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November 04, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-11-04

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0

OPINION
Monday, November 4, 1985

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

sIbc 3idigan iBailQ
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVI, No. 43 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

The plight of peasant farmers

Blackout

T HE NEWS blackout imposed
Saturday by South Africa's
white minority government is yet
another insidious ingredient in
what is already a foolproof recipe
for disaster.
The restrictions, which were
published in a government
document giving them the force of
law, bars television crews, radio
reporters, and photographers from
covering unrest in the townships
that have been under a state of
emergency since July 21.
Such censorship of the words and
pictures which allow the inter-
national "audience" an objective
view of the situation in South
Africa, is, in one respect en-
couraging. Apparently Botha and
his cohorts feel that the attention of
the international media is making
it more difficult to maintain
legitimacy and order.
On that score, the ban should be
seen by apartheid protesters, those
individuals and institutions that
have divested, and the U.S.
congressmen who have supported
stiff sanctions as a concession of
sorts: Botha is feeling the pressure
of the international community to
stop the bloodbath in his country. .
But beyond this evidence of the
potency of international pressures
and protest, the ban must be
recognized as a dangerous obstruc-
tion of the freedom fo the press.
This attempt to hide the desperate

social realities currently wracking
South Africa must be met with a
vigilance on the part of the press
corps and heightened awareness on
the part of the public.
As the editors-in-chief of several
major news organizations have
stated, the ban will make the work
of their reporters nearly im-
possible. What little news that
leaks out will be garnered by repor-
ters forced into potentially
dangerous situations, in confron-
tation with government police.
Clearly Botha is seeking to stem
the tide of bad press that has
already prompted rhetorical
redress from influential inter-
national government and business
leaders, and now threatens to hit
harder with economic sanctions.
The blackout suggests that the
flow of news from South Africa will
be reduced to a trickle. But dwindle
as it might, that doesn't mean
Americans are excused from an
awareness of the issue. Members of
the international community and
individuals committed to human
rights should only have their appetites
whetted for information on South Africa
however frustrated
Obviously, Botha is tired of being
exposed with his hand in the cookie
jar. But the ban only escalates his
self-incrimination. If he isn't doing
anything so nasty, why can't we
see?

By Kathryn Savoie
I worked on the hacienda over there,
and I would have to feed the dogs bowls
of meat or bowls of mild every morning,
and I could never put these on the table
for my own children. When my children
were ill, they died with a nod of sym-
pathy from the landlord. But when those
dogs were ill, I took them to the
veterinarian in Suchitoto.
You will never understand violence or
non-violence until you understand the
violence to the spirit that happens from
watching your children die of
malnutrition.
-A peasant in El Salvador,
from Witness to War
by Dr. Charles Clements
The economies of all Central American
countries are based on agriculture, yet
many people go hungry and malnutrition is
the leading cause of death and disease. A
major cause of so much hunger in countries
so rich in agricultural resources is the
inequity of land distribution. In the 1970s in
Central America, the richest 10 percent of
landowners, both wealthy individuals and
corporations, controlled 80 percent of all
farmland.
These wealthy landowners replaced food
crops with more profitable export crops
such as cotton, coffee, bananas, and sugar.
While such exports make the rich richer,
they do little to feed the hungry majority of
the people. Peasant farmers lose their land
to these large landowners and are pushed on
to smaller, more marginal lands, making it
ever more difficult to provide sufficient food
for their families. Many, unable to grow suf-
ficient food on their inadequate plots of land,
Savoie is a graduate student in the
University of Michigan Division of
Biological Sciences, specializing in
agricultural ecology.

or unable to find land, are forced to work on
the large plantations, often suffering
miserable working conditions and
inadequate nutrition. Malnutrition is thus
abundant in countries wealthy in
agricultural resources.
These conditions are, of course, not
restricted to Central American countries. In
many countries, more and more land and
resources are devoted to agricultural export
crops, while production of food crops suf-
fers, even in the face of increasing hunger
and malnutrition and growing national
dependence on imported food, or food aid, to
feed the people. The images of starving
people with which we have been continually
confronted in the media are a constant
reminder of the failure of many countries to
provide solutions to the problem of hunger.
Nicaragua before 1979 was an extreme
example of this situation. The land-
controlling elites produced exports while
thousands of tons of basic food products
were imported; onlyabout 10bpercent of
agricultural credit was available for local
food production.
Since the Nicaraguans fought to free their
country from the dictatorship of Anastasio
Somoza, the new government has made
great strides in improving the nutritional
standards and availability of food to the
people. An agrarian reform has returned
over 1.5 million acres of land, owned by the
Somoza family, to over 30,000 poor families
who now work it as their own. Fully 80 per-
cent of all farm loans now go to families
with small farms. Production of basic food
crops (corn, beans, sorghum, rice) is upd50
percent since prior to the revolution, and
consumption of these foods has also in-
creased. The infant mortality rate,
recognized as an indicator of nutrition and
health service availability, has been
reduced by one-third.
Nicaragua's achievements in increasing
food production and reducing hunger stand
in sharp contrast to other developing coun-
tries. Nicaragua is breaking the mold,. of-
fering an exciting alternative - feeding its

people and trying to become food self-
sufficient. Nicaragua is trying an alter-
native path of development that doesn't rely
entirely on an export-oriented agriculture.
The idea is to produce a strong agriculture
that can both feed its people and provide an
economy healthy enough to provide health
care, education, and other human needs
without dependence on foreign aid.
But Nicaraguans need our help now. Their
ambitious plans and outstanding accom-
plishments are threatened by the U.S.-
directed contra war and economic pressure.
Food storage facilities and agricultural
cooperatives and workers are among the
contra's primary targets: in 1984 alone, 55
agricultural cooperatives were attacked,
and more than 500 farmers and far-
mworkers killed. And now an economic em-
bargo makes it even more difficult for
Nicaragua to obtain agricultural equipment
and supplies, much of it produced in this
country, needed for continued food produc-
tion.
Nicaraguans are working to feed their
people. We can help. Humanitarian
Assistance Project for Independent
Agricultural Development in Nicaragua,
(HAP-NICA), an Ann Arbor-based group af-
filiated with the Guild House Campus
Ministry, is coordinating a national cam-
paign to help Nicaraguans build their
agriculture, by providing material aid and
technical assistance. HAP-NICA feels that
helping Nicaraguan agriculture, which of-
fers hope and a good example for other
developing countries, is important to finding
solutions to the problems of hunger.
In addition to giving our material support
to Nicaraguans in their efforts to feed their
people, it is just as important that we work
to create a situation in which changes on
behalf of the poor majority can take place.
It is our responsibility to urge our gover-
nment to work for constructive rather than
destructive relationships with Nicaragua,
and to ensure that our government's policies
and actions do not prohibit changes needed by
the hungry and poor in order to free them-
selves from hunger.

a
er

0

Anguished Eritrea

TWO WEEKS ago in a speech to
the United Nations, President
Reagan asked the Soviet Union to
stop fomenting trouble in hotspots
such as Nicaragua, Afghanistan
and Ethiopia. Thus the New Right
charges of "Soviet imperialism"
gained international attention on
the 40th anniversary of the United
Nations.
Cuban troops have aided the
Ethiopian regime in political
repression since it came to power
in the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974.
Today, the Cubans train the
Ethiopian commandoes who are
fighting to suppress the Eritrean
independence movement in what
Ethiopia regards as its province
and only sea lane. Before the
Revolution of 1974, the Cubans
aided the Eritreans in their
struggle against the Washington-
backed Ethiopian regime.
The Soviets directly shell the
Eritreans from the sea and supply
the Ethiopian regime's air force of
MIGs that have bombed and
napalmed over 700 Eritrean
villages to the ground. There are
more than 3,000 Soviet military ad-
visors in Ethiopia. Until Reagan's
United Nations speech the situation
of Ethiopia's colonies did not
receive much media or gover-
nment attention in the United
States. After all, the direct Soviet
military intervention against the
Eritrean, Tigrean and other in-
dependence movements seems
analagous to the military interven-
tion in Afghanistan.
The Americans began training
the commandoes that now suppress
the Eritreans before the Cubans
did. Indeed, two-thirds of
A . ,. , : P.

Ethopian Foreign Minister to "iron
out differences."
Hence, the United States is only
criticizing the Soviet half of the
phrase "Soviet imperialism." The
United States has no interest in
boasting of its support of Haile
Selassie before 1974. Moreover, the
Eritrean People's Liberation Front
(EPLF), which claims military
control of 85 percent of Eritrea has
no love for "United States im-
perialism" and regularly denoun-
ces both superpowers.
Fact-finding missions by the
British Labour Party, the German
Parliament and the European
Economic Community substantiate
the EPLF's claims of control of
most of Eritrea, the Soviet inter-
vention and most recently the
diversion of food aid to Ethiopian
troops fighting in Eritrea.
The Eritrean critique of the
Ethiopian regime's responsibility
for the famine ring true. According
to Entrea: Never Kneel Down
which was published as a result of
the British Labour Party's fact-
finding mission, 50 percent of the
Ethiopian regime's budget (25 per-
cent by Ethiopia's own figures),
and 30 percent of the Ethiopian
gross national product goes to the
military, mostly to fight the
Eritreans, who have 40 to 50,000
troops in the field.
It is disheartening that Ethiopia
has not accepted the EPLF's peace
offer of an internationally super-
vised referendum on Eritrea's in-
dependence in conjunction with a
guarantee of access to the sea. A
recent EPLF communique states
that Ethiopia even refuses non-
aligned observors in the secret
peace negotiations of the EPLF

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LETTERS:
Military
To the Daily: t
An open letter to SusanneU
Greenlee ("Daily Should Drop a
Military Advertising", Daily,
Oct.29): ' '
I am amazed that any person hi
living in this day and age can f
show such a complete lack of un-
derstanding of the world
situation. Your hackneyed
rhetoric of "moral responsiblity"
and "evil institutions" are all
well and good, but may I suggest
you take an objective look at the
world around you? We would all
like to live in a world free of
violence and threats, but history
and experience show us such
aspirations are a pipe dream.
Such nastiness exists in our
world, and your hopes and
prayers for the "ideals of youth
and morality" will not change

Snot perfect,
hey would have gotten one hell of don't think J
rude shock. guarantee.
If you could guarantee the U.S. think it's ti
would not be subject to any form more in tou
s aggression for the rest of military isi
istory, most people would be in means, and
avor of abolishing the military. I casionally di
BLOOM COUNTY

but necessary .

you can make such a
So, Ms. Greenlee, I
me you got a little
ch with reality. The
n't perfect by any
ltheir duties are oc-
Astasteful, but try and

do without them when you need
them, and you'll find knee-jerk
anti-military rhetoric won't
produce much in the way of
results.
-Hal Irwin
October 29
by Berke Breathed

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