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peaks been the case before editing the united states today stepped up its campaign to depict nicaragua as a state drifting rapidly towards totalitarianism and cuban soviet influence in washington an unnamed senior us official told the associated press that under the sandinista regime nicaragua was on the verge of becoming a superpower and central american terms he said the nicaraguans of the lengthening airfield runways and the us expects some two dozen soviet mig jets to arrive next spring as result he said the soviet block and see for the first time the possibility of a military base in central america recently secretary of state alexander haig has refused to rule out a military blockade to stop the flow of arms to nicaragua today find a meeting of the organization of american states and submission mr head said american intervention was in his words not visualized still impression has been
growing in washington that the administration is approaching a crucial decision to do something about nicaragua tonight our us fears about nicaragua justified and what action might washington actually take in front in their many parts to the bed same the reagan administration sees in nicaragua not only the coming of the main reason the lengthening of the runways but also the nicaraguan pilots renowned bulgaria training to fly the maid and then soviet made tanks are reportedly on the way as well the us doesn't like nicaragua's plans to amass a standing army of fifty thousand three times the size of the army under general somoza was an armed militia of some two hundred thousand backing them are us officials say all kinds of foreign tight are now in managua nicaragua is capital soviets east germans bulgarians north koreans and even representatives of the palestine liberation organization as well as an estimated one thousand or fifteen hundred cuban military and civilian advisors east germans are running a country's internal
security and the cubans are running the army according to us intelligence secretary ag company also don't like the fact that for nicaraguan businessman were jailed in october for signing a statement accusing the sandinista government of drifting toward marxist leninism and that the country's major independent newspaper la prensa has been shut down several times as a radio stations for writing stories critical of the government several common as labor leaders have also been jailed on charges of labor education robin we hear first from an american reporter who is just back from nicaragua she's surely christian latin american correspondent for the miami herald who won a pulitzer prize last year for her coverage of central america this christian arrive back in the states today after two weeks in nicaragua and one in el salvador she's with us this evening in miami is christian first on the charge thats been variously made that nicaragua is drifting towards totalitarianism do you see it that way i think that there are many service indications in nicaragua of totalitarianism on you there are for
example they're in neighborhood defense committees that have a great deal of influence over people's lives there are efforts to control control the press there is this sort of constant rhetoric dad that goes on that that attack said the bourgeoisie capital us imperialism all of these sorts of things that when you get below the surface i think it's very difficult to our say that totalitarianism really functions there are because i think that nicaragua is a very very fluid situation internally end up on that and even though some people may might advocate a certain form of totalitarianism ah but the control is so widely dispersed or our power is so widely dispersed there that i think it's in that you cannot say that is totalitarian here what do you make of the effort to suppress dissent and engine just mentioning that mentioned that the jailing of some modern businessman for criticizing they are routinely
early censorship of the pens air occasionally the liam restrictions on some labor unions want to make of gestures like those well they're obviously serious gestures but the fact is that la prensa has come back every time i think loathed i think five times this year but always very tight very for a very short time i love friends or sells more than the other two newspapers combined army it still sells and down id the leader obviously serious acts and yet in i think in the central american context there are probably no more serious then then repressive acts that go on and they're less serious than repress of acts that go on in many other places what evidence do you see our first stepped up cuban or east bloc influence in in nicaragua uganda heard the symbol and the particulars that generally well i don't disagree at all with that with the particulars that he read out i don't see i don't think it's
particularly stepped up you know the north vietnamese and the premier of your own vietnam arrived in nicaragua in september of nineteen seventy nine for a visit and that's more than two years ago there have been rough lately the figure five thousand cubans teachers doctors security people and others that's been tossed around for a year and a half now i'm their i i don't know that it's all that stepped up i think what stepped up is the reagan administration is suddenly pulling all of this information together what it has been known for a long time one of the reasons the loosening of the rulers that's not new either the yeah i was and partook of bases which is the year this port on the atlantic coast of nicaragua in july and joe rose story at that time about about among other things the lengthening of the airfield there which will make that the largest of the runways in nicaragua but that were good been going on for many months then and say well what do you what
do you think of the phrase that this on unnamed us official used today but for the first time this would give the soviet bloc the possibility of a base in central america well i i can i can really challenge there and you know did the size of the airstrip doesn't do that aren't counted on and i i guess that the other two airfield in nicaragua that agents are are also mean they can take needs to probably or will be able to calm me is always anxiety they're being expressed by officials in washington and says reps or refusals to deny things like possible blockades what effect has all led having in nicaragua itself well i think it will nicorette there was already a high degree of paranoia nicaragua about yankees imperialism the united states in general the sandinistas at least the leadership arrived with that on on their mind when they came to power with that undermined i however i
think what's happening now is that that and this justifies increasing that that i've been an increase in that paranoid also helps allows them to justify on the expansion of the militia the militia was actually started within a few months after the sandinistas came to power with a big increase or that or the plans to increase it had come out in the last six months primarily and it also means that if it also i think probably the most serious thing is that it allows the sandinistas to justify moving against the internal opposition that is they say la prensa house to get behind us it has to support us because it's patriotism is at stake for example and i think lucky in there there's it's a sort of what the southern cone character in any other in the southern part of south america what characterized as national security considerations they have a there's another form of that work in nicaragua and of the political opposition in the private sector are expected to get behind the sandinistas because you know because the the integrity of the nation is at stake your feelings of pushing a bit beyond your
rosa reporter asked mcchrystal dave moment there is a bar they feed you have a feeling in your bones that have left to its own devices the sandinistas agreed to make nicaragua nicaragua into something to put it can be like another cuba or to leave it as a pluralistic state where they could be opposition parties i think i'm not going i think that if nicaraguans not necessarily just the sandinistas but as nicaraguans are i'm allowed to somehow control their own destiny i'll bet between them are among them the various sides that they will work out something that will be far short of being another cuba as a bonus in nicaragua on the accompanying us rhetoric about them have heated up so is the debate in congress over how the situation should be playing out a reagan administration should react if at all what's happening we sample that debate now with two members of the house foreign affairs committee subcommittee which feel latin america first congressman robert lagomarsino
republican of california cars and you share the administration's concern about what's happening in nicaragua so don't have or well even before this administration came into power i was one of the first congressman who went to nicaragua after the revolution in nineteen seventy nine and he will learn there were signs of what is now appearing to be the case however was far from the situation is known for example then very popular archbishop they're told us that he was concerned about the way the revolution seem to be going but you still hopeful today via takes quite a different position we're for reform while i said that our situation as the country really see a government of a country move in for a lot more than they were when they started the i don't think very many people disagree with the idea of the nine men who ran that country's not going to say that the senate race
is a more or less a lot of foreign i would say they do have some authority but they're certainly not the people around him the nine men who run it were all as i understand a marxist leninist summer harder tougher than others but they all share that film or less common goal i would agree with what the new lady in miami just said that if left to their own devices the people of nicaragua wouldn't go that way i think what's happened is that the sandinistas i've betrayed or illusion or doing i have come to the conclusion i was always of the opinion but i've come to the conclusion that practically everybody in nicaragua then oppose somoza the most to the businesspeople in many other sectors of society the religious and human rights people song and many of those people laugh philip kerr they have been the train or in the process of being betrayed do you think they reagan administration's plan is the right now by making the statements that there might be a new word also what is and has said about the influence it's having on the senate race
we have the last two in what are very much with medicines or abolition furnished about a hundred and fifty million dollars in aid some aid is still being furnished a private sector which might come as a surprise to some of the viewers we are still trying to maintain a complex assistant secretary state embers was down or muggers or go to limit the door was still open sectarian tension today said much the same time i think the movement moves is up to them there are some of us who felt that it was a mistake to give it in the first place that decision was made by congress it was signed into law by president carter and the interesting thing is that although our president reagan cut off the aid to the government as an issue while ago he did not cut off aid to private sector ignored at as it could have been called alone as along along the
course to the cup or whatever the united states do about this issue well i think what we should not pose a is they use the armed force or impose a blockade not necessarily because that would be a war like playing her because it would raise fares but because i think it would do exactly what we would not like to see happen i think that revolution as failing if we were entering such joy like it would be that might make the revolution succeeded baker as lady in my family said i think that the people are left to their own devices are going to solve a problem and we do nothing i don't think we do anything i think we're holdout via the olive branch years we're going to be debating the uniform a bill in congress next week there's thirty million dollars offer eyes in that bill for nicaragua and maybe some conditions there will be some conditions imposed on them all that out and say you know we're still willing to talk were still willing to do that but you know you got to come back where you are you got to quit supporting violent revolution also our workers and also our other places in central america
another member of the latin american subcommittee among other side of the issue is democratic congressman gary studds of massachusetts congressman matt do you see as your colleague does that the sand and the news does have that betrayed the revolution on the show that it's my business to talk about somebody betraying their own revolution i am as barbarism somewhat disturbed by some other recent trends in nicaragua and far more disturbed by the recent trends in the government of my own country i can understand why the nicaraguans for example might be frightened of united states and what we might do but i cannot for the life of me understand how the united states could be frightened of nicaragua seemed to me you need a psychiatrist explain the foreign policy of this administration what let's come back to that moment but back to the ground were itself now how would you describe or characterize what the sandinista regime has been doing well i think as it does christianson as christians christian worker her description situation as fluid end of the movement the revolution itself as diverse and fluid and the country is even more so is is to the point
i think also the point is that while article is here agree that there have been friends the rest of people opposing to the papers et cetera which are regrettable and a muddled an indefensible one and ask why has that happened with the policies pursued by this administration in the year roughly that's been in office that encouraged or discouraged such trends i would argue that alexander haig for example there's as much responsibility says is an economic around one what has happened in that country the nicaraguans are as you said paranoid except on this case with some reason they honestly expect to be invaded by the united states and lo and behold what does the american secretary of state do but he threatens them again and again with invasion or blockade what are they to think and how are we to be surprised if in response to that they begin to arm themselves what are the options for the reagan administration in dealing with nicaragua and present to you soon what let me say first of all i would like to see this administration and imitation my own country sees behaving in a way that fulfills the fondest dreams of the
cartoonist and caricature ascend and psychologists and others to castro prison we are behaving fully articulated policy is a separate hagan others in this administration precisely as the cubans in the russians have always attempted to address as behaving in latin america were fulfilling their worst dreams of their best dreams if you will we are being the villains which they have tried to paint us as for so long we engaged in in central america are supporting generals indicators and standing in the way of revolution i agree as i've said before that some of the things that happen in nicaragua our are depressing and regrettable and i think this country to make it abundantly clear that we don't support to close newspapers and we don't support the resting of citizens reasons of the country they are nothing compared to what is happening for example in el salvador and guatemala with mr hastings think is the model of a friend how urgent is it for the united states to take some action about nicaragua developments in nicaragua well if one is to rule out military action which i certainly hope this nation is going to do there is a lot of action we can take a regular ministrations already terminated effectively usa there's some still on the
pipeline the private sector is drunk monsignor said we terminated are weak sales to them with let it be known that we don't intend to deal with them at this point and in that sense short of military action the insurer for the speeches that help us all one american sector of state there isn't much left us unless the wants i hope we start behaving like a secular country that is not frightened of death by every small country that attempts to work out its own revolution it's a long time ago but people have raised the parallel how do you what kind of an analogy do you see with what happened in cuba in nineteen fifty nine in nineteen sixty it is risky is you say to those kinds of analogy that i think there are some castro came to power after years of an american support a dictator in cuba the same thing is true with the sandinistas in nicaragua the united states until the very end supported the dictator's old in cuba and later nicaragua we put the predecessor the dictator's predecessor of his father on the throne if you will the nicaragua are involved and we never concerned ourselves about human rights or arrests of citizens or tortures of people or closings of newspapers in all the years that we are supporting the somoza regime
are cover stations under segregated the current administration seems to me in the historical context which while it may be a bit distant to american minds is very very present indeed to those in central america and particularly in nicaragua and it seems a bit ironic and a bit hollow we're with a protest for example when the current sandinista government were in jail and the laws and tortured by the somoza regime we were not concerned than about human rights in nicaragua suddenly we're very very concerned and i think the nicaraguans understand we wanna know why nicaragua and nobody wants to see that oh well i would argue is that those policies most likely to guarantee another cuba nicaragua are now being followed by the reagan ministration sam and you disagree without them like that it's not this or below minimum wage really point out that the seventies the leadership for solar and fidel castro announced her support of march take action
worried about the buildup of troops in nicaragua insofar as our own national security itself is concerned that we have a friends and allies in the country i was in honduras over the weekend observing the election that country elected in i would appear to be a frame for open all eighty five percent turnout or watching something like that a civilian government will admit it works and i think it will have a lot of economic and other probably have low as is fear of the buildup in nicaragua right across their border is as was pointed out there are mayors twice they were languages where armed forces now are as big as all the armed forces in all of central market put together the lesson of a concert artist i wish there were no encores anywhere in central america but i would point out that honduras is not threatening to invade nicaragua the united states has what about cars monsters point that alexander haig bear some of the responsibility for
what those signs were happening and today we're going to start over the last six months or so then that might be a point below the story of why we're running a political work so for example it started the hassling the human rights commission of nicaragua that had existed and had been criticizing some also during much of israel and without being jailed a gentlemanly i came back from a trip they are has willingly or private sector the private unions which we haven't mentioned here tonight leading a very popular bishop her mission while ago the forbidden to hold at all it'll last week is done for now some television for years charlie christian might appoint the beginning to cars monsters that certain terms of the outsiders from cuba from love vietnam elsewhere there are way they were there two of the very beginning that's right most their mind that all the sudden release of information or that information by the administration at least it seemed to me a design a good impression there a sudden new developments as was the case with the so called white paper earlier in this administration most of which
incidentally was race soon thereafter it goes by members of the press has been pretty much without substance nine i have no idea whether this medical the same or not i prefer to have accepted as true it's not my job to defend the government's problem as i've indicated there are ways in which i wish they would behave as i think my friend gave us a little more like the league of women voters to happen week ago it's a boyfriend or so that we can then short of military action on iowa that's true it is largely arab and all of us as if much of this whole subject that way are the recipient of some thirty eight percent of their exports primarily they've been other things too hot buttons on your well we certainly it could engage if we want to do an embargo now be short of a military action if it would have a somewhat but i think we could probably includes other countries to use a pencil or things with a little respect that's exactly what i mean by short sighted policy it was when we refuse to sell
the wheat that they turn to you know who was when we refuse to give in at the turn of the libyans in the russians in the cubans in this long litany of double the sector state has world we interned refuse to have any better than you can be actually certainly will become totally dependent and then i asked you how are you sir wellpoint is a lot of opinion on the science of thing goes completely confident they can work it were there are things short of war that you can do you know if we don't do something that we are in is going to know that you were there i don't know if it's of will do something that if something doesn't change it now could be another you they'd be signs or symptoms are they're the one difference might worldly that the people of nicaragua don't like what's going on the most of the people are sunsets on this is that her show a question but the average person really don't know what we're going to more than the reagan administration or emotional yes i think that's very true and i think that the opposition argues that the dissidents are the criticism in nicaragua falls into sort of to levels that is that they have the political parties in the leaders of
the private sector on the one hand but then there's a sort of an opposition or criticism it's for much more of a base level of nicaraguans that is people who are angry because there's no white sugar people who get upset when their beans and rice shortage is there art at the moment that there have been are people who i get upset when la prensa doesn't come out because lebron said despite what does sandinistas say is really read all economic levels anyone can read nicaragua think it has some association with la prensa arm and yes i'll just ask you just a couple of seconds though the people in nicaragua compare what it's like now what it was like an international yes and that we make the comparison with castro but most opponents are critics of the regime they're comparing they say it's just like anderson most of that's in this episode yes sir thank you work on this in the sunoco recent studies
and charlie christian in miami for joining us imagine that's often a knife we're back tomorrow night the peak to peak transcripts and two dollars to the macneil lehrer report about three four five new york new york one or one on one report was produced by wnet and they are solely responsible for its content funding for this program has been provided by the station and other public television stations and migrants in a community has
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The MacNeil/Lehrer Report
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Nicaragua - What Should Be Done?
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Episode Description
The Reagan administration is concerned that the Sandinista government of Nicaragua is trending towards totalitarianism, with the aid of the Soviet Union, Cuba and other Eastern bloc nations. While military action is not threatened, a blockade is not ruled out by Secretary of State Alexander Haig. Shirley Christian, a Miami Herald reporter, recently returned from the region gives her view, that the situation is very fluid and that the Nicaraguan people can resolve their internal issues if they are allowed to do so without interference. Two Congressmen disagree about the need for action. Robert Lagomarsino argues that the Sandinistas have betrayed their revolution with human rights violations and that Soviet actions require a U.S. response. Gerry Studds stresses that U.S. actions to punish the Sandinista government will only confirm Latin American paranoia about U.S. intentions and will drive Nicaragua into the arms of the Soviets.
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; 7113; Nicaragua - What Should Be Done?,” 1981-12-02, 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 Report; 7113; Nicaragua - What Should Be Done?.” 1981-12-02. 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 Report; 7113; Nicaragua - What Should Be Done?. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from