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February 04, 1983 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-02-04

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Page 4

Friday, February 4, 1983

The Michigan Daily

Fighting for the poor in Central America


By Matthew P. Levine
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica-This is a story of
poor people. The setting is early 1983 in Costa
Rica, but it's playing in your neighborhood, too.
Time and time again, the stage has been set
and the banners raised in the name of the poor.
But time and again the results have been
equally as poor as the people or worse. With lit-
tle to lose and so much to gain, the im-
'poverished are dangerously vulnerable to out-
side manipulation and rabble-rousing
fabrication. And being poorly educated, they
are taken easily.
TRUTH ALWAYS HAS been an elusive
*,commodity. It is the end product of a long and
;rigorous process of intake, filtration,
metabolism, and a resynthesis sprinkled with
judicious impartiality. Yet these tools simply
are not available to these under-instructed and
over-indoctrinated players.
So here in colorful Costa Rica, in the name"
of justice for poor people, the show goes on.
There is a cast of thousands, but they're mainly
f6reigners. There are some big names, but
they're not the main attraction. The producers
handling the promotion, direction, and finan-
cing from Costa Rica, the United States, Hon-
duras, Panama, Argentina, and other nations
are better left behind the scenes. - A com-
,ehensive playbill has yet to be published, for
rious inquiries into a precise who's who in
Is play leads quickly to dead ends and broken
"Auditions to join the fight for freedom -are
lid throughout the Americas, but it's here, in
the port of Limon and across the sprawling
m'esaof San Jose, that our story unfolds. The
4nain characters are the susceptible and

sometimes desperate young men who's hands
and minds make the pages of history.
USING FICTITOUS identities, they speak
openly of their exacting enlistments while
taking us on a brief vault into their valors and
The curtain goes up on a young man from-
Cabo Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua. He is a dark-
skinned, muscular, mustachioed Indian who
fled to Costa Rica after his native village was
burned to the ground following an attack by an
armed group "fighting" for liberation for his
Atlantic homeland. These self-proclaimed
freedom fighters crossed the Coco River early
last year in the name of these poor Miskito In-
As a result, he lost his family and what little
else he had. His youngest brother was killed,
one of his sisters became a refugee in Hon-
duras, and his mother and the rest of the family
moved inland to a camp under the protection of
the Sandinist government.
SINCE THE FALL of dictator General
Anastasio Somoza in 1979, the rugged northeast
territory of Nicarauga has been a battleground
between the Sandinistas and an estimated
10,000 veteran Somocistas fortified by 2,000
newly recruited Miskitos.
The common hit and run assaults, apparently
given the green light by U.S. Secretary of Inter-
American Affairs Thomas Enders, are, accor-
ding to our unemployed maritime cook,
"designed to create serious problems for the
Sandinistas by sparking a separatist
movement in order to isolate the Indian-
speaking Atlantic Coast from the rest of the
Spanish-speaking country." But, he continued,
counting and recounting the last of his 400
colones (about $10), "the real losers are my
own Indian people."
Ian, our Nicaraguan national, is a loser, too.

He has lost his family, his livelihood, and many
of his Indian friends. He can't work in Costa
Rica and is awaiting word on a work permit for
a maintenance job in the Grand Cayman Islan-
IAN SAID a life-long friend who works for the
Nicaraguan Democratic Union here "now
brags of plenty of money. But he won't help me
because I told hin that I want nothing to do
with his organization.
"They try to recruit us here and in Limon by
promising us money and telling us we have to
fight for our people."
But Ian is also a winner. He proudly said that
"no matter what happens," he won't "work for
dirty money."
He said, "These people are not fighting for
the Miskitos, but for themselves. What they
are really doing is using and hurting their own
people, and I feel sorry for them."
ENTER ALFRITO, a young mulatto who has
gone through 3 weeks of guerilla training
before escaping to the sanctity of central San
Jose. He said his training included "running
and hiking with a pack full of rocks, meals of
rice and beans, and lots of marijuana."
He could care less about ideology or his In-
dian people. Alfrito said he left the camp
"because they make you stay in the camp and
you can't even spend the little money they give
These security precautions are meant to
regulate the flow of information about these
camps, but the information is easy to find.
OUR LAST PLAYER is Roberto, another
Miskito exile. Carefully clutching a paperback
version of the scriptures of Jehovah, he
described the events leading up to his depar-
ture from Cabo Gracias a Dios in March, 1982.
He was recruited for another training camp
only two hours from San Jose. He said he was

"one of 40 men smoking grass and working
constantly with full packs, but without arms."
He left after 15 days when he ,realized the
training camps "will only create more
problems" for himself and his people.
He recalled how he and so many others
were manipulated and driven to lead the lives
of refugees. In late 1979, just after the triumph
of the revolution, he was working with the
Moravian Church. Problems started early in
1980 when he was teaching sociology and
human development for an organization called
Action Social.
According to Roberto, "This program was
funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Development. The Sandinistas were afraid
that under the guise of helping the Indian
people, the AID program was a CIA plan to
inititate a separatist movement." Subsequen-
tly, the Americans were deported and the
program was banned.
More problems surfaced in October 1980,
when Steadman Faggoth was elected leader of
the Misurasata, a group formed to promote
unity among the Miskito, Sumo, Rama and
Sandinist people. "But Faggoth, in the name of
the poor, called on his people to reclaim the In-
dian land," Roberto said. "In late December,
1981, many Sandinistas and Indians were
killed, hundreds of villages were destroyed and
over 50,000 were left homeless."
And today, the suffering of these poor people
continues. Ian, Alfrito, Roberto, and thousands
of others are still living beneath the dark
shadows of an uncertain future. They are vic-
tims of those who raise the banner in the name
of justice for the poor.
Levine is traveling in Central America.
He is a regular contributor to the Daily.


'They (the
Democratic Union)
try to recruit us
here and in
Limon by


promising us money
and telling us we
have to fight for
our people.'
refugee 'Ian'


.*1 Y

-- --
v< x .
F'°' a
II {;., g.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan


. , ~t93 -r

Vol. XCIII, No. 103

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board


.4,No time for
HE STATE Legislature got its
first look at Governor Blancard's
icome tax hike plan Wednesday and
: ready partisan snipers are arming to
botage it. If Republican leaders
wbe their way, the proposal, along
ith the state's chances at solving its
budget crisis, will fall in the crossfire.
Blanchard unveiled his 38 percent
tpx hike plan along with a call for $225
; million budget cuts in his State of the
Q; State address a week ago. The elixir is
sour, but at last someone in Lansing is
addressing the state's chronic deficits
with a long-term cure.
Recognizing this, former governor
William Milliken endorsed Blan-
c chard's plan "in principle." In his own
administration, Milliken presided over
huge cuts in state services, aid to
cities, and particularly large cuts to
This years cuts are hardly less pain-
. ful, as they involve more than $25
million in cuts to higher education - $5
:million from the University. But

party politics
unlike past years, they are being
coupled with a more permanent
solution to Michigan's chronic fiscal
Unfortunately, the Republican
leadership is more interested in
playing party politics than com-
promising for the state's future. Both
of the party's leaders in the house and
senate refuse to support the governor
and Milliken's pull with the rest of the
party is no longer considered strong.
At this state, with budget deficit
looming toward the $1 billion mark,
there is no longer room for inter-party
squabbling. Blanchard is not just
trying to stifle opposition when he
urges Republicans to stop party pet-
tiness and compromise. He knows too
much is at stake. And he is willing to
take a tough stand to solve the crisis.
As the governor said Tuesday in a
plea for citizen support in recession-
wracked Flint, "The money's been
spent. The bill is due and it's time to



Muzzling the fans at Crisler


oe .0

To the Daily:
Of the three deplorable acts
connected with last Saturday's
basketball game, I cannot say
which I consider to be worse.
First, before the game began,
the security guards in Crisler
Arena warned the fans sitting in
the student section not to take
part in or provoke any demon-
stration in favor of the Michigan
Basketball team during the

game. It seems that it has been
so quiet in Crisler Arena because
Mr. Don Canham wants it that
I do not understand this as Mr.
Canham was a student here at
Michigan and would hopefully
know what it is like to support the
team that represents your school.
Perhaps, as I am talking about
something from the heart and not
the checkbook, Mr. Canham no

Christianity and truth

longer remembers. I have
nothing but admiration, pride
and respect for the job Mr.
Canham does for this school, but I
cannot go along with muzzling
the student fans in Crisler Arena.
Manners are fine for a tea party
but I am talking about Big Ten
Second, during the game, a Big
Ten referee, Phil Robinson, lost
any professional composure he
may have had and ordered a fan
to be removed from the arena.
Sure, referees are only human (I
think), but at the major college
level, any referee should have the
professional ability to refrain
from such displays of incom-
petence and remain involved in
the proper officiating of the
Third, the action of the referee
was ignored by the media until
finally being reported in a Daily
sports column, four days after

off their hands and make some
noise, the Daily sports staff
responds with a total lack of sup-
port for the students and
remained as quiet as the alumni
fans in Crisler Arena.
I did not mind that other
publications neglected the
fan/ref altercation, but the ab-
sence of any comment from the
Daily, the student newspaper
that proclaims 93 years of
editorial freedom, did hurt.
-Michael Hoffman
February 3
Bulimia and
badjourn alism
To the Daily:
I was incensed by an article I
read in the Daily ("Bulimic ex-
pelled from ZTA house," Daily,
Feb. 1). What is the purpose of

To the Daily:
Thank you for the insightful ar-
ticle about Christianity on cam-
pus ("Christianity: Keeping
faith on campus," Weekend, Jan.
28). It is rare for an outside
viewer to make such a balanced
and thorough presentation of
Christian phenomena.
Yet I would suggest that Beth

University is to pursue truth and
to dismiss untruth.
Our philosophies and our lives
must be made to conform to
truth. False ideas must con-
tinually be purged. Christianity
must be true or false. If the
Christian message is false, it
should be dismissed from the


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