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Central American issues discussed at teach-in

and Leon M. Balents

The United States is becoming involved in a "widening war" in Central America, according to Martin Diskin, professor of anthropology at MIT. He spoke Tuesday at a "teach-in" sponsored by the MIT Political Science Group on Central America and the Central American Solidarity Association.

Diskin discussed the war in Nicaragua, the Central American country where he spent a part of last summer. He also outlined the United States' involvement in the region.

He detailed the disparity between "fact and Washington ideology." The foreign policy of the United States is aggravating the Nicaraguan situation, he explained.

Diskin was among five speakers at the colloquium. The other speakers included Roxanne Pastor, co-founder and director of the Honduras Information Center, Beatrice Manz, professor of anthropology at Wellesley College, Jack Spence, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and a 22-year-old refugee from El Salvador.

The US administration, according to Diskin, is creating circumstances "to provide the spark for an explosion" in Central America. He said US foreign policy is "bleeding [Nicaragua] to death" by financing rebel fighters attempting to overthrow the present Nicaraguan government.

Diskin criticized President Ronald Reagan for neglecting the Central American region. "Ronald Reagan was so busy doing research and determining that apartheid ceased to exist that he forgot about Central America."

He also attacked Reagan's description of Nicaragua as "a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

Diskin concluded by describing how citizens could affect the government's policy by "breathing down [the administration's] necks. We're not giving up until we stop this murderous policy in Central America."

About 250 people attended the two-hour session. A donation of two dollars was requested for admission to the conference.

Domino theory discussed

Manz spoke of "gross violations of human rights" in Guatemala and Costa Rica, while Spence discussed US foreign policy concerning El Salvador and Central America.

"The countries [of Central America] are being treated as potential dominoes," Spence said.

Pastor described the Honduran political situation. "Honduras' main enemy is El Salvador, not Nicaragua," she said. She called Honduras a "country of contradictions."

The "people who govern the countries of Honduras and El Salvador are putting aside the wishes of their countries to support the wishes of the United States," she said.

Refugee tells his story

"To be a refugee is not a choice," explained Saul, a Salvadoran refugee who is touring several New England cities with the Salvadoran and Guatemalan Caravan for Peace and Justice in Central America.

Saul made clear his hope that Americans would help the people of Central America. "I guess that you are people that care," he said. He urged interested parties to "forget about all the things about left and right" -- the people of Central America "just need to be fed."

Barry Klinger '85, a member of the Political Science Group on Central America, was "fairly pleased" with the teach-in. "The attendance was pretty good," he said, although he was disappointed with the lack of time available for questioning the speakers.

Klinger said most MIT students are "apathetic" toward Central American issues, but he noted a "lot more activity last year." Klinger attributed the increased awareness to recent South African demonstrations and President Reagan's re-election.

MIT students can help by "finding out what's going on," Klinger said. "Coming to our events would be a good place to start."