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To Countless Heroes \(A los heroes sin nombre, Salvador Diaz Mir6n, Mexico, A los Heroes sin Nombre Milicias que en las epicas fatigas caisteis, indistintas e ,ignoradas, cual por la hoz del nistico segadas en tiempo de cosecha las espigas; que moristeis a manos enemigas fulgentes de entusiasmo las miradas, tintas hasta los purios las espadas y rotas por delante las lorigas. iOscuros Alejandros y Espartacos! La ingratitud de vuestro sino aterra la musa de los himnos elegiacos. En las cruentas labores de la guerra, sembradora de lauros, fuisteis sacos de estiacol, ay, para abondar la tierra. Salvador Diaz Miran To Countless Heroes \(A los heroes sin nombre, Salvador Diaz Mir6n, Mexico, 1853 Soldiers you who fell unsung, unnoticed in the great battles, who with peasants’ sickles harvested the corn on time, who died by enemy hands, your eyes wild with fire, your swords red to their hilts and your breastplates ripped. Unknown Alexanders and Spartans! Your thankless fate appals the mue of elegiac hymns. In the bloody labors of .war, the glory-maker, you were just shit-sacks to fertilize the earth. translated by James Hoggard James Hoggard is a poet living in Wichita . Falls. aside. And La Prensa is allowed to coast along on its old reputation as the opposition press headed by Pedro Joaquin Chamorro until he was ambushed by Somoza supporters. But that identity no longer fits because 95 percent of Chamorro’s staff left in protest and joined his brother Xavier Chamorro to start El Nuevo Diario when La Prensa took up its anti-Sandinista line. A drive through northern Nicaragua last summer threw other half-truths once more into sharp relief. Although Reagan, Bush, and the press attribute foreign aid received by the Sandinistas to the Soviets and Cuba, throughout the country one finds evidence of other international support from heavy equipment and technical advisers to volunteer reconstruction workers from France, West Germany, Belgium, Canada, and other nations. All along the one road northwest from the capital of Managua to the Honduran border, people line up hoping for rides from the fortunate few who have transportation and gas. Most of these hitchhikers tell of long walks and even longer waits to reach their destinations. A good many complain loudly and openly about conditions without any apparent fear of reprisal. Nor can people easily call between points. A few telephones scattered at communication centers across the country handle most callers’ needs on a first-comemaybe-first-served basis. The U.S. system put in decades ago was badly maintained under former strongman Anastasio Somoza and cannot be repaired now because the U.S. economic embargo denies Nicaragua parts assuming they could afford such purchases. Once off the major highway, roads are mostly illusion. Only the use of a heavyduty jeep makes it possible to drive over their remnants, gutted by severe tropical storms, flooding, and wear. Maintenance is not budgeted. But the eight-hour, 200-mile trip to Jalapa, a small triangular area jutting north, bordered on two sides by Honduras, provides perhaps the most impressive argument against U.S. claims of severe repression. The farther north one travels, the more frequent and vicious were contra attacks before the cease fire agreement. Jalapa itself suffered repeated incursions. On its small, unpaved main street, six European volunteers work on a new childcare center. Nearby, Sandinista soldiers repair the elementary school wall, damaged in a fire fight. Joaquin Martinez, a Catholic priest, pointed to an underground schoolyard shelter. Protection dug out against U.S. policy. Yet at no point along the way were we asked to identify ourselves, two women driving alone until, having taken a wrong turn, we drew close to the Honduran border. There, three Sandinista soldiers pulled a single strand of barbed wire across the road, scant challenge to a four-wheel drive vehicle. We pulled to a halt, discovered we were lost, and began to turn around. A young soldier, balancing five, stacked, green plastic plates with lids over the standard fare of black beans, rice, cheese, and cabbage salad stepped forward. As long as we were so close to the border, he asked, would we drop him at the line so he could deliver lunch to his buddies? He scrambled aboard along with six soldiers, some sitting on the laps of others. There was much giggling and whispering. Seated, most were shorter than the weapons clutched between their knees. \(Boys by appearance, men by Camping out that night near Jalapa, after the visiting carnival with its rickety merrygo-round . had packed up its generator to move on and families had carried their reluctant youngsters off to bed, tropic noises filled the silence. Washington seemed irrelevant. But that is never long the case in Central America. Bush’s message last month brought Washington’s power once more into focus. And it widened further the historic gap between Latin American and ‘U.S. perception of autonomy. Funding the contras now undercuts the Central American Peace Initiative stipulation that all informal armed forces disperse. It also trivializes the participating presidents’. February 14 agreement to write contra army and allows them to return to their homeland or to resettle. The State Department, however, maintains that the absence of a deadline in the agreement for disbanding the contras allows them to continue business as usual which Baker describes as applying pressure to the Sandinista government to insure that it undertakes internal reforms. No doubt policy pronouncements will continue in the new Administration. But they will only be measured by the people of Nicaragua in ratios of suffering. 8 APRIL 28, 1989