No one can be quite sure exactly how much money, military support, and relief supplies may have come from Texas. General John K. Singlaub, the head of the World Anti-Communist League and its U.S. affiliate the United States Council for World Freedom, told the press last fall that nearly half of the $5-to-10 million he had raised from American citizens came from Texans. Singlaub’s group has the highest profile of the money-raising groups active here; a representative of the U.S. Council for World Freedom in Phoenix told the Observer the group has 450 contributors in ,Texas. Singlaub, reached at his Colorado office in February, said private donations have slacked off lately. But, whatever the numbers and dollars might amount to, it is clear that there are friends of “freedom fighters” to be found in all parts of the state a loose network of activists and donors that make up a veritable “contra community” here. A portrait of that community would include evangelicals like William Murray, inheritors of fortunes like Ellen Garwood, big oilmen like the Hunt brothers in Dallas, independent oilmen with longstanding conservative ties, Nicaraguan exiles in Houston, military adventurers from Fort Worth, gun buffs and airplane buffs, neo-conservatives and party Republicans, business tycoons and developers. From a publicity-shy Dallas oilman named Harry Lucas, Jr., to a one-time Republican candidate for Governor named Jack Cox, the ties to Nicaragua are extensive. Cox is coauthor of Nicaragua Betrayed, the inside story of the last days of the Somoza regime before the Sandinista revolution. Cox’s co-author: the late Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. Friends of the contras now look warily to Congress as it once again has the chance to stand with them and President Reagan against “Sovietsponsored revolution” by approving military aid to the rebels. They know that some Texas congressmen are solidly in their camp one hundred percenters like Charlie Wilson for example. Wilson’s support for “freedom fighters” is so strong he has made several trips to the frontlines in Afghanistan to, as he put it, “kill Russians.” He plans to launch a private fundraising drive for the Afghani rebels this spring, according to a recent profile in the Houston Post. Nor does Wilson have any love for the Sandinistas. A friend of Somoza, Wilson consistently argued in Congress for more military aid to Nicaragua’s brutal National Guard, discounting all charges of human rights abuses. The conservative Democrat has been just as steadfast in his support of the Nicaraguan contras, as have the ten Republican representatives from Texas. But some Democrats have wavered. Six of them voted against the $27 million in nonlethal aid to the contras that passed in Congress last summer, bringing, for many in the contra community, their good sense and patriotism into question. Murray says the $27 million wasn’t nearly enough to take care of the needs of the contras and their families. He estimates a million dollar’s worth of goods have passed through his warehouse and on to the thousands of refugees in Honduran border camps. His group has spent $20,000 to $30,000 in transport costs. Some of the cost has been eased by handing over “essential items” directly to the contra organization, the FDN, in the United States. Other items, such as gift-wrapped Christmas packages, have been delivered directly to the families. The work has left a strong impression on him. “Nicaragua is the first literate nation in the world to fall to communism,” he said, asserting that most of those who have fled the country are middle class. “They had homes, they had cars, they had VISA cards, they owned things like the Duncan Donuts franchise, or the McDonald’s franchise,” he said. “And now they’re living in absolute poverty.” Like most of those who have gotten involved in the contra war, Murray emphasizes the “refugee relief” aspect. The U.S. Neutrality Act and other laws prohibit American citizens from organizing military efforts against countries with which the United States is not at war, and thus from participating in weapons supply to the contras. But it is clear that the groups see that helping the refugees in Honduras allows the FDN to concentrate on the war. As FDN official Mario Calero told the Wall Street Journal in 1984, “The FDN has to take care of 20,000 to 30,000 Ellen Garwood refugees, including freedom fighters’ families. Some of the refugees are freedom fighters. I consider myself a refugee.” Murray said there are United Nations camps and Red Cross camps in Honduras, but “my organization helps those families that can’t get into those camps because they have political connections to the FDN.” The Lady Ellen ON ELLEN Garwood’s living room wall, opposite the portrait of President Reagan, is a large portrait of a young and distinguished Will Clayton, Garwood’s father and “the handsomest man who ever went to Washington,” she says. Clayton made his fortune in cotton with the Anderson Clayton Company and served in many governmental positions, including Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs from 1945 to 1947. Garwood remains one of the most outspoken donors in the contra community, so in understanding today’s anticommunists perhaps it is best to start with her. She sat for an interview recently in the living room of her central Austin home. She is 82, vigorous, quick of step and thought, at times almost militant in her views. She began the interview by reading a 1947 memo of Clayton’s that is published in the new edition of the biography she wrote of her father in 1958. In the memo to Secretary of State George Marshall, Clayton warned that the reins of world leadership would soon be picked up by either the United States or Russia. “The United States must take world leadership Friends of the Contras Pho to by Je ff Ru o ff THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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