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the businessmen I also met and who are capitalists?” BITE at the apple. In your heart of hearts, what would you do if you were Daniel Ortega? Would you be a “nice guy” like Salvador Allende of Chile and let the CIA destroy your government and maybe your life? Isn’t what happened to Allende a lesson of history? What about the U.S.-planned golpe mala? Economists tell me that even today Nicaragua has, per capita, more free enterprise than Mexico. Why risk wiping that out by continuing on with the undeclared war by the United States against that little country? Why not invoke the common sense of Dr. John Donahue, give free enterprise a chance, and have trade between our countries instead of an embargo? Is a liberal \(or a smart conservative a thing? Managua-Austin THE FIRST SUPPLICANT to pray for a personal intercession at the evening mass of the Feast of the Assumption, celebrated in the Casa Communal of the Parish of Nicarao, was a sinewy brown woman old at forty. “For my two sons in the mountains, fighting the contra, that you bring them home whole and strong.” Thirty tired parishoners and a Dutch Jesuit responded chorally, “Pedimos al salon ” We pray to the lord. Before the priest could signal the beginning of the liturgy of the eucharist, some sixty petitions had been offered up. The mass of the people on this isthmus is a participatory affair. Variations were minor, all on a common theme: Deliverance. Most prayed for deliverance from the quotidian terror that here is visited upon the just and the unjust. On this particular occasion, I firmly believed that I was among the just. . The Barrio de Nicarao, wedged between the Avenida de la Emboscada and the Pista de la Solidaridad, in northwest Managua, is a poor section of a poor city. “Go there,” a Nicaraguan Jesuit suggested, “and you can meet some of the people who made the revolution.” Members of Christian communidades de base, he explained, who were among the first to demand reform while Anastasio Somoza ruled. Later they would lay the groundwork for the overthrow of the government and the beginning of a “New Nicaragua.” Somehow, I had expected lean Christian revolutionaries. But on this warm August night, in a long narrow woodframe building that served as a church, Louis Dubose is a freelance writer living in Austin. the congregation was made up of tired middle-aged mothers and paunchy working-class men. Most laid claim to the beginning of their country’s revolution. Many had lost sons in the revolution or the contra war. All had gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. And to pray for an end to the contra war. None prayed for deliverance from their own government. After the mass, one of the founders of the Parroquia Nicarao explained how members of a working-class parish helped make their country’s revolution. Julio Sequeira, a large man with a full mustache and horn-rimmed glasses, seemed an unlikely revolutionary. Much of what was revolutionary in the Barrio de Nicarao, as he explained it, was a result of poor, working people coming together to discuss religion. “In 1966, we were a new neighborhood with no priest and no church. We began to meet, to discuss the Bible, to learn what the mass was. We studied the mass, discussed it, interpreted it.” They were joined by a Spanish priest, Jose de la Jara. With de la Jara, they traveled to Panama and met with other Catholics who were working toward popular reform of the Church in Latin America. Many attended cursillos, where they met to study “the Word” and to reconsider their role as Christians. “Justice,” Sequeira said, “was an important theme. . . . We found ourselves, that we were worthwhile, that we were brothers in Christ.” From this epiphany of personal worth came the social and political activism of the parish of Nicarao. The same was happening in other parishes in Nicaragua. What to those who hold to a conspiratorial view of history was leftist manipulation of the Catholic Church, was actually a natural revolutionary process. There was Vatican II, then Medellin, then a heightened interest in the Old Testament, particularly the book of Exodus. All of this in the hothouse environment of Anastasio Somoza’s Nicaragua. By 1969, Sequeira said, “we had become political. We began political study groups in the church, even though it was forbidden by the government.” By 1972, working-class parishes like the Nicarao had become the focus of an anti-Somoza youth movement. “Even before the earthquake our young people were confronting the Guard, so our children were arrested, beaten, harshly persecuted . . . we worked to find refuge for them, to provide safe houses. We moved children from house to house, every night. We had already made contact with the Frente, who were fighting in the mountains. Today, parishioners from the Nicarao hold a handful of minor positions in the Sandinista government. “We worry more about Obando y Bravo [Managua’s conservative Cardinal] than the government,” Sequeira said. 4 HRIST brought us a revolution that transformed a society.” So reads the sign in the auditorium of the Escuela Rodolfo Rodriquez AlvaradoQuincho Barrilete, in the Barrio of San Judas. In Managua there are no more street children. No one sells chicles or salted seeds, no one rides car hoods through intersections while they wipe a windshield for a handful of coins. Quincho is the local idiom that describes a common Latin American type, the poor street kid who survives by pluck, luck, and the kindness of strangers. Six hundred of Managua’s quinchos attend school at the Escuela Rodolfo Rodriquez. It is a cooperative effort, a mixed marriage: in 1981, the Sandinista Ministry of Education proposed that the Sisters of Asuncion, a small Spanish religious order working in Managua, join them in opening a school for quinchos. The sisters built the school; they continue to run it while the Ministry of Education pays forty salaries and funds a nutrition program. “You cannot write,” said a nun who Church and State in Nicaragua By Louis Dubose 6 JANUARY 10, 1986