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Public Papers - 1990 - March

Remarks on Economic Assistance for Nicaragua and Panama and an Exchange With Reporters

1990-03-20

The President. What I wanted to say is that what I want to talk about today is Panama and Nicaragua. The changes there are dramatic in terms of democracy. Yesterday I was asked about Cuba, and of course, I'm terribly disappointed that Castro seems to be firming up his totalitarian position instead of moving towards the free and fair elections -- what I think all of us here would like to see. I'd like to see him shift from that highly militarized island and let democracy have a chance.

But I think if we are helpful to Nicaragua and Panama, it will simply increase the pressure in that marvelous island of Cuba for change. And so, this is what I'd like to talk about today. And I know that the Senate and House are going to come to grips with this problem. But this is the agenda, and then anything else that's on you all's mind.

Lithuanian Independence

Q. Mr. President, are you worried that Gorbachev might make some move on Lithuania?

The President. Well, I'm glad that they're still talking peaceful change. That's essential, and they've been very good about it -- the Soviets have -- all through Eastern Europe. And that's what everybody wants to see, is a peaceful evolution in Lithuania. And -- --

Q. Then you don't think he will?

The President. -- -- so, that's the way it is. And I've learned not to go into a lot of hypothetical questions. I'm sure every Member here has asked questions on this subject. And we want to see democracy and freedom. We want to see self-determination. And we also want to see peaceful evolution. And that is in the interest of Eastern Europe as they begin to solidify their democracy. And so, that would be my appeal. And the second one would be please don't ask me any more hypothetical questions because I don't want to get -- --

Q. But it's not a hypothetical. Have you been in contact with Gorbachev on this question?

The President. Previously, yes.

Note: The President spoke at 10:05 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House, prior to a meeting with congressional leaders.

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