George Bush photo

Letter to Republican and Democratic Party Leaders on Support for the Nicaraguan National Opposition Union

January 24, 1990

The President today signed letters to Mr. Lee Atwater, chairman, Republican National Committee, and Mr. Ronald H. Brown, chairman, Democratic National Committee, encouraging the committees to provide assistance to the campaign of Violeta Chamorro and the Nicaraguan National Opposition Union (UNO). The text of the letter follows:

I am writing to ask your help in the common cause of furthering democracy in Nicaragua. The February 25 elections will determine whether Nicaragua's people will realize the promise of democracy to which the Sandinista government solemnly committed itself in the Esquipulas Accord. This also is the aim of the Bipartisan Accord on Central America, which embodied the Executive-Legislative agreement on the goals of democracy, security, and peace in that region. As President Arias of Costa Rica said in signing the Esquipulas Accord, "without democracy, there can be no peace in Central America." And without a level electoral playing field, there can be no true expression of the Nicaraguan people's will.

Violeta Chamorro and the National Opposition Union (UNO) are valiantly waging an electoral campaign and need the help of all democratic parties. In the crucial last weeks of the campaign, UNO is desperately short of funds needed for campaign rallies, distributing campaign literature, and media time. While Congress has made money available for UNO through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), that money is limited by NED's charter to institution-building expenses and cannot be used to defray campaign costs. Moreover, the Sandinistas have imposed serious obstacles to delivery of the NED funds, and, to date, UNO has been permitted to make use of only a tiny fraction of them. For these reasons, Mrs. Chamorro's campaign runs the real risk of being crippled for lack of money. This result would undermine our bipartisan commitment to democracy in Nicaragua and frustrate the aspirations of the Nicaraguan people.

I am asking your help to give UNO a chance to let the Nicaraguan people achieve government by consent. The Democratic and Republican Parties have joined in supporting democracy in Eastern Europe, and once again we need to make our support felt with deeds. A joint contribution by both Parties to the UNO campaign would make an immediate difference at this critical moment, as would individual contributions by your Party's members. Time is short. The Department of State informs me that Nicaraguan law permits political contributions from foreigners so long as the Supreme Electoral Council is informed by January 31 that they are to be received. UNO would be responsible for satisfying applicable requirements under Nicaraguan law to employ such funds in the election campaign. The Justice and State Departments assure me that there are no general prohibitions under U.S. law on contributions to foreign political parties such as UNO. Of course, individual donors should ensure that they are not precluded from contributing by their tax status or other restriction specifically related to their particular circumstances.

If democratic peoples and organizations do not stand together to make democracy work, they can only blame themselves if democracy does not flourish.

George Bush

Note: Identical letters were sent to Lee Atwater, chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Ronald H. Brown, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. An original was not available for verification of the content of the letter.

George Bush, Letter to Republican and Democratic Party Leaders on Support for the Nicaraguan National Opposition Union Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives