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February 18, 1983 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-02-18

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A

OPINION

A

-Page 4

Friday, February 18, 1983

The Michigan Daily

Nicaraguans vow to determine own fate

h

By Matthew P. Levine
MANAGUA, Nicaragua - Like everybody
else, the people of Managua lead regular lives.
Restaurants, discos and roadside foodstands
bustle with activity. Colorful and somewhat
ttered laundry hangs lazily under the mid-
ay sun, while sewing machines, power saws
end diesel cars compete rhythmically for at-
tention. There is average wealth and average
poverty, yet even a transient glance finds
there's something more.
Here, after years of destruction, there is a
process evolving that in some way touches
most everyone, and it is ironic that these
regular lives might have an opportunity for
enrichment as a result. Certainly their collec-
tive experiences are being consolidated by the
threats of- more violence.
AN ATTENTIVE walk down the sometimes
rhetorical and sometimes inspirational
avenues of Managua's compulsory reconstruc-
tion can help reveal some motivations of these
common yet uncommon lives.
Banners and spraypaint are the most con-
spicuous vehicles for the exchange of both in-
stitutional and individual attitudes. Hanging
from government buildings, offices, trees, and
private homes, carefully lettered and
seemingly sterile bedsheets casually state

"with sacrifices, day and night, we will defend
our happiness."
These multi-denominational declarations
refer to the many external threats made by
neighboring Honduras to the north, and to the
"Secret War-Strategy of Terror", as charac-
terized by Newsweek in early November. This
violence is professionally executed by
Somoza's ex-national Guards and other
Somocistas still fighting for the privileges they
lost after the fall of the now deceased dictator.
They cross conscientiously from Honduras,
disrupting everyday life with the tacit approval
and material support of the U.S. state depar-
tment.
BUT INCURSIONS and threats made with
this bellicosity are serving only to create a focal
point for communication and mobilization.
Spraypainted evidence of this are the single-
handed slogans spouting a spirit of deter-
mination and cohesion. "Yankee that's right,
all of Nicaragua will fight" poemically slants
one. And it's not possible to walk one block in
this caloric capital without encountering one
variation of "they will not pass," slogans
referring to whoever: the Somocistas, the Hon-
durans, or the United States.
Farther down the road, this rebuilding is
depicted as a collective process, as a mural ad-
jacent to the Ministry of Construction color-

fully expresses. Here Nicaraguans are con-
structing a new society, men and women
working side by side, learning from each other,
ideally paving the way to peace and sunshine.
There have been many roadblocks and
stormy times, but they seem to signify that
there is no turning back. The memories of those
who died along the way motivate the living. A
wreath dedicated to the late editor of the mid-
dle of the road newspaper "La Prensa", Pedro
Joaquin Chammorro Cardenal who fell along
with his paper to a line of National Guard tanks
on January 10, 1978, stands timelessly at a busy
intersection. Similarly, the eternal flame near-
by, across from the National palace, reminds
all that Carlos Fonseca Amador, the founder of
the Sandinist Front (FSNL) in the early sixties,
is according to the inscription "of the dead that
never dies and is always present."
HOWEVER, A realizable reconstruction
needs to be a lot more than martyrdom and
word building, for in Managua as in the rest of
Nicaragua there are many problems to contend
with. Throughout the city, there is a chronic
shortage of adequate housing. Here there are
several families living routinely in the crum-
bling rubble of the many earthquake shaken
edifices. One poor family seeks shelter under
the multi-story First National City Bank,
Managua branch skeleton, while others do
their daily chores where people once happily

bought Pontiacs, pianos, and office equipment.
Information from the Housing Ministry
shows that in 1981, there was a deficit of over
240,000 houses in Nicaragua. In its three years,
the government for National Reconstruction
(GRN) has built approximately 7,000 inexpen-
sive homes. But they would need to build 3,000
annually for 80 years to resolve the current
crisis.
It is also estimated that there are 180,000
cuarterias in this poorly developed country. A
cuarteria is a group of rented rooms that
usually are overcrowded, have unsanitary
conditions and insufficient facilities such as
toilets and water supplies. You have to see one
to believe it.
FACING THESE enormous housing
problems, a bill is, being prepared by the
Ministeries of Justice and Housing to address
this urgently needed urban reform. Domingo
Sanchez, president of a citizens committee that
will study the bill professes he knows what a
cuarteria is because he "lived in one for many
years. The rooms are about 5 or 6 square
meters," he recalls. "And a whole family of six
or more lives in that space. They are so small
that for the family to sleep at night, they have
to take all their belongings out of the room."
"Housing will no longer be a business", San-
chez continues. "If someone builds a house, it
will be for them to live in." But finding out who

is going to build enough houses will demand
some creative solutions because nobody can
wait a lifetime for a living space.
As a result of a GRN decree in January 1980,
rents were slashed by 40 to 50 percent and this
new legislation goes further to call on plans to
allow renters to own the houses they've been
paying for after 20 years.
According to a spokesperson for the Housing
Ministry, the "new law defines housing as a
vital necessity for social well-being", and the
Sandinist police, in their East German trucks
will protect renters in evictions and in
problematic disputes with their landlords.
In spite of the determination of the gover-
nment to help its citizens, the violent acts are
geared at paralyzing both the Nicaraguan
people and their struggling economy continue
unabated. The campaign of terror is successful
in that there are almost daily reports of coffee
cutters ambushed or technical workers mur-
dered, but these terrorist acts are unsuccessful
because these tragedies mean for most
Nicaraguan people that there is no turning
back.

Levine is travelling in Central America
and is afrequent contributor to the Daily.

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Edited and managed by student
XCIII, No. 115
ditorials represent a majority op

sa gan
s at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

LADIES AND~ GENTLEMN- NERES T IE STAR
MISS~ f
N fw. co 1000

inion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Gays deserve rights
QUEST TO bar invidious University research.
nation, the University has But the crux of the issue boils down
icy to bar such treatment of to just one question and one answer:
separate groups of people, When should monetary concerns
blacks and Vietnam trump basic human rights? Never.
[n spite of this policy, no Homosexuals are a small group on
the rights of homosexuals campus and their support among
a situation that needs to be students probably is dubious at best.
There probably would be no large
sal is before the ad- student uproar if the proposal were
on that would bar turned down. But student support - or
tion at the University on the lack of it - is not in question here. The
exual preference. If the central point is that a group of in-
asses, homosexuals would dividuals on campus are facing ar-
hide in the proverbial closet bitrary discrimination. Right now,
And they would not have to there is nowhere for them to turn for
sexual habits could lead to support.
al or harassment. That the U.S. military chooses to in-
ately, securing rights for a sist that homosexuals not serve in the
ople isn't the only thing the armed forces should have no bearing
akers will consider. If the on the decision to adopt or reject the
votes to guarantee gay proposal. Just because the Pentagon
iy lose millions of dollars of discriminates against homosexuals is
ponsored research and its no reason for the University to do the
ents. same.
entagon doesn't like In these tight financial times, the
ls. It doesn't think they University finds it hard to turn down
soldiers so it won't let them any money for research. But when
med services or the ROTC. monetary concerns get in the way of
rule is adopted, the Univer- human rights and academic integrity,
lot allow ROTC or military the University has no choice but to
o work on campus because preserve the rights of those who,
tagon's policies. Then the because of their minority status, can-
n Washington would get not adequately protect their rights
withdraw their support of themselves.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

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To the Daily:
Tuesday's article about the so-
called inefficiency of the Univer-
sity's Plant Department was
poorly researched and terribly
unfair. Although it may indeed
by possible to cite examples of
jobs that may not have been done
as well as one would wish for, all
the tasks that get done smoothly
and efficiently are not even con-
sidered.
I submit that the University's
maintenance and construction
personnel are at least as efficient
and competent as any other
segment of its population; that
for every worker who takes an

extra coffee break there is a
teacher who comes late to class
or a secretary who makes per-
sonal calls on company time and
equipment; that for at least half
the problems that- occur when a
maintenance or construction
project is undertaken there is a
manager or administrator who
communicates poorly or doesn't
have the time to see that things
go as well as they should. In the
fifteen years that I have studied
and worked on this campus I
haven't met a more decent and
hard-working group of men and
women than those plant depar-
tment people I've been fortunate

enough to know.
Let's demand quality and ef-
ficiency from everyone who
benefits from an association with
this institution, and not just from

those who are continually
targeted and put down by peevish
elitists..
-Sam Ferraro
February 16

Engineering for LSA types

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ut tc. ta
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Maintenance begs to differ

To the Daily:
Last week a well-formulated
opinion was offered on the topic
of humanities for engineering
students ("Fighting the death of
liberal education," Daily, Feb.
8). The thrust of the article sup-
ported the idea of retaining the
specialized humanities program
now a part of the engineering
college.
The question still remains as to
who could teach humanities to
engineers most effectively: LSA
or the engineering college.
It seems quite appropriate for
engineers to have a broad view of
the impact of their profession and
that the way to keep their interest
in humanities courses would be to
tailor coursework to appeal to
their sensibilities. However, I see
no reason for allowing engineers
to be exempt from the
rigorousness required of all
University graduates in their

to complacency with regard to
the social impact of their work.
I agree, but I'd like to take this
sentiment and go just a bit fur-
ther to advance the argument to
its next logical step, only in
reverse.
There is no reason why liberal
arts students shouldn't have a
tailor-made program to give
them a good hard look at the
technology those engineers are
working with.
These citizens can just as
easily be lulled into complacen-
cy, allowing the decisions about
the far-reaching impact of our
advancing technology to be made
by a small handfull of specialists
who may not be able to view their
advances from all angles.
We cannot relegate respon-
sibility for control of technology
only to engineers, computer ex-
perts, etc., and still remain a
democracv. Prof. gkolimowki..

To the Daily:
In regards to your story
"University maintainance: A
high cost for inefficiency"
(Daily, Feb. 15) I would like to
comment.
I'm an area maintenance man
who happens to cover the East
Engineering Building. I have
worked there for over a year and
I had never heard of Prof.
William Ribbens until I read the

central order and asked them if
there had been any "too hot"
complaints regarding that room.
The secretary went all the way
back to July of last year and
found nothing recorded.
I don't know who Prof. Ribbens
called, but it wasn't anyone in,
plant maintenance or the com-
plaint would have been taken
care of. Either the reporter
wrote out of context or Prof. Rib-

'3i

46l

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