June 10, 1985
Dear Member of the U. S. House of Representatives:
I am writing to share with you the views of the United States Catholic Conference on the Michel Amendment and the Hamilton-Barnes Amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Bill H.R. 2577, and related matters.
The U. S. Catholic Conference has consistently urged expanded diplomatic and political measures as the morally acceptable and politically realistic way of addressing the serious problems affecting U.S.-Nicaragua relations. This position was most recently stated in testimony by Cardinal John J. O'Connor before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on International Operations on April 17 and 18, 1985.
In that testimony we said: "Our central moral concern at this point is for a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict and therefore for an end to all military assistance from any outside party. We must oppose military aid from the United States, the Soviet Union or any other country to any party to the conflict in Nicaragua, whether the Sandinista Government or any irregular military force in conflict with the government." We seriously question proposals which provide equivalent assistance even though not under the title of military aid.
Efforts to provide genuinely humanitarian assistance both to Nicaraguan refugees outside their country as well as to needy and suffering people within Nicaragua without regard to their political views are worthy of serious consideration. While we must, in principle, be in favor of such aid, we are conscious of the enormous practical difficulties in providing truly humanitarian aid at the levels needed.
We must also question such actions as the recent unilateral economic embargo whose effect Cardinal Obando of Managua has described as aggravating an already "very difficult economic situation with a scarcity of food."
The Bishops of Nicaragua have repeatedly called for a sincere and inclusive dialogue as the way to begin healing the divisions within the Nicaraguan family. The Government of Nicaragua continues to call for the resumption of bilateral discussions between it and the United States. And the governments of Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela, the Contadora Group, stand ready to facilitate the multilateral agreements essential to peace and stability in the region.
It is our conviction that U. S. policy should be committed firmly to the pursuit of all three forms of dialogue -- internal, bilateral, and regional. A first step is to resume and upgrade the bilateral talks begun at Manzanillo. It is through such diplomatic structures as this that we can most fruitfully address concerns about both the internal as well as the external policies of the Nicaraguan Government.
Reverend Msgr. Daniel F. Hoye