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JIM LEHRER: Good evening. There were two somewhat surprising political stories today. The Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA as it's called, died again where it wasn't supposed to -- in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. And John Glenn went directly and forthrightly after Walter Mondale over the former Vice President's record and rhetoric on national defense. The ERA is our opening story tonight; Glenn vs. Mondale is our closing. Robin?
ROBERT MacNEIL: And in between those stories we have major segments on the new crisis in Cyprus and on Nicaragua. The Turkish minority on Cyprus today declared itself an independent nation. We examine why, and why the U.S. and other NATO allies disapprove. As Washington's Latin American neighbors criticize the invasion of Grenada, we talk to Mexico's foreign minister, and we have a documentary look at life under the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
LEHRER: An attempt to give new life to the Equal Rights Amendment died quickly and unexpectedly in the House this afternoon. While 278 voted in favor, 147 opposed, the margin was six votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. Why it failed has as much to do with politics as it did with women's rights, as Judy Woodruff now tells us. Judy?ERA Played Out
JUDY WOODRUFF: Jim, the politics was played out in the form of a bitter argument over procedure, the method House Speaker Tip O'Neill used to call the ERA up for a vote. After Republicans had threatened to try to amend the measure on the floor with amendments on abortion and the draft, O'Neill decided to bring it up under a short-cut procedure that permits no amendments and only brief debate. Republicans and conservative Democrats, under pressure from "right-to-life" groups, cried foul.
Rep. THOMAS KINDNESS, (R) Ohio: Suspension of the rules is the legislative equivalent of martial law in a civilian setting. We amply complain about the imposition of martial law in other nations around the world, about the suppression of human rights that occurs in those circumstances, but where are the ranting, raging liberals today as martial law is imposed upon the House of Representatives?
Rep. BARBARA F. VUCANOVICH, (R) Nevada: The women's movement and the American people are being cheated by this blatant abuse of parliamentary procedures on the Equal Rights Amendment. I'm a freshman, new to this game, but I never really thought it was a game until today.
Rep. MICKEY EDWARD, (R) Oklahoma: Democrats laughed and hooted last night, but you have made a serious political blunder, and you will not laugh last.
Rep. ROBERTH. MICHEL, (R) Illinois: What puzzles me is this. Is there any political game that is worth the damages being done to the House and to the Constitution today? I know of none. We're presented with a shoddy piece of procedural business that clouds the important issue before us and brings shame upon the House.
Rep. LARRY E. CRAIG, (R) Idaho: And although it is not a new phrase, Mr. Speaker, absolute power corrupts and this is a very corruptive process. Shame on you, Mr. Speaker! Shame on You!
WOODRUFF [voice-over]: Many of the Republicans and their Democratic allies insisted they were actually for the ERA, but amendment supporters challenged that.
Rep. BARBARA BOXER, (D) California: So let's set the record straight. If you're for ERA, then vote for it. If you're against ERA, then vote against it. And explain it in any way that you want, but don't blame the process because the people of America will see right through it.
Rep. PATRICIA SCHROEDER, (D) Colorado: This is not a surprise. We know what it means. We hear many members saying, "Well, we ought to put in everything it doesn't mean." Well, if we put in everything it doesn't mean, it will be 800 pages, and that is not how we did it under the freedom of speech, under the freedom of religion, or any other amendment to the Constitution. We are asking for equal treatment for our Equal Rights Amendment.
Rep. TIMOTHY J. PENNY, (D) Minnesota: As a member of the pro-life caucus, I have been strongly urged to withdraw support for this constitutional guarantee of equality under the law unless that guarantee is amended. I state clearly for the record that by my support I intend the ERA to remain separate from the issue of abortion and its funding. I believe that the legislative and judicial history of the ERA demonstrates this distinction. Passage of the ERA is long overdue.
Rep. BARBARA MIKULSKI, (D) Maryland: After 60 years of considering this same amendment with the same language, we feel that the debate is enough, that now it is no longer the time for continued debate. It is now the time for action.
WOODRUFF [voice-over]: Finally it boiled down to a debate between the House Speaker himself and New York Republican, Hamilton Fish.
Rep. HAMILTON FISH, Jr., (R) New York: The decision to consider an amendment to the Constitution of the United States under suspension of the rules diminishes the role of each and every member of this House. It is an affront to the deliberative consideration which should be accorded the constitutional amendment process.
Rep. THOMAS P. O'NEILL, (D) Mass., Speaker of the House: The power of the speaker of the house is the power of scheduling. The power of scheduling. I take it upon myself that it is here today. Why is it here today? Because I have been asked by the women who are interested in this, by the people who are interested in this that it not get log-jammed, that it not be subject to amendments.
Rep. FISH: The women's groups active for ERA tell us that it was not their initiative. I suggest it is less a commitment to equal rights than it is more of what we have witnessed repeatedly this fall -- partisan politics in search of a campaign issue. We should refuse to cooperate in this approach. A no vote, my colleagues, is not a vote against ERA but a vote for respect for the United States Constitution.
Rep. O'NEILL: You're not fooling anybody. In your heart you were never with us. You were looking for the escape. Well, if you think this is the escape, then vote no. If you truly believe in a constitutional amendment for women's rights, now is the time, and vote yes.
WOODRUFF: But the Speaker's plea to send, as he put it, a "lean, clean package" to the Senate in fairness to the women of America was rejected. The pro-ERA forces needed 284 votes; they got six less than that, and the pledge of many members who had voted no that they would soon reintroduce the ERA to permit amendments to be added didn't impress women's rights groups, who held a news conference after the vote.
KATHY WILSON, Nat'l Women's Political Caucus: For American women this is a day of truth and consequences. We now know the truth about our representatives' commitments to equality, and I think we all hope and believe that we'll see the consequences of the gender gap.
JUDY GOLDSMITH, Nat'l Organization for Women: The Republican members of Congress who orchestrated the loss of the Equal Rights Amendment in the House of Representatives today will face the wrath of their constituents at the polls next year.
POLLY MADENWALD, Nat'l Fed. of Business & Professional Women's Clubs: We consider ourselves the voice of the working woman, and we have in the past believed we were the moderate voice. The moderate voice does not mean the quiet voice. We indeed will be active in the next campaign.
WOODRUFF: Democratic pollster Peter Hart agreed today that this vote can be a good issue to use next year against the Republicans, who already face a political gender gap. But today the lawmakers were clearly more worried about facing the wrath of "right-to-life" groups who had threatened to hold members accountable next year if they voted for the ERA without anti-abortion language in it. Jim? New Cypriot Crisis
LEHRER: A new nation was born today on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus as the Turkish-controlled northern third of the island declared itself an independent state. The Greek-aligned government of Cyprus, which controls the southern two-thirds of the island, immediately vowed to reverse the action, which was also condemned by the governments of Greece, the United States and Great Britain. Tim Sebastian of the BBC has a report on what happened today.
TIM SEBASTIAN, BBC [voice-over]: The Turkish Cypriot Assembly met today to produceits first and only shock, an announcement that it called historic and which Greece immediately condemned. It's leader, Mr. Denktash, said the move would ease the situation. He says he wanted equality with the Greeks; this was the way to get it. Outside the building, the Turkish-Cypriot minority had thoughts only for themselves and their new state. They had last threatened to go independent just three days ago. Now they'd done it.
RAUF DENKTASH, Turkish leader: We know how to lift ourselves. We know how to make money. We know how to run ourselves, and therefore we have no fear about that.
SEBASTIAN [voice-over]: As for the Greek Cypriots, they called for international condemnation.
SPYROS KYPRIANOU, Greek leader: The time has come for the international community to prove that it cannot tolerate the rule of the jungle, and it cannot tolerate the fact that a country, whichever that country may be, can dictate terms to the whole of the international community. As far as we're concerned, we shall never accept the results of the invasion or whatever action taken by the illegal regime.
LEHRER: The State Department used the word "dismay" to describe the U.S. reaction to the Turkish north's declaration. The official statement said the U.S. did not believe it would be helpful in reaching a final negotiated settlement of the Cyprus problem, and urged the Turkish-Cypriot community to reconsider what it had done. Robin?
MacNEIL: The island of Cyprus, a land of mountains, citrus groves and vineyards, was famous in ancient times for its copper mines. The name copper comes from the Greek word kypros. It was fought over and ruled at times by just about every Mediterranean nation for 3,000 years. It became a British colony in 1878.
[voice-over] In 1960, Cyprus became independent when Archbishop Makarios, the religious and political leader of the Greeks on the island, and Sir Hugh Foote, the British governor, signed an agreement ending eight decades of British colonial rule. Makarios became the first president of the new republic. But foreign troops, mainly British until 1964, were still needed to prevent hostility between the half-million Greek Christian Cypriots and the 100,000 Turkish Moslem Cypriots. In 1964, a United Nations peacekeeping force arrived, but in spite of their efforts, soldiers from mainland Greece and mainland Turkey were secretly landed on the island, and the country was constantly on the brink of civil war.In 1974, Turkey, fearing that the Greek Cypriots were about to achieve their dream of uniting Cyprus with mainland Greece, sent 30,000 troops to invade the island. The Turks took over about a third of the territory. Most of the Turkish Cypriots moved up to the northern part of the island, and the Greek Cypriots to the south. Makarios died in 1977, and Spyros Kyprianou became president. Year after year there was talk of working out a new formula for government of the island and demobilizing its small defense force. But there was no progress, and this year the Turkish Cypriots finally broke off the negotiations.
[on camera] For an explanation of why the Turkish Cypriots took this step today, we have the man who has represented the interests of that community in the United States and at the United Nations since 1974. He is Nail Atalay, who now calls himself the representative of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Mr. Atalay, why did you do this?
NAIL ATALAY: We waited for 20 years as the Turkish-Cypriot wing of the Republic of Cyprus to persuade the Greek-Cypriot wing of the republic to give up the pretense and its illegal usurpation of the levers of power, and come to an arrangement with the Turkish-Cypriot counterpart, re-establishing the bicommunal partnership state which it has so carelessly destroyed in its quest for enosis.
MacNEIL: Enosis means union with Greece?
Mr. ATALAY: Union with Greece.
MacNEIL: Now, to put that in very simple terms, it means that your community, the Turkish Cypriots, outnumbered five to one by the Greeks, don't feel that you've got enough power and enough say? You're not sharing enough in the power to run the island. Is that what it --
Mr. ATALAY: No. If we understand correctly the constitution, which means the London and Zurich agreements, we, the two communities or the two peoples of Cyprus, came together and formed a republic. It was a functional federation. It was the genuine desire of the two sides. It doesn't mean that we are numerically less and we have less constitutional rights.
MacNEIL: What do you hope to achieve by declaring this independence? Are you trying to really be an independent nation?
Mr. ATALAY: For the time being, yes. But today's declaration and the resolution which were adopted unanimously from the extreme left to the extreme right -- parliamentarians of my parliament in Cyprus -- 40 to zero. The state [sic] reads, and may I read it to you, these two lines? We say, "Firmly convinced that the proclamation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will not hinder but facilitate the re-establishment of the partnership between the two communities or between the two peoples within a federal framework, and will also facilitate the settlement of the problems between them." And we requested today the secretary-general -- I have sent him a letter of my president, Denktash, eight pages, with two annexes, the declaration -- 21 pages -- and two pages resolution to be circulated as a document of the U.N.
MacNEIL: So, am I right in thinking your real aim then is to achieve a genuine federation of the two communities on the island of Cyprus, not independent separate nations?
Mr. ATALAY: Genuine federation between the two peoples of Cyprus, Greeks and Turks, on an equal footing.
MacNEIL: And what happens if the Turkish Cypriots refuse that -- the Greek Cypriots refuse that?
Mr. ATALAY: We will continue to live in this world. If they refuse, we will continue to live as an independent state. There are states which are numerically than us.
MacNEIL: There is only so far one nation which has recognized your new state, and that is Turkey. How can you live if only one country recognizes you?
Mr. ATALAY: Up until today, for the last 20 years, we lived by ourselves with the help of our mother country, and today it took about 6 2/1 hours Turkey to recognize us. I'm sure in the near future other states will continue to do so and will do so.
MacNEIL: Right. We'll come back. Jim?
LEHRER: A Greek view of today's events now from Elias Demetracopoulos, the United States editor for two newspapers published in Athens. How do you expect the Greek government to respond to today's action?
ELIAS DEMETRACOPOULOS: Very negatively and in a very outrageous way because this is direct violation of the United Nations resolutions; is a direct violation of the treaty of guaranty of London that Britain -- Great Britain, Greece and Turkey are guaranteed territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. This was brutally come to an end because of the Turkish military rulers in Ankara, not because of the Turkish Cypriots. On the other hand, this is adding a new explosive element in a very explosive area, the Middle East, and it is cynical manipulation of President Reagan, the United Nations, Great Britain, Greece and Cyprus, because only last week on November 7th, President Reagan, in a report to the speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- only last week -- assured that they have assured the secretary-general of the United Nations that the two Cypriot communities that "to support the early resumption of the talks to focus on the substantive issues separating the two communities. In addition, we have reiterated to both the government of Greece and government of Turkey our strong desire to see subtantive progress in the communal negotiating process." This is only last week that President Reagan assured the Congress of the United States. And this week we have this brutal de jure partition of the island because that's what it's all about.
LEHRER: Is there anything that the Greek government can do in addition to expressing outrage?
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: Well, we have to see what the results will be of this development. It certainly is going to aggravate all over again the relations between two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey.
LEHRER: Is military action a possibility?
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: Well, I think that in this atmosphere created today, nothing can be excluded.
LEHRER: Do you expect that?
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: Oh, I hope not, but the problem is that this is a very serious development already. We have the brutal Turkish invasion of Cyprus in '74; then we have the congressional arms embargo which was lifted in '78 during the Carter administration on the premise that a final peaceful solution will come about.
LEHRER: You heard what Mr. Atalay said, though. He said that the reason for this declaration is not necessarily just to create an independent state, even though that's what it does as of today, but that he sees this as a step toward negotiations that would lead to a reunified, peaceful Cyprus.
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: This is now impossible without the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops of Cyprus, because what has happened today took place under the guard of 30,000 occupying forces. Now -- up to now it was a question of negotiations between the two communities. Now it is not only important to reverse this unilateral action that Ankara took after President Reagan guaranteed the fiscal aid -- the aid for this fiscal year, but now the additional term will be immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops of occupation of Cyprus.
LEHRER: So instead of helping the matter, you think this complicates it severely.
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: Far more. It's interjecting a very explosive element, which can go to any direction in the area, which is already have enough explosive points like Lebanon.
LEHRER: Thank you. Mr. Atalay, Mr. Demetracopoulos says this will be impossible to have the negotiations you want until 30,000 Turkish occupying troops are withdrawn.
Mr. ATALAY: Mr. MacNeil, I would have liked to have my counter, but who is this gentlemen?Who is he? And talking on whom? On behalf of whom? But what he says, the island invaded by Turkey. The island was invaded by Greece in 1963, and the last Turkish action of 1974 was to prevent complete invasion by Greece.
MacNEIL: Right. What about his point that negotiations can't happen between the communities until the threat represented by the occupying Turkish forces is removed?
Mr. ATALAY: Now, suppose the Turkish force is removed today by certain elements or by decision of the Turkish government. Within 24 hours you would not even find a Turkish Cypriot, even for pharmaceutical purposes. All of us will be killed by the Greek EOKA command and the others.
MacNEIL: Mr. Demetracopoulos?
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: I think that this is outrageous, especially after Cyprus is being occupied for nine whole years, and if, after occupying Cyprus for nine whole years, Ankara cannot guarantee the safety of the Turkish minority of Cyprus, then nothing can guarantee that.
MacNEIL: But that wasn't his point. I think he was making the point that if the Turkish troops were withdrawn, the safety of the Turkish Cypriots couldn't be guaranteed. He said they'd all be killed by the Greeks.
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: This is outrageous, and it's a propaganda point because the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots have live on that island for centuries peacefully.
MacNEIL: Mr. Atalay?
Mr. ATALAY: I would like to ask him this question: does he know? Has he visited Cyprus? There were 103 villages completely destroyed, including my own village. I come from south. Now, who will guarantee me except the presence of the Turkish forces? The U.N.?
MacNEIL: Who will?
Mr. ATALAY: The U.N. couldn't. U.N. in '64 couldn't. U.N. in '67 couldn't. Now, who is going to guarantee me?
MacNEIL: Who is, Mr. Demetracopoulos?
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: The United Nations will guarantee them, the same way they have guaranteed them throughout, since the independence of Cyprus and the treaties of London. And they used the pretext to protect the Turkish minority of Cyprus in order to violate the treaty of guarantee that Turkey, England and Greece have agreed to respect the territorial integrity of the island.
MacNEIL: Let me take up another point. Mr. Demetracopoulos said a moment ago this was a cynical manipulation by President Reagan. How do you --
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: Of President Reagan.
MacNEIL: Of President Reagan, yes. Now, what did you mean by that -- "cynical manipulation"? You mean that he knew about this and approved of this?
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: No, I say that on November 7, just last week, President Reagan assured the speaker of the House of Representatives that the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee about this -- about the strong desire of the Reagan administration to help the progress in the communal negotiating process between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. And this week Ankara violates this assurance that President Reagan gave to the Congress of the United States.
MacNEIL: I understand you now. How do you respond to that?
Mr. ATALAY: We assured President Reagan today with a letter of my president, eight pages, including the annexes, that we will continue genuinely to negotiate under the auspices of the secretary-general on equal footing with the other side, the Greek-Cypriot side, to form a federation. Now, I hope they will come to the table with the resolute intention to form a federation.
MacNEIL: Let me finally ask you. Mr. Demetracopoulos said this adds a new explosive element in an already explosive Middle East, and a strain between two NATO allies, Greece and Turkey.
Mr. ATALAY: It's not explosive. The problem of Cyprus existed since 1950s. Nothing happened. Only Turks were killed. And even on this day, on this historic day, although he is not my counterpart, I extend to him and to all Greeks and Greek Cypriots our hand in peace and friendship so that we live in peace in Cyprus.
MacNEIL: Mr. Demetracopoulos, he says it's not explosive.
Mr. DEMETRACOPOULOS: Obviously the gentleman who claims to represent the Turkish Cypriots is not very good reader of the statistical fact of the last few years and the thousands of people massacred by the Turkish occupation troops that invaded the island in July '74. He is not aware of the bloody background in which the Greek Cypriots, the absolute majority of the island, have suffered and is continue to suffer. And if you believe that after this de jure partition of the island, which is in direct violation of the U.N. resolutions and the treaty of guaranty of London, the Greek Cypriots or Greece will participate in any negotiations with the so-called Turkish Cypriot Republic, then he better doublecheck his facts.
MacNEIL: Well, we'll have to see how this plays out in the United Nations and elsewhere. Mr. Atalay and Mr. Demetracopoulos, thank you for joining us. Jim?
LEHRER: Also in Greece today an American naval office was shot and killed as he was driving to his office at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. The victim was Captain George Santos, naval chief of the U.S. military advisory group in Greece. He was shot four times in the head by two assailants, who escaped on a motor scooter. The Greek driver of the car was also killed. No political or terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. And we'll be back in a moment.
[Video postcard -- Furnace Creek, California]
LEHRER: In Geneva it looked for awhile this morning like the Soviets had called it quits on the nuclear arms talks. The Soviet delegation walked out of the negotiating session after only 35 minutes. But U.S. negotiators later said it was not over yet. Another session is scheduled for Thursday. Later in the day the official Soviet news agency Tass labeled the latest U.S. idea on medium-range missiles "absolutely unacceptable." Yesterday the Reagan administration offered a new proposal that would limit nuclear warheads on both sides to 420. Robin?
MacNEIL: In Britain the political row generated by the arrival of the first U.S. cruise missiles grew today as more missiles arrived. They were greeted by a crowd of anti-missile protestors, mostly women, who chained and even knitted themselves to the fence of the U.S. airfield. Boos greeted the defense secretary, Michael Heseltine, as he arrived at the campus of the University of Manchester to make a speech. Boos, then a spray of red paint. Later there was another protest outside the House of Commons. John Humphrys of the BBC reports on that part of the story.
JOHN HUMPHRYS, BBC [voice-over]: About 300 anti-nuclear demonstrators were arrested outside the houses of Parliament tonight during a sitdown protest when they blocked the main vehicle entrance. The demonstration began soon after 7 o'clock but large numbers of police were there before them, prepared for trouble. The protestors were told they were breaking a law which forbids demonstrations outside Parliament. As those arrested were taken away, the police cordoned off another group to prevent them from taking the places of those under arrest. The main entrance to the Commons was cleared after about 45 minutes.
MacNEIL: Inside the House of Commons, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had to shout to be heard above the din of protest. The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Neil Kinnock, called her "an American lackey," who had accepted an utterly inferior status in what he previously thought was an alliance. Mrs. Thatcher retorted, "You are talking absolute rubbish." Jim?
LEHRER: All U.S. troops should be gone from Grenada by Christmas. Acting U.S. Ambassador Charles Gillespie told reporters, "An operating government is now in force on the island, and the U.S. military presence is needed only for temporary security duties." He made the remarks following the swearing in of five of the nine members of the new provisional government by Governor General Sir Paul Scoon. Scoon also served notice today on 36 foreigners, including two Americans, that they must be gone from the island by Friday. No specific reasons were given other than all three [sic] are considered security risks. Meanwhile, here in Washington, the U.S. military action in Grenada one month ago continued to be criticized by representatives of Latin American nations gathered at a meeting of the Organization of American States. Charlayne Hunter-Gault has that story. Charlayne? Life With the Sandinistas
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Meetings of the Organization of American States are normally low-keyed, tranquil affairs, but the first two days of the current session have already been filled with conflict and controversy.First, the Organization's secretary general, Alejandro Orfila, surprised the assembly by announcing that he was stepping down next year, more than a year before his term ends. During his eight-year tenure, he said, he'd found the OAS an irrelevant bystander on Latin American issues. Several hours later, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam fueled the simmering debate over this country's invasion of Grenada as well as U.S. policy toward Nicaragua. Secretary Dam defended U.S. actions in Grenada, arguing that the invasion was undertaken to resolve a condition of anarchy. He added that there was no other comparable situation in the Western Hemisphere, but he warned that Nicaraguan leaders should be mindful of the fate of slain Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Secretary Dam's remarks and the U.S. actions drew support from some countries in attendance, including Jamaica, which participated in the invasion.
[voice-over] But there were strong denunciations from others, including Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico. In a strong attack on the invasion, Mexican Foreign Secretary Bernardo Sepulveda called the invasion "an unfortunate revival of a practice we thought had been eliminated."
[on camera] For some further explanation of his country's position on Grenada as well as the efforts of the Latin American nations to reach a settlement in Central America, we have Mr. Sepulveda with us in Washington. Mr. Foreign Minister, do you reject the Reagan administration's claim that the Grenada action was a rescue mission?
BERNARDO SEPULVEDA: We believe that according to international law there should be absolutely no violation of the principle of non-intervention. In that respect, we regard this landing of Marines in Grenada as a violation of the territorial integrity of that state and so it's something that runs against international law.
HUNTER-GAULT: But the United States said that it was invited into Grenada by other countries within the Eastern Caribbean region.
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: Well, you see, we don't think that there should be intervention by invitation. The principle is very straightforward. It says that there should be absolutely no intervention whatsoever in the internal affairs of any state for any reason whatsoever. So we don't regard this idea of intervention by invitation as a valid one.
HUNTER-GAULT: Well, what about Secretary Dam's argument that Grenada was in a state of anarchy and that the United States intervened because of that?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: One cannot judge unilaterally the affairs of other states. Some governments could believe that another country was in a state of anarchy and thus have a reason to intervene. But if that were the case, we could multiply interventions all over the place by such a unilateral interpretation of facts.
HUNTER-GAULT: And you're not persuaded either by the United States' argument that its own citizens were in danger of becoming hostages by the government that had just over-thrown and killed Maurice Bishop? I'm sorry -- by the element, not the government.
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: We think that perhaps, through other means, the very same purpose would have been obtained, achieved.
HUNTER-GAULT: You mean through diplomatic means?
For Min. SEPULVEDA: We still believe that the function of diplomacy is essential in international affairs, and that resorts to force should not be undertaken since, to our minds, other possible means are valid and perhaps work out better in the long run.
HUNTER-GAULT: As I've said, there is a division of opinion within the OAS over what attitude to assume toward the United States' invasion. Do you expect that a resolution condemning the invasion to come out of the OAS meeting?
For Min. SEPULVEDA: No, that has happened already at the U.N., and we think that that was a sufficiently clear resolution. It was voted 108 states in favor, nine against, and that seems to be a clear pronouncement as to the way states feel on the issue.
HUNTER-GAULT: What do you think the impact of the Grenada invasion is going to have on other problems in Central America?
For Min. SEPULVEDA: Higher tensions. A larger amount of fear.And perhaps a hardening in terms of the negotiation positions by the different participating states.
HUNTER-GAULT: Why fear? Why more fear? Fear of what?
For Min. SEPULVEDA: Well, of an invasion in the area -- a repetition of the Grenada experience.
HUNTER-GAULT: I see. All right, thank you. Jim?
LEHRER: Then, in other words, Mr. Foreign Minister, you just don't believe the United States or President Reagan when they say they have no intentions now or ever to invade Nicaragua?
For Min. SEPULVEDA: I do want to believe them, yes.
LEHRER: But you don't?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: No, no. I believe what they say. I do hope that it doesn't happen. There are other forces acting in the region, and I can only hope that the forces of restraint will be the ones that prevail in the region. That will be for the benefit of all of us.
LEHRER: Tell me, you and the other three countries -- you, Mexico, and the other three countries, the so-called Contadora Group, that has been trying to negotiate a settlement in central America. What's the problem? Why haven't you been able to pull it off?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: Well, you see, diplomacy is a very patient job, one which requires an enormous effort. Let me say that we started in January having a very, very dark picture. The lack of political communication among the different parties was really extreme.
LEHRER: You mean Nicaragua and the United States Primarily?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: Not only that, but also among the five Central American countries, you see? They wouldn't speak to each other. Through a very long process of negotiations and political dialogue, now we have been able to make a very substantive progress in terms of identifying the basic issues and the possible solutions. What we are now doing is trying to draft legal instruments that will provide specific legal rights and duties to states, to the Central American states, in order to solve at least part of the problems. For that, of course, we require a very strong political will on the part of all the states concerned.
LEHRER: Speaking of the political will, as you know, President Reagan has said he does not believe that Nicaragua is really interested in serious negotiations. The Sandinistas, who run things in Nicaragua, say they don't believe the United States is interested in negotiations. You've been involved in this. How would you rate the will of the United States and Nicaragua to work something out?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: My answer would be that at this point in time what we have to do is to identify what are the specific terms of the negotiation, to be very clear as to what is to be negotiated, what is possible to negotiate. That has not been done yet, and I will certainly wish to suggest precisely that.
LEHRER: Well, I don't know what it's called in diplomacy, but in poker that's called "call both sides' bluff." Is that what you're really suggesting? That you come up with a document and you present it to both of them, and if both of them say they're interested, here's something you can negotiate with? Is that essentially what you're saying?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: It comes quite close to that, yes.
LEHRER: Well, where are you now in that process?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: Well, we have already a very good document that has been accepted by the five Central American governments, that has been proposed by the Contadora Group and that provides the basic framework for the negotiations. Now, the next step is probably to do precisely that -- sit down and start negotiating the very specific issues, the very complex and difficult ones we have before us.
LEHRER: There have been suggestions in the past that the Contadora Group really hasn't worked very hard at this, that they came up with some ideas and said, "Let's negotiate," and then there was no follow-up. The energy has not been put into it up 'til now. Is that correct, and if it is correct, is the energy in there now?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: The energy is there. We are doing our very best to make progress. What happens is that surrounding us there are so very many other political factors that sometimes obstruct us: military elements that are also to be taken into account, and other problems we have faced that we cannot go as fast as we would want to because of these other disturbing factors.
LEHRER: In that regard, Fred Ikle, who is a key Defense Department official for the United States, returned from a trip to El Salvador just the other day and suggested that he thinks the United States may have to increase the military support to the government in El Salvador. Is that the kind of thing that concerns you, or would you support that kind of thing?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: I would be very concerned about that. You see, we believe that in Central America there are already sufficient weapons and no country requires any more armaments. We don't want to start an arms race in Central America.
LEHRER: Isn't it already there?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: That is happening already. What we would want to see is the process of arms control and the reduction of existing weapons that, to our mind, go already beyond the needs for the national defense of each state.
LEHRER: Let me ask you a difficult question. You're in a unique position. You're right in the middle of all of this. Personally, are you hopeful that this situation in Central America can be negotiated out peacefully without this thing escalating?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: In think it must be negotiated.
LEHRER: But are you hopeful it will be?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: I am certainly hopeful it will be.
LEHRER: Do you think it will be?
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: It might as well.
LEHRER: Thank you very much, Mr. Foreign Minister.
For. Min. SEPULVEDA: Thank you.
LEHRER: Robin?
MacNEIL: While the diplomatic maneuvering continues outside, inside Nicaragua the struggle between the Contras and the Sandinistas goes on. And we were interested to know how that affects life there and what impact the Sandinistas have had since they took power in 1979. On special assignment for us, Charles Krause visited the provincial capital of Matagalpa, a key city in north central Nicaragua.
CHARLES KRAUSE [voice-over]: Matagalpa, a city of about 40,000 inhabitants nestled in a mountain valley. The mountains produce coffee. Nearby valleys produce corn, beans, tomatoes, beef. Matagalpa's wealth and its poverty come from the land. The city is pleasant and surprisingly cosmopolitan. Even in the poorest barrios children with blond hair are evidence of the many British and German immigrants who settled here a century ago. In many ways Matagalpa is a conservative city. Its business is business. And the church still plays an important role.
We visited Matagalpa because we're told it reflects as much as any city how life in Nicaragua is changing under the Sandinistas. We listened carefully as townspeople here told us what they think of the revolution.
ARTURO RIGUERO, Episcopal minister: What stands out more than anything is that the poor people feel that somebody cares about them now. Before, nobody cared, and that is true. Nobody cared.
DANIEL NUNEZ, Sandinista leader [through interpreter]: We believe that we will have accomplished our historic mission on earth, when in fact we are able to insure the people of this country their health, their work, their education, their political, social and economic well-being.
HORACIO MAYORGA, human rights advocate [through interpreter]: Those who wish to white-wash what's going on can speak quite frankly. They can say that everything is wonderful, that socialism is the solution to all our problems.But we don't believe it.
KRAUSE [interviewing]: Are people here afraid?
MARDY HASLAM, shop owner: I am. I think so. I would say yes.
AMANDA MOLINA, school teacher [through interpreter]: Only the blind cannot see the achievements of the revolution.
Mr. RIGUERO: Matagalpa, as you know, is a city in the northern part of Nicaragua. El Chorizo is one of the poorer barrios. I do feel that they have gained a lot from the revolution. They have told me this in many ways, and I can see it also in that they feel that the revolution is doing something for them. The most notable project that they've come through with is the water system. They set up their own water system. They built a 30,000-gallon tank on the top of the hill. They connected all the houses to this water system.
FRED ROYCE, American: They are incremental changes but incrementally for the better. And people are aware of that, particularly the more rural areas.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: Fred Royce is a mechanic from Florida. He spent the past two years working for the Sandinistas and observing the impact of the revolution on life in farming areas near Matagalpa.
Mr. ROYCE: There's real hope, and not an empty hope, a hope based on a diet that includes more rice than it ever did before, a situation that tries to -- tries to very hard to get social services to people in remote areas. That never happened before.
Ms. MOLINA [through interpreter]: During the dictatorship the teachers were told to teach one type of curriculum. Education had to respond to the interests of the exploiting class. That's how children were brought up.
[voice-over] We teach the children to do some simple jobs. Simple because they are small, and they learn to bring sand, carry bricks, to clean the windows of the school, to clean the school, so that they can learn how to do some work, while at the same time I consider that we are training the complete man because the integrated man must know a little of everything. He must know about the arts, sciences, and he must also know how to work, and that's what we're doing in the new Nicaragua.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: "The new Nicaragua." That's a phrase we heard often during our visit to Matagalpa. What it refers to is the revolutionary society the Sandinistas are trying to build here out of the backward and corrupt country they inherited. The new Nicaragua is a country where grain, beans and other basic goods are sold in government stores that heavily subsidize prices. It's a country where houses of prostitution, like this one in Matagalpa, have been turned into restaurants. It's a country where illiteracy has been virtually eliminated since the revolution. And it's a country where government-owned factories now turn out everything from shoes to bread, providing direct competition to private businessmen, whose prices and profits are strictly controlled. Central planning has swelled the bureaucracy, providing jobs and political patronage for the Sandinistas.
Mr. RIGUERO: Just to do a simple thing like getting a paper signed or something, you get bounced from one to the other, and it's just bureaucracy. It's unbelievable.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: In Matagalpa we were told private investment and construction have virtually stopped. The revolutionary government, on the other hand, has built more than 50 housing units, some for the poor and some for party officials and government bureaucrats. The government has also built two new markets, eight kilometers of paved road, a new slaughterhouse, new bridges, new schools and a new hospital. Public health care is free in the new Nicaragua. But the Sandinistas say their greatest achievement so far is not what they're building or the education and health care programs they've begun.
Mr. NUNEZ [through interpreter]: We believe the principle, the most fundamental achievement of the revolution is that we've been able to bring peace to our region and to our people.
Mr. ROYCE: Now, that may sound odd since daily we hear of attacks around the borders of the country and people being killed, but that really comes from outside Nicaragua. There was an entire ambience of violence in this country. People disappeared all the time; they turned up dead and maybe they didn't turn up at all, and that has changed drastically. You know, you still get a few machete fights and that sort of thing that happen, but the atmosphere is very different.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: But war, once again, is threatening Nicaragua's internal peace and stability. In Matagalpa we found Cuban doctors treating Sandinista soldiers wounded by counterrevolutionary guerrillas. The Contras claim they're fighting the Sandinistas because Nicaragua is sliding toward Cuban-sayle dictatorship. The Sandinistas claim the Contras are responsible for increased internal security. And the suspicions evident throughout the country. What we found in Matagalpa was clear evidence of growing social and political polarization. We found "Death to the Bourgeoisie" scribbled on walls in wealthier neighborhoods. We found windows broken by so-called turbas, gangs of radical Sandinistas, who threaten the homes and businesses of those they believe oppose the revolution. We were also told of growing pressure to join the Sandinista Party.
Ms. HASLAM: They will send you a letter if you want to cooperate first, and you don't -- you don't give any answer. Let's say you ignore them. Then suddenly something is broken -- your windows --
Mr. MAYORGA [through interpreter]: If you criticize the regime, you can be accused of being a counterrevolutionary, an enemy of the nation.
Ms. MOLINA [through interpreter]: All the bourgeois are not in agreement because the revolution doesn't favor their interests.
Mr. MAYORGA [through interpreter]: The expropriations have had many effects. The fear of having the land taken from the people who farm it and who own it has worried people. An economics professor at the unversity was telling us that capital is nervous. Capital is very nervous!
Mr. RIGUERO: The middle and the upper classes, I think, feel that the revolution has taken something from them. They felt that they were going to be freer, that they were going to have more say in whatever went on. And it hasn't turned out that way.
Mr. MAYORGA [through interpreter]: In Nicaragua there is a great fear. People are afraid. The jails and the treatment of people in the jails have made people very fearful of expressing themselves. Everything appears to be calm, but no criticism of the government is tolerated today. One cannot criticize openly and freely.
KRAUSE [interviewing]: Are people afraid?
Mr. RIGUERO: I don't think so much afraid as wary. You know? They think twice before saying anything. It's just a matter of being careful rather than afraid.
KRAUSE [voice-over]: On Sundays, Matagalpa's cathedral is crowded. At mass the faithful take comfort in the order and certainty of the Catholic rituals. Inside there's a spirit of hope and reconciliaton. But outside, in sharp contrast, there is growing division, uncertainty, questions. Can the Sandinistas keep their promise of bringing economic and social equality to Nicaragua without sacrificing economic and political freedom? In effect, can the Sandinistas make a revolution that is also democratic? That question is now asked as frequently and as urgently here in Matagalpa as it is in the rest of Nicaragua and in Washington.
This is Charles Krause reporting from Matagalpa.
MacNEIL: In Lebanon, after a four-day lull, fierce fighting resumed between PLO rebels and troops loyal to Yasir Arafat. The rebels, reportedly backed by Syrian tanks and artillery, launched a major assault on the Beddawi refugee camp, Arafat's last stronghold outside the city of Tripoli. The fighting caused heavy casualties. One estimate was 13 dead and 75 wounded, but Arafat claimed his forces had repulsed the attack. Rockets and artillery shells from the Syrian-controlled hills east of Tripoli kept exploding in residential parts of the city. We'll be back in a moment.
[Video postcard -- Orwell, Vermont]
MacNEIL: Late today an underground left-wing organization claimed responsibility for the killing of an American naval officer in Athens. The same organization eight years ago claimed responsibility for killing the CIA station chief in Athens.
In the Senate, an effort to extend price controls on natural gas for two years was defeated late today by a vote of 71 to 26. The Reagan administration is supporting efforts to remove price controls on gas gradually over the next four years.
In economic news, the index of industrial production in the United States hit a new record high in October, up eight-tenths of one percent, breaking a record set in July of 1981. It was the 11th consecutive month of higher production by the country's factories, mines and utilities, but it was the smallest gain since last February.
In case you missed anything, here again are the main points in the news:
An attempt to relaunch the Equal Rights Amendment failed when the House of Representatives fell short of the needed two-thirds majority.
The Turkish minority on the island of Cyprus declared an independent nation. The move was deplored by the U.S. and other NATO allies.
As we've said, a Navy captain serving at the U.S. Embassy in Athens was shot and killed by gunmen belonging to a left-wing organization.
More cruise missiles arrived in Britain, and the political row grew noisier.
Authorities in Grenada expelled 36 foreigners, including two Americans, as subversives.
Latin American nations criticized the invasion of Grenada in the Organization of American States.
Heavy fighting resumed in Lebanon between PLO rebels and forces loyal to Yasir Arafat. Jim?
LEHRER: Finally tonight, an update on the battle of the frontrunners -- Walter Mondale and John Glenn, number one and number two in the polls for the 1984 Democratic presidential nomination. They each spoke to a Washington session of a Democratic study group interested in a strong defense. Glenn, speaking second, launched a major offensive against Mondale's earlier speech on his own defense record. Here's a sample of what both men said today.
Sen. JOHN GLENN, Democratic presidential candidate: This morning former Vice President Mondale spoke before this group, and in a presidential campaign I think it's entirely appropriate to compare the candidates' views on the central issues facing our country. And with respect to the defense issue, I'll be happy to help you. I support the development and deployment of the B-1 bomber. Fritz Mondale opposes it.
Vice Pres. WALTER MONDALE, Democratic presidential candidate: I oppose the MX missile as vulnerable and destabilizing and the B-1 bomber as unneeded. I support programs such as the Midgetman, cruise missiles, the Trident submarine and an enhanced NATO conventional capability.
Sen. GLENN: I support the Trident submarine. Now Fritz says he does, too, but when Fritz Mondale was in the Senate, he consistently voted to cut the funds necessary to develop it. He did the same thing with the cruise missile, another system he now supports. I recognize it is possible for reasonable people to disagree on specific votes or specific weapons. In my judgment the Mondale record goes far beyond a simple disagreement over specific weapons programs. I think it reveals a fundamental lack of support for an adequate national defense. And I think it reveals a fundamental difference between our two candidacies.
Vice Pres. MONDALE: The Soviet leaders are cynical and dangerous. They repress their people. In Afghanistan they murder. In Syria they arm terrorists. From Angola to Central America their proxies exploit instability. They are armed far beyond their defensive needs, and they pose a direct challenge to Western security. At the same time we must insist on talking to them. We must live together on the same planet. We refuse to demonize the Soviets to the point of denying that mutually beneficial agreements are possible.
LEHRER: Glenn campaign officials said today marked the beginning of a concerted effort by their candidate to draw the differences between him and Mondale, and the former vice president agreed there are differences. At a hastily called news conference later this afternoon, Mondale criticized Glenn's stand on defense spending, and his support for nerve gas production.More such drawings on more such issues can now be expected. Good night, Robin.
MacNEIL: Good night, Jim.That's our NewsHour tonight. We will be back tomorrow. I'm Robert MacNeil. Good night.
The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour
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This episode of The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour reports on the following major stories. The program begins by reporting on the death of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the United States House of Representatives, and ends by looking at the fight between John Glen and Walter Mondale. In between these reports are segments on Nicaragua, including a documentary on life under the Sandinistas, and the new crisis in Cyprus.
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” 1983-11-15, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 24, 2024,
MLA: “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” 1983-11-15. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 24, 2024. <>.
APA: The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from