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A review of current issues in Nicaragua : hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, secondsession, March 21, 1996 online

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\V^ A REVIEW OF CURRENT ISSUES IN NICARAGUA

Y 4, IN 8/16: R 32

A Reviey of Current Issues in Hicar. . .

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION



MARCH 21, 1996



Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations




JUL 3 I jogg



Dnof



i2^s Oept.



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1996



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-052753-8



\^ A REVIEW OF CURRENT ISSUES IN NICARAGUA

Y 4. IN 8/16: R 32

A Revieu of Current Issues in Kicar. . .

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON
THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS
SECOND SESSION



MARCH 21, 1996




Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations



[ JfJL 3 I jogg

-"'"'"i!^!i2:«ntsDepf.



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
: WASHINGTON : 1996

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-052753-8



COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN. New York. Chairman



WILLIAM F. GOODLING. Pennsylvania

JAMES A. LEACH. Iowa

TOBY ROTH, Wisconsin

HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois

DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska

CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey

DAN BURTON, Indiana

JAN MEYERS, Kansas

ELTON GALLEGLY, California

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN. Florida

CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina

DANA ROHRABACHER, California

DONALD A. MANZULLO, Illinois

EDWARD R. ROYCE, California

PETER T. KING, New York

JAY KIM. California

SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas

DAVID FUNDERBURK. North Carolina

STEVEN J. CHABOT, Ohio

MARSHALL "MARK" SANFORD, South

Carolina
MATT SALMON, Arizona
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
TOM CAMPBELL. California



LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana

SAM GEJDENSON. Connecticut

TOM LANTOS, California

ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey

HOWARD L. BERMAN, California

GARY L. ACKERMAN. New York

HARRY JOHNSTON. Florida

ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York

ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American

Sannoa
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jereey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN. Ohio
CYNTHIA A. MCKINNEY, Georgia
ALCEE L. HASTINGS. Florida
ALBERT RUSSELL WYNN, Maryland
JAMES P. MORAN, Virginia
VICTOR O. FRAZER, Virgin Islands (Ind.)
CHARLIE ROSE. North Carolina
PAT DANNER, Missouri



Richard J. Gabon, Chief of Staff

Michael H. Van DUSEN, Democratic Chief of Staff



Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

DAN burton. Indiana. Chairman



ROBERT G. TORRICELLI. New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ. New Jersey
ALBERT RUSSELL WYNN, Maryland
TOM LANTOS, California
MATTHEW G. MARTINEZ, California
CHARLIE ROSE. North Carolina



ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH. New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY. California
PETER T. KING, New York
JAY KIM, California
DAVID FUNDERBURK. North Carolina
TOM CAMPBELL. California

GILEAD KapEN. Subcommittee Staff Director

Scott Wilson, Democratic Professional Staff Member

Scott Feeney, Professional Staff Member

ANTTA Winsor. Staff Associate



(II)



CONTENTS



WITNESSES

Page

Hon. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Representative in Congress fum the State of

Florida 4

John Hamilton, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America, De-
partment of State 6

Mark L. Schneider, Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Carib-
bean, Agency for International Development 8

Hon. Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute 23

APPENDDC

Prepared statements:

John Hamilton 27

Mark L. Schneider 47

Material submitted for the record:

A letter from Hon. Elliott Abrams to H.E. Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, Sec-
retary General, Organization of the American States, December 6,
1995 57

"Visiting Contralandia", an article in the National Review, by Elliott

Abrams, March 25, 1996 59

A letter from Roberto J. Arguello to Congressman Dan Burton and Robert
Torricelli 61

"Putting the 1996 Nicaraguan Elections in Perspective", a statement
by Dr. Jennifer McCoy, The Carter Center 69



(III)



A REVIEW OF CURRENT ISSUES IN
NICARAGUA



THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 1996

House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere,

Committee on International Relations,

Washington, DC

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:25 p.m. in room
2172, Raybum House Office Building, Washington, DC, Hon. Dan
Burton (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Mr. Burton. This hearing will come to order.

I apologize far my tardiness. I double scheduled mvself. I thought
I would be through around 1:30 p.m. over on the floor as speaker
pro tem; but, unfortunately, it ran a little bit longer. Sometimes
people are a little more proftise in their speaking than we antici-
pate. I know that surprises everybody about Congressmen.

We are here this morning to discuss the current situation in
Nicaragua, 7 months in advance of its critical national elections.

I certainly hope that our convening this hearing at this time will
signal a continued interest and engagement on the part of the
United States and Nicaragua, a country for which we have long
had affection, concern, and deep involvement.

We want to make it clear that we have not forgotten our friends
in Nicaragua and that we are determined to see to it that they are
able to fully enjoy the fruits of freedom, democracy, and human
rights.

Six years ago, the communist dictatorship was officially ended in
Nicaragua with the victory of Violetta Chamorro in free elections.
President Chamorro's election was a significant milestone, but only
a beginning. It is essential that we remain committed to establish-
ing and strengthening democratic institutions and traditions in
Nicaragua.

In Nicaragua, as in so many other countries emerging from civil
war and dictatorship, the mere holding of elections does not signify
the consolidation of democracy.

This point must be kept in mind always. For Nicaragua, the first
step of elections in 1990 has brought some rewards. But there con-
tinue to be areas of major concern that must be adequately ad-
dressed.

I can say with assurance that this committee and this Congress
will continue to expect major improvement in these critical areas.
So far, we have seen very little to make us optimistic about the di-
rection of events in Nicaragua.

(1)



Despite their loss at the polls, the Sandinistas, who inflicted so
much damage in their country for 11 years, continue to exert a per-
vasive and negative influence over Nicaragua.

It is this insidious and sometimes surreptitious control over key
institutions in Nicaragua that has prevented the Nicaraguan peo-
ple from achieving the rightful benefits of the democratic process.
Until this poisonous weed is rooted out, Nicaragua will continue to
be mired in misery.

Most disturbing is the continued impunity enjoyed by members
of the Sandinista-dominated security forces who have committed
grave human rights abuses and have yet to be brought to account.

Not only does this raise a problem of justice denied, but it is very
clear that there can be no rule of law in Nicaragua until this cam-
paign of terror and intimidation is ended, and until the citizens of
Nicaragua, including public figures, can have confidence in their
military and police. This is clearly not the case at the present time.

We are also very disappointed that 6 years after the defeat of the
Sandinista dictatorship, there has yet to be adequate resolution of
numerous property claims, despite repeated assurances that this
problem would be resolved.

I have been personally involved in some of these cases, and I just
cannot believe now long they drag out without any resolution.

Without respect for private property, there can be no functioning
free market and no proper climate for investment. Sandinista offi-
cials continue to live on and benefit from stolen property. This is
quite simply an unacceptable situation.

Finally, we are extremely disturbed that hundreds of thousands
of people living in former Contra areas are being denied and de-
prived of adequate arrangements for voter registration. This out-
rageous situation will also not be tolerated. This country has a spe-
cial responsibility toward those brave individuals and their families
without whom there would be no electoral process at all in Nica-
ragua.

The eyes of the world must be focused firmly on Nicaragua as it
moves toward these elections. These elections are perhaps even
more significant than those in 1990, for they will determine wheth-
er Nicaragua becomes a truly free society with democratic institu-
tions, or whether it continues to stagnate in the muck of terror,
corruption, and deceit.

I want to take this opportunity to commend the OAS and CIAV
for the excellent work they have done in monitoring the situation
in Nicaragua. It is very important that their mandate be renewed.

This Administration has continued to turn a blind eye to the host
of problems besetting Nicaragua. And I hope the Administration
changes its views on these issues.

I hope and expect that this hearing will highlight some of these
problems and cause the State Department to put the heat on the
Nicaraguan Government to adequately address these grave con-
cerns.

I look forward to hearing fi-om our witnesses.

And before that, I have a letter from my good friend, Elliott
Abrams, which I would like to submit for the record without objec-
tion,

[The letter of Mr. Abrams appears in the appendix. 1



I now yield to my colleague from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for
her opening remarks.

Ms Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to first thank you for holding this hearing on such
a pivotal issue. The upcoming elections in Nicaragua have far-
reaching ramifications for the people of Nicaragua and, indeed, for
the merging democracies in the entire western hemisphere.

The process and its outcome will serve as a looking glass into the
future stability and evolution of democratic principles in the region.

Only a decade ago, the wave of democracy that was sweeping
across the globe finally engulfed Nicaragua, placing it at the
threshold of a new world order in an era of growth and strengthen-
ing for all of Latin America.

Nicaragua became a crucial experiment on whether or not de-
mocracy could overcome a political habitat and culture marked by
cycles of tyranny intermixed with periods of anarchy and revolu-

However the one free election in 1990 has not been able to cure
the myriad of problems that still ail this Central American Nation.

In fact, it should serve as a reminder of the potential and of the
missed opportunities as Nicaragua is at risk of reverting back to
its history of violence and widespread corruption.

Two months ago, the leading Presidential candidate and former
mayor of Managua, Arnoldo Aleman, barely survived an assassina-
tion attempt when his motorcade was attacked by gunmen.

The Sandinistas, thought at one time to be an anachronism of
the cold war and East-West politics, are still able to act with impu-
nity to protect the fortune they amassed during their years in
power and to protect the property that they have stolen from U.b.
citizens, from Nicaraguan citizens, and so many others.

Terrorism, sadly, also has once again become the instrument tor
political determination in Nicaragua. Murders have gone
unpunished, and judicial review is an objective rather than a re-

The voting registration process which you discuss, Mr. Chair-
man, is deficient, as the ad hoc system can quickly become an easy
prey for electoral manipulation. ^

There are reports that in the past year Nicaragua s Supreme
Electoral Council has approved a myriad of political parties with
dubious claims of meeting the minimum representation require-
ments, while parties that have traditionally been part of
Nicaragua's electoral infrastructure are conspicuously absent from
the list of approved or sanctioned political parties.

While the deformities of the current political scenario in Nica-
ragua point to a grim outlook at this time, the promise of the 1990
elections of what could have been now serves as a threshold to
what could still be. , , . .. i .. .1 •

In 1990, the Nicaraguan people demonstrated their vitality, their
commitment to the principles of democracy, and their determina-
tion to defend their fundamental right to freedom and liberty.

The Nicaraguan people demonstrated their spiritual prowess con-
fronting overwhelming obstacles and fears in an attempt to secure
a future of hope and prosperity for their country.



Thus, while the measurable variables may present a somewhat
disheartening forecast, we must not forget the human factor which
forced the Berlin Wall to crumble and in which in 1990 in Nica-
ragua challenged the pundits and the assumptions and proved that
they can still possess the will to make democracy work.

Nevertheless, it is imperative that we pay close attention to the
lessons of history so as to avoid a repetition of past mistakes.

The United States must not revert to a reactionary, crisis-ori-
ented policy, not just in Nicaragua but in all of Latin America, for-
getting about the fragile democracies only to lament later.

The opportunity is here once again for democratic principles to
take hold in Nicaragua and to replace a turbulent history with the
seeds of a truly free and stable society.

Let us render our support to the people of Nicaragua who are
committed to a just, representative, and effective electoral process
and assure that the view through the looking glass will be one of
stability and growth for Nicaragua.

And I am very pleased, Mr. Chairman, that you have invited my
colleague from Dade County, Congressmen Lincoln Diaz-Balart,
who has a substantial part of his district made up of Nicaraguan
Americans, individuals who have longed for liberty and freedom in
their homeland, have been unable to find that stability and have
come to settle in his district and mine hoping for that day of jus-
tice.

And I thank him more for the leadership that he has given to
all of those Nicaraguan exile leaders and, indeed, the Nicaraguan
population, especially in his district of Sweetwater and western
Dade County. And we thank him for being here with us today.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Burton. Thank you, Ileana.

And without further ado, we will hear from our colleague from
Florida, Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

STATEMENT OF HON. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART, A REPRESENTA-
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA

Mr. Balart. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Madam Vice Chairman, thank you for those kind words.

I do share with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen the great honor of
representing tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and Nicaraguan-
Americans who reside in our congressional districts and have con-
tributed greatly not only to enrich our community socially and cul-
turally but also economically.

So, Mr. Chairman, it is not only a privilege and I thank you for
the opportunity to testify briefly today, but also I would like to
commend you tor holding this hearing; and I think it is very impor-
tant that as the 1996 elections approach that further hearings be
held by this subcommittee so that we can do everything here in the
U.S. Congress possible to contribute to a free and fair election in
Nicaragua.

I am a great admirer of the Nicaraguan people. I remember, Mr.
Chairman, how all the polls were proved wrong in 1990. I do not
remember reading one single poll that held that the Sandinistas
would be defeated.



Some journalist friends of mine who were able to cover that elec-
tion told me that in the last hours, in the last few days before the
election, they knew that things would be a little different than the
polls had said because people in the street would simply lift their
hands up and kind of like in a hiding manner lift up a finger, one
finger, which was, of course, the sign of the fact that they were vot-
ing for the opposition, for Uno.

And things were different than what the polls had said they
would be. Former President Echandi of Costa Rica resigned from
the OAS commission that was sent to Nicaragua to monitor the
election process because he said that the Sandinistas had cheated
during the registration process, and they had guaranteed that they
could not lose. Former President Echandi said, it is impossible, due
to the fraud that the Sandinistas have already achieved, it is im-
possible for them to lose this election.

They registered all the military people; and, as you recall, they
closed the registration places so quickly that in the countryside it
was almost impossible for much of the people that were not sympa-
thetic to Sandinistas to even register.

And yet the people in Nicaragua acted in what was supposed to
be an impossible way and they achieved the overthrow of the San-
dinista regime.

And unfortunately, then. President Chamorro won the govern-
ment but did not take power; and that was a tragedy also in itself.

But much has happened since then. We are all very hopeful that
in 1996 we will see an election that will change the destiny of Nica-
ragua.

I just want to make two very brief points I think we need to em-
phasize, as we look at the issue of the Nicaraguan elections and
our aid to Nicaragua in that context.

I think that our aid, if there is a priority that we should have
with regard to our aid and what it should be accomplishing, it is
that now that the Nicaraguan legislative assembly has passed a
law that permits Nicaraguans outside of Nicaragua to vote in that
election and we have tens of thousands of Nicaraguans residing in
the United States; it should be the priority of our aid to make sure
that Nicaraguans who can vote in the United States in the Nica-
raguan election can do so.

And so we hear now there is a cost problem with regard to
whether the Nicaraguans in the United States are going to be able
to vote. I think that is not acceptable. I think we have to make
sure that our aid, as a priority, guarantees that all Nicaraguans
who are eligible to vote and who live in the United States can actu-
ally vote in that election.

And so if there is one thing that I could respectfully request this
subcommittee to press our State Department and AID on, it would
be that issue.

And from constituents I have heard very disturbing reports of se-
cret deals or unsatisfactory conduct with respect to the privatiza-
tion of the telecommunications industry in Nicaragua.

I would respectfully suggest that the subcommittee seriously look
into whether that is being done in a way that is encouraging cap-
ital flight from the country and whether it is being done in a way
that facilitates competition and not a monopoly that will contribute



to stagnation of the economy instead of economic development in
that country.

So those are two issues, Mr. Chairman, that I wanted to bring
to the subcommittee's attention most respectfully.

And, again, thank you for holding this hearing and the certainly
further hearings that I am sure you will hold as that critical elec-
tion of 1996 approaches.

Thank you very much.

Mr. Burton. Thank you, Lincoln. I really appreciate you being
here and your remarks. We will take those points to heart, and we
will press the Administration on those issues.

We have been joined by three of our colleagues, Amos Houghton
of New York, the good looking gray haired guy there.

And we have Cass Ballenger. And Cass Ballenger has done so
much in a humanitarian way for the people of Nicaragua. He has
taken portable hospitals to Nicaragua. I do not know how many
trips he has made to that region with his wife to help the people
of Nicaragua and El Salvador.

And, Cass, I know you do not get much recognition for that; but
you get the admiration, at least, of this chairman.

We are also joined by our good colleague, Chris Smith, who is a
member of this committee and the chairman of one of our other
major subcommittees, the Subcommittee on International Oper-
ations and Human Rights.

Do any of you have opening remarks you would like to make?

If not, we will have our first panel come to the table.

We have John Hamilton, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State for Central America and Mark L. Schneider, the Assistant
Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, for the Agency
for International Development.

We will start with Mr. Hamilton. We are going to try, if possible,
to stay to the 5-minute rule. If you have a longer statement, you
can submit that for the record.

STATEMENT OF JOHN HAMILTON, ACTING DEPUTY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY FOR CENTRAL AMERICA, DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Mr. Hamilton. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for invit-
ing me here today. We welcome the interest that this committee is
t^ing in Nicaragua.

Mr. Chairman, Assistant Secretary of State Watson first testified
on Nicaragua before this committee in October 1993. You will re-
call that he outlined on that occasion the policy goals in Nicaragua
that we have pursued ever since: the consolidation of democracy;
greater respect for human rights, including property rights; civilian
control over an apolitical police and military; and equitable, sus-
tained economic growth.

Ambassador Watson also made clear that our policy would place
the onus for progress in these areas on the Nicarag^ans them-
selves.

This policy has gained broad acceptance in Nicaragua itself, and
we think that is to the credit of a superb ambassador and embassy
staff. They stay in touch not only with all sectors of Nicaraguan so-
ciety, but they have made the ambassador's residence in Managua



a meeting ground of the most opposed elements in that fragmented
political culture.

Our support of democracy this year has the overriding objective
of helping Nicaragua hold elections that would be universally
judged as free, fair, and peaceful.

Nicaraguans often ask or look for signals as to which candidate
the United States supports, but the answer is the U.S. Government
will not play favorites. But we will do everything possible to ensure
that the process itself is free and fair. We will work with whatever
government is elected, so long as that government is elected in
elections that are free and fair, as long as it itself abides by demo-
cratic norms.

Let me turn back to the process, the registration process in par-
ticular that I know is of concern to you.

Because the Nicaraguan electoral laws establish a dual system of
voter registration, I think the question very naturally arises: Why?
What is really going on here? Is it really necessary? And is it fair
to all concerned?

Under this dual system, about 85 percent of Nicaragua's eligible
voters will be registered when they apply for a multi-purpose na-
tional identity card. This card has safeguards against fraud, and it
is going to be valid for 10 years.

The registration process is really cumbersome, however, because
each name has to be cross-checked against a national civil registry.

The Supreme Electoral Council, which has the responsibility for
this registration process, has received about a million and a half
applications out of a potential voting population of about 2.2 mil-
lion eligible voters.

And so far they have only produced about 200,000 of these citi-
zen cards that will be used for voting. So they have got a lot of
work to do between now and the end of December, just before the
elections are held.

But the system does have a provision that protects against inefTi-
ciencies which provides that a temporary voting card will be issued
to everybody that has applied under this procedure but has not yet
received the national identity card itself.

Now, the electoral commission eventually is going to issue all of
these cards nationwide; but for a variety of reasons — a lack of civil
registry, poor security, limited resources, and the late start that
they have got — they are going to be unable to complete this process
before the elections in some 26 municipalities.

Now, it is in these municipalities that the so-called ad hoc reg-
istration system is going to be used. This is the system that they
used in 1990 in which they registered the entire country on four
successive Sundays. It was also successfully employed in the 1994
Atlantic Coast elections.

The big advantages to this system are that the Nicaraguans


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on InterA review of current issues in Nicaragua : hearing before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, secondsession, March 21, 1996 → online text (page 1 of 9)