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March 16, 1990 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-03-16
This is a tabloid page

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The revolution, the Bully and the Puppet

People magazine's coverage of
the Nicaraguan elections was
refreshing, as usual. Instead of a
whole lot of political
hodge-podge, they
boiled the whole thing
down to a uniquely
understandable single
personality: Violeta
Barrios de Chamorro.,
Violeta is the
puppet the United
States chose to head
the hollow coalition it
was propping up to Phil
face the Sandinistas in
last month's national Cob
By a wide margin,
the Nicaraguan people reversed
their 1984 vote - which gave the
Sandinistas a decisive victory -
and UNO won.
As far as elections go, this one
was unusual in many ways.
First of all, almost 90 percent of
the eligible voters turned out -
something we here ought to take
note of, after less than 25 percent
of the voters "elected" Prince
Equally important, the
elections were carried out
essentially during a time of war,
with the current winners of the
war openly running against the
losing incumbents. Created,
financed and directed by the
United States, UNO was more than
a puppet party - it represented
the only foreseeable way out of a
conflict which has brought 10
years of terrorism and five years of
economic warfare in the form of a
boycott by the United States.
"It was not a referendum on


communism," says Kathryn
Savoie, who just returned from an
election-monitoring delegation.
"It was not a
referendum on the
Sandinistas. It was a
referendum on the
war and the
The message to
(however false) was
clear: vote for UNO
and the war and the
p embargo will end;
vote for the
in Sandinistas and pay
the price.
For a minute, it
looked like People understood
They noted that, "years of
privation" resulting from "a U.S.-
imposed trade embargo and ...
continual fighting with the
Washington-backed contra rebels
may have encouraged voters to
turn to Chamorro."
Nah. Must have been that
daring woman, Doa Violeta: "Yet
in the end," the magazine went
on, "it may have been the
gracious, handsome widow
herself... who was primarily
responsible for her surprising
victory at the ballot box."
Well, the Queen not only has
more trouble remembering names
than a certain past President of
ours, she also keeps a shrine to
her dead husband (a martyred ally
of the Revolution) and consults
him regularly ("I talk to Pedro all
the time, and I know what he
wants me to do."), as well as
keeping the car in which he was
If my spring
Time to be hypocritical.
I've always hated it when
esteemed columnists who are
paid solely to write columns stoop
to writing columns comprised of
little bits and pieces of their views
rather than one whole coherent
The practice is most prevalent
in the sports section where a
writer will do something like:
News:The Pistons have won 19 of
20 games.
Views: The Pistons are playing
better basketball now than before. If.
they keep winning they will be in very
good position to defend their NBA
title, but if/they start to lose they may
not be in as good a position to repeat.
Or there's the Larry King/usA

killed in the back yard.
People and many others have
somehow forgotten that besides
creating the conditions which
made the UNo victory possible in
the first place, the U.S.
government - through the
National endowment for
Democracy and the cm - spent
at least $10 per Nicaraguan voter
on the campaign itself.
John Vandermeer, a professor of
biology at the University who's
worked in Nicaragua for the last
10 years, tells the story of the
elections this way:
"You're walking down the
street and the neighborhood bully
comes up to you and starts
pounding you in the face. And
you say 'Stop,' and the Bully will
say, 'Well, say Uncle and I'll
"If people start crowding
around, and people start
becoming angry at the bully and
in favor of you and encouraging
you on and becoming impressed
with your valor in resisting this
bully while the bully keeps
pounding you in the face, and you
keep saying, 'No! I won't cry
Uncle, I won't cry Uncle,' all the
people standing around and
cheering you might give you a
little bit of guts to keep resisting
the bully. That's true. But
eventually there comes a point
where you just get so battered
and so beaten that you really do
cry Uncle. There's just no way
around it.
"Effectively," he adds. "that's
what happened in Nicaragua. The
Nicaraguan people responded to

the concrete conditions in their
country. The concrete conditions
were the war, an economy which
was totally destroyed, conditions
which are really indescribably bad
- conditions which no human
being should have to live under.
That's what they were responding
to, and that's what they were
voting against."
E .,
Given the victory of UNo, the
U.S. government and media have
celebrated the elections as
evidence that the United States
finally brought democracy to-
"Now, it should be noted," says
Vandermeer on this point, "that it
was only in 1979 that the U.S.
government, the U.S. system,
decided that democracy was an
important issue in Nicaragua.
"For 80 years and more before
1979, that is before the triumph of
Sandinismo, democracy simply
didn't seem to be an important
issue in Nicaragua. Somoza [the
U.S.-supported dictator] certainly
wasn't a democratically elected.
president by any stretch of the
imagination. It bears some
reflection - the hypocrisy of
crying out for democracy at just
about exactly the time that we
seemed to lose control over a
country like Nicaragua."
Only now has the U.S.
government decided that the
welfare of Nicaraguans is an
important issue. The embargo
will be lifted, and a State
Department official told the New
York Times that a $300 million
aid package to Chamorro's
government "has to be on the fast

track. If it's not it will be too
Too late for what? Preventing
suffering has not been high on
Washington's Nicaraguan agenda
in the past.
The whole episode points up
the emptiness of the mainstream
definition of democracy, which
holds that democracy exists if and
only if 1) there are elections, and
2) the right people win.
This is powerfully underscored
by the claim that these elections
were the first democratic
elections in the history of
Nicaragua, ignoring equally
legitimate elections which the
government held in 1984. The
results were "un-democratic" not
because of any flaw with the
process, but because of who won.
Since the elections have been
determined to fit the criteria for
democracy set by the United
States, it becomes unimportant
that they took place in the face of
severe and violent blackmail of
the people.
The worship of democracy has
become idolatrous - escaping
reality behind La Doia's molded
The Sandinistas certainly made
mistakes, both before and during
the campaign. Despite the
immediate consequences of a
Sandinista victory, as far as the
war and the embargo, there may
have been more they could have
done to get their message across
- instead of falling into the
superficial campaign tone set by
UNo 's U.S.-American strategists.
Their economic policies have
not had a chance, thanks to their
neighbors to the North, so a
conclusive evaluation of their
plans remains elusive. Whether
they could have succeeded under
the embargo is not clear.
do I feel like
With all the new democracies
popping up faster than the
kernels in a bag of microwave pop
corn the United States is in the
position to buy a lot of influence
by throwing around some dollars.
The big question now is who gets
what. If we start doling out big
bucks to Bulgaria, do we give
Panama more because we
engineered their "revolution"?
Where is it all going to stop? I
think I have the solution. First we
cut all aid to all foreign countries.
Next we invite all foreign leaders
once a year to Burbank, California
for Budding Democracies Week on
Wheel of Fortune. "Just look at this
studio filled with glamorous

When onefeels drawn to freedom and
passion, one must show it in order to
transcend Freedomleads us to the
unknown, where oldframeworks are
of no use, where creation explodes and
expands, where the only thing that
sustains us is the strength ofpassion
A Freedom demands that we be

Celis describes his work as
Abstract Expressionist there are
also distinct forces embedded in
his work which evoke associations
with his Latin American heritage.
Celis says his vivid oil and
graphite paintings - currently on
display until March 26 at the

indifferent to
theories and
tciniques, that
we forget
achievment and


- depict his
true emotions.
He makes use
of primary



leave off
speculating on by Donnc
reults; it
compete dedication and in return
accompanies us on a voyage to the
uneapected, toward the consciousness
zone, where dwells the source of
Too often artists do not discuss
the philosophy behind their art.
But Perez Celis - an Argentinian
artist based in New York - is
sure to reveal his personal
passions through his pursuit of
artistic freedom. Celis believes
his philosophical statements
remain timeless. That is, his
painting will
remain true
because his
work is too
personal to
restrain it in
any way.
Still his
continue to
try to solve

colors in his
lad Ipaolo works,
those with
which he is most familiar in Latin
America and New York. But,
while Celis is ready to risk some
generalizations about his works,
he is sure to associate his
experiences with his style.
Celis was born in Buenos
Aires, Argentina, in 1939. In 1%3,
he traveled to Peru to visit the
Inca ruins of Cuzco and Macchu
Picchu. In 1%7, he visited the
United States for the first time. In
1977, he settled down in Caracas
and in 1979 Paris. Since 1983,
Celis has lived in New York. Bits

and pieces from his various
encounters seem to-curiously
appear in his works.
In his early work, nature is
remembered by Celis as being
one of his primary inspirations -
an inspiration which, to some, was
deemed an environmental
obsession. The distinguished
horizontal quality of the pampas
landscape, which breaks by the
rising and setting of the sun, was a
vivid image for Celis which
sprung from his experiences in
the River Plate area of Argentina.
And this kind of stimulation
which evolved during Celis'
fascination with nature is still
apparent in his works being
displayed currently.
Thus, a sense of calculated
explosion remains in Celis'
paintings. While a touch of
irefulness is hinted at with his use
of sulky colors, Celis does not
succumb to any of his hidden
fears. Instead he retaliates
through his art.
Passion is always new, even if it
corresponds to an old love such as
that ofpainting, and it
is passion alone that
gives life to a work,
impressing upon it its
strength and attracting
us to it, There remains
only, as we all know,
the matter of "the dead
following the dead and
the living following
life" Who'sis whom's
in this game? The
answer lies in the law of
Perez Cleis's works are
on display through
March 26 at T'Marr
Gallery at 111 N. First

The art of Perez Cells


Matthew Fox
MARCH 16-17, 1990
3:30 Healing Mother Earth:
Ecology, Creativity, and
Hutchins Hall, Room 100.
U of M Law School (Free)
7:30 Healing Mother Earth:
An Ecological Spirituality
First United Methodist Church
Henry Martin Loud Lecture (Free)
9:00 - 4:00 Workshop: Healing
Mother Earth: The Birthing of a
Global Renaissance
First Baptist Church, $25. S5students
I Olt MOI I NI 0 CAI I: (60 681111

break Is really over, why
Today approach: present you with my random
I love the hot weather... I-don't thoughts from the past week:
care what you think, but Donald
Trump is a classy The most
individual... It sickens irritating
me to think of my small individual now
intestine... Friend, infecting the
nobody, and I mean television
nobody can shake a airwaves is the
stick at Buddy Hacket guy on the AT&T
when it comes to commercials who
making me laugh. tries to dial
You get the idea, £ M Phoenix with that



it's Andy Rooney
syndrome. Unfortunately, with
spring break and my wisdom
teeth being removed last week,
my life has kind of resembled one
of these cheap "columns."
So, without much fanfare I

rival phone
company and keeps reaching Fiji
(the country, not the fraternity).
No phone company, no matter
how dumb, connects its
customers using phonetic

Untitled oil on paper painting on
display at T'Marra Gallery 111
N. First Street.




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