Joint Declaration of the Central American Presidents
The Presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, meeting in the province of La Paz in the Republic of El Salvador on February 13 and 14 of 1989, analyzed the current situation in the Central American peace process and adopted the measures necessary to enforce this process, based on the understanding that the commitments assumed under Esquipulas II and the Alajuela Declaration are a harmonious and indivisible whole.
The Presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were informed of the position of the Constitutional President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, to develop a process of democratization and national reconciliation in his country, within the framework of the Esquipulas II Accord and in keeping with the following actions, among others:
Once reforms have been made in electoral legislation and laws regulating expression, information and public opinion in such a way as to guarantee political organization and action in the broadest sense for political parties, then an initial four-month period for preparation, organization and mobilization of parties will be opened. Immediately following the expiration of said period, a new six-month period for political activity will begin. At the end of this six-month period, elections for President, Vice President and representatives to the National Assembly, Municipalities and Central American Parliament will be held. Elections should take place no later than February 25, 1990, unless the Government and opposition political parties mutually agree that they should be held on another date. The Government of Nicaragua will form a Supreme Electoral Council with balanced participation of representatives from opposition political parties. In this spirit, the Presidents call on all Nicaraguan political parties to participate in the electoral process.
International observers will be invited to participate in all the election districts during the two aforementioned stages to certify the integrity of the process. A special invitation will be extended to delegates of the Secretaries General of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
The Government of Nicaragua will guarantee the free functioning of the communications media by means of a review and modification of the Law on Media. Furthermore, it will guarantee equal access to transmission schedules and broadcast time on television and state radio stations for all political parties. The Government of Nicaragua will authorize all communications media to supply themselves from within the country or abroad, at their convenience, with all materials, instruments and equipment necessary for the full completion of their work.
In accord with the proposal by the President of Nicaragua, and at the initiative of the President of Honduras, the Central American Presidents commit themselves to formulate, within a period of no more than 90 days, a joint Plan for the voluntary demobilization, repatriation or relocation in Nicaragua and in third countries of Nicaraguan Resistance members and their families. For that purpose, the Presidents will request technical assistance from specialized organizations of the United Nations.
In order to contribute to the creation of conditions for the voluntary demobilization, relocation or repatriation of Nicaraguans who may have been involved in direct or indirect armed activities and who are in Honduran territory, the Government of Nicaragua has decided to proceed with the release of prisoners, in keeping with the classification made by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
This Joint Plan also contemplates assistance for demobilization of all those persons who were or are involved in armed actions in countries of the region, when they voluntarily request it.
In order to comply with the commitments on verification security, the Executive Committee is hereby charged with the task of immediately organizing technical meetings to establish the most appropriate and efficient mechanisms for verification, in accord with talks held in New York with the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The Presidents reaffirmed the authority of the National Reconciliation Commissions to continue verification in the areas outlined by the Guatemala Procedure and the Alajuela declaration. These Commissions should periodically inform the Executive Committee of the results of their work.
The Central American Presidents firmly repeated the request contained in Numeral 5 of the Esquipulas II Accord that regional and extra-regional governments that either openly or secretly supply aid to irregular forces of insurrectional movements in the area immediately halt such aid, with the exception of humanitarian aid that contributes to the goals of this document.
The Presidents urge all sectors, especially the insurrectional movements and irregular forces in the region, to join the constitutional political processes of each country. In this spirit, the Presidents appeal to all sectors in El Salvador to participate in the next elections.
The Presidents reiterated the importance of the Central American Parliament as a forum where all peoples of the region, by means of free and direct elections of representatives, will discuss and draft appropriate recommendations regarding the political, economic, social and cultural problems of Central America.
The presidents made an urgent appeal to the international community to support the process of socioeconomic recovery in the Central American nations, in both the short and long term, given the seriousness of the foreign debt problem and the need for recovery of the levels of intra-regional trade as a fundamental factor for strengthening the integration process. In particular, the Presidents requested the support of the European Community in the implementation of a program of restructuring, reactivation and strengthening of the economic integration process on the Central American isthmus, which was officially presented in Guatemala this past January.
Similarly, they received with great approval the Report by the International Commission for Central American Recovery and Development, which is a significant contribution to the consolidation of democracy and the creation of a system of social and economic welfare and justice in the region.
The Presidents remain committed primarily to search for directly negotiated solutions to overcoming the conflicts that have arisen due to the Central American crisis.
The Presidents agreed to create a Central American Commission on the Environment and Development as a regional mechanism of cooperation to achieve the optimal and rational use of natural resources in the area, control contamination and reestablish an ecological balance. The Executive Committee, at its next meeting, will appoint and immediately convene the aforementioned Commission so it can draft a treaty to regulate its character and functions.
Moreover, the Presidents granted their firm support to the International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA) to be held in Guatemala in May of this year. This conference will contribute positively to the search for solutions to the flow of refugees and displaced people affected by the crisis in the region.
The Presidents agreed to foster a Regional Cooperation Accord for the elimination of illegal drug trafficking. To that end, the Executive Committee will draft an accord to be delivered to the affected Governments.
Similarly, the Presidents expressed the intention of their Governments to support the initiative favoring the formulation of a Convention on the Rights of Children in the United Nations.
The Presidents agreed to meet in the Republic of Honduras, on a date to be determined subsequently.
The Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica thank the people and Government of El Salvador, and most especially their President, José Napoléon Duarte, for the hospitality that provided the appropriate conditions for this meeting to be held.
Province of La Paz, El Salvador, February 14, 1989
Oscar Arias Sánchez
President of the Republic of Costa Rica
José Napoleón Duarte,
President of the Republic of El Salvador
Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo,
President of the Republic of Guatemala
José Azcona H.
President of the Republic of Honduras
Daniel Ortega Saavedra,
President of the Republic of Nicaragua