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Contra Aid and Arias Peace Plan

December 31, 1987

I would share Congress' sense of jubilation in the holiday season, with hard work accomplished and a difficult budget passed, had its budget managed to excise Contra aid. For in its hurry to get home, it has approved funds that can only increase death and suffering among the innocent civilians in Nicaragua.

The real character of the Contra war is clearly shown in a report to the 199th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (1987), in which its Task Force on Central America notes:

1--Total economic damage to Nicaragua is estimated at $2.5 billion to $3 billion. A once-positive growth rate is now declining. The standard of living has fallen drastically.

2--Fernando Cardenal, minister of education, stated that because of defense demands on the budget, there have been no funds for new school construction since 1985, while in 1984 the government was building two new classrooms per day. (This same Cardenal spearheaded an educational effort involving 100,000 young people as teachers that raised literacy from 50% to 90% in six months in 1980, before Reagan got his Contra war started.)

3--Dr. Maria Felipe de Solan, an Argentine epidemiologist, stated that in the war zones, tuberculosis is on the rise because those undergoing treatment fear attack by the Contras if they are seen going to a clinic, and that "all who die of tetanus or measles die as if they had been killed by the Contras" since the Contras have especially targeted vaccination volunteers. She asks: "What kind of people do not want children and pregnant women to be vaccinated against tetanus and measles?"

RODNEY B. THORN

San Jose

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