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May 24, 1985 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1985-05-24

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Page 5

Friday, May 24, 1985

The Michigan Daily

Ot firbigan DatIVa
Vol. XCV, 'No. 6-S
95 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
Welcome aboard
AUSTRALIAN MEDIA-baron Rupert Murdoch will
soon become a U.S. citizen to satisfy FCC regulations
forbidding foreign ownership of broadcast companies. The
only reason he is becoming a citizen is to make more
money-and this makes people uneasy. Critics argue he
lacks the patriotic fervor.
The Murdoch empire covers three continents. He owns
various newspapers and magazines in Australia, the
United States, and Great Britain. Some have added a new
twist to an old saying and jokingly surmise that the sun
never sets on the Murdoch empire. Murdoch also owns a
half point interest in Twentieth Century Fox. But Murdoch or
what he represents is not at issue here.
Thousands of people become U.S. citizens every year.
Some want to become citizens for political reasons, others
for economic and still others for a combination of both. It
leaves a bad taste in some mouths to know that people
come to the U.S. for purely economic reasons. But this is
supposed to be the land of opportunity.
Granted, Murdoch is not a refugee from oppression. But
he has been paying the American government taxes like
any other citizen for 11 years and his wife and two sons
have lived in New York City for several years. He says
that he wasn't able to become a citizen earlier because of
his Australian business interests.
The controversy surrounding his citizenship started
when Murdoch and oilman Marvin Davis decided to pur-
chase seven stations of Metromedia, Inc. The seven
stations are located in Chicago, New York, Houston,
Dallas, Los Angeles, and Washington. In order to own
these stations, he will have to sell the New York Post and
the Chicago Sun-Times because FCC regulations forbid
major ownership of newspaper and broadcast properties
in the same city.
Murdoch hopes to increase the quality of television by
stimulating competition in an empty industry. Murdoch
has said that he wants to start a fourth programming net-
work to compete with the other existing television networks.
While Murdoch's citizenship should be granted, the
United States must be careful not to set double standards
for people who want to become citizens for economic
A common perception in this country is that an influx of
immigrants presents a drain on the economy. Inviting
wealthy magnates like Murdoch to America. to pursue his
fortune and stimulate the economy is not as offensive.
Still, it is important that the U.S. realize the cost of turning
away people who want to become citizens but who don't
have the financial resources of a millionaire like Murdoch.

Nicaragua's democracy

By Dean Baker
Last of a three part series
In the six years since the overthrow of the Somoza
regime there have been two parallel struggles taking
place to construct a new Nicaragua. One effort is taking
place within Nicragua itself, as its people attempt to over-
come the effects of a U.S. backed dictatorship that ruled
the country for almost fifty years. The second effort
originates in the White House, as the Reagan ad-
ministration attempts to portray an image of Nicaragua
in the U.S. media that seems to have come out of one of the
president's grade B movies. Unfortunately, as the
president becomes increasingly successful in his efforts,
the Nicaraguan people will face greater obstacles to their
The Reagan administration's catalogue of lies is quite
extensive. Among other things, they have charged that
the Nicaraguan government is undemocra c, that it sup-
presses its opposition, and censures the press. They have
alleged that the Nicaraguan government has attempted to
subvert its neighbors. They have also claimed that the
Contras who are fighting against the Nicaraguan gover-
nment are true freedom fighters struggling for a
democratic Nicaragua. All of these claims can be shown
to be false by examining any of the accounts of
organizations and individuals who have attempted to
make independent assessments of the situation in
THE CURRENT government in Nicaragua was elected
last November in elections that took place two days before
our own. The Western European press took the victory of
the Sandinista party in this election as an indication of the
overwhelming support the Sandinistas enjoy. In an ex-
tensive study of the Nicaraguan election, the Latin
American Studies Association, a non-partisan group of
academics in the United States, concluded that the
Nicaraguan elections were quite fair, and in some respec-
ts more democratic than our own. Six opposition parties
took part in the election and criticized the Sandinistas
quite vigorously in the campaign. These parties captured
one-third of the vote, and currently hold a third of the
seats in Nicaragua's parliament.
While there has been some censorship of the
Nicaraguan press, it is important to realize that
Nicaragua is at war, and that every nation, including the
United States, has censored its press during wartime. The
sort of criticism of government policy that has taken place
so far exceeds what would have been allowed in the U.S.
press during the first World War. The government has had
some conflicts with its hierarchy of the Catholic church,
but is has not in any way attempted to suppress religion.
Most of the Sandinistas are practicing Catholics. Also,
most of the clergy in Nicaragua are very supportive of the
Sandinistas, including four priests who hold high gover-
nment positions.
While it is claimed that Nicaragua has been aiding the
anti-government rebels in El Salvador. after five years
during which it has spent tens of millions of dollars on
surveillance, the U.S. government can produce no
evidence to support this claim. It is simply inconceivable
that large scale shipments of arms from Nicaragua could

have eluded our intelligence forces for all these years. In
addition, the Nicaraguan government has offered on
several occasions to establish multinational border
patrols to curtail any arms flow.
ALTHOUGH THERE has been a significant expansion
of the military in Nicaragua since the revolution, this has
been entirely for defensive purposes. Even a represen-
tative of the State Department, Col. Lawrence Tracy con-
ceded that Nicaragua does not have the military
capability to realistically contemplate invading one of its
neighbors. The money that Nicaragua has spent on defen-
se has put a tremendous burden on its economy. These ex-
penditures have been absolutely essential however, since
Nicaragua has not only had to fight against the U.S.
backed Contras, but they have also had to prepare for the
realistic possibility of a direct United States invasion.
The United States has had fleets off both of Nicaragua's
coasts and maintained troops along its border with Hon-
duras for much of the last four years. it has also flown
planes low over Nicaragua's air space to create sonic
booms over its cities convincing many citizens that bom-
bing raids had begun. After the U.S. invasion of Grenada
in 1983, Nicaragua simply does not have the luxury of
being able to not take the threat of a United States in-
vasion seriously.
The Contras, who Reagan refers toas freedom fighters,
are nothing more than a gang of terrorists. In a
congressional study of the Contras, it was revealed that 46
of their 48 top commanders were former members of
Somoza's national guard. (One of the other two was the
son of a national guardsman).
These people who terrorized the population on behalf of
the Somoza dictatorship for years, clearly have no in-
terest in democracy. According to Americas' Watch, an
independent human rights group, their strategy has been
to intimidate the civilian population into withdrawing
their support for the Sandinistas. They have singled out
government employees who have been providing services
to the outlying regions, such as teachers, health care
workers, and agricultural advisors, as their targets. They
routinely torture their victims before killing them. They
then leave mutilated bodies as a warning to others
cooperating with the government.
Our actions toward Nicaragua have been immoral and
illegal. After having maintained a brutal dictatorship in
power for most of the century, we are now doing
everything we can to obstruct the efforts of the
Nicaraguan people to rebuild their nation.
In persuading this policy the United States is making it-
self an outlaw among the nations of the world. Our allies in
Europe and Latin America oppose our policy. The World
Court voted to condemn our actions, with only a U.S. judge
supporting the Reagan administration's position. If the
United States is to maintain any semblance of moral
credibility in the world, it will have to change the course of
its policy toward Nicaragua,
Baker, a doctoral student in economics, is president
of Rackham Student Government.
by Berke Breathed
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