June 8, 1985
My fellow Americans:
Today I want to give you some encouraging news about the opportunities for liberty, democracy, and peace in Central America, particularly in Nicaragua. This hope is based on a renewed chance for the United States to provide support to those who struggle against totalitarian communism on the mainland of this hemisphere.
We're being given something very precious -- a second chance to do what is right. Recently, on April 4th, I met here in Washington with Adolfo Calero, Arturo Cruz, and Alfonso Robelo, the three principal leaders of the Nicaraguan democratic opposition. I asked these three brave men to extend their offer of a cease-fire and a church-mediated dialog with the Sandinista regime in Managua.
Those exiled patriots and their followers made this proposal in San Jose, Costa Rica, on March 1 in a declaration of unity, common cause, and democratic purpose. Unfortunately, their proposal was immediately rejected by the Sandinista Communists who similarly rebuffed our April 4th endorsement of this realistic peace proposal.
Shortly thereafter, our House of Representatives voted not to provide assistance to the Nicaraguan freedom fighters. The Sandinistas and their cohorts believed the way was clear for the consolidation of their Communist regime. Nicaragua's dictator raced to Moscow and the bloc capitals of Eastern Europe to seal closer relations with these Communist tyrannies.
And now the Nicaraguans are not only continuing to import offensive weapons, they have stepped up their attacks on neighboring Honduras and unarmed Costa Rica. But as I said, we have a second chance to do what is right. On Thursday the United States Senate, in a show of bipartisan support, voted to aid the freedom fighters struggling for liberty and democracy in Nicaragua. The Senate has seen that their struggle is ours, that they need and deserve our help.
In the House some claim that the U.S. plans to become militarily involved in Central America. Well, no such plan exists. That charge is simply a distraction from the two paramount questions that must be faced by every Member: Will you support those struggling for democracy? Will you resist the Soviets' brazen attempt to impose communism on our doorstep or won't you?
There's a bipartisan proposal in the House to keep alive the dream of freedom and peace in Nicaragua. It'll be put forward next Wednesday by Republicans Bob Michel of Illinois and Joe McDade of Pennsylvania and Democrat Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma. It is essential that this bipartisan amendment be passed without any weakening of its provisions in order for us to have a hope for peace, democracy, and reconciliation in Nicaragua.
The legislation will provide $27 million worth of assistance to the freedom fighters, and that's not much compared to the hundreds of millions the Communists are spending to prop up their Nicaraguan dictatorship.
The solution to the tragedy in Nicaragua is the very same the Congress has supported in El Salvador -- liberty, democracy, and reconciliation. In El Salvador we've worked with Congress and stood firmly behind President Duarte and the democratic forces. We seek the same goals in Nicaragua. As in El Salvador, the United States stands with the democratic Senator -- Senate, I should say, against the enemies of liberty on both left and right. And the freedom fighters share our goals for democracy.
One of their leaders, Adolfo Calero, said this week, ``We of the Nicaraguan democratic resistance believe that true peace can only come with democracy and that democracy is a precondition for peace -- not the other way around.''
To seize this opportunity before us, to seize this second chance now offered, the Congress and the executive branch must embark on a bipartisan course for a negotiated political settlement, national reconciliation, democracy, and genuine self-determination for the people of Nicaragua.
Just 6 years ago, the people of Nicaragua -- students, labor unions, businessmen, and the church -- fought for a democratic revolution, only to see it betrayed by a handful of Soviet-backed Communists. We must not sit by while the Nicaraguan people are saddled with a Communist dictatorship that threatens this entire hemisphere. A House vote for humanitarian aid to the freedom fighters will send a strong bipartisan message that we will not tolerate the evolution of Nicaragua into another Cuba nor will we remain with our heads in the sand while Nicaragua becomes a Soviet client state with military installations constructed for use by the Soviet bloc.
A Soviet base in Nicaragua would give the Russians a foothold on the American mainland. America's proudest moments have come when Democrats and Republicans united for the cause of democracy. That is the path which is succeeding in El Salvador, and that is the path that will succeed in Nicaragua, too, if we support the bipartisan proposal to aid the freedom fighters.
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.