Radio Address to the Nation on Aid to the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance
My fellow Americans:
a moment of hope it was 1 year ago when Central American leaders concluded
their meeting in
first, there were a few hopeful signs. To much media fanfare, the opposition
Now the main reason the Sandinistas agreed to those steps a year ago was the steady progress of the freedom fighters, including important battlefield victories like the one at Los Minas. But tragically, at the very moment when continued strength and determination by the United States might have meant the continued success of the peace plan, the United States House of Representatives decided, and by only a very narrow margin, to refuse my request for further effective aid to the freedom fighters. This, of course, removed the principal prod -- the military victories and popular success of the freedom fighters -- to Sandinista participation in the peace plan and sent an immediate signal of American weakness to the Communists.
This failure to support the freedom fighters has had costly and sad consequences -- just how costly and sad we've seen during the past few weeks. Communist Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega has been visiting Castro in Cuba and voicing solidarity with the tyrant who has brought so much sadness and misery to that country; while in Nicaragua, a renewed attack on political dissent is being led by the head of the secret police, Tomas Borge, a dedicated Communist and grim, hardened repressor of human rights whose office, according to our Commission on Organized Crime, has also been actively engaged in the international drug trade. Acting under the orders of the Communist leaders and Borge's supervision, Sandinista police and goon squads have brutally broken up a peaceful demonstration by 3,000 Nicaraguans. Opposition leaders were jailed or beaten and now sentenced to prison. Political, religious liberties have again been curtailed. The Communists ordered the Catholic archbishop to shut down the Catholic radio station, and for almost 2 weeks the independent newspaper, La Prensa, was refused permission to publish. And the American ambassador was expelled.
And yet, while the cutoff of aid to the freedom fighters was a dreadful mistake, getting the cause of peace and freedom back on track -- not recrimination -- must now be our goal. There is a chance for real bipartisan consensus in support of renewed contra aid. Indeed, one of its strong supporters has recently been named to be the Vice Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. Senator Bob Dole intends soon to offer legislation to renew effective assistance to the freedom fighters. The final details are being worked out. And I urge the Members of the Senate to support the aid package, and I also ask the House of Representatives to move speedily and favorably on the Senate legislation. Meanwhile, we continue to pursue aggressively our diplomatic efforts with the Central American democracies.
much is at stake. A few years ago, there were those who said the cause of
freedom and democracy was lost in
few weeks ago, both Vice President Bush and I visited the bedside of one of the
heroes of that struggle, President Duarte of
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President
spoke at from