Bush Will Lift Trade Embargo if Nicaraguan Opposition Candidate Wins
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush promised Wednesday to lift the trade embargo against Nicaragua if the U.S.-backed presidential candidate, Violeta Chamorro, defeats leftist President Daniel Ortega in the February election.
The statement came after a meeting in which Mrs. Chamorro asked Bush for aid to help with economic reconstruction after the election and the two agreed on the need to muster international support for fair elections, according to U.S. and Nicaraguan participants.
The United States spent millions of dollars under President Reagan to fuel the Contra rebels in their war to oust Ortega.
Bush, while endorsing a diplomatic rather than military approach, has continued the policy that Ortega should be removed from office. He supports Mrs. Chamorro’s candidacy, signing a $9 million election aid package that will in large part boost her race.
A statement issued by White House spokesman Roman Popadiuk said that Mrs. Chamorro had stressed in a letter to Bush that her administration ″would be committed to reconcilation ... and reconstruction of the economy in peace and democracy.″
″Should this occur, the president said the United States would be ready to lift the trade embargo and assist in Nicaragua’s reconstruction,″ the statement said.
The trade embargo was imposed in May 1985, banning imports from or exports to Nicaragua.
″The president looks forward to the day when, with a democratic government, Nicaraguans will have good political and economic relations with the United States and the rest of the free world and will be able to begin rebuilding after decades of dictatorship,″ the statement said.
Mrs. Chamorro visited Bush as part of an international trip seeking to focus the global spotlight on Nicaragua’s Feb. 25 election.
″I am looking to my democratic friends to tell them my desire for solidarity for the future″ of Nicaragua, Mrs. Chamorro, candidate of the opposition coalition opposing the ruling Sandinistas, said after the meeting with Bush.
She also will go to Rome, London, Madrid and Paris to solicit international pressure for fair, open elections, said her associate, Ernesto Palazio.
″We need more than ever the eyes of the world to be fixed in Nicaragua. Don’t look anywhere else, even for a single minute,″ Mrs. Chamorro said earlier at a luncheon sponsored by the Roman Catholic human rights group, Puebla Institute.
″All over the world, the time for dictatorship is running out,″ she said.
Ortega cannot win a fair election, Mrs. Chamorro said.
″In a clean election in Nicaragua, he is not going to win because the people want a change from totalitarianism to democracy,″ she told reporters at the White House.
Mrs. Chamorro stands to benefit from much of the $9 million the United States is sending to help with election-related preparations such as voter registration and poll monitoring.
The president and Mrs. Chamorro agreed that ″although the Nicaraguan government has taken several measures to permit greater freedoms, the Sandinistas have not fully complied with their agreement of Aug. 4 with the opposition coalition. More needs to be done, such as providing equal access to television and full amnesty for political prisoners,″ Popadiuk’s statement said.
Mrs. Chamorro visited the White House as the Sandinista government said it would propose a new cease-fire to be coupled with demobilization of the U.S.-backed Contra rebels.
Ortega said he would bring the plan to reinstate the cease-fire he called off last week to a United Nations-sponsored meeting with the Contras on Thursday in New York.
The plan would include a general amnesty once at least 50 percent of the Contras have demobilized and the rebels free kidnapped people they hold.
Mrs. Chamorro told reporters Ortega should have given the amnesty long ago and fulfilled other promises of the regional peace accord he signed with four other presidents of Central America.
The Contras should demobilize, she said, adding that the Sandinista government should fulfill its promises.
The White House said Bush hoped the New York talks wouuld lead to a permanent ceasefire and conditions under which the Contras could return to their homeland ″in safety and with full political and civil rights.″
Contra leaders met Wednesday with Bush administration officials to discuss their approach to the U.N. talks. The Contras were willing to discuss demobilizing their troops, said one administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Their conditions include full amnesty for those imprisoned in the war and several ″confidence-building″ measures aimed at ensuring secure conditions for those Contras who want to return to their homeland.
Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council is sending a 625-member border patrol force to stop Contras from infiltrating the border from Honduras and to interdict shipments of Nicaraguan and Cuban weapons the State Department says are being made to leftist rebels in El Salvador.