For The Times to say that "the elections last year gave the presidency of Nicaragua a legitimacy enjoyed by only two other presidents in the area" is to call into question the definition of "legitimacy."
It's unclear which two other presidents your editorial referred to, but there are at least three elected Central American presidents who come a little bit closer to Webster's definition of legitimate elections. Jose Napoleon Duarte invited the guerrillas in El Salvador to participate in the election, and Roberto D'Aubuisson of the ARENA Party freely campaigned and solicited votes. Opposition parties were also able to campaign freely during elections in Honduras and Costa Rica, where, respectively, Roberto Suazo Cordova and Luis Alberto Monge were elected president.
By comparison, major opposition parties in Nicaragua refused to participate in the 1984 Nicaraguan elections. A major opposition candidate, Arturo Cruz, was a former Sandinista junta member and also served as the Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States. Cruz and another major opposition party candidate, Virgilio Godoy, who is also a former Sandinista government official, pulled out of the elections when an agreement could not be reached with the Sandinistas to lift media censorship, end restrictions on political meetings, and delay candidate registration requirements for a few days to allow the candidates time to register.
The head of the Sandinista political commission that was in charge of the electoral process stated that Nicaragua's elections were "bothersome" and "out of place." He also indicated that the elections would not have been scheduled had it not been for the U.S. pressure. With the only opposition on the ballot consisting of Nicaragua's communist parties and a few insignificant splinter groups, it is easy to see why the Sandinistas considered the elections bothersome. Perhaps the voters themselves considered the elections bothersome since some said they were only voting for fear they might lose their ration cards for rice, beans, and other necessities.
The editorial, after stating that there is no evidence that the Sandinistas are a threat to U.S. national security, contradicts itself by further stating that the Sandinistas "have sought to export their revolution to at least one other nation. . . . They could unbalance the fragile security of all Central America should they move to import advanced military aircraft and other instruments of aggression." What does The Times consider Soviet tanks and helicopters, and a military force equal to all that of the rest of Central America put together?
The Times says "the problem in Central America is one of historic injustice and depredation, much of it by the United States." Although the United States has intervened in the past in Central America, our presence has not been a permanent one. Can the Soviet Union say the same thing about Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary or Afghanistan? Will they be able to say the same thing about Nicaragua?
Daniel Ortega's embrace of Mikhail Gorbachev was more than one of friendship; it was an embracement of the totalitarian principles of the Soviet Union. That is a threat to the security of the United States.
Member of Congress