Negotiating with Foreign Leaders
September 01,1987


One of his most dramatic foreign encounters, Dole was pitted against Nicaraguan strongman Jose Daniel Ortega, whose Sandinista regime was widely regarded as a Soviet client state. In late August of 1987, Senator Dole traveled with four other Senators to meet with President Ortega. The meeting quickly devolved into a public spectacle between Dole and Ortega as the debate was broadcast live over the government controlled radio station, Voice of Nicaragua. Ortega refused Dole’s request for three way negotiations with the United States and the Contras. Dole was successful in negotiating the release of two Nicaraguan human rights activists who were jailed after organizing a protest march against Ortega. Dole continued his adamant support for the full restoration of democracy in Nicaragua, saying “Freedom is our natural heritage, and a very important part of our international responsibility. We—the United States of America—we are the leaders of the free world. That is not just rhetoric. It is very hard reality.”