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April 06, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-04-06

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, April 6, 1989

The Michigan Daily

4

The

making

of

a

banana

republic

By David Austin
The Central American country of Hon-
duras has long been known as the original
banana republic. While the Honduran
economy is no longer totally dependent on
bananas, recent events have shown that
Honduras remains a U.S. colony.
On February 14, the presidents of five
Central American countries signed an ac-
cord to end eight years of U.S.-sponsored
war against Nicaragua. The accord stated
that "at the initiative of the President of
Honduras, the Central American Presidents
commit themselves to ... a joint plan for
the voluntary demobilization, repatriation
or relocation . .. of Nicaraguan resistance
members [contras] and their families."
Two weeks ago, President Bush an-
nounced a plan to continue aid to the con-
tras There was no protest from the Presi-
dent of Honduras.
In one month the President of Honduras
shifted from initiating an agreement with
the specific aim of dismantling the contra
camps in his country, to tacitly agreeing
to their continued presence in his country.
U.S. control of Honduran affairs is not a

recent development - it has been occur-
ring regularly since the beginning of this
century. By 1914 U.S. banana companies
totally controlled the northeastern coast of
Honduras, accounting for over two-thirds
of Honduras' exports, the most important
source of government revenue.
Political domination was present as
well. What bribes could not achieve, force
could. Threats to U.S. interests in 1907
were calmed when the U.S. Navy inter-
vened, the U.S. ambassador mediated be-
tween disputing parties, and a suitable
president was "re-elected."
Honduras' sovereignty again came into
question in 1961, when United Fruit re-
sponded to an agrarian reform law by
stopping operations, sending the economy
into a downturn. The president was sum-
marily summoned to Miami by United
Fruit, where a deal was worked out so that
U.F. Co. holdings would not be threat-
ened.
In the 80s, events in neighboring
Nicaragua have played a decisive role in
Honduran affairs. Honduras was chosen to
be the centerpiece of U.S. aggression
against Nicaragua following the triumph

of the Nicaraguan revolution in July,
1979.
The Honduran army has received enough
aid this decade to double in size, to create a
navy, and to make the air force the largest
and best equipped in the region. In return,
the U.S. now has 17 bases in Honduras.
U.S. maneuvers designed to intimidate the
Nicaraguan government - involving a
total of 50,000 U.S. troops - have taken
place annually since 1982.
Many Hondurans now say their country
is occupied by three armies: those of
Honduras, the United States and the con-
tras. The results of this militarization of
the country have been devastating.
Honduras was already in a precarious
land situation, which grew worse as more
than 300,000 acres were seized by the
government for U.S. and contra bases, and
for maneuvers. Those already living at a
subsistence level have been hurt the most.
Currently, 40 percent of Hondurans are
landless and more than 80 percent suffer
from malnutrition because they do not
have enough land to feed their families.
The disruption caused by the contras has
displaced people from their land. A Hon-
duran diplomat I spoke with in Mexico
City last fall told me that when U.S. aid
was cut off last February, many contras
survived by attacking Honduran peasants
for food and money. Hondurans of all po-
litical persuasions are now openly speak-
ing out against the contra presence, recog-
nizing that they are a major threat to the
country's stability.
The economic situation of the poor has
been exacerbated by reforms mandated by
the International Monetary Fund and re-
quired by the U.S. as a pre-condition of
economic aid. These reforms have included
cuts in the social sector of the budget de-
signed to reduce government spending, al-
legedly the reason for inflation; and deval-
uation of the currency. These have hurt the

lowest socio-economic sectors of Hon-
duran society by further reducing their al-
ready limited purchasing power.
Around U.S. military bases, large num-
bers of women have been forced into
prostitution as a means of surviving. Not
coincidentally, the rate of venereal disease
has gone up dramatically. Honduras now
has the highest number of AIDS cases in
Central America.

Opponents of the U.S. and contra pres-
ence have been subjected to the repression
commonly seen in other Central American
countries. Government sponsored death
squads, trained by the CIA and Argentinian
military advisors, have been implicated by
international human rights organizations
as being responsible for hundreds of
disappearances and murders. Human rights
workers have routinely been subjected to

4

MOO*.*&
mw

'4

.4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 128 Ann Arbor, Md 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
The cost of fossil fuels

'Many Hondurans now say their country is occupied by
three armies: those of Honduras, the United States and
the contras.'

:.

Popular groups have demanded an end to
the U.S. and contra presence in Honduras,
and fundamental economic and political
reforms. These include an end to land
seizures by large landowners for more ex-
port crops, enforcement of agrarian reform
laws and an end to government sponsored
repression.

l
i
1

death threats,
David Austin is an Opinion Page Associ-
ate Editor
Human rights activists Gladys Lanza.-
and Juan Almendares will speak on the :::
effect of U.S. programs and militariza-
tion in Honduras this Sunday, April 9
at 7:30 p.m. in Rackham Amphitheater. -
assault

ALASKAN OFFICIALS decided Mon-
day to ban herring fishing in the Prince
William Sound this season. This
spawning area, which yielded $12 mil-
lion worth of herring last year, is now
covered with an oil slick the size of
Rhode Island, formed when the oil
tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground,
spilling more than 10 million gallons of
crude oil.
The damage is intensified by the ac-
cident's location, an ecologically
unique and sensitive environment, rich
in animal life. The spill has blackened
hundreds of miles of pristine, rocky
coastline along the bays and islands
which dot the sound. Oil-soaked birds
are dying by the thousands. Marine
mammals, including many of the
12,000 sea otters which constitute
North America's greatest concentration
of that species, are doomed to death in
the sound's frigid waters, their fur's
insulation destroyed by the oil.
Because the sound's cold tempera-
tures inhibit the normal chemical and
bacterial actions which decompose
petroleum, the pollution may continue
to pose a threat for years or even
decades.
The Exxon Valdez incident has fo-
cused public attention on the immediate
circumstances surrounding the ac-
cident: alcohol abuse by the ship's cap-
tain, an uncertified third mate at the
helm of the tanker as it ran aground,
Exxon's bumbling and delayed efforts
at containment and clean-up of the
spill. More importantly, however, the
incident highlights broader questions
about our dependence on non-renew-
able fossil fuels and their effects on the
environment.

Such accidents will continue to occur
as we deplete existing oil reserves and
extend the frontiers of exploration to
the pristine and ecologically fragile en-
vironments of the arctic region. Harsh
conditions and rough seas increase the
risk of spills, hinder cleanup operations
and increase the pollution's impact.
The Valdez incident illustrates the cost
of pursuing oil exploration in arctic
coastal areas.
Oil production in Prudhoe Bay,
Alaska is expected to decline by the
mid-1990s and there remains only one
promising source of petroleum in
America, which lies on the north coast
of Alaska, part of the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge. Although Congress
has banned exploratory drilling in the
refuge during the last six years, there
has been increasing pressure to open
the refuge to petroleum activities. This
would sacrifice a rare ecosystem and its
wildlife for the immediate
"compensation" of what is at most a
two-year supply of oil.
Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan Jr.
expressed concern this week that public
reaction to the accident could jeopardize
future oil development. We can only
hope that he is right, and that the public
will view this calamity as a warning.
The Exxon Valdez incident provides
one more example, along with urban
air pollution and the greenhouse effect,
of the problems of dependence on fos-
sil fuels. We must oppose short-
sighted, profit-motivated energy poli-
cies - including oil activities which
will only further degrade the arctic en-
vironment - and push for the
development of renewable, non-pol-
luting energy sources.

Prevent sexual

4
4

By The Sexual Assault
Prevention and
Awareness Center
Despite popular myth, the problem of
sexual assault is a reality at the University
of Michigan. During the month of Febru-
ary alone, 10 sexual assaults were reported
to the Sexual Assault Prevention and
Awareness Center, and eight of them were
acquaintance rapes. Moreover, on college
campuses around the country, nearly 80
percent of college women have been vic-
tims of sexual violence. Of those,
approximately 90 percent were assaulted
by someone they knew. What's more, this
year has been an upsetting year - with
several rapes by strangers reported during
the fall, and the sexual harassment cases
which received so much publicity.
Many people feel unsafe on campus.
The issue of sexual assault, however, is
not solely the problem of women. It af-
fects everyone, regardless of race, class,
gender, or sexual orientation. For this rea-
son rape must become a more personal and
familiar issue to all of us.
Traditionally, the problem of rape has
been dealt with through crisis interven-
tion, counseling, improved safety features

on campus such as the Nite Owl, Safe-
walk, and improved lighting, and with ed-
ucational outreach efforts. Although these
strategies are occurring on a daily basis,
there is more that we can do to end the
trauma of sexual violence. In Ann Arbor
and around the state of Michigan the
month of April is being dedicated as to
raising awareness about rape. Rape Pre-
vention Month is an effort to deal with
rape as a serious issue on several different
levels. Because the fear of sexual assault is
an issue that concerns all of us, we each
have a personal stake in putting an end to
what has become not only a public, but a
political issue as well.
On a personal level, we need to recog-
nize the connections that exist between
rape and our culture. Rape has typically
been silenced as an issue: women have not
felt comfortable reporting their rapes to
authorities; people at universities have
been worried that if we talk about rape
parents won't send their children; people
have blamed the survivors with questions
like, "why did you go back to his apart-
ment?" or, "what were you doing walking
alone at night like that?." One reason for
this silence however is that rape tends to
be viewed in isolation from sexism and
other forms of oppression. But sexual as-

sault is part of our "rape culture," a term
used to describe the ways in which a con-
tinuum of sexism (ranging from
stereotypical portrayals of gender roles to
the promotion of sexual violence) is vali-
dated, legitimized and reinforced within our
society. In turn, these values and behav-
ioral norms are perpetuated through such
cultural institutions as the media: The
theme of this year's Rape Prevention
Month activities is making those connec-
tions between rape and sexism in advertis-
ing.
Unfortunately, a common and very
harmful myth is that there is nothing we
can do to stop rape. As a result, one of the
goals of Rape Prevention Month is to ex-
pose such myths and encourage women
and men to participate in the struggle
against sexual assault. Taking part in the
activities for Rape Prevention Month is
one way we can speak out about rape -
break the silence, confront this issue. To-
day at noon on the Diag we will be stag-
ing an action to publicize the importance
of this issue. Look for the women and
men wearing T-shirts that say "No More
Rape." Come show your support and join
us as we encircle the Diag and envision a
time when all forms of sexual violence
will end.

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i g
a k
i ?
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4

4

Letters to the editor

I

Wasserman

~rnIN SNIP FSLU.1

Oil FEROtHHEL, CLVJ14Uj FLANS4, PND

0000

Gay literary
forum
To the Daily:
This is an open letter to the
Ann Arbor University com-
munity. As part of Lesbian and
Gay Men's Awareness Week
1989, the Lesbian and Gay
Rights Organizing Committee
(LAGROC) will be sponsoring
a Gay literary forum.
This year our guests will be
Terry Jewell, published Black
Lesbian poet from Lansing,
Michigan and Russell Brown, a
recently published, openly Gay
author and veteran of the 1969
"Stonewall Riots". On Thurs-
day, April 6th at 7 p.m. in the
Law Club Lounge, Terry Jew-

At his workshop on Thurs-
day evening, Russell Brown
will be reading from and dis-
cussing his recently published
book, Sherlock Holmes and
the Mysterious Friend of Os-
car Wilde. (which has recently
received rave reviews in the
most recent edition of The Ad-
vocate). Russell Brown is a
University alumnus and a re-
cipient of two Avery Hopwood
awards for creative writing and
he has seen produced his Hop-
wood play, The Worlds of
Tommy Albright.
Russell will also share his
experiences as a participant of
the 1969 "Stonewall Riots" in
New York City, which tradi-
tionally mark the beginning of
the Lesbian and Gay Men's

All members of the Ann Ar-
bor Lesbian and Gay Men's
community are invited to bring
their own offerings to the read-
ing and discussion. Afterward,
there will be a book signing
and refreshments will be
served.
People who are interested in
details are encouraged to call
the Awareness Week Informa-
tion Hotline at 994-5403.
-Brian Durrance
LAGROC
April 5
Join
Armenians
To the Daily:

ders of the Young Turk gov-
ernment, marched off, and
murdered. Following this,
convoys of Armenians, men,
women and children, also fol-
lowed under guard, never to be
heard of again. Well over a
million Armenians perished as
a result. All Armenian land and
property was seized by the
Turkish authorities and the
survivors were left to fend for
themselves. As a result, to this
day, there are no Armenians
left in historic western Arme-
nia. These lands now constitute
the eastern provinces of the
Turkish republic.
This year the Armenian Stu-
dents Cultural Association
Club will be hosting a number
of commemorative events
which will include a vigil on

4

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