United States and Central America

Having just returned from Managua, Nicaragua, I was very interested in your editorial "Managua's Failing Economy" (June 28).

I think it should better be entitled "failed" economy. Inflation is soaring so fast that the cordoba (paper currency) is being overstamped with new value, that is, the 20 cordoba note is rubber-stamped to 20,000 cordoba.

For two years I have worked with the Nicaraguan refugees, the freedom fighters and their families. I have seen a lot, but I was ill-prepared for the sights of the "workers paradise." Upon arriving at Sandino Airport, the first thing one sees is squadrons and squadrons of Soviet Hind helicopters (equipped with humanitarian Gatling guns). Driving into town one sees Soviet tanks, so newly arrived that they are still wrapped in burlap from shipping.

If there were a little less military spending, perhaps I would not have seen (and fed) the first generation of families living in the dump! Perhaps I would not have had the unpleasant opportunity to feed and clothe two boys--9 and 12 years old--now living in the desecrated Jewish synagogue.

The Soviets continue to provide $40 million per month into Nicaragua in military aid; the freedom fighters were allocated $40 million in humanitarian aid for the year! Maybe if the $17 million that was pulled out of the Contra aid for distribution to children's aid inside Nicaragua were distributed, I would not see the dead babies that I see on our frequent missions.

It is sobering to see the first generation of poverty. Displaced people, once relatively prosperous, learning how to live in absolute poverty--in the shadow of obscene opulence of the Sandinista rulers who truly redistributed the wealth . . . they took from everyone and gave to themselves.

GARY D. BECKS

President, Rescue Task Force

San Bernardino

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