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nonsense to contend that it is cultural presumption for anyone to advocate what he or she believes. If, on an ultimate guilt trip, we let ourselves be silenced by the argument that since our nation has done great wrong in the past we must shut our mouths, we might as well check the game to the right-wingers and forget about real liberty and real justice in the rest of the world. This is one place, one world, and appeals to isolationism, whether they are derived from acceptable -ideals or take the form of accusations of cultural presumption, are as obsolete as the idea that “bombs bursting in air” is the proof that our flag is still there. Although it does not at first so appear, the argument that we should not presume to have opinions on events abroad because we are citizens of a guilty nation is simply a reformulation of two errors, the doctrine of collective guilt and the plainest kind of nationalistic provincialism. 2. MY FRIEND, the attorney Jim , Simons, in his letter, raised the question of courage. “Liberals,” he wrote, “must allow their consciences to come out of hiding and to quit being diverted by niggling criticisms of the Sandinistas.” In the light of pressures on the American left to shut up about civil liberties in Nicaragua, I would ask whether it takes more courage to keep one’s mouth shut on the question or to speak out. To use Simons’s formulation, when are progressives going to allow their consciences to come out of hiding on the civil liberties of the people of Nicaragua? Giving us the benefit of his time in Nicaragua and urging me to go there for myself, Simons assures us that “prominent revolutionary heroes in the government such as the poet Tomas Borge are strongly civil libertarian in their outlook and actions.” This may be true. In 1983, however. Borge remarked, in a Playboy interview, that he told his mother he was a communist. Poet Borge is also Interior Minister Borge, about whom Stephen Kinzer reported from Nicaragua in the New York Times on Sept. 3, 1985: “Now at the seat of power, Mr. Borge is often viewed as among the hardestline of the nine Sandinista commanders who run Nicaragua. Some say he and his supporters form a power center that rivals the group around the supposedly more moderate President, Daniel Ortega Saavedra. “As Interior Minister, Mr. Borge’s domain is vast, and his power within it is all but absolute. In addition to the police and fire departments, he oversees the prison system, the state security and intelligence apparatus, the press censorship office, the customs service and the nationwide network of Sandinista Defense Committees. He also controls elite combat units believed to number about 5,000 men. . . . “Mr. Borge . . . periodically imprisons political activists in isolated cells. ” ‘He told me,’ said Enrique Sotelo Borgen, a conservative member of the National Assembly, ‘that within half an hour after the first American paratroopers land in Nicaragua, all the opposition leaders will be rounded up and … “Mr. Borge said that in the coming months, Sandinista leaders may decide to take ‘firmer attitudes’ toward their domestic adversaries. `Without a doubt, United States imperialism has decided to destroy us,’ he said. `This consolidating of revolutionary forces means we have to hit even those sectors which partially support the revolution.’ ” Six weeks later, Borge’s “firmer attitudes” materialized as the Sandinista decree continuing censorship and suspending free speech, free assembly, free movement in the country, the privacy of mail, the right to organize labor unions, the right to strike, and the right of habeas corpus for prisoners accused of crimes against “the security of the nation and the public order.” According to Ronald Radosh, writing on the op-ed page of the New York Times March 7, in an article printed in Managua last year Borge advocated “coercion by the state” and “development of counter-intelligence services.” Relevant testimony is offered, in some of the letters and in much that has been written by travelers in Nicaragua \(including, of course, Maury Maverick, draconian terms of the decree suspending civil liberties, much freedom of speech and movement can be observed. Far from wishing to controvert this testimony, I welcome it and celebrate the persistence of liberty there. However, there is also contrary testimony. Last Oct. 12 Nicaraguan security forces seized nearly all copies of lglesia, a new Catholic newspaper, and its press and printing equipment. An issue of La Prensa was to have carried six articles on its front page one Monday that month; only one of the six was cleared by the censorship. Under the emergency decree of Oct. 15, the government required Cardinal Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo, the leader of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, to submit his Sunday homilies to the government for approval. He refused; his masses have not been heard on the radio since. On Jan. 2 the government closed the official radio station of the Catholic Church for an indefinite period after it failed to broadcast most of a yearend message from President Ortega. The government ordered the Confederation for Labor Unity , identified in the New York Times as a coalition of nonSandinista trade unions, that it must stop publishing its monthly magazine, Solidaridad. The government ordered the Permanent Commission on Human Rights to stop circulating its monthly newsletter and its special bulletins about alleged human rights abuses. The lawyer who heads this commission estimated to the Washington Post in mid-December that since the preceding October, more than 300 persons had been summoned for interrogation by the General Directorate for State Security, including not fewer than 100 Catholic lay activists and 50 priests, and that about 20 of the more than 300 were still in jail at that time. Last month, according to the Washington Post, Amnesty International “said political, business, and labor leaders sometimes are arrested, held incommunicado under harsh conditions, and interrogated. Most have been released. It said former prisoners reported being held in small cells with the lights on all the time, being threatened with indefinite imprisonment and being awakened every ten minutes at night. The report singled out for criticism the Interior Ministry’s State Security Service, which it said routinely holds prisoners incommunicado and without charge. . . .” Amnesty also said that some trade union and political party leaders have been detained repeatedly, sometimes for a year or more, and threatened with further and longer terms in prison without trial “as a consequence of further independent trade union or political party activities.” As has been wisely said, it is difficult to know whom to believe in these matters. The information in the preceding paragraph, however, comes from reporting in the New York Times of Oct. 16, 17, 24, 1985, and Jan. 3 and 4, 1986, the Washington Post of Dec. 15, 1985, and Feb. 13, 1986, and the Manchester Guardian Weekly of Feb. 23, 1986. According to Radosh in the Times March 7, “labor leaders protesting wage cuts have been accused of economic sabotage and thrown into prison,” and new revolutionary people’s courts -convict people exclusively for political crimes, such as bringing in unauthorized 14 MARCH 21, 1986