Essays such as Carlos Fuentes' rabidly disingenuous splenetic on the contras (Opinion, March 10), "The Hemisphere's Best Hope Is in Contadora, Not Contras," are turning The Times into a tawdry and shallow propaganda organ of the radical left.
As one who has traveled extensively inside Afghanistan with the Moujahedeen, Angola with the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), Cambodia with the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF), and, yes, in Nicaragua with the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN). I can testify that the contras are part of a new phenomenon emerging throughout the Third World: that of democratic liberation movements struggling to rid their countries of Marxist tyranny and Soviet imperialism.
To call the contras "freedom fighters" is quite accurate, for they are fighting not for power but for elections--real elections, not Potemkin elections like last November where only the Sandinistas got to count the votes. I have met hundreds of contras, and know that most of them are campesinos , small peasant farmers. They are streaming into FDN camps on the Honduran-Nicaraguan border by the thousands in order to fight the Sandinistas. To call them "mercenaries," as Fuentes did, is contemptible: all they get paid is beans and tortillas, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The contras represent a genuine peasant rebellion against a regime of Marxist fascism that has turned Nicaragua into a colony of Moscow and Havana. U.S. support of the contras should not be a cause for qualms but for celebration. For once, we are helping the forces of democratic liberation against a reactionary dictatorship. All Americans should feel pride and gratitude toward their President for his courage in assisting the contras in their fight to bring freedom and democracy to Nicaragua.
The Fuentes article is one of the best pieces I have read on the irrational policies of the Reagan Administration toward Nicaragua.
Of particular importance was Fuentes' point that the behavior of the United States is supposed to be different from that of the Soviet Union. I am always amazed when I hear conservatives evoke the behavior of the archenemy Soviets to justify like behavior on the part of the American government.
Given that conservatives consider themselves the sole keepers of the democratic ideals and principles upon which the United States was founded, one would think that they, more than we fuzzy-minded liberals, would demand that their government operate in the world accordingly, rather than like the world's supreme totalitarian, imperialistic dictatorship.
I wonder what the Washingtons and Jeffersons of Revolutionary America would think of being declared the moral equivalent of the likes of the Nicaraguan contras --it's sad that we don't have the opportunity to ask.
Thank you for publishing Fuentes' article on Nicaragua. He is truly a master at trying to evoke guilt from gullible American audiences.
Aside from the comparison of the United States to the Soviet Union (which is obligatory in today's intellectual circles), the most hilarious thing about Fuentes is his claim to speak on behalf of all Latin America. Actually his views and even his language are indistinguishable from those of the mainstream American liberal. Fuentes is even more gringo than the gringos themselves. If Americans truly want to understand Nicaragua's current predicament, we should be listening to people like Arturo Jose Cruz.
Cruz was a member of the Sandinista regime until he resigned in protest. He has seen with his own eyes the closing of churches, the press censorship, the spying, and the deteriorating living standards that the Sandinistas have brought to Nicaragua, all in the name of "helping the poor." Cruz was the principal opposition candidate in the recent Nicaraguan "election"; he withdrew after being subjected to rock-throwing mobs and heavy press censorship.
According to Cruz, there can be no peace in Central America so long as Nicaragua is dominated by a totalitarian government: "Congress is sadly wrong if it imagines that it can obtain peace by cutting off aid to the insurgents. The insurgency is no longer a product of United States intervention: it is the revolt of Nicaraguans against oppression by other Nicaraguans.
"Those who oppose support to the insurgents have a moral obligation to insist that the Sandinistas restore Nicaragua's liberties and that the Communist world take its hands off our country."
DANIEL J. FRIEDMAN
Rancho Palos Verdes
Fuentes has a perfect understanding of Ronald Reagan and his approach to Nicaragua. Fuentes knows that Reagan has paranoiac fears of Marxism, and nothing--not the reluctance of the House of Representatives to support contras, nor the World Court, not Contadora--will keep him from trying to turn out the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Indeed labeling contras "freedom fighters," as Fuentes reports, should provoke laughter as it has in all of Latin America. These cutthroats, torturers, rapists are pictured as freedom fighters. Hilarious. The contras are led by Col. Enrique Adolfo Bermudez, a protege of Anastasio Somoza, who would like nothing better than to return to Somoza-type government to Nicaragua. Then he could resume the butchery that prevailed under Somoza.
Reagan, in pushing his hard-line approach to Nicaragua, is alienating many countries in Latin America. It should be clear that the contras cannot overthrow the Nicaraguan government. What should be clear to Reagan is that if he does not change his approach to Nicaragua, if he does not accept the Contadora process, he is inviting disaster. Many of the countries in Latin America will unite behind Nicaragua and will not permit a superpower to humble this small Central American country.
Nicaragua will never cry "uncle."
Congratulations for the excellent editorial (March 9), "Botching Up in Nicaragua." It so well expressed my own thoughts and fears concerning our government's increasing involvement in Central America.
In spite of our Administration's rhetoric about avoiding nuclear war, U.S. support of the contras in Nicaragua, as well as the militarist government in El Salvador, could very easily result in widespread war ultimately.
Our representatives in Congress, our senators, and our President, must be deluged with letters now!
Your editorial is a voice of sanity amid a babble of paranoid rhetoric concerning our role in Nicaragua.
Before we reach the point of no return, let us hope that considered thought and logic will prevail over demagoguery in influencing public opinion and congressional action.