Nicaragua, Civil Liberties, and U.S. Policy

Nicaragua, Civil Liberties, and U.S. Policy

In mid-October the Nicaraguan government announced a suspension of civil liberties, including the rights to free expression, free assembly, and privacy in the use of postal services. With these measures has come a new stringency in the censorship of the press. As democrats we are obliged to condemn the government’s action: we believe that such measures can only be justified, by a legitimate government, under a threat to the very survival of the country itself in time of war. This justification was not, however, invoked by President Ortega. His pretext instead was the discovery of a bomb plot that suggested a larger but as yet unconfirmable design of urban terrorism against the government. By Ortega’s own account, his defensive war against the Contras is proceeding successfully in any case. Had the government responded to the threat by strengthening the police, without greatly impairing the liberties of the people, it would have commanded respect.

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