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Reagan Asks $270 Million for Contras : Warns of Sandinista History of 'Deceit, Broken Promises'

October 07, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan, warning of a history of Sandinista "deceit and broken promises," called on Congress today to approve $270 million in military and humanitarian aid for the contra rebels as an insurance policy for peace in Central America.

Reagan, in a speech to the Organization of American States, called the aid package "a moral obligation" and "the essential guarantee that the Sandinistas will live up to the democratic conditions of the Guatemala accord."

The pact was signed in August by five Central American nations, including Nicaragua.

Although House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) has warned that Reagan has little chance of obtaining such aid, Reagan lectured lawmakers against abandoning the contras after supporting them in the past.

Congress "cannot just walk away," Reagan said. "I have made a personal commitment to them--and I will not walk away."

The President said he would "request and fight for" the $270-million package, which Administration officials have said would go forward before the Nov. 7 cease-fire date called for under the regional peace accord.

While Reagan lauded the steps that the leftist Sandinistas have taken to comply with the regional peace accord, he said he also shared "a skepticism born of a long record of Sandinista deceit and broken promises."

He demanded that the aid be continued unless the Sandinistas "sat down and negotiated" with the contras, concluded an agreement for a cease-fire and established "full democracy" in Nicaragua.

He also called for the expulsion of "all Soviet and Cuban forces," full freedom of the press, the disbanding of the secret police force and release of all political prisoners.

"We cannot be satisfied with facades of freedom erected to fool international opinion, and then quickly dismantled when the pressure is off," Reagan warned. "We must insist on real democracy in Nicaragua--not for a week, not for a month or a year, but always."

Reagan has come under sharp criticism from Capitol Hill for making demands of the Nicaraguans that go beyond the steps contained in the regional peace accord and an agreement he and Wright reached.

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