On January 10, we published articles by Ronnie Dugger and Maury Maverick on civil liberties in Nicaragua and the position U.S. citizens, and particularly U. S. progressives, should take in relation to Nicaraguan affairs and the conduct of the U.S. government in that region. We received the following letters in response to those articles. Ronnie Dugger is taking this opportunity to meditate upon the content of the letters addressing him and will write a reply to appear in a future issue of the Observer. The editors. Two Mistakes Your recent articles on Nicaragua continue the tradition of other North American journals and newspapers by Cruz, Jr., was never a “Sandinista” and, in fact, has not had a permanent residence in Nicaragua for almost 20 relationship with Nicaragua the issue of national sovereignty never gets addressed. When the Nicaraguan Civil Liberties Union can come to the U.S. to study our state of freedom in order to determine if they should continue to support “Contras” invading our country, then it would be time to send our American Civil Liberties Union to Nicaragua to make a similar study. Daniel M. Long La lglesia Luterana Americana El Distrito del Sur San Antonio Paternalistic Racism Implicit both in your articles on Nicaragua and in your request for reader comment is the paternalistic racism that permeates so much of our attitude toward the nations to the south. Why weren’t you ready “to stir up the ant bed” last year over President Reagan’s off-hand response to a reporter’s shouted question, when he said that his policy on Nicaragua was to make Daniel Ortega say “uncle”? Warming over material already covered in depth in a wide range of national periodicals is a wasted effort. Such soulsearching merely dilutes what should be a single-minded continuing endeavor on the part of all thinking Americans to end U.S. interference in Nicaragua and in the rest of Central America. At this juncture, the over-riding concern should be to keep up the pressure on Congress to reject the President’s demands for renewed aid to his terroristic fighters against freedom. Edward M. Corbett Commerce Agrees with Dugger Since our days at the University of Texas, I have had an extremely difficult time finding any political position taken by Ronnie Dugger with which I can agree. Maury Maverick has finally rescued me. I called him several nights ago to tell him so. Ronnie, I think correctly, points out that Marxist-Leninism requires a permanent unanimity behind the policies of a one-party state. It seems to me that this should be borne in mind when we are forced to a choice in some countries between a military dictatorship \(usually influenced government. Picking between extremists of the Left and extremists of the Right is like being forced to choose between smallpox and cholera. However, the dictatorship of the Right has one thing to recommend it. If you will look at a map of South and Central America as of 1975, you will find that virtually all of those countries had governments which were right-wing military dictatorships. Between 1975 and 1985, almost all of those countries have held free elections and have gone back to civilian governments. Guatemala has installed a freely elected government this month. In the case of the Marxist-Leninist governments, they will not permit the people to vote them out of office, since they are convinced that they have the answer to the political and economic problems of mankind, and there can be no reversal of a Socialist Revolution. While I am willing to give Ronnie and the Observer some Brownie points in that connection, I am still suffering over the election of Mr. Gramm. I am a Democrat, and I want to see Democrats elected. We had three Democratic candidates to choose from in the primaries. Two of the three could have beaten Mr. Gramm. In the run-off we had two. I think Bob Krueger could have beat Mr. Gramm. So the good liberal Democrats worked like beavers and nominate someone that Mr. Gramm can beat. Don’t complain about Gramm-Rudman you helped do it with your little newspaper. Hugh H. Meyer Hondo Misplaced Emphasis We are a group of Texas civil rights lawyers who recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua. We met with many groups and individuals, both proand anti-Sandinista, with whom we discussed numerous aspects of Nicaraguan life, including issues of civil liberties. We met with a Supreme Court Justice, the Secretary-General of the major opposition labor confederation, and with delegates to the National Assembly from both Sandinista and opposition political parties. We met with agricultural workers, dockworkers, childcare workers, religious leaders, and leaders of the national women’s group. We were free to go wherever we wanted and to talk to whomever we pleased. Our experiences made us feel very strongly and sincerely that Ronnie Dugger’s emphasis is sadly misplaced. We feel this way, not because we choose to ignore the serious issue of civil liberties in wartime, but because this issue is dwarfed by the other problems that Nicaragua is now facing. The government there is attempting to consolidate a social revolution against the legacy of poverty, disease, corruption, and illiteracy that was left by the U.S.-backed dictatorships of the last half century. At the same time, it is fighting a full-scale war against the remnants of the Somoza forces. This war may seem merely a “stated reason” for emergency legislation to civil libertarians in Texas. In Nicaragua it is real. We quickly found that there is a tremendous difference between realizing on an intellectual level that our country is carrying on an unjust war, and witnessing the day-to-day effects of that war on Nicaraguan lives: the photographs, posted on a parish church door. of men and women from the neighborhood who had been kidnapped by the contras; a service in which the father of a 16-year-old soldier who had died at the front received his hat and letters from his returning comrades; a conversation about the war with Hanibal, a bus Contra dictions Our Readers Respond 8 FEBRUARY 7, 1986
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