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Aid for Nicaragua clears Congress

Senate approval of a $75 million aid package for Nicaragua is likely to strengthen the hand of moderates in the Central American country's government, Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell reports. The Senate action May 19, in a 44-to-35 vote, approves the original House of Representatives version of the aid measure, which provides, among other safeguards, for termination of the aid if the Nicaraguan government permits the stationing of foreign troops on its soil. That proviso is aimed at Cuba and the Soviet Union, two countries with which the new Nicaraguan government has ties.

Nicaraguan moderates, including members of the private sector, have been hoping for approval of the aid with the hope that it will ensure continuation of a pluralistic political system in Nicaragua, together with a mixed economy. The Marxist-leaning Sandinista guerrillas have pledged such a society, but there have been many doubts about the prospect over the long run.

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The measure now goes to the White House for signing.

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