John Davis, director of Eastern European Affairs at the State Department, was incorrectly quoted in Sunday's editions as saying the Reagan administration hoped the Polish labor movement Solidarity would "bring about the end" of the current government in Warsaw. According to a recording of the speech, Davis said that "only with the help and cooperation of Solidarity which represents, as I say, the majority of the Polish people, can we hope and can the regime in Poland hope to bring about the recovery, and a social compact, an understanding and a movement forward in Poland for which we all yearn."
A senior State Department official said yesterday the policies of the Polish government have failed, and expressed hope that the Solidarity labor movement "will bring about the end" of the current government in Warsaw.
"These are dark days for Poland," John Davis, director of Eastern European Affairs for the department, told an audience in Alexandria welcoming a trainload of foodstuffs bound for Gdansk. "The programs of the government in Poland have failed....Solidarity represents the majority of the people...and we hope it will bring about the end of the regime in Poland."
In his speech Davis said that "all of us in the U.S. government...hope that reason will prevail and that moderate policies will be adopted."
He said later that his remarks were "off the cuff" and that he did not mean to imply that the United States was hoping Solidarity would challenge Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the country's military chief of state. "If I said that, it was not my intention. Solidarity does represent the majority of the people in Poland and we hope the regime will come to recognize that fact and agree to negotiate with Solidarity. We regret the new repression there. They've used rather strong police tactics in the last few days."
His remarks, delivered at ceremonies welcoming to Washington the "Solidarity Express," a train loaded with $8 million in food, medicine and clothing destined for Poland, were among the most pointed remarks any Reagan administration official has made about Poland in recent weeks.
Davis told the gathering of about 75 people, mostly members of this area's Polish-American community, that despite the restrictions the Jaruzelski government has imposed, "The spirit of the people has never been repressed... Time after time, they have risen up to find a better way. That spirit will never die."
Rep. Edward J. Derwinski (R-Ill.), a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, began his remarks by pointing to his bandaged right arm, which was injured in a shooting accident. "I would like to be dramatic and tell you the reason I have this arm is that I punched Gen. Jaruzelski, but that is not the case," he said to laughter.
Officials of the Polish-American Congress, the organization that arranged the cermony, expressed pleasure at the trainload of goods, which started in Chicago and grew as it stopped in other Midwestern cities.
"These goods will go to Gdansk, promised Jan Kanty Miska, president of the congress's Washington branch. "It will go to the poor, the elderly, to all the people the communist system has failed." Gdansk is the Baltic seaport where the Solidarity confederation of Polish labor unions was founded.
The ceremony also provided an opportunity for Solidarity's sympathizers here to express frustration and hope. "My parents were born in Poland, and every time I think about the situation over there, I cry," said Mrs. Jean Nosek, of Alexandria, who had brought a box packed with cereal, macaroni and coffee to add to the train's cargo.
The train will remain in Alexandria until Monday, when its 20 containers will be loaded on trucks bound for Baltimore to be placed aboard Polish ships. In Poland, the donated items are to be distributed by the Catholic Church.
"This food is not helping the government, but they need it," Miska said. "Even Communists don't want anticommunists to die. They just want them subdued."