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Nicaragua and the Contras

December 31, 1986

The thumbnail sketch of Arturo Cruz (Dec. 14) states that he withdrew from the 1984 race for president of Nicaragua after mobs attacked some of his campaign rallies.

It is only fair to him to mention that he wanted to continue in the race. After all, such incidents are far from uncommon, and even more or less to be expected in cultures politically less polite than our own. (Witness recent elections in Jamaica and the Philippines.)

The CIA told him to withdraw, and he obeyed. He also did not want to join the United States' "United Nicaraguan Opposition," which has been dominated from the start by people known more for their loyalty to Somoza (Enrique Bermudez) or obedience to the U.S. (Adolfo Calero) than for any interest in Nicaraguan democracy. You should have mentioned this, because his willingness, however reluctant, to obey our CIA probably has destroyed his political career.

Nicaraguans certainly are far from united under the Sandinistas, but no one can dispute that the contras cannot succeed, indeed even exist, except as the paid military representatives of the United States.

We are too good at freezing out anyone who won't knuckle under. (Remember what happened to Eden Pastora.) This is known, and hence it is known that anyone now fighting the Nicaraguan government is paid by the Americans. The Nicaraguan people now cannot choose Cruz, nor any other contra in a democratic election. If Cruz still cares about democracy, it must pain him to know that the only way he can hold office in his country is to have himself forced on the people, against their wishes.

I think we should ask, what can we possibly be trying to do in Nicaragua? We have forced those who care about democracy and oppose the Sandinistas to join our contras. This leaves the Nicaraguans no alternative to the Sandinistas who cannot be considered an American agent.

We removed Cruz from the 1984 race because the people probably would have rejected him. We would rather deny that an election took place, and ignore the reason why it was so easy for Daniel Ortega to win. We pay for an organization dominated by Somoza loyalists to overthrow a government the Nicaraguan people prefer because these mercenaries will obey us. We care so little about the people getting to choose their own government that we gladly sacrifice those who have cared for democracy, in order to impose our will.

LAWRENCE R. CARLETON

San Diego

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