Page 4 Wednesday, January 12, 1983 The Michigan Daily
On Christmas Eve, 1981, the
Economics Building burned to the
ground. On January 7, 1983, Arthur
Arroyo, former University em-
ployee, was sentenced to five to ten
years for starting the blaze. '
Although friends claimed that
Arroyo set the fire because of a
grudge against the University, he
says his crime was part of his com-
plicated emotional problems.
Arroyo spoke with former Daily
staffer Lou Fintor and staff writer
Scott Kashkin at Washtenaw Coun-
ty jail this week about his state of
mind prior to the fire and his reflec-
tions on his trial.
n IR nRti
Daily: What did you think about your
job at the University?
Arroyo: In my relationships with
other people.. .I was very insecure. I
had a lot of feelings of inferiority, more
like alienation. I felt like I was different
from everybody else.
Daily: You have had more than forty
jobs in the past ten years. Why did you
change jobs so often?
Arroyo: I think it has to do with my
difficulties in dealing with criticism
that happens at work and in just having
real trouble dealing with people who
don't like me or are cold to me.
Also, I think I was probably in the
wrong field. There was too much ten-
sion for me in the secretarial field.
Maybe some males are able to do that
but I certainly wasn't; especially with
my insecure feelings. I guess it's just,
similar to a woman becoming a doctor
or a lawyer.
Daily: Did you ever feel hostile to the
Arroyo: I was feeling very alienated
shortly before the crime. From
Thanksgiving to Christmas of that
period, it's hard to recollect all the
things I did daily. I was feeling very
alienated from everyone and I couldn't
single out Ann Arbor. It was more or
less everything, the whole world. I felt
very rejected from my family too. But
it was a delusion, it was a lot of self-
pity. I wasn't really dealing with
Daily: So you didn't have any
animosity toward the University it-
Arroyo: I don't think so in particular.
Daily: You weren't angry at the ec-
nomics professors because they sup-
ported Reagan's economic policies?
Arroyo: I remember one economics
professor, a woman, I won't mention
her name because she might not want
me to, that I was very friendly with and
worked with once. I saw her on the street
a lot and she'd smile. I liked her a lot
The thing about Reaganomics that
came up was something after it hap-
pened-a rationalization of mine.
Daily: If it wasn't animosity against
the economics department, what was it
that provoked you to enter the building?
Arroyo: You know, to this day it's
hard for me to pinpoint. I always wan-
ted to be part of something. . . and I
perhaps saw that (the Economics
Building) as the symbol of what I wan-
ted to be in and couldn't get into.
I remember admiring the building.
Compared to the other ones in the same
area, it was prettier, you know. I may
have had an attraction for it. But it's
really not clear in my mind. I didn't feel
I had control over my act.
Daily : Had you wanted to do damage
to the building at any other time?
Arroyo: I didn't have any intention to
do damage to the building. What I did
was light it, set a . . . I came in and
didn't know what I was going to do, and
saw the papers there and it just made
me think of burning them up. So
I... took a match out and burned the
piles of paper.
Daily: How do you feel about the
police accusation that you took gasoline
into the building?
'Arroyo: I feel very scandalized by
that. It was hard for me to take that
someone could get up there in court and
say something like that, because when I
made my confession to the detective he
said he believed me. I told him how I
did it and he said, "That's not telling
me everything." And he said, "Did you
use something flammable?" and I said
no. I was very adamant about that. He
said they found something flammable
down there. He said he believed me and
I believed him. You'd think since he's a
detective he would know when
someone's lying or not.
Daily: How did you feel afterwards?
Arroyo: The next morning I heard
about it on the radio. I just didn't
imagine that setting a match to papers
in the basement could have started a
Daily: So you didn't actually see the
flames spreading through the building
after you set the papers on fire?
Arroyo: I left immediately. I went to
the Diag to go downtown. Then I came
back toward my apartment and I
looked back and I could see some
flames in the hallway. I just kept on
walking. There were people around and
I guess I just figured that someone
would put it out. I was very drunk, too,
and I had had a lot of tequila that day. I
may not have been thinking what might
Daily: You didn't think the building
might be in danger and call the fire
Arroyo: I wasn't thinking of that.
Daily: Why did you go to San Diego
after the fire and what happened to you
while you were there?
Arroyo: Well, when I went to San
Diego I was planning to start over and
I was blaming it (the fire) on my
drinking. I thought that maybe I would
stop drinking and see if I could change
myself. So I had the intentions of
reforming my life. I got a job at San
Diego State College and that was really
the wrong thing for me. It was the same
kind of office environment that I was
unsuccessful at before.
Daily: How did you feel when a friend
you confessed to told the story to the
Arroyo: Mostly, I felt that they
pressured him just like I felt they
Daily: How did they pressure you?
Arroyo: They were playing on my
religious background. I had studied for
a year to be a priest. And they started
telling me what it's like to confess to a
priest . . . I remember signing my
first name Arthur. There was a "t" in
the middle and then I signed it with a
very clear Catholic cross, a way that I
don't usually sign my name. It in-
dicated what I was thinking about.
Daily: How do you feel about Judge
Conlin, the verdict, and your sentence?
Arroyo: I think it may have been dif-
ficult for him to see the truth with such
a barrage of experts from the
prosecution trying to establish
something that wasn't true. Con-
sidering the verdict, I think Judge
Conlin was fair.
Daily: How do you feel about going to
Jackson State Prison for your quaran-
tine and evaluation before being sent to
Daily Photo by DAN DEVRIES
Arroyo: "I just didn't imagine that setting a match to papers in the basement
could have started a big thing."
a psychiatric facility?
Arroyo: I'm afraid because of
things I'-e heard. Particularly how
they might treat homosexuals there.
Although I've also heard that it's not
necessarily worse for homosexuals; I
don't know what to expect.
Daily: Do you have any intention to
appeal the verdict?
Arroyo: I intend to appeal the convic-
tion on the basis that I had no intention
of burning the building and I didn't use
anything flammable. As crazy as I've
ever gotten in my life, I just don't think
I would do anything that crininal. I just
don't think I have it in me.
,Daily: How have you changed since
Arroyo: I think overall it's probably 4
better than I expected jail to be.
Emotionally, as opposed to a year ago,
I feel I have a somewhat better grasp of
reality and that I'm much improved, in
that I recognize that my friends and
relatives do care for me and that I still
have hope. You know, I have fear right
now, but I have hope also.
Dialogue is a weekly feature of
the Opinion Page.
Edie m dtgan t Man
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCIII, No. 83
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
F OR YEARS, THE University has
clung tenaciously to its invest-
ments in South Africa. In spite of
massive student protests, in spite of
pleas from the faculty, from gover-
nment leaders, and from the populace
itself, the University has steadfastly
refused to let go of its holdings in com-
panies which do business in the openly
Now, however, the University is
going to have to decide just how far it is
willing to carry its intransigence: In
the next several months the Regents
will have to decide whether they are
willing to challenge state low over
their precious South African invest-
Late last year, the legislature passed
and then-governor William Milliken
signed a law that requires the Univer-
sity to sell off its investments in
businesses which do business in South
Africa. The law, sponsored by Rep.
Perry Bullard (D-Ann Arbor), would
make the University sell off about one-
fifth of its investment portfolio by April
But, true to form, the Unviersity
argued against the bill while it was in
the legislature, and several University
officials have said that the University
might now challenge the law. These
officials, including University General
Counsel Roderick Daane, claim that
the new law is an unconstitutional in-
fringement on the powers of the
Regents to control the University's
financial affairs. Other University of-
ficials charged the state with
hypocrisy in not requiring the state
pension fund to divest itself of holdings
in companies that do business in South
As a result, the Unviersity might file
a suit questioning the constitutionality
of the new law, or it might wait until
the state takes action after the 1984
But the University's arguments
against the law are flimsy at best, and
serve only to disguise the real issue.
The new law is indeed an interference
in the affairs of the Regents, but it is
warranted and justifiable interference
under the power of the state to enforce
civil rights legislation.
It is "interference" in order to force
the Regents to take an action which is
supported by most students, many
faculty members, and a majority in
each ouse in the state legislature.
Regental opposition to* the new law
only shows the University's increasing
isolation on the issue. .
The Regents have shown in the past
that they are not easily intimidated on
the question of divestment. In the
process, they have displayed an im-
plicit but callous disregard for the fate
of civil rights programs here and
abroad. Changing that record won't be
easy, but immediate compliance with
the new state law sure would be a start.
By Jack Epstein and
J. H. Evans
PUERTO LEMPIRA, HONDURAS-To
much of the outside world, Nicaragua's
Atlantic Coast Miskito Indians are seen as
backward Central American natives, minor
players in the opposition led by ex-Somoza
National Guardsmen; disaffected San-
dinistas, and Managua businessmen.
In fact, a four-month investigation of their
activities along the Honduran-Nicaraguan
border reveals the Miskitos to be the most ex-
plosive military threat facing the young San-
dinista revolutionary government today.
THE MISKITOS' HIGHLY motivated
troops have created more havoc for the
Nicaraguan army than the ex-Somoza guar-
dsmen who operate on the Pacific side. Unlike
the Somocista soldiers, who terrorize with hit-
and-run raids, the Miskitos work on familiar
terrain with the active support of the
An insurrection almost occurred a year ago
after 80 young Miskito fighters calling them-
1Th e fig/I
Coco to refugee camps in Honduras.
THERE THE Miskitos regrouped,
recruited combatants from the camps,
trained under former National Guardsmen
and received sophisticated weapons from the
Honduran military. Today there are an
estimated 2,000 trained and equipped Indian
troops, with many more serving in reserve
and logistic capacities.
In interviews with Miskito leaders in
Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica,
Washington, D.C., and Miami, these
correspondents found an organized and
disciplined political machine making
calculated decisions. Whether talking in a
refugee hovel in Honduras or a posh office in
Washington, D.C., the men and women
leaders we interviewed were often university-
educated, politically astute, and confident.
The Miskitos maintain training and supply
camps both in Honduras and Nicaragua, and
ever recruit and meet clandestinely in Puerto
Cabezas, the Sandinista military headquarters
on the Atlantic Coast.
THE SANDINISTAS,however, claim only
that they are confronting a well-disciplined
tury. Throughout the reign of the Somoza
dynasty they were treated with benign
neglect, left to-run their own affairs. By the 4
time of the Sandinista takeover, they already
were sophisticated political decision-makers,
and their ambitions took the young
revolutionary government to task.
FIRST THEY DEMANDED an Indian
rights organization, called Misurasata, which
quickly incensed the Sandinistas by claiming
title to 38 percent of the national territory.
They also asked for five seats on the Council
of State (they had one) and representation on
the ruling junta.
The Sandinistas reacted by jailing the en- 4
tire leadership, charging them with fostering
counterrevolutionary and separatist plans.
AS A RESULT of their actions, the San-
dinistas caused fear and mistrust among a
people who already were traditionally wary of
all Spanish speakers from the Western por-
tion of the country. Many observers now feel
that the situation has deteriorated to the point
where a general coastal uprising is a very
The Miskitos' demands for regional