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Ulterior motives behind American involvement in Central America?

To the Editor:

The Reagan Administration argues that we must carry out the current massive military build-up in Central America to counter Cuban adventurism in the region. Anyone who believes this rationale should consider the following:

Last week, during 37 hours of meetings between Fidel Castro and three US congressmen, Castro stated his desire to negotiate with the United States concerning the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Central America.

He also said he would accept the Administration's requirement of procedures to verify an accord ending arms flows to the region. This offer was quickly rebuffed by Administration officials who said they did not take Mr. Castro's comments seriously.

If Reagan really thinks -- as he has frequently asserted -- that Cuba is the "source" of conflict in Central America, surely he should leap at this chance to negotiate the withdrawal of Cuban personnel from the region.

Last fall Nicaragua surprised and embarrassed the State Department by agreeing to sign the Contadora treaty which called for removal of all foreign forces from Central America.

At the time, Castro conveyed to the Contadora countries his willingness to withdraw any or all personnel in Nicaragua under any treaty the Sandinistas signed.

The US blocked passage of this treaty -- "trumping" Nicaragua's offer to sign, in the words of a National Security Council memorandum. Evidently, Cuban withdrawal is not a Reagan Administration priority. Why?

One possible explanation is that Cuba's role in Central American politics has simply been exaggerated to justify the US military build-up there. This justification does not hold up under scrutiny, and we are led to wonder: Is there another reason for our military involvement in Central America?

Nancy Kanwisher G->