Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Central America

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th February 1986.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly 12:00 am, 5th February 1986

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made by the Council of Ministers to the United States of America on its policy in Central America.

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

None, Sir. However, the United States Government are aware of the Twelve's views on Central America. The Twelve support a comprehensive negotiated settlement in Central America, based on the Contadora objectives. This was made clear in the communiqués issued after the Luxembourg conference, and more recently in the statement issued on 20 January welcoming the impetus given to the Contadora process by the Caraballeda declaration.

Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly

What is the response of the Government and the Council of Ministers to President Reagan's recent description of the Contras in Nicaragua as freedom fighters? Does the Minister share the view of many British people that the Contras are nothing more than terrorists, and that the only effect of their actions in Nicaragua is to undermine the democratically elected Government's efforts to improve the living conditions of ordinary people?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

The Government believe that the region's problems cannot be solved by armed force. We constantly urge restraint on all sides. We welcome President Reagan's written assurance to a United States Congressman last year that he is not seeking the military overthrow of the Sandinista Government.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch

As President Reagan, in the State of the Union message, referred to those people as freedom fighters, and as my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said — and we all agree — that we should not be selective in the use of such phrases, will my hon. Friend ensure that a message is sent to President Reagan telling him that many people in western Europe feel that if the phrase "freedom fighters" applies to those people, it should also apply to the ANC, the UDF and the Palestinians?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

We are convinced that the problems of the region cannot be resolved by armed force. We regularly and constantly discuss important issues about Central America with the United States Administration, who are well aware of our views.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Does the Minister not accept that there is something inconsistent about British policy towards Central America, in that the Government reduced and then removed all aid to Nicaragua, but increased it to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala? Are the Government prepared to support repressive and not especially democratic Governments, while being critical of the Government of Nicaragua? Should not the Government come clean and, if they do support the Contadora process, say that they condemn the human rights violations in the other countries? Will the Government immediately resume aid to the people of Nicaragua?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

There is nothing inconsistent in our policies. We have not stopped aid to Nicaragua.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

If, indeed—as we all hope—President Reagan is not aiming at the overthrow of the Nicaraguan Government, is it not the most cynical and brutal irresponsibility for him to ask for arms, organisation and money for a most brutal group of terrorists who are seeking to overthrow the Nicaraguan Government?

If the Government indeed support the Caraballeda declaration of last week, which was also supported by America's allies in the area, notably the Governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica, will they further the recommendation of the Caraballeda group that the United States should negotiate directly with the Government of Nicaragua for an end to the conflict?

Photo of Mr Timothy Eggar Mr Timothy Eggar , Enfield North

The right hon. Gentleman simply could not have been listening to the replies given by my right hon. and learned Friend and myself. A clear statement was issued on 20 January in support of the Caraballeda process.