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U.S. Relations With Nicaragua

December 06, 1988

In a letter (Nov. 27) Charles LeCompte makes several important errors regarding Nicaragua in his response to those writing to protest the lack of U.S. government hurricane relief aid to Nicaragua.

The first, and most common, error is to call the Nicaraguan government "Marxist." These days, most governments that might be called "Marxist" don't suffer the inconvenience of a mixed economy, don't permit freedom of speech and the press, don't actively encourage the practice of a religion of choice, don't hold free elections, don't encourage constructive dissent and don't tolerate inquisitive foreigners poking around in their midst. Nicaragua allows, and in fact encourages, all of this in keeping with a constitution that was popularly approved via town meetings arranged for discussion and revision and an almost-unanimous vote in the multiparty (read left, center and right) elected assembly. I say "almost-unanimous" since the only members of the assembly not voting in favor of the constitution were the two from the Marxist-Leninist party.

Given the meager news coverage of the "reality" of Nicaragua, this first is a forgivable error. What is unpardonable is LeCompte's assertion that humanitarian aid to a country whose infrastructure--houses, factories, warehouses, bridges, roads and farms--was fundamentally destroyed by a natural disaster should be linked to political disagreements. This is wrong, as wrong as his asserting, in an apparent effort to assuage his conscience, that others are providing adequate relief. Others are doing what they can, but the U.S. government's big stick discourages a lot of participation.

I was in Bluefields, Nicaragua, during the hurricane and witnessed the extent of the destruction. For some, ignorance may be bliss. For others, it can be deadly.

WILL J. HERON

Los Angeles

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