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It is time to stop US intervention

Guest Column/Laura Hastings

and Gretchen Ritter

People are talking about Central America on every campus in the country -- and for good reason. As the Reagan administration projects an increasingly belligerent position toward this region, each of us wonders whether a US military intervention in Central America might be the next step.

More importantly, we are also incensed by the effects of US economic warfare against -- and political interference in -- Central America.

At a recent press conference, President Reagan explicitly stated his desire to eliminate the Nicaraguan government. Just short of declaration of war, this intended violation of Nicaraguan sovereignty is the culmination of a long series of aggressive actions by the United States government toward this small nation:

O+ Shortly ater the revolution, the United States imposed an economic blockade on Nicaragua, which has effectively constrained Nicaragua's ability to rebuild the country. The US has blocked an Inter-American Development Bank loan to Nicaragua that has been approved by all the other governors.

O+ The United States has granted $80 millions of military aid to the anti-government guerrilla forces (the "contras") over the last three years.

O+ The CIA played a leading role in the mining of Nicaraguan harbors, an act which was condemned by the international community as a blatant act of war.

O+ The United States has a priori refused to abide by the decision of the World Court, which ruled to consider Nicaragua's case regarding US mining of harbors.

O+ A CIA manual was distributed among the "contras" instructing them on such things as murdering civilians, terrorizing villagers and destroying crops.

O+ The State Department was directly involved in undermining the recent Nicaraguan elections, offering "financial assistance" and other forms of sponsorship to those opposition parties who would agree to withdraw their candidates.

Nor is Nicaragua the only country affected by US military involvement. El Salvador, torn by civil war, also suffers from the destructive effects of our foreign policy adventures. United States policy toward this country has been two-faced and ineffective.

On the one hand, the administration has voiced support for the electoral process, while in practice we have relied on a military solution in El Salvador.

The Reagan administration is unable to see beyond an East-West definition of the Central American situation. By perceiving Soviet influence in every indigenous revolutionary movement, US policymakers display a profound misunderstanding of the local dynamics of the situation. We must recognize that a Marxist presence in the country can be a nationalist one, and does not automatically mean subservience to the Soviet Union.

What do our government's Central American polices mean to the members of this community? As the students, faculty and staff of MIT, we are the financial beneficiaries of an awesome military buildup. As citizens of the United States, we are responsible for the actions this government carries out in our name.

As members of the world community, we are obliged to scrutinize those policies that result in human suffering and destruction. From our university to our world, each of us is inexorably linked to the current crisis in Central America, and it is time to recognize this and take responsibility for this connection.

US intervention in Central America has a long and inglorious history. If that past is ever to be rebuked, then the people of this country must refuse to participate in Reagan's militaristic and interventionist foreign policy. The domestic turmoils of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and other nations in the region will only be compounded by funneling in more guns and military advisors.

If the end product is peace, the tools are debate and negotiation, not tanks and training units.

In Massachusetts, Governor Michael Dukakis has declared March 17-24 as Central America Week. This is a time to further educate ourselves about our government's involvement in that region. And it is a chance to join with others to try to end the was which our dollars and indifference help make possible.

(Editor's note: Laura A. Hastings G and Gretchen Ritter G are members of the MIT Political Science Committee on Central America.)