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September 18, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-18

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, September 18, 1985

The Michigan Daily

k

EIII SErb tan 1atI 1
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Trouble to Nicaragua's south

By James Ridgeway

Vol. XCVI, No. 10

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

Unserved populations

HILE THE Reagan Ad-
ministration is busy cheerily
pointing out a recent drop in the
number of welfare recipients, there
has been a glaring omission in the
course of explanation. The number
and complexity of bureaucratic
barriers facing eligible aid
recipients have increased
significantly.
What Reaganomics has produced
among the nation's impoverished is
a new low at the bottom end of the
socio-economic ladder, those who
public assistance advocates call
the "unserved populations."
In February 1985, 14.8 million
eligible persons were not receiving
food stamps, three million school
children were not receiving the
free or reduced price lunches they
are entitled to, while 8.87 million of
those children receiving lunch
were not receiving a subsidized
breakfast. The Women, Infants and
Children (WIC) program assists 3.1
million persons, but as of January
1985, failed to reach 7.3 million
potentially eligible recipients.
According to testimony recently
submitted to the House of
Representatives Select Committee
on Hunger, the standard 50-page
applications for food stamps and
Aid for Dependent Children (AF-
DC) means gaining access to
public assistance can be a highly
frustrating maze of paperwork

which keeps many needy and
eligible persons from receiving
The benefits of programs intended
assist them.
Several Congressional commit-
tees are presently working towards
social welfare program "coor-
dination and simplification,"
designed to reduce the amount of
red tape and bureaucratic tangles
which are discouraging or even in-
surmountable for many potential
recipients.
In the early 1980's, the Illinois
Department of Public Aid ad-
ministered an exemplary and in-
novative coordination and sim-
plification program which
decreased operating expenses and
payment overrun costs by $13
million and eliminated 24,000
caseworker hours. Unfortunately,
this fine prototype of simplified
public aid administration is now
defunct, as the Department of
Agriculture denied the state's
request to extend the experimental
program.
If there is fat to be trimmed from
the social spending budget,
Reagan's team is seriously
misguided here. Instead of denying
those in need, sincere and proven
efforts to increase bureaucratic ef-
ficiency should be celebrated and
rewarded, not discontinued at the
expense of the homeless and
hungry.

With the opening of a major new front in
Costa Rica, the war in Nicaragua is taking a
dramatic turn - one that could embroil
American farmers from the U.S. Midwest
who operate along Nicaragua's southern bor-
der.
After a setback on the northern Honduran
front this spring, the Nicaraguan Democratic
Force (NFD), largest of the "contra" groups
fighting the Sandinista regime, has been
ferrying troops into Costa Rica to consolidate
and expand a southern front under a unified
command.
The supple lines for this second army, ac-
cording to mercenaries arrested at a contra
training camp in Costa Rica and currently
imprisoned there, run from Ft. Lauderdale,
Fla. through Ilopango airport in El Salvador
to clandestine air strips in Northern Costa
Rica.
Further confirmation of a growing FDN
presence in Costa Rica comes from the San-
dinista military commander in the south who
recently identified an FDN base five
kilometers inside Costa Rica. He also said
that mortar attacks on Sandinista positions
have come from Costa Rica.
Smack in the middle of this new staging
area is a sizeable number of American far-
mers who grow citrus and raise cattle.
The best-known group consists of a dozen or
so men who hail from Illinois and Indiana.
Bruce Jones, one of the Illinois group, was
identified in Life Magazine by former San-
dinista-turned-rebel Eden Pastora as a CIA
operative, a charge he denies at length in the
June issue of Soldier of Fortune. The two
jailed mercenaries have identified Jones'
Ridgeway is an associate editor with the
Pacific News Service, for which he wrote
this article.

neighbor, John Hull, as the NDF's contact in
Costa Rica. Hull, too, denies this charge.
According to one estimate, more than 3,000
contra camp on the farmlands owned by the
Americans, coming and going on raids into
Nicaragua across the nearby San Juan river.
According to various reports, certain farmers
themselves participate in the raids, use their
own planes, and allow their airstrips to be
used for dropping weapons to the contras.
The son-in-law of one American farmer is a
contra captain.
The presence of - if not direct involvement
by - these American landowners, U.S.
citizens, at the edge of a major new front in
the war against Nicaragua makes the context
far more provocative. Any sort of pre-
emptive or retaliatory raid by the Sandinistas
on their land could readily be turned into
grounds for retaliation by the Reagan Ad-
ministration. It raises the potential for a
direct invasion by creating a situation like
that of Grenada where rescuing American
medical students became a catalyst for in-
vading the island.
While the United States created an in-
frastructure for the northern front in Hon-
duras by using U.S. National Guard units to
construct camps and air strips, in Costa Rica
the infrastructure for the war turns out to be
an agricultural development program.
With the Midwest gripped in a continuing
farm recession, the farming in Costa Rica is
enticing on economic grounds alone. Land
along the Nicaraguan border has gone for as
little as $10 an acre, though it now fetches
$600-700 an acre. Labor costs 50 cents an hour.
There are no unions and taxes and incon-
sequential.
Moreover, the Overseas Private Invest-
ment Corp., the U.S. government agency
which protects American investors against
many risks - including wars and internal
strife - in foreign lands, has underwritten
some of these farms. And, finally, farmers

can take advantage of the Caribbean Basin
Initiative, President Reagan's program to
assist developing Caribbean nations, which
offers reduced import duties on products
grown in Costa Rica.
On the Costa Rican border, the farming4
proceeds according to three different stages:
first, the jungle is cleared, the hardwoods
harvested; next, cattle are introduced; and
finally, the land is turned over to higher value
citrus crops.
The FDN buildup is making Costa Rica's
professed neutrality somewhat irrelevant.
Under the Rio Treaty, the United States is
pledged to defend Costa Rica, which has no
army of own. More to the point, over the
last few years, U.S. assistance has been used
steadily to build facilities on the border
There have been Navy Civic Action
Programs, aimed at developing Costa Rican
ports. The Agency for International
Development has constructed roads in the
Northwest, and there are plans for U.S.
National Guard engineering units to build
even more roads.
The Israelis also have been involved in
vaious border development schemes, in-
cluding electronic surveillance.
In May, 18 Green Beret instructors arrived
in Costa Rica to train 750 of the nation's civil
guard - bringing with them machine guns,
mortars, and anti-tank weapons, all part of a
two-year, $18.3 million U.S. military aid
package.
Costa Rica refused U.S. military aid from
1957 until 1981, when it accepted funding that
included training some of its guardsmen at the
U.S. school of the Americas in the Canal Zone.
Recently, the Voice of America set up shop
in Costa Rica for broadcasts into Nicaragua.4
And reliable sources have reported that the
Salvadoran Air Force has flown support
missions for Contras raiding into Nicaragua
from Costa Rica.

Wasserman

PRESIDEAPNT of CoLoMBIi BAWCS
OUR ?oL1CY IN CeNTRAL
AK\Mc ICA.

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ME.SSME

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Nicaragua: Strike Two


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I

T WO DISTINCT declarations on
Monday come together to sub-
tly attack the Reagan Ad-
ministration's policy toward
Nicaragua.
In the World Court at The Hague,
David MacMichael, a former CIA
analyst, testified that the United
States had uncovered "no credible
evidence" of Nicaragua attem-
pting to "export" its revolution to
civil war torn El Salvador.
In Managua, officials of the
ruling Sandinista government an-
nounced a new and unprecedented
land reform program. That plan
calls for the government to give 50
dispossessed Americans farmers
25,000 acres of farmland on the
condition that they work to train
Nicaraguan peasants there in
modern methods of farming.
Neither announcement is par-
ticularly shattering. In a state as
plagued by violence as Nicaragua,
few government pronouncements
can significantly alter the
situation.
It is ironic, though, that the two
unrelated events would be hard
evidence against the chief claims
the Reagan Administration makes
against the Sandinistas.
The Reagan Administration has
long claimed that it is supporting
groups of Nicaraguan rebels known
as Contras because on the inter-
national front Nicaragua poses a
threat to the region's stability and
on a national front it is slowly
increasing its control of the coun-
try's resources.
The report that top U.S. policy
makers had no evidence of
Nicaragua's involvement in El

Salvador as of April of 1982 directly
contradicts the Reagan Ad-
ministration position.
The report confirms what is
already apparent, however.
Nicaragua is struggling with a
weak economy, and already has its
hands full in combattingthe Con-
tras. With barely the gasoline it
needs for its own military and
domestic uses, it is in no position to
supply military aid to rebel
organizations.
The plan to distribute land to
Americans to train Nicaraguans
peasants is a tangible example of
the Sandinista's acting on their
ideological principles. In giving
farming rights to Americans and
Nicaraguan peasants, they are ac-
ting on the promise they made to
redistribute the farm land that on-
ce belonged -to deposed President
Anastazio Somoza and his family to
landless peasants.
Linking the project to American
citizens provides the dual advan-
tages of obtaining the most advan-
ced agricultural technology as well
as putting up a human barrier in
areas where the U.S. backed Con-
tras have been challenging San-
dinista troops.
The two announcements hardly
alter the overall situation in
Nicaragua. The Reagan Ad-
ministration will surely slough off
the World Court testimony, and the
cooperative farming plan will af-
fect only a very small part of the
population. Nevertheless, the two
announcements indicate again the
misguided direction of the Reagan
policies in Nicaragua and reaffirm
the need for the Administration to
reconsider those policies.

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LETTERS
Daily film reviewer in the dark

. 0

To the Daily:
As the price of a movie ticket
reaches four and five dollars the
power of the movie critic grows.
A person may await the
publishing of several reviews
before deciding to spend so much
money on entertainment.
What is unforgivable is when a
paper (for example, The
Michigan Daily) prints a review
such as "'Spider Woman' rests on
power of one" (Daily, Sept. 16)
for Kiss of the Spider Woman
which totally lacks insight,
coherence, and taste. Byron
Bull's confused review does great
damage, perhaps without in-
tending tn lander the film.

define a 'queen" as you have
made use of the word.
There were also errors in plot
description. Were Valentin's con-
tributions to the cause minor? If
so, why were so many people
willing to kill for the information
he possessed? Both his peers and
his captors would take a life for
his knowledge.
Also, Molina recollects but one
film for the majority of the
movie. All the film scenes are in-
terconnected except for the final
one dealing with the Spider
Woman.
Finally, the headline reads that

the movie rests on the, "power of
one," but the story says the per-
formance of Hurt is complemen-
ted by the excellent acting of
Julia. To me, that adds up to two.
And where does this writer find
the courage to so much as use the
word pretentious to define the
film and then have the gall to
refer to it as Kiss in the article.
And it is never fair to compare a
book and a film. They are two
completely different mediums
and should be judged solely on
their own merit.
This writer was not insightful
enough to sense the themes of

honor, respect, responsibility,
and love; he could not look past
the "queen" and his reminiscent
film. Considering the previously
mentioned errors I wonder if he
had any understanding of the
film.
If these are the sort of review@
we can expect from the Daily
then I beg you to limit them to
films like Porky's. These are the
films your "critic" would rather
see and he cannot possibly do
them any harm.
-Steven L. Franks
September 17
1.. v-maz1 r mma d m

1

t!T M1t fdw t*tTY

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