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February 09, 1985 - Image 4

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Saturday, February 9, 1985

The Michigan Daily

_1

14

Edie nd mai L i
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCV, No. 108

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

A peaceful decision

EACE BEGINS at home" has
become an important tenet of
the anti-nuclear movement around the
world. Although Ann Arbor's nuclear
free zone proposal failed, other parts of
the world have had some success with
similar proposals. In Japan, all
nuclear weapons are prohibited and
recently the Australian government
refused to allow the U.S. to conduct
tests on the MX missile system with
Australian surveillance devices.

It has fallen to the islands of
Zealand, however, to take
strongest anti-nuclear stand yet.

New
the

New Zealand's prime minister David
Lange was elected to his post on a
wave of anti-nuclear sentiment, and
seven months ago his government
passed legislation outlawing all
nuclear propelled or nuclear equipped
ships from docking in its harbors. Fur-
ther, his governmnet is enforcing the
legislation by demanding that the U.S.
announce whether visiting ships are
carrying the weapons.
The U.S. has a long-standing policy
of selectively releasing information
regarding the cargo of its
ships-especially those equipped with
nuclear weapons.
New Zealand's actions are not en-
tirely unprecedented-Japan has
similar legislation-but no country has
ever taken such steps to insure its
freedom from nuclear weapons.
The situation has been further com-
plicated by Australia's failure to
cooperate with the U.S. in the MX
testing. TheU.S., Australia, and New
Zealand make up Anzus, a southern
pacific defensive alliance similar to
NATO, yet without any standing
organizational body. The U.S. has been
claiming that New Zealand's refusal to
allow any navy destroyers from en-

tering its ports is a threat to the Anzus
alliance.
In the U.S. Senate, William Cohen
(R-Maine) called for economic
retaliation against New Zealand. In
addition to asking for a halt in special
American trade and security benefits,
he has proposed releasing U.S. stock-
piles of butter to compete with New
Zealand's principal export.
The U.S. opinion that New Zealand's
action poses a threat to Anzus is un-
founded. Lange has repeated his desire
to maintain ties to the U.S. and has
said he would welcome a visit to his
country by an American vessel,
provided it could be determined that
vessel had no nuclear weapons in her
cargo. Further, Sen. Cohen's response
to the situation is entirely unfounded in
light of New Zealand's long history of
alliance with the U.S.
By labelling the action a threat, the
U.S. is trying to paint the incident as a
display of betrayal rather than as a
manifestation of public outrage over
nuclear escalation. It has been doing so
because if New Zealand is successful in
preventing any ships equipped with
nuclear weapons from docking, it may
set a precedent for Japan and other an-
ti-nuclear countries to follow.
New Zealand may be a tiny country
in an exotic corner of the world, but its
stance on nuclear weapons is a
beacon of hope to the rest of the world.
As long as nuclear weapons are
produced and transported anywhere,
the threat of world annihilation
remains. New Zealand's stand against
a nuclear visit could set a precedent
that will help other countries demon-
strate the anti-nuclear convictions of
their populaces as well and should
bring additional pressure on the U.S. to
bring an end to the insanity of the
nuclear arms buildup.

War and
By Mary Jo McConahay
SOMOTO, NICARAGUA - Hundreds of
peasant families fleeing attacks by US-
backed anti-government forces, "contras,"
have come down from their isolated mountain
homes to search for safety in a valley near
here watered by a tributary of the Rio Coco.
They are among some 140,000
Nicaraguans-mostly peasants-now
displaced by the conflict, according to gover-
nment figures.
Here, near their country's northern border
and on the edge of the fighting, the displaced
commonly say they "wait for the Contra" to
appear again. They lead lives obsessed by the
war.
Their new homes-sometimes still only ten-
ts or shacks made of sticks-are huddled in
clusters which look incongruously crowded
together in the wide expanse of the valley.
Some settlements are ringed with trenches.
In others, settlers have dug tunnels to serve.
as cramped communal shelters during at-
tacks.
Grandfathers in their 60s and boys as young
as 12 dress in the brown shirts and olive green
pants of the civilian militia shouldering
Russian-made AK-47s or old U.S. carbines.
Much like settlers in the Old West, men and
some women go about their farm work ar-
med.
"We carry the guns for self-defense, not to
attack anyone," said Gabriel Hernandez, 41,
who lives in a settlement called "Hermanos
Martinez," named after two brothers who
were killed when Contra attacked their moun-
tain house in 1981. Five other persons, in-
cluding an infant, also died in that attack.
Terrorized peasants living nearby, in-
cluding Hernandez, moved to this valley
where they were giver land by the gover-
nment. Here they grow basic foods and
produce tobacco which they sell to the state.
"We believe the Contra attacked the Mar-
tinez brothers because they belonged to a
cooperative and supported the revolution,"
Hernandez said. "Now even as refugees we
have to worry because this is an agricultural
McConahay wrote this article for the
Pacific News Service.

Nicaraguan farmers

cooperative too."
Built on some of the country's best far-
mland-land confiscated by the Sandinistas
from the holdings of Anastazio Somoza and
his officials and given to peasants-the co-ops
sell products to the government. There have
been more than 100 Contra attacks on such co-
ops and state farms, according to the
Nicaragua SocialfServiceaand Welfare In-
stitute.
As Hernandez spoke, he seemed to ignore
the thunder of mortar fire rumbling through
the mountains in the direction of the border
with Honduras only about ten miles away.
Other refugees from the fighting, and
peasants whothave been threatenedebecause
they support the Sandinistas or have sons in
the army, are also seeking safety in numbers
elsewhere in the country-moving in with
other family members or swelling provincial
capitals. Some chance returning briefly to
their old fields in daylight to recover part of a
food crop.
Displaced peasants interviewed in northern
towns like this say the move is doubly hard for
them. As mountain dwellers, they are ac-
customed to a more private, independent life,
they say, in houses as much as an hour's walk
away from each other-a fact which also
makes them more vulnerable to Contras.
The displaced in the agricultural settlemen-
ts near here, however, say that despite the
nearer threat of violence, they may be more
fortunate than farmers who have gone to
town. Indeed, though it is filled with poor,
dislocated and sometimes traumatized
families, this does not feel like a valley of the
dispossessed.
Still, the daily routine is disrupted by the
war in many ways.
"We expect attacks from one hour to the
next," said Angela Maria Martinez, 49, who
lives with 11 children and grandchildren and
other adult relatives in a dirt-floored house of
rough logs at a cooperative called "LabCar-
bonera." She and her neighbors grow basic
foods and comb the hills for wood which they
burn into charcoal and sell to the government.
At this co-op, children attend classes under
the trees. Construction on a school has stop-
ped for lack of cement, which is particularly
scarce in war zones because Contra forces

regularly ambush state vehicles transporting
building material.
On one recent morning, Martinez stood in
the middle of a compound on the long narrow
bulge of dirt that marks the length of their4
underground shelter. She argued per-
suasively with Oriano Salgado, 27, a member
of the co-op's governing council, that some
families would have to run too far to reach the
tunnel in case of attack.
"At El Cairo, nobody has to jump more than
three steps now from their kitchen," she said,
naming another valley cooperative where
displaced peasants live. El Cairo settlers in-
creased defense measures after a Contra at
tack last summer killed one and injured three
adults and three children, including a 10-year-
old boy whose right arm had to be amputated.
Salgado, hurrying to join other armed set-
tlers already departing to hunt for deef,
hastily agreed the camp should consider
digging new trenches.
The last time Contra came within
threatening distance of La Cabonera was
more than a month ago. Then, warned by a
runner from a hamlet further north, Salgado
and other militia members hid in a lookou
point "to make sure they weren't heading in
our direction."
At Hermanos Martinez, "We all live with a
certain nervousness," said Sara Hernandez,
no relation to Gabriel, who operates a 20-
volume lending library out of her house.
Young men from here are in the Sandinista
army, she says, some fighting in the very
mountain zones abandoned by their refugee
families.
Because it was a Sunday, Hernandez, who'
is one of the Roman Catholic social and
religious "promoters" called Delegates of the
Word, was readying a regular 3 o'clock,
where peasants gather to sing religious songs
and read from the Bible. As she did so, she
defended the emphasis on military prepared-
ness.
"You might look at us and see a kind of
militarization. But we have to defend our-
selves," she said. "Everyone here has lost
someone to the Contra. Just because we're
Christian doesn't mean we'll sit here waiting
for them with our arms crossed." 4

Sinclair

4

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Military security

E VERYBODY IS appealing to the
young Republican market. After
two overwhelming victories by a fun-
damentally conservative presidential
candidate, the demise of Tom
Hayden's Students for a Democratic
Society and. the mainstream radical
movement, and the recent
predomination of career-oriented
students on the nation's college cam-
puses, United States businesses and
governmental agencies are cashing in
on the new market. And just as the
Central Intelligence Agency and
General Motors are appealing to young
people's newly realized need for in-
dividual economic security, the U.S.
armed services are offering high
school and college graduates a batch of
offers they can't refuse-in the form of
military pensions.
The military pension system, which
allows thousands of servicemen a
chance to retire in their late 30s as
wealthy civilians, has recently come
under the scrutiny of budget reformers
in the Reagan Administration and
Congress. It is not surprising that
government officials are finally begin-
ning to realize that allowing a ser-
viceman to retire after 20 years of
service is a very liberal policy.
Budget Director David Stockman is
the most recent critic of the military

pensions. He calls that system, which
will account for $44 billion in defense
department expenditures by the year
2000, "a scandal" and "an outrage."
Even Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), one of
the most respected defense experts on
Capital Hill who has criticized
Stockman's remarks, admitted that
the system deserves investigation and
reform.
The average retired officer is 42
years old and draws a pension of $7,500
a year. The average enlisted man gets
$9,600 a year. Not a bad security
blanket for a job that requires no more
than ability to do what you're
told-when you are told. There are now
1.4 million people drawing military
pensions, the vast majority of whom
are not veterans of any war.
With defense expenditures at a peak,
and an administration devoted to
buildup of nuclear weapons arsenals
and technology, it is unfortunate that
the most overly funded and potentially
destructive arm of the federal gover-
nment is also the most wasteful. It is
time the military pension system
receives Congressional scrutiny.
Perhaps once it is discovered why a 38-
year-old can retire in indefinite
security, Stockman and his
congressional allies can discover the
rationale behind a $650 toilet seat.

Letters
Poor women should have free choice

To the Daily:
In Michigan, Medicaid
recipients are the poor mostly.
They are women and children
and there are large numbers of
minorities represented.
The intent of the Medicaid
assistance program is to help
bring about equality of medical
care between the poor and non-
poor. To assist with this effort,
the state established that lack of
income would determine Medicaid
eligibility for the cost of medical

pregnancy, as with the decision
to accept pre-natal care, has been
defined by law to be up to the
patient. A poor woman should
not be penalized for whichever of
these decisions she makes
because she is dependent upon
Medicaid for her medical care.
The annual attempt of a small
group of anti-abortionists to deny
BLOOM COUNTY

poor women medical care is an
affront to the poor among us, a
denial of equality under the law,
and a waste of tax dollars. These
wasted dollars and this enegy
could be used to prevent unplan-
ned pregnancy; a step that truly
begins to address the underlying
problem.
The poor don't need the

morality of the minority t
jeopordize their collective righU
and they are able to make their
own decisions.
-JoAnne E. Peterson
January 31
Peterson is the executive
director of Planned Paren-
thood of Mid-Michigan.
by Berke Breathed

N,

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