George Bush's recent attacks on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega reek of hypocrisy. Ortega has struggled for peace in Nicaragua, while Bush has only continued his bellicose moves.
Bush denounced Ortega's decision to end the Sandinistas' 18-month unilateral cease-fire with the contras, but from the beginning neither the United States nor the contras have wanted to accept this cease-fire. It is not Ortega who has violated the cease-fire, but the contras and the United States. The United States continues to fund the contras, and the contras have escalated their attacks in recent weeks.
Just last Wednesday, Bush renewed the trade embargo against Nicaragua. This is an act of war and a violation of international law. If Bush were interested in peace in Nicaragua, he would have ended, not extended, this embargo.
The 1984 elections in which Ortega won 67 percent of the popular vote were widely considered to be the most democratic in the history of that country. The Latin American Studies Assn. found that the 1984 electoral law "provided a broad array of protections to assure fair access, procedural honesty, and an accurate vote count." The United States stood alone in refusing to accept the legitimacy of these elections.
Likewise, the 1989 Nicaraguan electoral law has been judged to be fair by a broad range of observer groups. The Library of Congress reported that Nicaragua's electoral law is similar to and in some instances better than, electoral laws in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela all countries where the U.S. has judged recent elections to be fair. The threat to democracy in Nicaragua comes not from the Sandinistas, but the contras who are killing election workers.
The Sandinistas do not fear the democratic will of the Nicaraguan people. Bush knows that the Sandinistas have majority support in Nicaragua and will overwhelmingly win in the February 1990 elections. Thus, his strategy is to declare these elections null and void before they even occur. For Bush, a freely elected government in Nicaragua means one freely selected by Washington, not by the Nicaraguan people.
If Bush were truly interested in peace in Central America, he would accept the democratic will of the Nicaraguan people, end the trade embargo, and supply money only to demobilize the contras. Present U.S. policy in Nicaragua only proves to undermine democracy in the region.