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August 05, 1988 - Image 7

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1988-08-05

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PERSPECTIVES

The Michigan Daily

Friday, August 5, 1988

Page 7

f

Nicaragua in focus

What do you believe Is the principal
cause of the war inNicaragua?
cagaiVmperlat9-29%1
Lack ofdemocracy 6%
Communism -- _----""
toaasarinin 2% F.zL2'n

BY SARAH BABB
Last week I returned from two months in Managua, where I
discovered it is nearly as difficult to understand what is going
on in Nicaragua from down there as it is from up here.
Three weeks ago in the small town of Nandaime, protesters
marched in a demonstration which the Sandinista police dis-
persed with teargas; some of the protestors were arrested.
Barricada, (the Sandinista paper), called the protesters U.S.-
funded "Somocistas" and claimed they were rightfully arrested
for throwing rocks at the police. La Prensa, (alleged organ of
the CIA in Nicaragua), claimed the protestors were peaceful,
hungry citizens marching in opposition to disastrous Sandin-
ista economic policies and suppression of human rights.
I asked a young man in a local chapter of the Sandinista
youth about the incident: were the protestors reactionaries or
average citizens with legitimate grievances against the Sandin-
istas. He asked if I really thought that someone who was
hungry and had a family to support would be likely to partici-
pate in a right-wing demonstration. Everybody is struggling
financially, he said, but marching does not put rice and beans
on the table. Although he and his family had to practice strict
rationing at home (so many pounds of beans per week, one
egg per person each day, no meat), they also recognized that
the economic troubles of Nicaragua are largely the fault of the
United States, not the Sandinistas.
Two months in Nicaragua is certainly not enough for any-
one to understand the complexities of the political situation:
the most important thing that I learned in Managua was to
listen and to keep my opinions to myself. But seeing the suf-
fering the United States has inflicted upon Nicaragua makes
the rhetoric behind our policy transparent, and makes the rea-

sons offered by "liberal' politicians for continuing support for
the contras seem repulsively petty and self-interested.
The contra war and the economic embargo against Nicaragua TM n5% a0 --
are often justified on the grounds that they will bring an end OdW13
Sandinista human rights abuses and democratize Nicaragua. u.s.govmmant 8%
Events such as the Nandaime protest are upheld as reasons for
continuing these measures.
Such measures, however, have not only failed to overthrow Oferknow/nsan~wrd I nPowrnVXUO&nax,
the Sandinistas, but have succeeded in reducing Nicaragua to a Reprinted from Barricada Internacional, July 14 1988.
state of grinding poverty. Although agricultural productivity ITZTANI, an independent research center,
skyrocketed immediately after the revolution, it has since been polled 1200 people in Managua, Nicaragua. The
been devastated by contra attacks upon farmers in the outlying poll also showed 85.9 percent of Nicaraguans
provinces. The U.S. trade embargo and the pressure exerted were opposed to further U.S. aid to the contras.
upon our allies to take similar measures have tightened the
stranglehold on the Nicaraguan economy: Without foreign ex- find a Nicaraguan who wants the Reagan administration's
change, Nicaragua cannot trade for products which it needs but policies to continue. Nicaraguans are tired of tightening their
cannot produce, such as fertilizer and spare parts. belts and tired of being tired all the time; they recognize that
There was a fairly wide social spectrum in my neighborhood their hardship has been caused primarily by the United States'
in Managua: merchants, teachers, and women who washed policy , and they are hoping against hope that this policy will
clothes for a living all lived in the same general area. None of change under the next administration.
them were untouched by the economic crisis. For example the I still don't know exactly what happened in Nandaime, and I
college professor across the street from my house earned 4000 don't suppose I ever will. But two months in Managua has
cordobas per month, the equivalent of about 6 U.S. dollars. In made it all too apparent that the concern of U.S. politicians
Managua a beer costs about 100 cordobas, a loaf of bread be- over the fate of the people of Nicaragua is a transparent facade.
tween 25 and 50 cordobas. Luxuries that even modest-icome Perhaps the young man with whom I spoke was giving me a
North Americans take for granted (such as toilet paper) must biased and inaccurate account; but at least he spoke from the
be eliminated. Women who wash clothes for a living must sincere position of someone who has had to live with the con-
eliminate even rice and tortillas from their families diet and sequences of U.S. policy in Nicaragua every day. The suffer-
make do with beans alone. ing of three million people, thousands of miles away, must
My neighbors held a wide spectrum of political opinions seem rather abstract and unreal from an air-conditioned office
about whether Nicaragua is a democracy or if the Sandinistas on Capitol Hill.
are handling the economy competently. It is rare, however, to

To the Daily:
July 31 marks the anniversary of
the massacre in the holy city of
Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It was when
Muslims were expressing their po-
litical opinions, as one of their rit-
uals that hundreds of unarmed pil-
grims were gunned down or beaten
to death by the Saudi security
forces. The sanctity of this holy
place was violated and the security
of the pilgrims was trampled upon.
This shocking tragedy left over four
hundred people dead, including 103
women, and many crippled men
confined to wheel chairs. The vic-
tims of this massacre included peo-
ple from Palestine, Pakistan,
Turkey, Lebanon, Afghanistan,
East Africa, Canada, India, and
most of all, from Iran.
What hurts even more than the
tragedy itself is the media
"coverage" or cover up of this inci-
dence. More frustrating is the reac-
tion to this massacre by people
who call themselves conscientious.
In remembrance of this unforget-
table day, let's ask ourselves:

To the Daily:
"Talk to Us," (TTU) the theatre
troupe which performed as part of
the University's Summer Orienta-
tion Diversity Program, has re-
ceived a great deal of publicity in
the past two weeks. TTU is a the-
atre troupe which creates theatre
experiences addressing issues of so-
cial concern. Founded last year by
the Housing Division and Hillel,
the troupe has already received nu-
merous awards.
TTU utilizes experimental, inter-
active theatre techniques which be-
came popular in the 1960's to
prompt people to think about diffi-
cult issues. Last year, the troupe
developed a series of 37 issue-re-
lated scenes in conjunction with
,various student service groups on
campus. The scenes "freeze" at a
specific dramatic point in the ac-
tion; the characters then face the
audience and a discussion ensues.
The scenes are typical of what a
student might hear in a residence
hall lounge or the library; but with
TTU, the audience gets to question
these people, to challenge their
bigotry and prejudices.
The program is particularly com-
pelling because it is student-written
and therefore speaks to the "day-to-
day" experiences of students. It is
not an academic, intellectual
presentation; it is the troupe's in-
tent to make people feel, to present

the "human" side. They don't just
hear for the hundredth time that
"prejudice is bad;" but they see a
young man being called "faggot" -
not only do they see them, but they
get to interact with them. In the
safe arena of theatre, a TTU perfor-
mance first allows the audience to
grapple with their own beliefs and
values; and then to experience an
"artistic" piece which strikes even
deeper chords, moving people to-
ward understanding and compassion.
One of the great strengths of
TTU is its tremendous flexibility:
the troupe tailors "shows" to meet
the needs of particular groups. TTU
has performed for such groups as
Kappa Kappa Gamma, LaGROC,
and a Chicago Hillel conference,
covering topics such as sexism,
anti-Semitism, racism, sexual as-
sault, and homophobia. Since TTU
creates experiences at the request of
University groups, TTU is truly a
"responsive" organization, working
with the community to better the
community.
-Talk To Us
-August 3
Send letters to 420 Maynard, AA
MI 48109. Our summer deadline
for a letter is Wednesday; readers
are welcome to either mail or
bring in their letters.

- Isn't freedom of expressing
one's opinion the accepted right of
every individual in the civilized
world?
" Who gives the right to the
Saudi government to gun down and
beat people who express their hatred
for the treatment of Palestinians by
the Israeli government?
- Does anyone who condemns the
United States' unconditional sup-
port for Israel deserve to be killed?
- Does anyone who condemns the
Soviet Union for invading
Afghanistan and killing tens of
thousands of Afghans deserve to be
murdered?

The Saudi Arabian government,
who has taken control over the
country without any election, con-
stitution, or a parliament, cannot be
expected to respect the basic human
rights. Only the cry of conscience
people of the world can put a stop
to the brutal actions of such gov-
ernments. But let's hope that those
who do believe in freedom of
speech as a basic human right, and
are so proud of their country and
constitution for that reason, would
believe in it for other people as
well, and would allow others to
have what they want themselves.
-Ahmad Mahmoud
July 25

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