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National Archives

Public Papers - 1989

White House Statement on the President's Meeting With Violeta Chamorro of Nicaragua

1989-05-05

The President today met with Mrs. Violeta Chamorro, publisher of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa. Mrs. Chamorro is in Washington at the invitation of the National Endowment for Democracy. Mrs. Chamorro and La Prensa have become symbols of freedom of expression and the struggle against tyranny and dictatorship throughout Latin America, beginning with the struggle against the Somoza government.

During the meeting, the President expressed his deep regard for Mrs. Chamorro and her unceasing efforts to carry on the tradition of her assassinated husband over the last 10 years, in the face of Sandinista harassment and intimidation. The President told Mrs. Chamorro that he shared her disappointment and concern that the new media law promulgated by the Sandinistas does not guarantee the free functioning of the media and unrestricted political expression. The new law gives the Ministry of Interior wide latitude for prosecuting and punishing the media for such ill-defined concepts as violating ``national integrity'' and for publishing ``injurious, defamatory and false news.'' Rather than relaxing existing controls and increasing freedom of expression, the law is a more systematic compilation of existing restrictions and sanctions.

The Sandinista media law, as well as the recently approved electoral law, do not comply with the letter or the spirit of the Esquipulas and El Salvador agreements signed by Central American leaders. The President and Mrs. Chamorro expressed their hope that international leaders would use their influence to persuade the Sandinistas to fulfill their commitment.

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