Ronald Reagan picture

Address to the People of Nicaragua on the Central American Peace Plan

August 22, 1987

The four Presidents of democratic Central America sat down with the Communist ruler of Nicaragua in Guatemala to negotiate a peace plan for Central America. They emerged from this summit meeting with an agreement for regional peace based on promises of democracy. This peace plan calls for sweeping political and social change to take place in Nicaragua.

In the upcoming weeks, our hopes will be measured against reality, and promises will be measured against deeds. The signing of the Guatemalan peace plan was an important act of faith. But our faith must be tempered by realism, because faith without realism will not end in peace but in disillusionment and a permanent Communist rule that will threaten the other emerging democracies in Central America.

The Sandinistas promised to respect your rights when they signed this peace plan-rights that they have denied you for the last 8 years. They promised to respect your rights of free speech and free association. They promised political, religious, and press freedom. They promised access for all political parties and currents of opinion to the means of communication. They promised to lift the state of emergency. They promised free elections. The Sandinistas now have promised you democracy with the world as witness. Like you, I hope that they keep this promise. But like you, I also know that the civil war in Nicaragua began when the Sandinistas promised you democracy but failed to meet their commitment. This struggle will end when that promise is fulfilled.

Under the terms of the Guatemalan plan, there must be democracy in Nicaragua in order for the fighting to stop. This is called simultaneity. By accepting the Guatemalan plan, it means that the Sandinistas have agreed that the repression must stop at the same time that the fighting stops. The Sandinistas have told us this before, and no one believes the Sandinistas anymore. Simultaneity must mean freedom up front, or no deal.

We will be helping the democratic leaders of Central America and your countrymen inside Nicaragua as they seek a diplomatic solution to the war that has befallen your country, but we will remain firm in our policy. Our objective remains the same: peace and democracy in Nicaragua. Your commitment to freedom and democracy has created political movement and hope for liberation. For this, the people of Nicaragua and the people of Central America owe you a list of gratitude. I know your deepest wish is to return home to a free Nicaragua. Your struggle has, and always will have, our support, because our goal is the same: democracy.

Until the people of Nicaragua are guaranteed basic liberties, I know you will keep on with the struggle, and the United States will be with you. The journey's end is Nicaragua libre [a free Nicaragua]. We must not stop until we reach that goal.

Note: The President's address was prerecorded on August 22 at his ranch in Santa Barbara County, CA, for broadcast on Radio Liberacion on August 24 and 25. The address was broadcast twice: first in English, then in English with a simultaneous translation into Spanish. Radio Liberacion is owned and operated by the Nicaraguan democratic resistance. The address was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on August 25.

Ronald Reagan, Address to the People of Nicaragua on the Central American Peace Plan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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