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'Nicaragua: New Challenges'

December 28, 1987

Recent hysteria about a Nicaraguan "military buildup" is one more distortion of reality.

The Soviet military aid agreement is not new, dating from 1980. The 600,000 "military" are a projection, not reality, and are practically all defense forces: civilian militia and reserves. At present there are some 200,000, mostly peasants, poorly armed to defend their farms and villages, but their existence has made the Pentagon cautious about invasion plans. A U.S. invasion is not paranoid illusion. George Shultz and other Administration spokespersons have often proclaimed it "a possibility."

U.S. governments have intervened in all Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, including Haiti and Grenada, since 1898. Nicaragua itself was twice invaded and occupied for 19 years and their national bank and customs were "managed" by the United States. The Somozas were maintained in power by the United States for 45 years. The CIA organized, financed and directed FDN Contras. Honduras and El Salvador each have 400% more aircraft than Nicaragua. Nicaragua has no jet fighters to match theirs and so had planned to get some MIGS but has since suspended the plan. The Nicaraguan army was equal in size to El Salvador's and Honduras' in 1981 but has since expanded--paradoxically--as a result of the U.S.-Contra effort. Nicaragua is no menace; the United States is.

Both the World Court and the United Nations have called on our government to live up to its commitments for peace, just as we have called upon the Soviets. Both the Soviet Union and the United States must stop bullying our smaller and weaker neighbors and let them settle their own problems, providing only monetary and technical aid for their peaceful development.

GEORGE L. CAMPBELL

Long Beach

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