United States and Central America

Recently, ex-President Ronald Reagan speaking in the Guildhall of London's financial district said, "You can't massacre an idea. You cannot run tanks over hope. You cannot riddle a people's yearning with bullets." He was referring, of course, to the slaughter of the students and workers in China who demonstrated against social injustice and demanded more freedoms.

If the people in Central and South America could speak to him they would cry out, "Yes you can, Mr. Reagan! Have you forgotten Nicaragua?" After eight years of war waged against them by guerrilla forces and the wealthy might of the U.S., Nicaragua is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. After 29,113 dead, 17,867 wounded, 14,600 orphaned, more than 250,000 homeless and $12.2 billion in material losses, the cheery optimism that "ideas can't be massacred" might sound hollow to a devastated people.

We know all this. We know that the United States sends more than $1 million a day to El Salvador to support a government that is notorious for its death squads. More than 70,000 people have been murdered in El Salvador. Even as we read of these atrocities the lawmakers in Washington are preparing to vote for continued aid. Why? Can the Salvadoran people hope and yearn for peace under the rule of the Arena Party of President Alfredo Cristiani and Roberto D'Aubuisson?

A similar scenario has been unfolding in Guatemala for almost 30 years. In 1954, a social democratic government under President Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by the paramilitary actions of the CIA under the "imperial presidency" of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

More than 50 covert operations were reported in progress by 1984, about half of them in Latin America--a 500% increase from the Carter Administration. Reagan wholly supported the extent of foreign involvement.

And now we have President Bush. It remains to be seen how much longer the American people are going to be silent as billions of their tax dollars go to savage and corrupt rulers. It is not a good way to spread democracy.

ALICE BANOS

for Concerned Faculty

at UCLA

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