YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

'Dirty Attitude in a Dirty Little War'

May 10, 1987

I was shocked to learn about the death in Nicaragua of Ben Linder, a 27-year-old engineer from Portland, Ore. Ben was a good friend and neighbor during the years I lived and worked in Nicaragua.

Linder was assassinated by a group of contras in the northern Nicaraguan town where he worked on a hydroelectric project. It was no accident; Linder was specifically targeted by President Reagan's "freedom fighters."

It's now official--our tax dollars go to murder U.S. citizens who contribute their valuable skills to benefit the poorest inhabitants of Nicaragua's countryside.

Washington will try to discredit Linder by claiming that U.S. citizens have been warned to stay out of Nicaragua's war zones. Ben told me of his fears before leaving for the countryside, but he accepted the risk as part of the job. Providing medical care, education, agricultural assistance or electricity targets one for terrorist attacks by Washington's proxy army in rural Nicaragua, whether one is an international volunteer or a Nicaraguan worker or professional.

Thousands in Matagalpa will remember, as I do, the joy of having Ben as a friend. His love for Nicaragua's people extended beyond his professional contributions. With a flair for the circus, he would often ride a unicycle, dressed as a clown, with a crowd of laughing children trailing behind.

Ben lived near the Managua park dedicated to Bill Stewart, the U.S. journalist whose brutal murder by the U.S.-backed National Guard raised the consciousness of many Americans and helped speed the downfall of the murderous Somoza dictatorship.

Since then, the so-called "low-intensity war" waged by Washington against the Nicaraguan people has claimed the lives of 20,000 Nicaraguans, dozens of international volunteers, and now, Ben Linder.

Our duty is to change our government's insane and criminal policy.


Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times Articles