United States Constitution. At on Wednesday, I will
lead a nationwide Pledge of Allegiance that will be broadcast live, giving all
Americans a chance to renew our commitment to the document that's been called
the greatest act of political genius in history. On Thursday I'll be in Philadelphia, participating in the
celebration organized by ``We the People.''
we reflect on our Constitution this week, we must seek to further its purpose
here at home and all across the world. The cause of freedom is America's cause. And one of the
most exciting movements in this direction during the past 10 years has been in Latin America, where over 90 percent
of the people are now living under democratic rule. It was my privilege earlier
this week to speak with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, on our mutual
concern about peace and freedom in Latin America.
yet, for all the progress in this region, one country, Nicaragua, and its 3 million
inhabitants have seen that dream of freedom trampled. Many Americans have
learned over the last few months what has really been happening in Nicaragua:
how a democratic revolution was betrayed; how a tiny elite has been creating a
totalitarian, Marxist-Leninist dictatorship to satisfy their own personal lust
for power and to give the Soviet Union a beachhead on the mainland of this
continent -- only 2,000 miles from the Texas border, a clear national security
despite all the repression and Soviet intervention, the people of Nicaragua still cling to their
dream of freedom. In the best tradition of our Founding Fathers, they formed a
democratic resistance against tyranny, one of the largest peasant armies in the
world, with more than 17,000 freedom fighters called contras. And as the
contras have grown stronger, the Communist regime has grown shakier.
under increasing pressure, the Communist leader Daniel Ortega recently signed,
at a summit of Central American leaders, a peace plan that pledged his
government to democratic reform, respect for human rights, and free elections.
We welcome the Guatemala plan, but it falls
short of the safeguards for democracy and our national security contained in
the bipartisan plan I worked out with the congressional leadership. That is why, as Secretary Shultz said earlier this week, there
should be no uncertainty about our unswerving commitment to the contras. It is
their effort that has made the peace initiative possible. At the appropriate
moment, I intend to put forth a $270 million request for contra aid over 8
months -- 18 months, I should say.
Secretary Shultz also spelled out, the Sandinista regime has a long way to go
in living up to its pledge of democratic reform. Only 8 days after signing the
peace agreement, Sandinista police used attack dogs, night sticks, electric
cattle prods, and government-organized mobs to break up a peaceful
demonstration by the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinadora.
So, too, the 6 independent Nicaraguan political parties have called efforts by
the Communists to manipulate the National Reconciliation Commission set up under
the plan ``a Sandinista maneuver to fool the international public.'' They
accused the Sandinistas of ``violating the spirit of the Guatemala agreements.'' And this
week we learned that Daniel Ortega will be in Moscow on November 7th, the
date the Central American peace plan is to go into effect, celebrating with his
Soviet allies the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution.
the world wants from the Sandinistas are real democratic reforms, real signs of
freedom, such as reopening the newspaper La Prensa,
but not censoring its copy or denying it newsprint. La Prensa
and other publications must be free to report, so must the independent radio
stations and TV. Freedom of religion must be respected. The Sandinistas have
said they will allow three exiled priests to return, but what of the thousands
of other exiles? Return is not enough; they must be free to minister, live, and
organize politically without intimidation. Genuine free political competition
must be permitted. The secret police, with their neighborhood block committees,
must be abolished and all foreign advisers sent home. The Sandinistas should
know that America and the world are
next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.