American Hero OST IN THE DIN of public protest a bout his contempt for the Constitu ion he had sworn to uphold, lost in the newsprint protesting his lying to Congress, is the fact that Oliver North is responsible for the death and disfigurement of a lot of people, many of them noncombatantsin a war in Nicaragua that was in clear violation of laws passed by Congress. In winter of 1985, I left the Mexico City hospitality of the late Austrian physician . and psychoanalyst Maria Mimi Langer and set out on a short trip to Nicaragua. For several years Langer, then in her mid-70s, had been involved in the reorganization of Nicaragua’s only medical school. A quintessential Jewish humanist, who could pack her history into her suitcase and move on to begin the good fight in her next country, Langer, who began her career as a nurse on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War, had dedicated her life to fighting fascism. It seemed appropriate that the last fight of her life placed her across the lines from Oliver North. Doctors, she said, were desperately needed in Nicaragua. 011ie North exacerbated that need. With funds raised by bilking wealthy widows and right-wing oilmen \(as Dave Denison by running a CIA drug operation \(as Dennis Bernstein and Howard Levine again resaw to it that the Contra war in Nicaragua continued after Congress voted to cut off funding for it. In Managua in 1985, the signs of 011ie North’s war could be seen in the streets around the Davila Bolorios Military Hospital, where young men tentatively tried out new prosthetic devices. They could also be heard in places like the casa comunal of the Parish of Nicarao, home to a working-class Catholic congregation where, before the priest could begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist on this particular year’s Feast of the Assumption, 30 tired parishioners offered up some 60 personal supplications on behalf of their boys and girls in the army. Not all the casualties were soldiers. Consider the numbers collected by the Jesuit publication Envio, published at Georgetown University at the time it released numbers of documented civilian casualties of the Contra war between January 1990August 1988: Teachers: killed, 130, wounded, 27, kidnapped, 56; Doctors: killed, 27, wounded, 20, kidnapped, 18; Nurses: killed, 11, wounded, 10, kidnapped, 6; Stu Managua Children’s Hospital, 1988 dents: killed, 649, wounded, 34, kidnapped, 45; Agricultural experts: killed, 147, wounded, 57, kidnapped, 54; Laborers: killed, 302, wounded, 102, kidnapped, 254; Professionals: killed 29, wounded, 21, kidnapped, 17; Peasants: killed, 2,376, wounded, 1,681, kidnapped, 5,713; Activists: killed, 12, wounded, 14, kidnapped, 7; Drivers: killed, 70, wounded, 63, kidnapped, 30; FSLN party members; killed, 48, wounded, 19, kidnapped, 12; Unspecified occupations: killed, 134, wounded, 129, kidnapped, 133. Total killed, 3,935, wounded 2,177. One can personalize these statistics, drawing one example, like the one Father James Feltz described in the El Guyabo region where he worked, from the abundant anecdotal evidence: “There, there’s a little hamlet called San Francisco, and they killed several people there; they killed people if they were members of defense committees or shopkeepers or maybe members of the militia. But nobody was armed. They raped a 14-year-old girl. Then they slit her throat and cut off her head. They hung the head on a pole along the road. ALAN POGUE “There was another special case of cruelty on that same contra operation. An 11year-old girl, Christina Borge Diaz, was visiting her uncle. The uncle was on the Contras’ list and they came and killed him. When they saw the little girl, they decided to have a little fun, so they used her for target practice. The first one took a shot at her , from a galloping horse. He missed. ‘Kill her,’ he told a companion. And the other shot her in the back. Another bullet grazed her scalp, another hit her in the right hand, and another in the left hip.” Miraculously, said Feltz, the girl recovered and was treated in Managua. She told her story to a group of U.S. -based missionaries and visiting bishops in February 1986, according to Washington’s War on Nicaragua, by Holly Sklar. Dime con quien andas, y to dire quien eres, goes an old Mexican saying. Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are. The men who made possible the above statistics and participated in the event described by Father James Feltz are the people U.S. Senate candidate Oliver North walked with. L.D. 4 JUNE 17, 1994
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