The critical importance of U.S.-Nicaragua relations as a policy problem and a legislative issue for the Congress is daily evident. The U.S. Catholic Conference (USCC) has advocated a diplomatic course of action for the United States as a means of addressing the war in El Salvador and a method of reversing the presently dangerous course of U.S.- Nicaraguan relations.
In testimony given on March 7, 1983 to a joint session of the House Subcommittee on Western Hemispheric Affairs and the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations, Archbishop James A. Hickey, speaking for the USCC, said: U.S. policy over the past two years has not been helpful to the moderate elements in Nicaraguan life. Rather it has served as a continuous provocation which has given a pretext for ever-increasing governmental attempts to control important elements of Nicaraguan life. The bishops of the United States called in November 1981 for a U.S. policy that would engage Nicaragua diplomatically not isolate it. My recent experience in Nicaragua has convinced me that what we said in 1981 is even more applicable today. In contrast to this recommendation of positive diplomatic engagement, U.S. policy toward Nicaragua presently has the effect of deepening the internal crises in the country and escalating the dangers of war in the region. A string of U.S. actions reaching from unrelentingly hostile policy rhetoric, through U.S. actions to prevent Nicaragua from obtaining credit and loans in international financial institutions to funding of covert activities on the Nicaraguan border have all run counter to the policy proposals made by Archbishop Hickey in March.
The House of Representatives will soon vote on HR2760 aimed at prohibiting further funding of covert activities.In his testimony of last March Archbishop Hickey said: Let me state personally that as an American bishop I find any use of U.S. tax dollars for the purpose of covert destabilization of another government to be unwise, unjustified and destructive of the very values a democratic nation should support in the world. The purpose of my statement is to reaffirm this judgment as a guide for U.S. policy. Even more strongly I wish to oppose any form of U.S. military intervention in Central America. I repeat the earlier calls of our bishops' conference for a diplomatic, non-military solution, a policy requiring discussions between the U.S. and Nicaragua, Honduras and Nicaragua, and support by the United States of the diplomatic efforts of other Latin American republics to resolve peacefully the crisis in Central America."