[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 8 (Thursday, February 3, 1994)]
[Senate]
[Page S]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]


[Congressional Record: February 3, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

 
         REPORT ON TRIP TO HONDURAS, EL SALVADOR, AND NICARAGUA

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, from December 6 to 9, 1993, I traveled to 
Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua in my capacity as chairman of the 
Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The purpose of my trip was to discuss 
with local and U.S. officials the implications of the decline in U.S. 
foreign assistance to these countries, as well as issues specific to 
each country such as the elections and increase in violence in El 
Salvador and the proposed release of $40 million in economic assistance 
to Nicaragua. I ask unanimous consent to include in the Record at this 
point the report on my trip which I submitted to the distinguished 
chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
  There being no objection, the report was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:


                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                 Washington, DC, January 31, 1994.
     Hon. Robert C. Byrd,
     Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Bob: During the December recess, with your approval, I 
     traveled to Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. I am making 
     my trip report available to you in the hope that it will be 
     of use to the Appropriations Committee as it considers 
     continuing economic assistance to those three countries.
       With best regards.
           Sincerely,
                                                    Patrick Leahy,
                         Chairman;Foreign Operations Subcommittee.
                                  ____


 Trip Report, Senator Patrick Leahy, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, 
                           December 6-9, 1993

       From December 6-9, 1993, I traveled to Honduras, El 
     Salvador and Nicaragua in my capacity as chairman of the 
     Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The purpose of my trip was 
     to discuss with local and US officials the implications of 
     the decline in US foreign assistance to these countries, as 
     well as issues specific to each country such as the elections 
     and increase in violence in El Salvador and the proposed 
     release of $40 million in economic assistance to Nicaragua.


                                honduras

       I spent one and a half days in Honduras. In addition to 
     receiving the country's highest award (the Grand Cross of the 
     Civil Order of Jose Cecilio del Valle) in recognition of the 
     Vermont-Honduras Partners, I met with President Callejas, 
     Foreign Minister Carias and other Cabinet members, the 
     Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights, US 
     Ambassador Pryce and other US officials.
       Honduras recently held national elections which were 
     universally regarded as free and fair. The National Party, 
     which had held power, was defeated. The new Liberal Party 
     President, Carlos Roberto Reina, who is considered honest and 
     a strong advocate for human rights, will be inaugurated 
     January 28, 1994. He has said that his priorities will be 
     strengthening civilian control over the military, fighting 
     corruption, and reducing poverty.
       In my meeting with President Callejas, I raised two cases 
     involving property owned by American citizens which have been 
     confiscated without compensation. With respect to the Louis 
     Vallentine case, although the Government concedes that 
     compensation is due, it says it does not have the necessary 
     funds. I was told by Callejas and the Mayor of Tegucigalpa 
     that the municipality is willing to provide Vallentine with 
     comparable property which he can then sell, although efforts 
     by the Embassy to secure such an offer in writing had so far 
     failed. The Holly Adams Damon case is significantly more 
     complicated since it involves confiscation of the property by 
     a former business partner and outgoing Member of Congress. 
     However, Callejas agreed to look into it further.
       I also discussed with Callejas a case involving the 
     disappearance of two Honduran men which was the subject of a 
     claim in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Court 
     ordered the Honduran Government to pay compensation, but 
     because of the Government's delay and subsequent currency 
     devalutions, the Government failed to pay the full value of 
     the award. President Callejas did not dispute that the former 
     government had failed to pay on a timely basis, but he was 
     pessimistic that full compensation could be provided 
     because of the precedent he said this would set for others 
     who would claim to have been injured by the devaluations. 
     However, in later discussions of this matter with 
     Ambassador Pryce and Commissioner Valladares, Valladares 
     suggested that if the parties could agree on an amount to 
     resolve the case, incoming President Reina, formerly a 
     justice on the Inter-American Court, would probably 
     support legislation to provide this amount.
       Callejas and Foreign Minister Carias asked me if the United 
     States would assist Honduras get rid of the landmines along 
     the Honduran-Nicaraguan border, which continue to kill and 
     maim civilians living in that area. I told them that since 
     the funds for demining had been included in the Defense 
     Appropriations and Foreign Operations legislation at my 
     initiative, I would pursue this with the Administration.
       I traveled to Lake Yojoa, where I met with representatives 
     of US AID, an NGO named ``Global Village,'' and the Peace 
     Corps. They are collectively supporting a rural education 
     project designed to assist local communities in protecting 
     the threatened watershed of the Lake Yojoa region. I also 
     visited Santa Rosa de Copan, to observe a road construction 
     project financed by US AID.


                              el salvador

       I spent one day and a night in El Salvador. I delivered a 
     speech to several hundred recruits at the National Police 
     Academy, visited the Divine Providence Orphanage in Santa 
     Tecla, visited a prosthetics workshop for war wounded, met 
     with President Cristiani, had lunch with approximately 30 
     government, FMLN, church, business and other private sector 
     leaders, and met privately with Ambassador Flanigan, other 
     Embassy officials, and members of the foreign press.
       El Salvador is in the midst of an historic election 
     campaign. I found general agreement that, after a slow start, 
     the process of registering voters was a success. (Some 
     observers believe that the Government's effort to register 
     large numbers of eligible voters in the three months before 
     the November 20th deadline was due in large part to the 
     withholding of economic assistance by the Congress.) 
     Approximately 588,000 of the 785,000 newly registered voters 
     are first-time registrants. According to the Embassy, if all 
     those who registered actually vote, the number who vote will 
     exceed 80 percent of eligible voters. However, Ambassador 
     Flanigan agreed with me that if the Government is unable to 
     provide voting cards to all registered voters, any person who 
     can prove he or she has registered should be permitted to 
     vote. I was told that the UN also takes this position, and I 
     stressed the importance of all registered voters being 
     permitted to vote in my meeting with President Cristiani.
       In addition to the upcoming elections, a focus of my 
     discussions was the recent resurgence of violence, some of 
     which appear to be politically motivated. Several FMLN 
     leaders have been assassinated, including one candidate 
     for the Central American Parliament who was gunned down 
     the morning I left El Salvador. I was told, belatedly, 
     that earlier on the day of my visit President Cristiani 
     had met with members of the foreign press who he blamed 
     for suggesting that the recent killing may have been 
     committed by right-wing death squads, a suggestion he 
     denied. President Cristiani told me that there is evidence 
     that the murder of FMLN leader Francisco Velis, was a 
     common crime. I was later told by an Embassy official that 
     the Embassy does not give much weight to this view. 
     Apparently, the evidence President Cristiani was referring 
     to is that the gunman, before shooting Velis, demanded his 
     car. The gunman then got into a getaway car and fled 
     without Velis' car.
       I also discussed with President Cristiani the decline in US 
     foreign assistance to El Salvador. I said that this trend 
     will continue due to overall cuts in foreign aid and the 
     shift in the Congress' attention to Russia, although I 
     believe the US still has significant interests in Central 
     America that warrant continued US assistance.


                               nicaragua

       I spent a half day in Nicaragua, where I met with 
     Ambassador Maisto, US AID Mission Director Ballantyne, other 
     Embassy officials, President Chamorro, and members of her 
     cabinet.
       President Chamorro, the UNO and Sandinista parties have 
     been locked in a political stalemate for close to a year. I 
     was told by Ambassador Maisto that in the meantime, although 
     inflation has been cut to almost zero, the economy has 
     continued to weaken, unemployment remain high, poverty has 
     increased, human rights abuses have gone unpunished, and the 
     investigation of the May 1993 arms cache explosion is still 
     incomplete. US officials said the Government was making 
     progress in resolving the American property cases, although 
     it was not moving as fast as it should particularly on cases 
     involving confiscation by the Government. Ambassador Maisto 
     argued that despite the generally gloomy picture it was 
     essential that $40 million in Economic Support Funds be 
     released to demonstrate continued US support for President 
     Chamorro. He said that the political stalemate was largely 
     due to extremists on the right and left who believe that the 
     US no longer supports her, and that if they refuse to 
     compromise her government may fall.
       In contrast, Nicaraguan officials insisted that they are on 
     the right track and the economy is on the mend. Whether or 
     not this is true, shortly after my trip, a compromise was 
     reached which may break the logjam in the National Assembly 
     and permit the legislature to function again.
       I told US AID Mission Director Ballantyne that the emphasis 
     of the US assistance program should be on addressing urgent 
     social needs such as health, education, and unemployment. She 
     said this will be the focus in the future.
       I told President Chamorro that support for substantial aid 
     to Nicaragua has all but evaporated in the Congress. I said 
     that while I recognize a strong case can be made for the 
     release of the $40 million requested by the Administration, I 
     do not expect such large amounts of aid to be provided in the 
     future. I also stressed that I believe the Government needs 
     to put more effort into investigating and prosecuting human 
     rights cases.

                          ____________________