Message to the Congress on Economic Sanctions Against Nicaragua

May 1, 1985

To the Congress of the United States:

Pursuant to section 204(b) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. 1703, I hereby report to the Congress that I have exercised my statutory authority to declare a national emergency and to prohibit: (1) all imports into the United States of goods and services of Nicaraguan origin; (2) all exports from the United States of goods to or destined for Nicaragua except those destined for the organized democratic resistance; (3) Nicaraguan air carriers from engaging in air transportation to or from points in the United States; and (4) vessels of Nicaraguan registry from entering into United States ports.

These prohibitions will become effective as of 12:01 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time, May 7, 1985.

I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order that I have issued making this declaration and exercising these authorities.

1. I have authorized these steps in response to the emergency situation created by the Nicaraguan Government's aggressive activities in Central America. Nicaragua's continuing efforts to subvert its neighbors, its rapid and destabilizing military buildup, its close military and security ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union and its imposition of Communist totalitarian internal rule have been described fully in the past several weeks. The current visit by Nicaraguan President Ortega to Moscow underscores this disturbing trend. The recent rejection by Nicaragua of my peace initiative, viewed in the light of the constantly rising pressure that Nicaragua's military buildup places on the democratic nations of the region, makes clear the urgent threat that Nicaragua's activities represent to the security of the region and, therefore, to the security and foreign policy of the United States. The activities of Nicaragua, supported by the Soviet Union and its allies, are incompatible with normal commercial relations.

2. In taking these steps, I note that during this month's debate on U.S. policy toward Nicaragua, many Members of Congress, both supporters and opponents of my proposals, called for the early application of economic sanctions.

3. I have long made clear that changes in Sandinista behavior must occur if peace is to be achieved in Central America. At this time, I again call on the Government of Nicaragua:

  • to halt its export of armed insurrection, terrorism, and subversion in neighboring countries;
  • to end its extensive military relationship with Cuba and the Soviet Bloc and remove their military and security personnel;
  • to stop its massive arms buildup and help restore the regional military balance; and
  • to respect, in law and in practice, democratic pluralism and observance of full political and human rights in Nicaragua.

4. U.S. application of these sanctions should be seen by the Government of Nicaragua, and by those who abet it, as unmistakable evidence that we take seriously the obligation to protect our security interests and those of our friends. I ask the Government of Nicaragua to address seriously the concerns of its neighbors and its own opposition and to honor its solemn commitments to non-interference, non-alignment, respect for democracy, and peace. Failure to do so will only diminish the prospects for a peaceful settlement in Central America.

Ronald Reagan
The White House,
May 1, 1985.