Ivan's Place
In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Becker

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The Land Of The Free (press) - Part III

Copyright © 2002 by Bill Becker
E-mail: ivanklives@earthlink.net

In memory of Mike Emery, Don Kalish, and Pat Reif

With thanks to Noam Chomsky and Bonnie Norwood


In 1987 and 1990 I wrote two essays highly critical of Los Angeles Times reporting and editorializing on the Reagan/Bush [Sr.] administrations' brutal war against the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. (The Sandinistas had been popularly elected in the squeaky-clean election of 1984.) In this war the vast majority of victims were civilians: teachers, health care workers, and the peasants who were benefitting from the Sandinistas' "preferential option for the poor." 1 To justify this not-so-covert action, Washington's propaganda organ, the Office of Public Diplomacy, sought to portray the Sandinistas as brutal dictators, and as the vanguard of an ultimate Soviet takeover of this hemisphere.

In the end, Washington's multi-million dollar propaganda and military efforts were successful. Even the Iran-Contra scandal could not generate enough opposition from the American people to prevent President Bush [Sr.] from continuing the violence begun by his predecessor. Going into the 1990 Nicaraguan election, Bush made it clear to the Nicaraguan people that if they reelected Sandinista Daniel Ortega to the Presidency, they and their children would continue to die. Thus, on February 25, 1990, after 10 years of heroic resistance, the Nicaraguan people finally cried "uncle." Nicaragua's new President would be the U.S.-favored candidate: Violetta Barrios de Chamorro. 2

President Bush kept his promise. He called off the contras, most of whom returned to their families, and to unexpected acceptance by their victims and their victims' families. Nevertheless, little U.S. aid reached Nicaragua, partly because the people had not totally repudiated the Sandinistas. Contrary to Washington's promise, and the promise of such wealthy Nicaraguan free-marketeers as erstwhile contra director Adolfo Calero, post-Sandinista Nicaraguan Presidents all failed miserably in creating a healthy capitalist economy. My own observations during 4 visits to Nicaragua, from late 1983 through early 1990, suggest that they failed to restore even the level of economic health that Nicaragua enjoyed under the Sandinistas, at least before the contra war began to take its toll. 3 In late 1984, after five+ years of Sandinista governance, a U.S. citizen who had lived in Managua's poor neighborhoods since 1959 told delegates of the U.S.-based Latin American Studies Association: "Before the revolution, we saw baby funerals every day. Now it is rare. Babies are basically healthy and adequately nourished." The LASA report continues: "Our delegation's observations in both low-income urban and rural area support this generalization. Contrary to widely publicized reports in the U.S., we saw no children with obvious symptoms of protein deficiency or other nutritional problems." 4

Just prior to the recent election, New York Times editorial writer Tina Rosenberg had this to say about conditions in Nicaragua:

"I lived in Nicaragua for two years in the mid-1980's, and have visited several times in the years since then. By the mid-80's, the revolution had already turned sour for most Nicaraguans, as war and economic mismanagement had wrecked the economy. But times are worse today. Children are going hungry. In some areas, 70 percent of the people are unemployed. Nicaragua has suffered a hurricane and then a drought, which parched the corn and bean patches that sustain most families. The state uses 40 percent of its export earnings to pay its external debt. Most devastating, the price of coffee, Nicaragua's only significant export, has fallen. (The Political Resurrection of a Nicaraguan Revolutionary, New York Times, Monday, October 29, 2001.)

Today, Nicaragua ranks near the bottom on Latin America's poverty charts. Will the poor Nicaraguan enjoy a better life now? The latest President, right-winger Arnoldo Alemán, was considered by almost everyone to be hopelessly corrupt. In the recent election, Alemán's Vice President, businessman Enrique Bolaños enjoyed significant support from the U.S. government, and dealt Daniel Ortega his third defeat in a bid for the presidency. 5 Bolaños is reputed to be honest, but the odds are against even an honest business-oriented President making a serious effort to benefit Nicaragua's poor. It hasn't happened yet.


The answer depends upon who is asking the question. If you are a news consumer (you read newspapers or news magazines; watch television infotainment; listen to radio news stations), the answer is obvious: the news is what is reported to you. By definition, what is not reported is not news, and you will probably learn about it only by accident, if at all. If you are a reporter, news is whatever your editor will print. If you persist in submitting articles on subjects your editor does not consider news, you will soon be an ex-reporter. If you are an editor, news is what your ultimate boss, the media owner, says is news. Obviously, you have the same problem the reporter has, only if you get into trouble, you may be able to do penance by bumping back down to reporter for a while. The reporter you replace will probably be the one whose articles you printed. If you are a media owner, you don't have much of a problem. You get to decide what is news, and you simply pass those criteria to your employees, knowing that whatever idealism they left journalism school with is probably no match for a regular paycheck. Nevertheless, even though you might be an 800-lb gorilla in the news business, there is an even bigger gorilla that you cross at your peril - the U.S. government.
Usually there is no serious difference of opinion between the government and the media owners about what is news, because they share the same general goal: protecting America's haves against the have-nots, wherever they may be. This makes sense, because politicians - and especially Presidents - need lots of money to get elected to office, and media owners are very large corporations (haves) with lots of money to give to politicians. Occasionally, though, events lead to disagreements between government and the media owners. The Watergate affair was one such. There, the burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington by President Nixon's "plumbers" was such a juicy story that the owner of the Washington Post threw caution to the winds and printed all the gory details. It helped that Nixon was thoroughly despised by the media, and also that this was a domestic issue.

But, in the context of the Cold War, the media suffered those few times when it didn't get with the program. For example, during the U.S.-funded counterinsurgency campaign in El Salvador in the early 1980s, New York Times reporter Raymond Bonner reported on atrocities committed by "elite" U.S.-trained Salvadoran troops. A The State Department complained to the owner of the Times, and in a flash, Bonner was back in New York, working a desk where he couldn't do any more damage to the U.S. good-guy image. In the documentary film Making the News Fit, a New York Times spokesman asserts that Bonner's reassignment had nothing to do with his reporting, and that he actually wanted to return to home base. Bonner denies that assertion, saying that it wasn't his idea to come back. He also said that other reporters told him that they will be more careful about the stories that they file, so they don't suffer the same fate. 6 Here is an example in which the reporter, the editors, and the owners were initially doing the job they were supposed to be doing, and the Biggest Gorilla - Washington - stopped them. Only a few such complaints from Washington are needed before the media gets the message. That is why opponents of President Reagan's Central America policy got their serious information from human rights organizations such as Americas Watch, Witness for Peace, and "biased" news sources like the L.A. Weekly.

The Cold War is over, but the problem of the have-nots persists. Thus, there is little difference today in mainstream reporting on Second and Third World events from reporting during the Cold War. The criteria for what is news has been so internalized by reporters and editors alike that the have-nots are still on the short end of the stick. In the following textual and thematic analysis of two Los Angeles Times (LAT) articles and one LAT editorial, all on the Nicaraguan election of November 4, 2001, I hope to show why this imbalance usually goes undetected. The Los Angeles Times's man in Managua is currently T. Christian Miller - longevity in Central America unknown. Miller's first article appeared the day of the election, November 4, 2001.

Structure and Method of this Critique

All newspaper text in this essay was obtained electronically from the archives of the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Christian Science Monitor. In my analyses of the Los Angeles Times articles and editorials at issue, I have presented all, or portions, of them as numbered paragraphs or paragraph clusters, in sequence but not necessarily consecutively. (Thus: ¶3; ¶¶10,11,13.) I follow each such presentation with a discussion of its content and theme, and add my own "take" on the subject at hand. Occasionally I also contrast to some degree Miller's reporting and that of New York Times and Christian Science Monitor reporters. Finally, I draw some conclusions. Additional commentary from other observers appears in the Appendices. (See Appendix B for comments by Noam Chomsky on the November, 2001 Nicaraguan election.) I elaborate on some themes raised in the body of the text in the Endnotes.
When presented in paragraph form, all newspaper article text is in 10-point typeface, double indented, no quotation marks. When included within my own prose, article text appears in standard 12-point typeface, enclosed in double quotes. Virtually all italics appearing in this document are mine, with article text sometimes italicized in the analysis for emphasis. I use the Spanish alphabet for Nicaraguan names when I can. Footnotes are designated by superscripted numerals (e.g. 1); endnotes by superscripted capital letters (e.g. A). I use my favorite typeface, Palatino Linotype, for this page.

All article text herein is presented without permission of the copyright holders. I believe that my analytic method falls under the guidelines of the "fair use" policy as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before the Election - The First Article

The Los Angeles Times

November 4, 2001

Ortega Tries to Disarm Terror as an Election Issue
Nicaragua: U.S. efforts to link ex-president to unfriendly regimes before today's vote may be part of America's strategy in post-Sept. 11 world, analysts say.

Times Headlines
MATAGALPA, Nicaragua --


As an analytical device, and as much for the fun of it, I have created two Daniel Ortegas: "good Ortega," and "bad Ortega." "Good Ortega" is the candidate who has given Nicaraguans reason to believe that he will try to do good things for the people and the nation. "Bad Ortega" is the candidate whom the current Bush administration did not want to see elected. I will assign points to each as we move through Miller's article. The Ortega with the most points wins.

¶1. Daniel Ortega is back. The Marxist leader who battled U.S.-backed forces to a stalemate during the 1980s is running again for president of Nicaragua, this time as a changed man.

¶2. The drab green rebel fatigues have vanished. Now, Ortega sports hot pink dress shirts at campaign rallies. The Marxist rants are gone, replaced by calls for peace, love and understanding. Atheism? Out. Ortega's a born-again Christian. But most of all, he wants the world to know he's no friend to terrorists.

¶3. "We are at peace with the United States," he said in a brief interview last week. "We have been clear. We are not enemies of the United States. We are very much against terrorism."

¶4. As Nicaraguan voters go to the polls today to decide the tightest electoral contest in their nation's short democratic history, Ortega finds himself part of an early test of the new imperative in U.S. foreign policy: combating terrorism.

¶5. Since Sept. 11, top State Department officials have repeatedly and publicly reminded Nicaraguans about Ortega's friendships with countries like Libya and Cuba. The not-so-subtle threat is that his reelection could affect a vital flow of aid money to this impoverished country of 5 million.

Here Miller establishes the major themes for the article (also called the "frame" of the article): Ortega's campaign attire (a touch of levity, but condescending); his self-portrayal as a changed man, and the question of whether he supports terrorism. Altogether, Miller will give us 13 references to terrorist or terrorism in the article.

The close textual association of whether Ortega has changed with Ortega's defensive assurance that he is "very much against terrorism" naturally gives the alert reader to suspect that Ortega was a supporter of terrorism, and to ask whether he has really changed. Similarly, the close textual association of whether Ortega has changed with Ortega's purported Marxist atheism gives the reader to wonder whether Ortega has changed enough, if at all, to govern Nicaragua well in the brave new world of globalization. After all, the evil Soviets were Marxists - officially they were atheists, too - and look what happened to them. "Marxists" are automatically suspected of economic and administrative incompetence, if not totalitarian pretensions, and the reader will be forgiven for asking whether a "Marxist atheist" previously given to "rants" is now the appropriate choice for long-suffering Nicaragua. 7

In fact, Miller badly distorts the reality in stating that Ortega "battled U.S.-backed forces to a stalemate during the 1980s." (¶1) If he had done his homework, he would have realized that in U.S. sponsored covert operations, victory is usually won otherwise than through a formal battlefield surrender by the "enemy." 8 In 1990 victory came in the form of the election of the U.S.-backed candidate for President, Violetta Barrios de Chamorro. In fact, an election victory was always Washington's preferred outcome. Considering the level of atrocities committed by the contras, had they actually defeated the Sandinistas militarily, and marched in triumph on Managua, there would have been a huge outcry around the world. Defeating the Sandinistas through the ballot box allowed Washington and the mainstream media to pretend that the Nicaraguan people had expressed their will in true democratic fashion. 9

No more Marxist, atheist "rants" from Ortega, says Miller (¶2) - instead we have calls for "peace, love and understanding." Here the reader will be forgiven for imagining a man previously committed to evil, Soviet-style tyranny, and who now sings a song of peace and love only because it is politically expedient. Miller either is unaware of, or ignores, the fact that even today, thousands of religious activists, both Catholic and Protestant, also use Marxist analysis not only to explain why the capitalist model is unlikely to solve Latin America's social and economic problems, but how capitalism makes those problems worse. 10 In the absence of more detailed information about Ortega's religious history, we are justified in asking whether he was indeed an atheist, or whether Miller just assumed that he was on the basis of his alleged Marxism. Not that it should matter at all.

Rendered virtually unthinkable by Miller's text is that during the '80s virtually all opponents of Washington's attack on Nicaragua called for "peace, love, and understanding."(¶2) The Sandinistas, and their secular and religious supporters begged Washington to stop the killing and let the Nicaraguan people get on with rebuilding their country. Certainly Costa Rican President Oscar Arias called for peace and understanding, if not exactly love, in his Nobel-Prize-winning - and futile - effort to broker an end to the violence.

"Ortega finds himself part of an early test of the new imperative in U.S. foreign policy: combating terrorism."(¶4) The question is: What is being tested here? In fact, it is Washington's ability to force other nations to toe its line by associating its defined "enemies" in those nations with terrorism. But Ortega "finding himself part of an early test ..." naturally gives us to ask whether he will pass the test. This is reinforced in ¶5, with the reference to "Ortega's friendships with ... Libya and Cuba." "The not-so-subtle threat is that [Ortega's] reelection could affect a vital flow of aid money to this impoverished country of 5 million." Here, Miller goes easier on Washington than does Tina Rosenberg of the New York Times: "The American Embassy helped to persuade a third-party candidate to drop out and support Mr. Bolaños, and American officials have warned that aid would dry up if Mr. Ortega won." 11 "Could be affected" is equivocal compared to "would dry up." I leave it to the reader to decide which reporter is telling it more like it is.

Time to score. Marxists and atheists were bad during the Cold War, and are equally bad today, because they are not likely to support the blessed-by-God triumph of capitalism, or the particular version of globalization that Washington is trying to impose on the Third World. But, because we are not yet sure whether Ortega has really changed, for now we will give "bad Ortega" only ½ point for each of these negatives. Another 1 point each for his "friendships" with Libya and Cuba, and the overall score so far: good Ortega: 0; bad Ortega: 3.

¶6. As a result, some analysts fear that the elections here are a preview of U.S. strategy in the post-Sept. 11 world, where tricky foreign policy questions may be rendered in black-and-white terms reminiscent of the Cold War.

¶7. "My fear is that the anti-terrorism mantle will become the excuse not to look at foreign policy issues carefully," said Lisa Haugaard, the legislative coordinator for the Latin American Working Group, a Washington-based think tank. "Anti-terrorism will become a rhetorical tool."

¶¶6,7 are Miller's effort to provide "balance" to Washington's attempt to associate Ortega with terrorism. Foreign policy analyst Lisa Haugaard does not want anti-terrorism to become a "rhetorical tool," eclipsing or extinguishing other important foreign policy issues. Nevertheless, there is nothing here to suggest that Ortega might not be associated with terrorism. Washington might be wrong in its extreme focus on terrorism, but Ortega might still be a terrorist nevertheless. 0 points for "Good Ortega".

¶8 The question of whether Ortega has actually changed, and how closely linked he is to terrorist nations, is open to debate.

¶9 Many in Nicaragua still remember the grim days of the '80s, after Ortega and his Sandinista rebel army overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

¶10. The Sandinistas installed a Marxist regime that improved public health and education but also seized private property, established links to the Soviet Union and Cuba, and supported a leftist rebellion in El Salvador.

¶¶8,9,10 make an interesting sequence. First, ¶8 ensures that the less-than-alert reader does not neglect the questions suggested by the opening paragraphs: has Ortega really changed, and does he support terrorism? Second, ¶8 has all the appearance of another effort at "balanced" journalism, but in fact it is only an appearance. This is because Miller will provide us with no debaters. Where we naturally expect a comment or two from credible sources, to the effect that Ortega might not be (and probably never was) a supporter of terrorism, we hear only Miller himself, speaking for the "many" who remember the grim days in Nicaragua after Ortega and the Sandinistas took power from the U.S.-backed dictator Somoza. (¶9) In ¶10, Miller gives credit to those long-ago Sandinistas for improving public health and education, but he makes sure to "balance" that compliment with the news of their installation of a "Marxist regime," seizure of private property, connections with the Soviet Union and Cuba, and support for a leftist rebellion in El Salvador. ¶10 also builds on the impression given in ¶9 that the "grim days of the '80s" were Ortega's fault. In fact, Nicaragua would have been anything but grim had President Reagan simply allowed the Sandinistas to rebuild their country without interference.

In fact, ¶¶9, 10 are irrelevant to the questions posed in ¶8. ¶8 is about today's Ortega, but ¶¶9, 10 are strictly about the past. The Soviet Union is no more, and Cuba stopped exporting revolution long ago. Moreover, the leftist rebels in El Salvador were never considered to be perpetrators of international terrorism, as Libya certainly was. [******* check on when Libya stopped terrorism. ********] It is interesting that Miller did not include Libya in the "rememberances" of "many in Nicaragua." Nevertheless, the temporal disconnect between ¶8 and ¶¶9,10 will likely go unnoticed by the reader, and he or she will likely take ¶¶9,10 as responsive to ¶8.

Time to score. Setting up a Marxist regime is bad; seizing private property is bad; supporting a leftist rebellion in El Salvador is bad; and establishing links to the Soviet Union and Cuba is doubly bad. 5 more points for "bad Ortega." "Improving public health and education" each earn a point for "good Ortega. Scorecard: good Ortega: 2; bad Ortega: 8. 12

¶11 This government was soon challenged by the contras, guerrillas covertly funded by the U.S. The ensuing bloody war cost 30,000 lives, resulted in food and gasoline shortages, and saw young boys forced into military service with little training. The conflict finally wound down in the late '80s, and in 1990 Ortega lost the presidency to U.S.-backed candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.

In Miller's context here, the U.S.-backed contras are of indeterminate, perhaps even neutral, moral stature. The common wisdom is that guerrillas are volunteers. Thus, it is clearly the Sandinistas who are forcing these young boys to fight. Miller compounds his earlier mistake by suggesting that the "conflict finally wound down in the late '80s." In fact, the contras were killing people almost up to election day in 1990. Considering his 41% election showing, Ortega might well have won the 1990 election had the war truly wound down in the "late '80s" (say, 1987-89). Scorecard: good Ortega: 2; bad Ortega: 9.

¶12. Some old friends say Ortega, now 54, has not changed much since those days. They portray him as a power junkie, desperately seeking one last fix before sinking into political irrelevance. In 1996, he lost another race for the presidency. ¶13. "He's an addict of power," said Moises Hassan, an original member of the Sandinista junta that ran Nicaragua and an opponent of Ortega's candidacy. "Daniel, like Somoza, can't live without this drug."

Here Miller shifts from Ortega's [alleged] fondness for terrorism to an [alleged] lust for power. It is not clear whether Miller means Hassan to be one of the "debaters" we expected after ¶8. If not, my earlier comment on Miller's lack of debaters holds. If so, we notice that "bad Ortega" scores again, this time in spades. We learn that Ortega is not all that different from Somoza, a dictator of singular brutality and viciousness. Since Ortega "is a power junkie," and he "has not changed much since those days," the reader will be forgiven for believing that he was always like Somoza. Nor can the reader infer that Ortega was not like Somoza from Miller's earlier mention that the Sandinistas "improved public health and education." (¶12) Hitler and Stalin also improved public health and education. Thus, "bad Ortega" gets a solid boost from an old campañero.

But again, there is a serious temporal disconnect between ¶12 and ¶13. "Those days" are in the past, whereas Hassan says that Ortega is a power addict, and that he cannot live without it. While Miller is comfortable inferring from Hassan's comments that Ortega was like Somoza in "those days," we cannot honestly follow his example. The discerning reader will also realize that there might be a perfectly benign reason for Ortega's continued quest for the Nicaraguan Presidency: genuine popularity. The facts support this interpretation: Ortega has consistently won over 36% of the Nicaraguan vote, and Miller himself admits that in this election, Ortega and Bolaños were running neck-and-neck until the State Department got seriously involved. (See ¶31.) Because "not changing," being like Somoza, and lusting for power are independent qualities, we will give bad Ortega 1 point for each. 13 Scorecard: good Ortega - 2; bad Ortega - 12.

Miller now makes another stab at "balance".

¶14. Others think the former president has matured and changed since his revolutionary youth. And with nearly three-quarters of the population 25 and younger, most of the country has no direct memory of a Sandinista government.

¶15. "Daniel is not the same now. The international context is not the same. The Cold War is over," said Oscar Rene Vargas, author of a book on the Sandinistas. "He is not going to repeat the mistakes of the past. People change."

Here, we note the subtle insult to Nicaraguans who support Ortega, especially the young. (¶14) First, Miller suggests here that Nicaraguans cannot know anything about their country's history unless they experienced it directly. This means that those who are literate, and there are many, obviously have no interest in reading any Nicaraguan history which might positively inform their views on the Sandinistas and Daniel Ortega, Second, those who might have passed their own "direct memory of a Sandinista government" along to their young compatriots cannot be trusted. So far, the only Nicaraguan with a "direct memory of a Sandinista government" we have heard from is Moises Hassan, and he says that Ortega is like Somoza. Thus, had the 25-and-under set of Nicaragua's politically active youth had a "direct memory of a Sandinista government," they would probably agree en bloc with Hassan and vote against Ortega. In 1984, the voting age in Nicaragua was established at 16 years. I expect it is the same today. My bet is that most 16-year-old Nicaraguan voters have a far better grasp of the Somozas and Sandinistas in Nicaragua's history than their 18-year-old U.S. counterparts have of the British and the Founding Fathers in America's.

In ¶15, Vargas speaks only of what Ortega is not. We learn nothing of what Ortega's past "mistakes" were, or what Vargas considers Ortega's positive qualities to be, if indeed he has any such positive views. 14 Considering the vivid image of Ortega just painted by Moises Hassan, Vargas can easily be seen as assuring us that Ortega will not "repeat the mistake" of being as much like Somoza as he [allegedly] was. We will assume that Vargas is an Ortega supporter, but his comment gives "good Ortega" only ½ point. Scorecard: good Ortega: 2½; bad Ortega: 12.

Miller now returns to Washington's role in the election.

¶17. U.S. officials have been openly worried about a possible Ortega victory since March, when President Bush first began appointing State Department veterans who worked on Latin America during the Cold War to top State Department positions.

It makes sense that the current Bush administration would be "worried about a possible Ortega victory." Nothing frightens American Presidents more than the thought of a popular leftist government in this hemisphere. It would have been as accurate for Miller to have written "U.S. officials have been livid at the thought of a possible Ortega victory since March, ..." Here, "worry" suggests a thoughtful, caring bunch of guys who are ever vigilant against evil. (As we will see below, worried people are also "concerned" people.) In coverage of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, I don't recall reading anything like the following:

"Slobodan Milosovic embarked on his program of "ethnic cleansing" because he was openly worried that the Muslim population was threatening Christian Serbs."

or, regarding Saddam Hussein of Iraq:

"Saddam Hussein felt that he had to increase production of weapons of mass destruction because he was openly worried about an attack by Israel."

Such constructions would have softened the negative impressions of Milosovic and Hussein that Washington was promoting. At best, they might have given the impression that they were actually good guys. Grandmothers worry. Moms worry. When it isn't overdone, being a worrier does one credit and evokes sympathy. As we will see below, it is not to their credit that Nicaraguans who support Ortega seem not to be the "worrying" kind.

¶18. At the time, Ortega seemed to have the edge in a three-way race. But after meetings with various U.S. officials this spring, one of the candidates, Noel Vidaurre, dropped out, and many of his followers switched to Liberal party candidate Enrique Bolaños, 73, a businessman and former vice president.

¶19. The dropout denied being coerced, but his departure served U.S. interests since Ortega and Bolaños wound up locked in a two-way struggle. Most polls have shown the two men with nearly identical levels of support, though Bolaños seems to have gained some slight momentum recently.

¶¶18, 19 report on U.S. meetings with a third presidential candidate, Noel Vidaurre, early in the campaign. Vidaurre then drops out, but denies being "coerced." Pretty minimal. There are a host of questions Vidaurre could have been asked about his meetings with "various U.S. officials," but Miller apparently didn't ask any of them. Nor did he note the parallel with the 1984 election, when Washington pulled its chosen candidate out of the field. Later, that candidate, Nicaraguan businessman Arturo Cruz, 'fessed up that he had come to believe that the U.S. never intended for him to actually run for the office - that his candidacy was simply a weapon in the anti-Sandinista propaganda arsenal. B Perhaps in years to come, Vidaurre too will come clean about what really happened.

Back to Ortega.

¶20. In June, a top State Department official criticized Ortega for not doing more to address about 800 cases involving property belonging to U.S. citizens that was seized during a decade of Marxist rule, from 1979 to 1990.

We do not know whether there were 800 such U.S. citizens, each losing one parcel, or 2 such citizens, together losing 800 parcels, or something in between. (Each parcel might well be the "case" mentioned.) Nor do we know if all of these landowners were U.S. citizens when they lost their property, or if some or all of them became citizens later. C 5Thus, to be fair, we will give "bad Ortega" only one point here, instead of 800. Scorecard: good Ortega: 2 ½; bad Ortega: 13.

Next Miller reports the opinion of one Ortega opponent who thought that the U.S. was less than committed to his defeat:

¶21. Still, opposition leaders say there wasn't much enthusiasm among U.S. officials for backing a challenger. Adolfo Calero, a former contra leader whose home features a wall filled with pictures of such Cold War heroes as Ronald Reagan and Oliver North, says he journeyed to Washington with Bolaños in June in search of help.

¶22. Calero says he even asked for covert campaign funding from the State Department but was turned down. The U.S. is supplying an estimated $6 million to help ensure fair and free elections.

¶23. "We got the cold shoulder," Calero said. "The U.S. should do more. It needs to put its money where its mouth is."

So far, there has been no discussion of any U.S. money being overtly funneled into the Bolaños campaign per se, but from what we have seen so far, Miller's straight-faced comment that the U.S. was interested in a free and fair election in Nicaragua is something of a knee-slapper. In June, it would indeed have been awkward for Washington to be seen even speaking with Calero, and I'm a bit surprised that Bolaños took him along. Calero was a member of the contra directorate, and shares responsibility for some of the most atrocious human rights violations we can imagine. 15

After September 11, though, it would be easy for the U.S. to get more involved covertly. See Appendix A for the highly plausible scenario involving the President's brother, Jeb Bush.

¶24. It wasn't until after the Sept. 11 attacks that the U.S. stepped up its efforts against Ortega, explicitly connecting him to the terrorism issue while pledging to respect the results of the elections.

One connotation here is that Washington could "explicitly connect Ortega with the terrorism issue" only if he were in fact so connected. (I address this below, in the section To predicate or not to predicate.) Miller would have violated no principle of responsible journalism if he had written instead:

"It wasn't until after the Sept. 11 attacks that the U.S. stepped up its efforts against Ortega, explicitly attempting to connect him to the terrorism issue while pledging to respect the results of the elections." 1 point for "bad Ortega." Scorecard: good Ortega: 2 ½; bad Ortega: 14.

¶25. Ortega maintains contacts with Cuba and Libya, as well as with guerrilla groups in South America such as Colombia's FARC rebels. In addition, it is believed that at least 300 members of terrorist groups like the Basque separatist organization ETA received Nicaraguan citizenship during the 1980s, according to Manuel Orozco, who studies Central America for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank

We can assume that Ortega does maintain contacts with Cuba and Libya, and perhaps even with Columbia's FARC rebels. Nevertheless, on the basis of the text alone, we can infer nothing about Ortega's views on terrorism. What do his contacts with Cuba and Libya consist of? What other countries maintain contacts with them? We know for certain that European countries maintain some contacts with Cuba, and that they would significantly increase those contacts if the U.S. stopped bullying them. Even the Columbian government maintains contacts with the FARC rebels. Miller reports that it is believed that the Sandinistas granted citizenship to terrorists, including Basque separatists. If the allegation is true, we still know nothing about the circumstances of this granting of citizenship.

Bad Ortega gets another point. Scorecard: good Ortega: 2 ½; bad Ortega: 15.

¶26. "We have serious concerns about the Sandinistas' history of violating democratic principles, basic human rights, seizing people's properties without compensation and ties to supporters of terrorism," said Marc Grossman, U.S. undersecretary of State for political affairs, in a speech in Washington in October.

Grossman is masterful here. We can almost see his furrowed brow as he agonizes over the crimes committed by the evil Sandinistas. The question is whether Miller will present information with a contrary view of Ortega's record on human rights, or give the reasons why the Sandinistas confiscated the property of some U.S. citizens in the '80s. (The answer is no.) In fact, here Miller fails badly to corroborate a clearly biased source. There is ample documentation that the Sandinistas behaved no worse in the context of the contra attack against them than did Washington during WWII. This same documentation attests that where human rights are concerned, the Sandinistas verged on sainthood in comparison with other modern revolutionaries. They were saints compared with the tin-horn dictators Washington created and maintained during the Cold War.

Thus, Miller gives the reader to believe that Ortega is indeed an egregious violator of human rights and democratic principles. One more point for bad Ortega. Scorecard: good Ortega: 2 ½; bad Ortega: 16.

¶27. The State Department's criticisms have angered many on the Nicaraguan left and have confused moderates in the coalition Ortega is heading. The coalition's vice presidential candidate, Agustin Jarquin from the Christian Democrats, has expressed frustration at the United States' promotion of a free and fair election at the same time as it supports one candidate.

¶28. "This is not the model to form a proper relationship with the United States," Jarquín said. "This is not good or healthy for democracy."

Learning that many of the Ortega coalition's supporters are angry at Washington's meddling, we look forward to hearing some of that anger expressed. Perhaps someone will tell us that Ortega is neither a supporter of terrorism nor a human rights violator. Perhaps we will hear some righteous indignation. We're out of luck. All we get is an expression of "frustration," from Ortega's "confused" running-mate. In fact, there is a cognitive disconnect in Miller's text. Jarquín certainly expresses frustration, but there is nothing in his statement that indicates "confusion." Albeit a bit mildly, perhaps out of courtesy, Jarquín expresses a keen understanding of the purpose and effects of Washington's meddling.

¶29. Even former President Carter criticized the State Department's statements at a news conference Saturday. Carter is in Nicaragua as part of a team of international observers monitoring the elections.

¶30. "I personally disapprove of statements or actions by another country that might tend to influence the votes of people of another sovereign nation," Carter said. "I also have observed . . . that outside interference in the opinions of free people sometimes has a negative effect."

Former President Jimmy Carter concurs with Jarquín, but Miller does not suggest that he is "confused." Why not? Perhaps he recognized the condescending tone of "confused," and didn't want to catch flack for applying it to the former President. It is more likely that it was unthinkable to Miller that Carter, a fellow first-worlder, was "confused," even as it seemed so obvious to him that Ortega's third world supporters were "confused."

¶31. The opposition Liberal party was quick to seize on the U.S. tactic, however, having had little success in denting Ortega's popularity.

¶31 is Miller's fourth reference to Ortega's high level of popular support Ortega. (See ¶¶4,18,19.) So far, though, Miller has told us nothing about why so many Nicaraguans favor Ortega. Nor will he.

¶32. Bolaños' candidacy has been hampered by his service as vice president to current President Arnoldo Aleman, one of the most unpopular leaders in the country's history because of corruption accusations that have dogged him in office.

¶33. And Nicaraguans seem not to care much about salacious accusations in 1998 from Ortega's stepdaughter, Zoilamerica Narvaez Murillo, that he repeatedly molested her when she was young. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recently agreed to review the allegations. Ortega has immunity from prosecution as a member of the National Assembly.

¶33 is a straight comment on an issue that deserves mention. It appears that even Ortega's opponents did not make an issue of this accusation. 16 ¶32 will be discussed after we address ¶¶34,35. First, some comments on syntax and semantics are in order.

To predicate or not to predicate?

My dictionary defines the predicate of a sentence as follows:

- n. a syntactic unit that functions as one of the two main constituents of a sentence, the other being the subject, and consists of a verb and any words governed by the verb or modifying it, as objects, complements, or adverbs, the whole often expressing the action performed by or the state attributed to the subject, as is here in The package is here. 17 -v.t. to proclaim, declare, affirm, assert. -v.i. to make an affirmation or assertion.

So, is black in The dog is black is the predicate. Predicates can be hidden within other predicates and other syntactical forms, such as adjective phrases. If Bob tells me that he is sorry that he ran over the black dog with his car, I intuitively understand the predicative foundation of the black dog: the (now dead) dog is black. And, unless I have reason to believe Bob is lying to me, by convention I will automatically assume the truth of all Bob has told me. Even if I haven't seen the dead dog, or the dent in Bob's car, I will not tell my friend Amy that Bob allegedly ran over an allegedly black dog. I will simply say "Bob ran over a black dog." And Amy will do the same. This convention is needed to make communication easier, and also to reinforce the important value of trust in our neighbor. We can't afford the social disruption that would follow if we assumed that everyone were a liar all the time, or that no one could keep the facts straight.

But, reporters must be more careful. It is a no-brainer that on controversial issues, people lie to the media routinely and without shame. It is REALLY a no-brainer that our government lies to us all the time, especially on foreign policy issues. (Does anyone seriously believe the Bush administration's recent assurances that it will not lie to the American people as it pursues the war on terrorism?) No responsible reporter wants to pass along false information to his or her readers, and the public doesn't like to be lied to. (At least that's what the public says.) Thus, over time, corroboration and confirmation of controversial material became a sine qua non of journalistic integrity. (In ¶26, we saw where Miller failed to corroborate material from a biased source.) Where corroboration of a predicate cannot be achieved, the reader should be alerted to its possible falsity, or to alternative predicates, through such qualifying terms as alleged, accused, purported, might be/might have been, or even the use of quotation marks. (E.g.: the "dog" Bob ran over might have been brown.) If such qualification is not included where the truth of a predicate is in doubt, the journalist slants the sentence in favor of the implied fact. 18 Most egregiously, when a reporter compounds a true statement with an unqualified predicative statement where qualification is called for, the reader will probably have difficulty even recognizing the arguable truth-value of the predicate. This effect is most pronounced when the true portion of the compound statement precedes the doubtful predicate. To wit:

¶34: As a result, the Liberals have mounted a final determined effort to emphasize Ortega's terrorist links, playing on fears of both Ortega and the effect his reelection might have on U.S. relations. The Liberals' TV spots picture Ortega with figures such as Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi.

¶35. At a recent Liberal rally, one attendee held a picture [of] Ortega with an Osama bin Laden-style beard. One sign said: "Counterterrorism. Yes, we can." Bolaños thundered against Ortega's coziness with terrorists.

In ¶34, we naturally believe that the Liberals "mounted a final determined effort to emphasize" something. That is what political parties do in any campaign. But, the something here is "Ortega's terrorist links," not "Ortega's alleged terrorist links." This is equivalent to saying "Ortega is linked to terrorists," and the reader will be forgiven for assuming the second part of the compound statement is as true as the first part.

Likewise, in ¶35, we can assume that Bolaños did indeed "thunder against" something. Here that something is "Ortega's coziness with terrorists," not "Ortega's alleged coziness with terrorists." Miller gives the impression here that he is speaking for himself, backed by the imposing reputation and prestige of the Times.

Prior to ¶¶34, 35, Miller shows us that he is perfectly capable of writing qualified statements when they are called for. Returning to ¶32, we read:

"Bolaños' candidacy has been hampered by his service as vice president to current President Arnoldo Aleman, one of the most unpopular leaders in the country's history because of corruption accusations that have dogged him in office."

Here Miller makes sure to inform us that Alemán has only been accused of corruption. Since Alemán has yet to be proven corrupt, we cannot fault Miller's qualification here. The question, the most serious in this essay, is why he seems unable to report on Ortega in the same spirit.

In fact, ¶¶34, 35 are what we would expect from State Department and CIA propaganda sections. 19 "Coziness with terrorists," and "Ortega's terrorist links" each earn a point for "bad Ortega." Scorecard: good Ortega: 2 ½ ; bad Ortega 18.

Next Miller turns to the Ortega side of the campaign.

¶37. Another recent rally, in Matagalpa, a mid-size town about a three-hour drive north of the capital, Managua, showed that Ortega has retained his ability to attract adoring devotees.

"Ortega has retained his ability to attract adoring devotees." In no way does this imply that the "devotees" may have sound reasons for supporting Ortega. Here Ortega is easily imagined as part Elmer Gantry and part Richard Daley (the elder Daley, Chicago's perennial mayor and consummate political boss). ½ point for "bad Ortega." Scorecard: good Ortega: 2 ½ ; bad Ortega 18 ½.

Next, some comments on the disparity between Nicaragua's rich and poor.

¶38. More than 15,000 people packed a soccer field at the entrance of the town, which has been particularly hard hit by a combination of drought and a drop in coffee prices.

¶39. Meanwhile, in faraway Managua, a Hard Rock Cafe lures crowds of elegant partyers, while sleek Mercedes-Benzes cruise the streets and high-end business hotels rise along the city's main thoroughfares.

¶40. As in many parts of Latin America, the quickly expanding gap between rich and poor is erasing whatever positive effect was created during the '90s by modest improvements in health, income and standard of living.

Given the frame Miller has established for the article, we can't expect much more information on Nicaragua's economic situation, or how Ortega plans to improve it. Too bad.

¶41. Frustration and anger were reflected in many faces at the Matagalpa rally, which seemed partly a love-in. Pink signs painted with flowers surrounded the dusty field. Music blared.

¶42. Ortega blasted those who criticize him, saying he was being subjected to a "dirty campaign of lies."

¶43. "We haven't responded to any of those lies. We have responded with peace and love, because love is stronger than hate," the former guerrilla said.

"Partly a love-in." Woodstock; hippie flower children; naive idealism, maybe even sex in the dust. These people are living in the past. Why not something like:

"Frustration and anger were reflected in many faces at the Matagalpa rally, which nevertheless had a festive air."

Miller quotes Ortega, who says that his opponents are lying; that he is the candidate of love and peace. Because Ortega is blowing his own horn here, "good Ortega" gets no points. What else would we expect from a politician who has already been compared to Somoza by a former compadre?

By now, the most perceptive readers might have asked whether Ortega's supporters approve of his [alleged] "coziness with terrorists." But for those who did not, Miller supplies the cue:

¶44. There seemed little worry among the ralliers about Ortega's connections with terrorist nations or U.S. condemnation of those ties. Most people were concerned about basics like getting enough food or a job to pay for shelter and education.

First, as we noted above, without knowing more about the nature of Ortega's [undoubted] "connections with terrorist nations," we can draw no conclusion whatever about whether he supports terrorism. (¶25.) Nevertheless, Miller's text suggests that Ortega's "adoring devotees" are so morally diminished by poverty and joblessness that they would not care if he were in fact a terrorist. Here another quote from Manuel Orozco, this time reported by Catherine Elton of the Christian Science Monitor, is relevant:

I think everything has changed since Sept. 11 in Nicaragua, both in terms of the elections and in terms of future relations with the United States," says Miguel Orozco 20, the Central America director for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank. "The question in Nicaraguans' minds isn't if the Sandinistas are terrorists, but if in this new reality the Sandinistas can work with the United States.

It is entirely reasonable to interpret Orozco as suggesting that Otega's supporters do not believe that Ortega or the Sandinistas support terrorism, rather than that they are too busy looking for work to care. Certainly a constituency that wants its foremost representative to "work with the United States ['in this new reality']" can not rationally be seen as indifferent to, or supportive of, terrorism. We don't know whether Orozco expressed this opinion to Miller — if he did, Miller's choice to report only a "belief" that the Sandinistas granted citizenship to at least 300 "members of terrorist groups" ("according to Manuel Orozco," ¶25) would be clearly anti-Ortega.

We do know that Miller is good at noting that Ortega's supporters feel anger and frustration (¶¶27, 41), almost certainly anger and frustration at what they consider to be dishonest attacks on him. But his text - "There seemed little worry ..." strongly suggests that he didn't even think to ask Ortega supporters if they believed the Liberal Party's accusations against him, or whether they would be "worried" if they came to believe that Ortega supported terrorism. Would they vote for him anyway? Miller is content merely to report on the way things seem. Because any constituency which is indifferent to whether its elected officials are supporters of terrorism is a constituency to worry about, we will take ½ point away from "good Ortega." Scorecard: good Ortega: 2; bad Ortega: 18 ½.

Miller concludes with the opinions of two Ortega supporters:

¶45. "There's no food for the children. We don't have the support of the government," said Senada Reynoso, an unemployed 26-year-old single mother of three children. "Our government is for the rich."

¶46. Francisco Mendez, 18, was even more blunt. He attended the rally with several teenage friends who were waving a huge Sandinista flag.

¶47. "The war is in the past," Mendez said. "Now it's about the future." [End of article]

We deduce that Reynoso and Mendez believe that Ortega cares more about them than does Bolaños, but even here we read nothing of the qualities that have inspired so many Nicaraguans to support him for so many years.


Final score: good Ortega: 2; bad Ortega: 18½. Bad Ortega wins. We saw numerous references to "bad Ortega," the most important linking him to international terrorism: from U.S. government officials; from his opponent Bolaños; (purportedly) from think tank scholar Manuel Orozco; and from Miller's own predicative text. By the end of this long article Miller has given us not a single positive comment about Ortega from other observers, or even from his own supporters. Indeed, the only truly positive things we know about Ortega come from Miller himself, in his early acknowledgment that the Sandinistas once improved health care and education. (¶10) And, according to some arcane standard of journalistic "balance", Miller makes sure to outweigh the two compliments with five negatives in the same sentence!

Why did Miller fail to interview anyone with a positive view of the Ortega candidacy, especially Americans such as Jefferson Shriver? (See Appendix A.) Or, if he did, why did he not report their opinions? A reading of Shriver's post-election e-mail gives quite a different impression of Ortega than can be derived from Miller's one-sided report.

Anyone who followed the Reagan/Bush [Sr.]/North war against the Sandinistas will at best be skeptical of Adolfo Calero's assertion that the Bolaños campaign received no covert funding from the current Bush administration. (At worst, they will assume he is lying.) It is highly plausible that the anti-Ortega/pro-Bolaños ad taken out by President Bush's brother Jeb - who is also the governor of Florida - was covertly funded. 21 (See Appendix A.) In answer to my e-mailed question asking for corroboration of the Jeb Bush ad, Miller replied: "Yes, Jeb Bush did run an ad that appeared in Nicaraguan papers. I didn't include that fact for space reasons, and because I was more focused on the U.S. gov't role."

David Gonzalez of the New York Times did mention the Bush ad:

Governor Jeb Bush of Florida wrote an opinion article for The Miami Herald in which he said ''Ortega's past and present clearly indicate that he neither understands nor embraces the basic concepts of freedom, democracy and free enterprise.''

The opinion piece was reprinted as an advertisement in a local paper under a headline that said, ''The brother of the president of the United States George W. Bush Supports Enrique Bolaños.'' 22

Would Miller have us believe that the Bolaños campaign reprinted the Miami Herald ad without checking with Jeb Bush first? Should we believe that Jeb Bush acted on his own, and didn't check with his brother, the President of the United States, before submitting the ad to the Miami Herald? Should we believe that Jeb Bush, or the owner of the Miami herald, didn't check with the President of the United States before authorizing its use in the Bolaños campaign? Should we believe that the ad was not part and parcel of the "U.S. gov't role" in the election?

After the Election - The Second Article

The Los Angeles Times

November 6, 2001

Nicaraguans Say No to Ortega's Presidential Bid
Central America: The former Sandinista rebel leader loses his third attempt to regain the post he held in the 1980s.


In this, Miller's post-election report, the number of textual associations of Ortega with terrorism is drastically reduced -- to one. It is as if there is no need to stress them now that Ortega lost the election. Certainly the residents of Harlingen, Texas can rest easier. Given the somewhat anti-climactic nature of the article, some of my commentary below might seem overly picky, even petty - the reader can decide.

¶2. It was the third defeat in a row for Ortega in his effort to regain the presidency, which he held during the 1980s when his leftist government was battling U.S.-backed contra rebels. He was defeated Sunday by businessman Enrique Bolanos, who strode through the packed Liberal party headquarters Monday afternoon as the crowd, reflecting this nation's love of baseball, chanted "Strikeout, strikeout, strikeout." Bolanos, who was twice jailed while the Sandinistas were in power, was conciliatory in his acceptance speech. Supporters shouted his name, waved the red flag of the Liberals and danced in the stifling heat of the outdoor campaign center.

We will discuss ¶2 below.

¶7. Top State Department officials repeatedly had expressed opposition to Ortega during the campaign, increasing their criticism after the Sept. 11 attacks by noting his past links with Libya and other nations accused of sponsoring terrorism.

On election day, November 4, Miller gave us the overwhelming impression that today's Ortega is seriously involved with terrorists and terrorist nations. Two days later, it seems as if the State Department was talking only about Ortetga's past. And, Libya is now only accused of sponsoring terrorism, where in the earlier report, the text implied unequivocally that Libya is a terrorist nation. We see here masterful use of suggestion by the State Department. It is literally true that in Miller's earlier report, the State Department representative, and the only "objective" witness to testify about the Sandinistas, Manuel Orozco of the Inter-American Dialogue, themselves commented only on Ortega's historic connections with "terrorist" nations or groups. (¶¶25,26) I re-present the relevant paragraphs from the election-day article here, with emphasis on Miller's temporal terminology:

¶5. Since Sept. 11, top State Department officials have repeatedly and publicly reminded Nicaraguans about Ortega's friendships with countries like Libya and Cuba. The not-so-subtle threat is that his reelection could affect a vital flow of aid money to this impoverished country of 5 million.

¶8. The question of whether Ortega has actually changed, and how closely linked he is to terrorist nations, is open to debate.

¶24. It wasn't until after the Sept. 11 attacks that the U.S. stepped up its efforts against Ortega, explicitly connecting him to the terrorism issue while pledging to respect the results of the elections.

¶25. Ortega maintains contacts with Cuba and Libya, as well as with guerrilla groups in South America such as Colombia's FARC rebels. In addition, it is believed that at least 300 members of terrorist groups like the Basque separatist organization ETA received Nicaraguan citizenship during the 1980s, according to Manuel Orozco, who studies Central America for the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank.

¶26. "We have serious concerns about the Sandinistas' history of violating democratic principles, basic human rights, seizing people's properties without compensation and ties to supporters of terrorism," said Marc Grossman, U.S. undersecretary of State for political affairs, in a speech in Washington in October.

¶34. As a result, the Liberals have mounted a final determined effort to emphasize Ortega's terrorist links, playing on fears of both Ortega and the effect his reelection might have on U.S. relations. The Liberals' TV spots picture Ortega with figures such as Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi.

¶35. At a recent Liberal rally, one attendee held a picture Ortega with an Osama bin Laden-style beard. One sign said: "Counterterrorism. Yes, we can." Bolaños thundered against Ortega's coziness with terrorists.

¶44. There seemed little worry among the ralliers about Ortega's connections with terrorist nations or U.S. condemnation of those ties. Most people were concerned about basics like getting enough food or a job to pay for shelter and education.

Taken as a whole, Miller's November 4 text reads as if the State Department threw him the ball, and he ran with it. Why the switch from the present to the past in the post-election report? Perhaps Miller caught the temporal disconnects in his election-day report, and decided not to make the same mistake again. But, it is too little, too late. Ortega's image as a present-day supporter of terrorism has already been established.

¶13. Analysts also said Bolanos will face difficulties when he takes power in January. Though apparently winning with a sizable mandate, he will assume the leadership of a country where 70% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Miller wrote this when the returns showed 53.7% for Bolaños and 44.7% for Ortega. Apparently, the final tally was the same. 23 Ortega would have won if only 5% of the voters had switched to him from Bolaños. 5% is a sizeable mandate?

¶15. Ortega first came to power in 1979, when he led a Marxist guerrilla army into Managua atop a tank. The Sandinistas tried to improve the lives of Nicaragua's poor, but they also seized private property and supported leftist movements elsewhere in Latin America.

Here, Miller downgrades Sandinista achievements from improving "public health and education" (¶10, November 4) to trying to improve the "lives of Nicaragua's poor." And again, on the other side of the "but," Miller gives us two negatives to outweigh the single positive. The ratio here: 1 good/2 bad, is better than in his election-day report: 2 good/18½ bad. Nevertheless, we definitely get the impression that there is an ironclad rule at the Times: when discussing the Sandinistas, ALWAYS say more bad things about them than good things.

¶16. Alarmed by a possible spread of Soviet influence, the Reagan administration began covertly financing the contra army to overthrow Ortega. The war ended in a draw but left more than 30,000 people dead and the country in economic ruins.

We can only marvel at what Miller considers a "draw": 30,000 Nicaraguans dead; the country in economic ruins; the U.S.-supported candidate for Nicaragua's presidency victorious; no threat of a good example in this hemisphere. 24 If that's a draw, what would victory look like?

¶18. Ortega underwent a dramatic make-over during the campaign, wearing bright pink shirts and pledging peace, love and understanding. He allied himself with members of more moderate political parties, and his rallies featured religious figures and American flags.

¶19. But none of that seemed to convince the electorate that Ortega had changed.

Here we see again the major theme of Miller's reporting on the election: has Ortega changed? 25 Ortega's National Convergence was an association of center-left groups, but Miller gives us no information about these "more moderate political parties". (See Jefferson Shriver's report on the election, Appendix A.) In ¶2, above, Miller makes sure to mention that winner Enrique Bolaños had been jailed twice by the Sandinistas. Bolaños was also "conciliatory in his acceptance speech." Good for the people of Nicaragua to elect a man who doesn't hold a grudge. Good for the U.S. to back such a man. But, Miller fails to mention that Ortega's running-mate, Agustín Jarquín, had also been jailed by the Sandinistas. 26 Why? Ignorance? Innocent oversight? Or because to mention it would have indicated that Ortega might have changed after all, thus contradicting Miller's presentation of Ortega as a potential loose cannon in Central America? I opt for the last interpretation, myself, but none of the possibilities do credit to Miller or the Times.

In any case, it is inconceivable that today's Ortega, as president of Nicaragua, would even dream of expropriating property or even surreptitiously support terrorism. Had he been elected, he would have been influenced by his more moderate supporters, and would have been constrained by the realities of the new U.S.-dominated global economy. Moreover, what does it mean to say that "the electorate" was not convinced "that Ortega had changed." He received 44.7% of the vote, and a switch in allegiance of only 5% would have carried him into the presidency. In fact, Ortega's most likely "failure to change" lies in his continued advocacy for the poor, which explains his continued popularity. 27 But, that quality of the former revolutionary would only make Washington's opposition to him look bad, so it cannot be seriously examined.

¶21. "We remember his past," Yolanda Sanchez Castro, 74, said of Ortega while casting her ballot at a school in one of Managua's poorest neighborhoods. "We are voting for peace."

¶24. It was unclear wether [sic] the U.S. reservations about Ortega's past made a difference. 28 Opinion polls, which had been close, did not noticeably change after the Sept. 11 attacks. And none of more than a dozen voters interviewed Sunday said the statements affected their vote.

It is literally true that the effect of "U.S. reservations about Ortega's past" on the voters is unclear, but Miller overreaches in assuming the role of election analyst and statistician. First, he tells us nothing about the "more than a dozen voters" whose votes were unaffected by these "reservations." Those whose votes were least likely to be affected are those who were already committed to a candidate - strong Bolaños or Ortega supporters. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine undecided voters ignoring U.S. "reservations about Ortega's past". If undecided voters were a sizeable subset of Miller's sample, he is asking us to believe that they considered irrelevant the possibility, even the likelihood, that the U.S. would again punish Nicaragua for electing a Sandinista to the presidency. We are to believe that they think quite differently than Yolanda Sanchez Castro, who boldly voted for peace in casting her ballot against Ortega. Miller doesn't inform us of Castro's pre-election leanings, but we are justified in asking whether she would have felt it necessary to "vote for peace" if the U.S. had remained neutral, and pledged unequivocally that Nicaragua would receive the economic aid and diplomatic friendship it so badly needs even if Ortega won.

Second, we can ask about Miller's margin of error here. Might not a statistically significant number of Nicaraguan voters be reluctant to admit to a gringo reporter that they allowed themselves be intimidated by the U.S.?

Miller quickly makes an effort to balance this observation about the U.S. effort with a contrary view.

¶25. Still, analysts and Ortega allies said some voters probably were swayed by U.S. concerns and the unspoken threat of a reduction in aid.

¶26. Contributing to the Sandinista loss were "many factors, but one of them was fear," said Antonio Lacayo, an Ortega ally and former presidential advisor in the Chamorro government. "This fear was introduced after Sept. 11 . . . and accentuated by a black campaign in which sectors outside our country participated very actively."

Lacayo's opinion is unequivocal, but Miller is clearly uncomfortable with reporting it as such. So, he corrects Lacayo's remark up front: "... analysts and Ortega allies said some voters probably were swayed by U.S. concerns and the unspoken threat of a reduction in aid."

Let us compare Miller's text with that of New York Times reporter David Gonzalez on the same subject:

Mr. Ortega's supporters and advisers criticized the United States for what they saw as its meddling in internal affairs, likening it to the American effort to support the contra resistance army.

''We must congratulate Washington because their intimidation tactics worked,'' said the Rev. Miguel D'Escoto, a former Sandinista foreign minister. ''They are now into electoral terrorism among a people here where the wounds are still open. We did not lose 5,000 people like in New York, we lost 50,000 in a war that was invented, organized, armed and financed by the United States.'' 29

There is no probably in D'Escoto's opinion, and Gonzalez does not suggest that there is.

Overall, Miller's reporting here serves the State Department well. Washington would naturally want Americans to believe that the Nicaraguan people are a patriotic, strong-minded people who would never allow themselves to be influenced by outside interference, or intimidated by threats. Thus, the election results express the true will of the people, and would have been the same even without U.S. interference or threats. And, we can be sure that Washington is happy with Miller's journalistic alchemy - the transmutation of critics' hardballs into softballs. Recall that in his November 4 article, Miller suggested that Ortega's running-mate Agustín Jarquín was confused in asserting that the U.S. campaign was "not good or healthy for democracy." (Nov. 4, ¶¶27,28) Confused critics are less effective critics. Miller seems compelled to soften any harsh statement made about Washington's motives or behavior. 30 How nice for Uncle Sam.

Nevertheless, as much as Miller obfuscates the effect of the U.S. campaign against Ortega, there is enough information in his reports for the discerning reader to conclude that had there been no such campaign, Ortega might well be the President of Nicaragua today.

We Bid Miller Adieu

Recently, the Times published its credo:

Journalistic excellence

The Los Angeles Times is committed to bringing you in-depth, comprehensive and balanced reporting of the news. It's a commitment that has won The Times journalism's highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize, 25 times. 31

As with the question of "what's news," what constitutes journalistic excellence also depends on who's making the call. Let us now imagine that the State Department and the CIA each have a Wall of Fame. On these walls of fame hang the pictures of journalists deemed "excellent" by government propagandists. They are the ones who promote Washington's agenda, either purposefully or innocently. The "innocents" among them are those who do not recognize that they are not thinking outside of the frame created by Washington. After September 11, Washington established the frame within which all future foreign policy issues will be discussed: you're either with us or against us in the war against terrorism. In the Nicaraguan election, Washington blatantly used the terrorism issue against a foreign political leader it doesn't like, the Sandinista Daniel Ortega. In his articles on the latest Nicaraguan election, Miller obligingly tailors virtually every reference to Ortega so that he appears to the reader precisely as Washington would want him to appear. Miller also suggests that Ortega's supporters would hardly care if he were a bona fide terrorist.

Whether Miller is an innocent or not, his photo goes on the walls of fame. Next to Miller's portrait is a faceless outline representing the unknown Times desk editor who ran his stories. 32

After The Election - The Editorial

Revenge, Fair and Square
The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif.; Nov 6, 2001;


¶1. It took more than a decade for Enrique Bolaños to get back at former Sandinista comandante Daniel Ortega. Sunday, Bolaños did it fair and square, by winning the race for the Nicaraguan presidency against his old nemesis.

¶2. Back in the early 1980s Ortega ordered the "nationalization" of Bolaños' home and some of his businesses in the name of the revolution. When the businessman protested, he was jailed. That's the way the Sandinista justice system worked.

1. In early 2001, the Bush administration persuades a third candidate to drop out of the race so as to weaken Ortega's chances of winning the presidency. Many, perhaps most, of Noel Vidaurre's supporters go over to Bolaños.

2. Post-Sept. 11, the State Department mounts a vigorous campaign to associate Ortega with terrorists.

3. The U.S. threatens to withhold aid to Nicaragua if Ortega wins the election.

4. Bolaños runs with Washington's ball, and depicts Ortega with an Osama bin Laden-type beard.

5. President Bush's brother Jeb, the Governor of Florida, reinforces the threats with a heavy-handed ad against Ortega. (Recall that we did not read about this ad in T. Christian Miller's articles, because he was "more focused on the U.S. gov't role.")

6. In what can easily be read as a clear reference to the U.S. threats, an apparent Bolaños voter recalls Ortega's past, and says she is "voting for peace." (Miller, November 6, ¶21, above)

Nevertheless, the Times concludes that Bolaños won the election "fair and square." (¶1) What would it have taken for the Times to conclude that Bolaños did not win "fair and square"? As we will see below, the Times' apparently has no lower bound for its tolerance of U.S. interference in Nicaraguan elections.

The Times can barely contain its glee at Ortega's loss. Its own well-paid editorial staffers undoubtedly identify with well-to-do home-and-business owners across the globe, and this writer rushes to extol Bolaños's revenge on Ortega: the Sandinistas confiscated his property in the '80s, because that's the way the Sandinista justice system worked. (¶2) But we are told nothing about why Bolaños lost his property, and so this barb says nothing about how the Sandinista justice system worked. Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about 1980s Nicaragua knows that Nicaragua was under siege by the U.S. government, and that many Nicaraguan rich were working on behalf of that siege. Mainstream U.S. media criticism of the Sandinistas' efforts to protect the nation, often through censorship of the press and individual speech, was universally disingenuous. Another method of protecting the nation was through restrictions on the movement of capital out of the country. Those wealthy who did not take advantage of the U.S. attack to enrich themselves or weaken the economy remained wealthy. Those who took such advantage often lost their property.

The aftermath of Sept. 11 will certainly lead to increased restrictions on civil liberties and freedom of the press here in the U.S. Will the Times put up more than token protest? D

¶4. Bolaños won't have an easy time in finding the political middle ground in Nicaragua. It's a divided and impoverished nation racked by political corruption. It has endured ruthless dictatorships and officials who played upon their people's misery. It survived devastating earthquakes and hurricane floods. And even though misguided U.S. military interventions there left deep scars, most Nicaraguans do not hold a grudge against the United States.

It is true that finding the middle political ground in Nicaragua will be difficult. (It is also doubtful that businessman Bolaños will make a serious effort to do so.) It is also clear that the editorialist's temporal sequence here refers to definite epochs of Nicaragua's twentieth-century history: "ruthless dictators" refers to the 46-year Somoza dynasty; "officials who played on their people's misery" refers to the Sandinista period 1979-1990; then comes the post-Sandinista period, with its "devastating earthquakes and hurricane floods." 33

In fact, the reference to the Sandinistas as "officials who played upon their people's misery," is a cheap and dishonest shot. As indicated above, there is ample documentation that the Sandinistas' "preferential option for the poor" was genuine and effective. 34

¶4 closes on a note of amazing fatuity: "And even though misguided U.S. military interventions there left deep scars, most Nicaraguans do not hold a grudge against the United States." How nice for us. 30,000 people died in this merely misguided intervention, paid for by American tax dollars. But today, the American taxpayer can travel to this impoverished country with only slight chance of being blown away by a vengeful campesino whose father or mother was tortured to death by President Reagan's "freedom fighters." A Times editorialist or a Times owner will be able to sit with Violetta Barrios de Chamorro at an upscale Managua restaurant and discuss the "misguided" funding her newspaper, La Prensa, received from the U.S. during the contra war, and not have to worry about being stabbed in the back by the waiter. If only all victims of U.S. interventions would be as forgiving as the people of Nicaragua, what a great world this could be. 35

¶5. The people of this Central American nation showed wisdom in choosing Liberal Party candidate Bolaños over Ortega. Now the Bush administration should reach out to Nicaragua by inviting the countries of Central America into the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Fox administration in Mexico has been working on a way to do this by promoting private investment in the region. The Bush administration should join this initiative and extend the benefits of trade to Nicaragua, making a partner out of a nation that has too often been a problem. [End editorial]

The Nicaraguan people are an amazing people indeed. Not only have they forgiven Washington's "misguided" interventions of the past, they also know that choosing Washington's preferred candidates to govern them is still the wise thing to do. But what if the Bush administration doesn't reward Nicaragua for rejecting Ortega? What if the economy under Bolaños remains a basket case, even without a war to sap the country's economic strength? Let's offer the President some friendly advice: "reach out to Nicaragua," and involve the country in the brave new North American Free Trade Agreement. Haven't these Nicaraguans, who have "too often been a problem," finally proven themselves worthy to be our trusty sidekicks?

What can the Times mean by this drivel? How, for whom, and when has Nicaragua "too often been a problem"? The Somoza dictatorship per se was never a problem. It was only after Somoza's greed turned even his rich compatriots against him, thus lending legitimacy to the grass-roots Sandinismo movement, that the U.S. capitalist began to tremble. Was Soviet support for the Sandinistas the problem? No rational observer believes that the Sandinistas were ever a threat to their neighbors, or that they did not want, and ask for, friendly relations with the U.S. To seriously suggest such borders on dementia. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias won a Nobel Prize for his unsuccessful effort to stop the U.S. attack on Nicaragua. Arias had the support of all the major Latin American nations, but even that wasn't enough to overcome President Reagan's addiction to violence. The real problem, best understood as a clinical pathology, lay at the heart of the U.S. government.

Echoes of the Past

In tone and structure, this editorial closely follows the lead of two editorials written over 11 years earlier, in response to Daniel Ortega's first electoral loss to a U.S.-sponsored candidate, Violetta Barrios de Chamorro. 36 In fact, I suspect that this editorial was either written by the same Times staffer who wrote the 1990 opinions, or that whoever wrote it was explicitly instructed to read them and to write in a similar vein. Nevertheless, compared to The Triumph of Democracy, the above editorial is a loving-cup. I will present here the relevant sections of the earlier opinion. First, the opening lines:

Change keeps on happening, and the winds of change wafted down to Central America and turned Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega into just another discredited Marxist leader with a salesman's tattered sample case of ideology and a history of failed economic promises. Nicaraguans discovered for themselves that his collectivist dogma just did not cut it at the dinner table. It did not deliver the goods. It went bankrupt years ago, and Sunday its shareholders voted for a whole new management team.

The cruelty of this passage is breathtaking. Even more stunning is the intellectual and journalistic dishonesty it reveals. All the early, and extensively documented achievements of the Sandinistas: the elimination of polio and the reduction of other serious illnesses; elimination of childhood malnutrition and the improvement of food production and distribution through land reform; a massive improvement in literacy and serious movement toward expanded adult education; the elimination of the death penalty, even for the most heinous contra war criminals - all these are reduced to nothing more than "failed economic promises" and items in a "salesman's tattered sample case of ideology." Never mind that the Sandinistas had implemented a mixed economy, in which Nicaragua's wealthy could play a constructive role — and many did. Never mind that until the Reagan/Bush [Sr.]/Oliver North attack reduced the economy to a basket case, the Sandinistas were delivering the goods. Never mind that Ortega's "collectivist dogma" was cutting it at the dinner table for thousands of Nicaraguan campesinos who had been virtual slaves under the Somoza dictatorship. Their cooperatives were putting food on their dinner tables, until too many contra rockets killed too many of them, and destroyed too many "collectivist" granaries and health care clinics too often for them to succeed. Never mind that had there been no war against them, the Sandinistas' program almost certainly would have succeeded in providing a new model of revolutionary governance - one that any decent-minded person could embrace.

As vile as this passage is, it is nevertheless brilliant. I imagine the editorialist burning the midnight oil, brow furrowed in an effort to come up with the frame for the editorial that will satisfy the editorial board and the Times owners. Then the muse strikes: Sandinismo is a Marxist business, and the Nicaraguan people are its shareholders. But Marxist Sandinismo fails, on its own account, of course - the war had nothing to do with it. The shareholders realize that perhaps Washington and the contras were right all along - capitalism is the way to go. They realize that they were mistaken in electing Ortega to the presidency in 1984 - with 67% of the vote, even as the contras were killing them. Most important, the Nicaraguan people understand that the 30,000 who died were victims of "failed economic promises," not of Washington's vicious "covert" action. Best of all, they accept their responsibility for the carnage, and cheerfully go to the polls to rectify their mistake. The Times waxes rhapsodic:

And so in one sunny and bold stroke the people of Nicaragua have seemingly managed to achieve the goal that has so long eluded Washington and the Contras: the removal of the Sandinistas from power. ... Let us simply congratulate the Nicaraguan people on their good judgement and decisiveness.

Academic Edward S. Herman commented on the mainstream media's treatment of the 1984 Salvadoran election. 37 I can do no better than to paraphrase him here:

The Los Angeles Times's feat in transforming the 1990 Nicaraguan election, aptly described as "elections under threat of annihilation," into an expression of true democracy at work is, I believe, a propaganda achievement that totalitarian states might conceivably approach, but never surpass.

Immediately following The Triumph of Democracy on the same page is Now Comes the Hard Part.

Now Comes the Hard Part is written as a model of sweet reason, with the obligatory digs at the Sandinistas, of course. First, they still wield a lot of power - demobilizing and depoliticizing the Sandinista army will be a challenge. Then there's the challenge of creating a government out of that "unwieldy coalition of 14 political parties ranging from Communist to conservative," that united behind Chamorro. "If Chamorro can't pull it off , she may wind up facing a congress in which the largest faction is the Sandinistas. That's a scenario for political gridlock that could reduce Chamorro to a weak political symbol, revered but not effective" Subtext: What a shame that would be. 10 years of war, millions spent on matériel, and 30,000 people killed - all down the drain. Unthinkable here is the possibility that Chamorro might actually work with the Sandinistas to restore some of their earlier achievements, and show the world that she is not just another U.S. puppet. It is not likely that her living standard would have suffered in the least had she done so.

Then there's the challenge of demobilizing the Contra army created by the U.S. government to pressure the Sandinistas. There never was much reason for the Contras to exist, and now there is none.

There was never much reason for the Contras to exist, and now there is none. I have in my files 128 Los Angeles Times editorials dealing with administration policy toward Nicaragua, dating from late 1983 through early 1990. They were all opposed to U.S. policy, and they were virtually all softballs. They were intended to be hard on Reagan — I imagine Times staffers trembling at their own audacity in challenging a phenomenally popular president. They were advisory toward President Bush [Sr.], whose stint as CIA Director might hinder his ability to disengage from the violence. They were sincere editorials, written as if the Times believed that the administration might possibly heed them. But of course the administration would not heed them, so the Times usually made sure that for every criticism of the administration's tactics, there was one or more criticisms of the Sandinistas that more or less excused in advance the administration's predictable commitment to keep the contras operating. Most common were "concerns" about the Sandinistas' ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union; the "concerns" of U.S. puppet-states Honduras and El Salvador about the size of the Sandinista army; Sandinista "stubbornness" in not disarming, as if the contras were a minor irritant that would go away if they did. Such is the utility of "objectivity".

Never once did these editorials give the Sandinistas their due; never was there an expression of genuine moral outrage at the atrocities committed in our name by the contras; rarely, if ever, was there a factual description of those atrocities. E

Like the Bible, Times editorials about Nicaragua provided something for everyone. In the late '80s, the Southern California Interfaith Task Force on Central America (SCITCA), with which I was aligned, presented the Times with an award for its "courageous" opposition to the Reagan/Bush [Sr.] program. 39 I was present and had to stifle a guffaw when the Times representative accepted the award. I have often wondered how the Times editorialized on the early reports of Hitler's heinous treatment of Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals. Did they "balance" advice to Hitler on how to get along with these populations with the "objective" observation that "it takes two to make a quarrel"? There's probably a story there, too.

In closing, let me return to a major theme sounded by the Times in its editorializing on the Sandinistas: their "mismanagement" of the Nicaraguan economy:

Not all of Nicaragua's financial troubles-inflation, unemployment, food and fuel shortages-are Washington's fault. The thievery of the old Somoza dictatorship and the incompetence of the Sandinistas' economic planners contributed to the chaos. From Now Comes the Hard Part.— 1990 40

God forbid that the Los Angeles Times reader should even imagine that the contra war was the major factor in the destruction of Nicaragua's economy. So, here is my sincere request of the Times: let us in on your Theory Of How To Properly Manage The Economy Of A Tiny Nation Under Relentless Economic And Military Attack By The World's Most Powerful Nation. Give us the low-down on what the Sandinistas should have done to keep the economy healthy while the contras repeatedly destroyed farm equipment and infrastructure, to say nothing of killing thousands of teachers, doctors, nurses, civil servants, and campesinos. The Times obviously deserves a spot on the list of the great economic theorists: Smith, Ricardo, Keynes, even — dare we say it — Marx. There is surely a Nobel Prize in Economics here. And then, the movie: Beautiful Minds at The Los Angeles Times. 41

Bill Becker
Woodland Hills, California
March, 2002
E-mail: ivanklives@earthlink.net


1.      The Land Of The Free (press) - Part I, and The Land Of The Free (press) - Part II were written in June 1987 and June 1990, respectively. Note that I do not say "Marxist Sandinista government." The Sandinistas implemented a mixed economy, in which the private sector played an important role. The "preferential option for the poor" arose in liberation theology, an outgrowth of the Vatican II council.

2.      Nevertheless, 41% of the people thumbed their noses at President Bush, and voted for Ortega and Sandinista candidates for the National Assembly anyway. The Sandinistas won 39 of 92 Assembly seats, Chamorro's coalition won 51 seats, and the remaining two were split between two minor parties. (Source: ELECTORAL DEMOCRACY UNDER INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE The Report of The Latin American Studies Association Commission to Observe the 1990 Nicaraguan Election, March 15, 1990, pp 36-37)

3.      My first trip to Nicaragua was with the Office of the Americas (OOA), based in Santa Monica, California. In 1984, as a member of the San Francisco-based US Out of Central America delegation, I was privileged to act as an official election observer of the first free election Nicaragua ever had. For six weeks over the winter of 1985-1986, I was a member of La Marcha Por La Paz En Centro America, a Norwegian-inspired and organized pilgrimage of some 200-300 international peace activists, traveling from Panama to Mexico City in support of Latin American nations' efforts to stop President Reagan's war. In 1990, I observed Nicaragua's second free election as a Witness for Peace delegate.


5.      This time, 44.7 percent of the Nicaraguan people thumbed their noses at Jeb Bush, George Bush senior's youngest son and the Governor of Florida. See Appendix A for Jeb Bush's contribution to the Nicaraguan electoral process.

6.      I don't have the date or producer of the film. In cases like this, the government is not stupid enough to actually threaten the media owners with jail or accuse them outright of treason, much as many government officials would like to. The threat is simply loss of access to official sources. The late I.F. Stone, arguably America's greatest journalist, was banned from all Washington press conferences simply because he asked the wrong questions about the conduct of the Vietnam War. He went on to publish I.F. Stone's Journal out of his kitchen, and continued to play a major role in exposing Washington's lies about Vietnam. When Stone died, the mainstream press published many a reverent encomium to his integrity and persistence in ferreting out the truth. The irony was not lost on perceptive media critics.

7.      As indicated in the introduction, the "Marxist" Sandinistas initially did make impressive gains, especially on behalf of the poor.

8.      These covert operations are usually not so covert, but they are always "low-intensity." This means that there are few U.S. troops directly involved in the fighting per se. Where there are no direct American casualties, opposition from the majority of the American people is also "low-intensity," no matter how brutal the operation.

9.      Times have not changed since those days. The editorial I analyze later in this essay closely follows the editorial that appeared congratulating Chamorro on her 1990 victory. Had Ortega been reelected in 1990, several factors might have combined to shut down the contras for good: the image of the U.S. Goliath vs. the Nicaraguan David would have been indelibly imprinted on the American psyche; the U.S. protest movement would have gained thousands of new supporters; European and Latin American opposition to Washington might have been more influential; popular revulsion over the Iran-contra scandal might have reached a critical point; even many of official Washington's supporters of the war might finally have become ashamed of their dishonorable behavior, and registered their opposition.

10.      If Miller is unaware of this use of Marxist analysis by religious and revolutionary thinkers in this hemisphere, he is less than prepared to report on the subject.

11.      New York Times, October 29, 2001 The Political Resurrection of a Nicaraguan Revolutionary, By TINA ROSENBERG ( Editorial)

12.      Many U.S. bleeding heart liberals and lefties will of course counter that none of these purported sins of the Sandinistas are necessarily bad. That is not the point. The point is what Miller, the reporter, intends. In common usage, what follows a "but" is always intended to neutralize, or negate altogether, the value implied in the preceding clause. There is nothing wrong with the construction per se. Here, though, it is legitimate to ask why Miller chose five negatives to counter two positives, and also to ask whether this will be the pattern he follows throughout the article. (It will.)

13:      One could lust for, and obtain power, and not be like Somoza.

14:      Those who followed the contra war carefully know that Ortega's "mistakes" were 1) hoping that Uncle Sam would allow a government with a "preferential option for the poor" to survive in this hemisphere; and 2) the innately decent American people would be able to stop the contra war..

15:      Perhaps Calero wanted to see his old State Department buddy Elliot Abrams, once referred to by humorist Dave Barry as "Undersecretary of State in Charge of Reminding Everyone of a Hairless, Nocturnal Rodent."

16:      I do suggest, though, that Zoilamerica Narvaez Murillo made accusations of salacious acts by Ortega, rather than salacious accusations. We would not use the synonym "debauched" here: e.g.: Ms. Murillo made debauched accusations ...

17:      Webster's College Dictionary, Random House, New York, 1991

18:      In an effort not to fall into that trap myself, on occasion I have inserted "[alleged]" before a predicative phrase of uncertain truth. I hope this will be clear in context. I apologize for any oversights.

19:      CIA propagandists would be especially pleased with Miller's earlier predicative reference to the "Cold War hero" Oliver North. (¶21: "Adolfo Calero, a former contra leader whose home features a wall filled with pictures of such Cold War heroes as Ronald Reagan and Oliver North, says he journeyed to Washington ..." ) A Lieutenant Colonel in the '80s, North ran the covert contra operation, and essentially committed treason in the diversion of profits from arms sales to Iran to the contras. Miller suggests here that North is a hero, period, not just a hero to Calero.

The worst possible case, worthy of inclusion in the Orwell Hall of Fame, would be if Miller had in fact written "alleged" in his statements about Ortega, and the desk editor removed it. We might also ask: if Miller had written "... current President Arnoldo Aleman, one of the most unpopular leaders in the country's history because of corruption in office.." (¶32), would the desk editor have changed it to "... because of accusations of corruption in office"?

20:      Ortega sells new image: kinder, gentler, and capitalist, by Catherine Elton, Christian Science Monitor, November 01, 2001. I confirmed, by e-mail correspondence with Manuel Orozco of the Inter-American Dialogue, that Ms. Elton's reference to Miguel Orozco was mistaken. She corrected her mistake in two subsequent articles. I didn't think to ask Mr. Orozco whether there is a second Manuel Orozco, who "studies Central America for the Inter-American Dialogue," but I am nevertheless confident that Elton and Miller are referring to the same person.

21:      In the ad, Jeb Bush is right on target in saying "Daniel Ortega is an enemy of everything the United States represents." Ortega stands for the poor, overwhelmingly the primary victims of U.S. policy over the years.

22:      Nicaragua to Decide Fate of Ortega's New-Age Candidacy, by David Gonzalez. New York Times, November 4, 2001.

23:      "In the end, Ortega received 44.7 percent of votes, compared with Aleman's 53.7 percent." Bolanos win opens new doors for Nicaragua, by Catherine Elton, Christian Science Monitor, November 07, 2001

24:      Opponents of Reagan's contra attack on Nicaragua asserted that the real threat posed by Nicaragua was not the threat of Soviet influence, but the threat of a popular, competent, and humane leftist government - the threat of a good example. The earliest such threat was squashed in 1954, with the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of Guatemala's Jacobo Arbenz.

25:      To be fair to Miller, the Christian Science Monitor and New York Times reports also focused on whether Ortega had changed.

26:      "Mr. Ortega has built a coalition that includes former political foes. Some of them, including his running mate, Agustín Jarquín, were once jailed by his government." Nicaragua to Decide Fate of Ortega's New-Age Candidacy, by David Gonzalez, New York Times, November 4, 2001.

27:      "I was a member of the resistance that fought against the Sandinistas, and today I am with Daniel. He has changed, but he is still the leader of Nicaragua's poor," says Elit Garcia, a participant at a Sandinista rally. Ortega sheds rebel past, dons pastels, by Catherine Elton, Christian Science Monitor, November 02, 2001.

28:      Note again Miller's reference to Ortega's past, not his "connections with terrorist nations or U.S. condemnation of those ties." (¶44, Nov. 4.)

29:      Nicaragua Voters Reject Ortega's Bid for the Presidency, by David Gonzalez, New York Times, November 6, 2001.

30:      He needn't worry - the guys at State and the CIA operate according to right-winger Pat Buchanan's dictum: "never apologize, never explain - just let 'em howl."

31:      Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2002, Section B, p. 15.

32:      The photo of Miller's colleague and former Times Central America correspondent, Richard Boudreaux, has been on the (imaginary) walls of fame for many years. Lately, in reporting from London on the Afghanistan conflict, Boudreaux has done admirable work explaining to Times readers why the U.S. is so hated around the world. Perhaps it's time to take his photo off the walls of fame.

33:      My assertion here is supported by a reading of A Time for Repair in Nicaragua. (October 24, 1996.) Daniel Ortega had just lost to Arnoldo Alemán and the editorialist was advising all Nicaraguans to "come together to salvage their nation". The writer made sure to disabuse the reader of any notion that the Sandinistas might actually have done some good: "But Nicaragua's economic, social and political ruin did not take place overnight. Every government in memory - from the long dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza to the dark decade of the Sandinistas to the inept six-year rule of Violeta Chamorro - each did its unfortunate part to drag the country further down."

34:      It is inconceivable that the Times editorialist is unaware of the Sandinista achievements. If he or she is unaware of them, the entire editorial board should be fired.

35:      In truth, the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan people distinguished between the American people and the U.S. government. In the '80s, Nicaragua was open to all visitors, and U.S. citizens were warmly welcomed by the Nicaraguans. Thousands of us went there for inspiration, to gather information, and to refute the lies told about the Sandinistas by the Reagan/Bush [Sr.] administrations. Sadly, it was all for nought.

36:      The Triumph of Democracy; Now Comes the Hard Part, February 27, 1990.

37:      At the time, Edward S. Herman was Professor of Finance, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. His original statement:

"The [US] media's feat in transforming the Salvadoran 'security forces,' aptly described as 'a deranged killing machine,' into 'protectors of an incipient democracy' is, I believe, a propaganda achievement that totalitarian states might conceivably approach, but never surpass." In Covert Action Bulletin, Number 21 (Spring 1984) page 7.

38:      As well as minimizing the number of red-neck subscribers who might cancel their subscriptions in a huff.

39:      There is a famous photograph of SCITCA's then-Executive Director, Mary Brent Wehrli, being dragged, with blouse pulled back and lots of bra showing, from a fund-raising event for soon-to-be-President Bush [Sr.]. She had risen during the ceremonies and addressed Bush directly, asking him, as a good Episcopalian, to stop the violence against Nicaragua. As Gunsmoke's Festus Hagen used to say, the security guards were all over her "like ugly on ape".

40:      To be fair to the Times, we should recall that other mainstream journalists also favor this theme of Sandinista economic incompetence. See comment by New York Times editorialist Tina Rosenberg, page 3 above.

41:      Dear reader: So as to create a groundswell of support for the Nobel and the movie - known in Hollywood as "buzz" - please pass this essay on to as many people as you can.


A:      The media love to characterize any foreign soldiers trained by the U.S. as "elite," or "crack" troops. I have often wondered, though, how tough these guys really are. Their usual mode of operation was to go into a village they define as sympathetic to communism, and destroy it. There were never any combatants in these villages. What is so "elite" or "crack" about soldiers who simply burn down shacks, set fire to crops, slaughter livestock, and as often as not, top it all off with rape, murder, and torture of defenseless non-combatants.


My earlier comments on Arturo Cruz's candidacy, from The Land Of The Free (press) Part II: In an interview with Steven Kinzer (New York Times, January 8, 1988) Cruz expressed regret for having opted out as the Coordinadora's presidential candidate. His withdrawal, after only a few days campaigning, was at the behest of the CIA, which controlled his activities (and his finances). The excuse was the disruption of one or two of his rallies by young Sandinistas. In the interview, Cruz said that he believed the coalition never intended to run, but wanted only to embarrass the Sandinistas. Had Cruz and his running-mate stayed in the race, as losing candidates they would automatically have been seated in the National Assembly. There they could have worked with conservative Sandinista opponents Virgilio Godoy and Clemente Guido to promote an agenda more to Washington's liking.

This information was never reported in the Los Angeles Times, even though I requested such of its Washington-based reporter Doyle McManus in a telephone conversation about an article he wrote about the administration's Nicaragua policy. (U.S. Shifts to a Kinder, Gentler Nicaragua Policy, Los Angeles Times, 9/18/89) McManus had reported Vice-president Quayle's skepticism "whether we can in fact have free and fair elections in Nicaragua," and I suggested to him that Times readers deserved to know something about the '84 election, and especially about Arturo Cruz's change of heart. McManus was aware of Cruz's sentiments and acknowledged their relevance to the issue of Nicaraguan democracy.

To my knowledge, nothing on the '84 election, or about Cruz ever came from McManus's pen, however. But, in February [1990], he did report State Department uncertainty as to how the election would go: "What do we do if the Sandinistas really do win a free and fair election. In a sense, its our worst-case scenario," and "We've never been through one before," said aides to Secretary of State James Baker. (U.S. Gets Ready For Likely Sandinista Election Victory, Los Angeles Times, 2/24/90.)

C:     As noted above, "800 cases involving property belonging to U.S. citizens that was seized during a decade of Marxist rule" does not imply that 800 Americans lost their property. From David Gonzalez of the New York Times, we read:

"American officials are troubled by unresolved claims of 300 Americans whose property was confiscated by the Sandinistas, as well as what the officials contend are Mr. Ortega's continued contacts with Cuba." (Inspired by Jesus, Sandinista Tries for a Comeback, By David Gonzalez, New York Times, September 6, 2001)

Tina Rosenberg of the New York Times writes:

"The Bush administration complains that Mr. Ortega has not encouraged the return of the properties his government confiscated from wealthy landowners, many of whom are now American citizens." (The Political Resurrection of a Nicaraguan Revolutionary By Tina Rosenberg, New York Times, October 29, 2001.)

Reading Gonzalez and Rosenberg together, we are justified in suspecting that "many" of the 300 Americans whose property was taken by the Sandinistas were not U.S. citizens at the time. A report on 800 cases of property seized from American citizens gives a far worse impression of the Sandinistas than does a report on 300 Americans who lost their property, especially when it appears that many of them became U.S. citizens later. We are justified in surmising that Gonzalez and Rosenberg dug a little deeper into the issue than did Miller. Perhaps someday another journalist will tell us the exact number of U.S. citizens who were indeed U.S. citizens when their Nicaraguan property was seized by the Sandinistas, as well as the circumstances of the confiscations. Were they Bob and Mary Smith, of Columbus, Ohio, let's say, who lost their modest winter get-away hacienda; or were they former Somocistas, who manipulated Sandinista reconstruction incentives for their personal benefit? That would be a good story in itself.

D:     The following is derived from A Changed America: Civil Liberties Take Back Seat to Safety: An occasional series exploring the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks on American society, by HENRY WEINSTEIN, DAREN BRISCOE and MITCHELL LANDSBERG, Times Staff Writers. Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2001. Quoted material is from the article.

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson draws for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix. He received "dozens of abusive, threatening or obscene messages ... after drawing cartoons critical of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan."

"Benson, an auxiliary police officer and iconoclast whose views resist categorization, said he has been 'appalled by what I see as the intolerance of many Americans for allowing views that digress from their own. I think if we put up the 1st Amendment and some of the other basic freedoms to a vote, they'd go down in flames.'"

Dan Guthrie is a columnist for the Daily Courier of Grants Pass, Oregon. On September 15th, he opined that President Bush was less than courageous for "shuttling to two Air Force bases instead of returning immediately to the White House after the Sept. 11 attacks. ... 'His first time under real pressure, he bolted,' Guthrie wrote." He was later fired, he believes, "for expressing an unpopular opinion."


The following is derived from Let's End Ideological Test for Our Foreign Visitors, by Lucy Komisar, Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1984. At the time Komisar was a New York-based journalist, and member of the executive board of PEN American Center. PEN is an international writers organization. Quoted material is from the article.

Washington not only has an interest in stifling internal dissent, but also in protecting us from foreigners who might challenge its claim that America is the political, economic, and moral messiah the world has awaited for so many millennia. Beginning in 1963, Nobel laureate and critic of U.S. policy Gabriel Garcia Marquez was prevented from speaking in the United States under the provisions of the notorious McCarran-Walter act, passed in 1952 over President Truman's veto. McCarran-Walter essentially held that Americans were not intelligent enough to resist or properly assess ideas which did not fit Washington's world-view. As of early 1984, several U.S. universities had invited Marquez to speak about Central America. He refused the invitations because Washington required that he be accompanied by an FBI agent. In September 1983, Italian playwright Dario Fo was denied entry to the U.S. The only reason given by the State Department was that Fo's "record of performance with regard to the United States is not good. Dario Fo has never had a good word to say about (the United States)." So there we have it. The world is a circus, its people are performers, and Washington is the ringmaster. I believe that McCarran-Walter has pretty much been rescinded, but there is always the danger that it will resurface again.

E:      In the first 25 editorials in my collection, contra victims, qua victims, are mentioned twice. Neither mention even begins to capture the horror they experienced at the hands of President Reagan's "freedom fighters":

"The contras clearly cause trouble for the Sandinistas with their sabotage and violence. But they also have killed innocent civilians. They give the Sandinistas an excuse to crack down even harder on internal dissent. And their barely covert links to the United States allow the Sandinistas to pose as nationalist heroes, defending Nicaragua from Yankee interventionism." From Nicaragua: Let's Shift, December 23, 1984.

Should President Reagan call off the freedom fighters because killing innocent civilians is wrong, or should he call them off because the killing of innocent civilians is ineffective, and serves the evil Sandinistas? The Times is exquisitely ambiguous. (The killing of innocent civilians is by design, of course.)

"The "freedom fighters" idealized by the President are not all heroes of a democratic resistance. Another generation of Somocistas leads and staffs some of the fighting elements. Hundreds of their victims have been innocent civilians deprived of property, homes, and sometimes their lives by this war fed by the Central Intelligence Agency." From Reagan Is Wrong, February 24, 1985.

Shame on the "freedom fighters" for depriving innocent civilians of their "property, homes, and sometimes their lives". How comfortable it is to read this refined description of contra violence, rather than a crude account of the contras peeling the skin off the face of a member of a Sandinista-sponsored cooperative. After all, Times readers are sensitive folks - why spoil the morning cappucino. In fact, why even report such unpalatable facts in the news section. Best leave these items to marginal groups like Human Rights Watch and Witness for Peace, or the "biased" LA Weekly.

Appendix A

[Jefferson Shriver is the Director for the Hurricane Mitch Program of Lutheran World Relief. I received this e-mail as a forward from a friend. - Author] From: Jefferson Shriver [mailto:jefferson@sdnnic.org.ni]
Sent: Monday, November 05, 2001 1:49 PM

Colleagues, Friends and Family,

Yesterday, November 4th, 90% of Nicaraguans elegible to vote participated in their presidential elections. They had the opportunity to choose a center/left ''Convergence'' alliance led by Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, or a right wing party led by former Vice President Enrique Bolaños of the PLC party. The Convergence campaign was clean - it avoided confrontation, polarization, and negative attacks of its opponents and focussed on its campaign platform. It managed to bring together leaders from a number of political persuasions and experiences and promoted a ''national project.'' The PLC party's campaign was perhaps the dirtiest, heavy-handed I have seen in my political life, and was backed bluntly by the U.S. Government. It focussed very little on what it had to offer the Nicaraguan people, and rather catered directly to people's base fears with no basis on real events. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, the PLC initiated a massive campaign painting Daniel Ortega as a terrorist with terrorist friends, and depicted in all of their television, radio, and newspaper ads that the U.S. was clearly against Ortega and clearly for the PLC and Bolaños. They showed Ortega shaking hands with Fidel Castro, Mohamar Ghadaffi, and Saddam Hussein, void of any context. The message was re-emphasized when the U.S. Embassador to Nicaragua Oliver Garza went to distribute food with Bolaños on his campaign trail and was openly photographed. It was reiterated when Garza called Ortega a thief in an interview, reiterated when Jeb Bush, governor of Florida, took a full page ad out mincing no words about his opposition to Ortega and support for Bolaños (see text below), reiterated by the International Republican Institute lead by Congressman Cass Ballenger who came to Nicaragua as election observers, and reiterated on previous occasions in appearances by the U.S. State Department. You can imagine how this message was received by Nicaraguans at the same time the post-September 11th message from George W. Bush rang repeatedly in Nicaragua and the rest of the world: ''In the war against terrorism, you are either with us, or against us.''

Before September 11th and the avalanche of this dirty campaign, the Convergence Alliance was slated to win by 8 percentage points. Today, the election results show overwhelmingly that the campaign of fear and hate prevailed. Bolaños and the PLC won by 8-10 percentage points. One of the Convergence' primary campaign slogans was ''Love is Stronger than Hate.'' Today, at least for these elections, hate and manipulation were the clear victors. In all of my conversations with those I knew who voted for the PLC, all stated similar reasons: ''We don't more war in this country'' ''Mandatory military service is going to return and they are going to take our children.''

For those unfamiliar with Nicaraguan politics, the PLC is the incumbent party responsible for multiple acts of illicit corruption and whose president has increased his personal wealth twenty-fold since assuming office. The PLC is the incumbent party who in the past five years have paid more attention to accumulating land and new businesses than governing the country. Their relationship with the press and with civil society has been riddled with conflict. Today Nicaragua has elected its former Vice President who said nothing to denounce this corruption over the past five years. Enrique Bolaños, Arnoldo Alemán and many of their family members and friends will now continue to run the country for another five years.

Today I find myself outraged by the audacity of the U.S. Government - my government - to interfere so blatantly in the internal elections of a sovereign country. We still have not learned the lesson that Nicaraguans deserve to choose their own destiny, from the imposition of U.S. marines in the early 1900's, to support of the Somoza dictatorship for thirty years, to covert and illegal support of the contras in the 1980's, and most recently the manipulations of the past three democratically held elections (1990,1996,2001). Today the best candidates were not the winners. The candidates who won were chosen by those rich and powerful enough to manipulate the elections. And I am saddened by the reality that those who will suffer the most from these manipulated elections are - once again - impoverished Nicaraguans.

The Nicaraguan poet Giaconda Belli said that there are two faces to the U.S. and its government. One face is that which is most clearly seen from inside U.S. borders. The other very different face is best seen outside the U.S., perhaps most clearly in its poor neighboring countries. ,

Please keep Nicaragua in your prayers during this transition. And may we all do our part as U.S. citizens to call our elected officials to task when they behave as innapropriately as they did in places like Nicaragua -once again - during its elections in 2001.


Below is Jeb Bush's ad that was published in Nicaraguan newspapers days before the elections:


>> In small letters above the headline: The Brother of the President of the

>> United States (in blue)

>> Massive Headline: GEORGE W. BUSH SUPPORTS ENRIQUE BOLAÑOS (blaring red)


>> "This November, Nicaragua will choose a new president. This decision rests

>> where it should, in the hands of the Nicaraguan voting public. At the same

>> time, we in Florida want the people of Nicaragua to know that they are not

>> alone in making this decision.


>> "The elements which have made of Florida and the United States a place where

>> exiles from diverse countries have found success - democracy, respect for

>> law, transparency and confidence in public institutions - are being

>> developed in many Latin American countries. Florida benefits when its

>> neighbors adopt the successful formulas - free elections, open markets, the

>> integrity of the public sector - which have produced such good results in

>> our country.


>> "However, this formula for success is not automatic. Not everyone has the

>> same commitment to these successful free institutions .... As I look at

>> Latin America today, I'm reminded of the motto which is written above the

>> entrance to the US National Archives: "The Past Is Prologue." The past is

>> without doubt the key indicator of the future. In a world which has been

>> transformed during the last decade through political and economic openings,

>> it is inconceivable that a people would choose to return to a totalitarian past.


>> "The past and present of Daniel Ortega clearly indicate that he neither

>> understands nor accepts the basic principles of freedom, democracy and the

>> free market. Some say he has changed, that the years out of power have

>> convinced him of the necessity for genuine democracy, for open markets, and

>> for the maintaining of good relations with his neighbors and with the United

>> States. This is what Ortega would want us to believe.


>> "Daniel Ortega is an enemy of everything the United States represents.

>> Further, he is a friend of our enemies. Ortega has a relationship of more

>> than 30 years with states and individuals who shelter and condone international

>> terrorism.


>> "By contrast Enrique Bolaños is a man whose past promises a future of

>> freedom. I knew him for the first time fifteen years ago, before the end of

>> the Cold War, when freedom was not yet secured in many parts of the world.

>> He spoke with clarity of purpose and with precision about the importance of

>> democracy, of the free market, and of the absolute necessity to have a

>> public sector with integrity. He not only spoke about these ideas but also

>> defended them valiantly in the hostile and repressive climate created by the

>> Sandinistas. Thanks to this experience, I can say that Enrique Bolaños will

>> be an excellent leader for Nicaragua.


>> "To construct democracy is not easy. It puts a leader's commitment to the

>> test as well as his will to hold to the true path. This is why Latin America

>> needs people whose valorous past points to a promising future. Latin America

>> needs leaders like Enrique Bolaños, people whose history shows a commitment

>> to the construction of prosperous economies and solid democracies which are

>> the necessary base for reinforcing bonds of brotherhood with Florida, just

>> as with the whole United States of America.


>> Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida."


Jefferson Shriver
Hurricane Mitch Program Director
Lutheran World Relief
505 248 6155 (56), ext. 107 cel 088 230 41

Appendix B

Noam Chomsky is Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and America's leading critic of U.S. foreign policy. He delivered the Lakdawala Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, November 2001. The following paragraphs from the lecture, which I received from Mr. Chomsky by e-mail, are reprinted with his permission.

Another striking illustration of prevailing attitudes towards terrorism is the (null) reaction to the warning of the Bush administration that Nicaragua will be punished if the November 2001 election is won by the FSLN political forces that dared to resist U.S. attack, and "do not share the values of the world community." Washington "cannot forget that Nicaragua ended up a refuge for violent political extremists" in the 1980s; it did indeed serve as a refuge for social democratic political leaders, poets and writers, prominent Jesuit priests, human rights activists, and others fleeing the death squads and official security forces of the terrorist states installed and backed by Washington, rather as Paris had become a refuge in the 1930s. We are "reminded of it daily by the continuing presence of some members of the FSLN leadership...who perpetrated these abominations," the State Department warned Nicaraguan voters: "Given their past record, why should we believe their statements that they have changed?... We are confident that the Nicaraguan people will reflect on the nature and history of the candidates and choose wisely."

Nicaraguans were instructed, loud and clear, that if they misbehave by electing the wrong government, as they did in 1984 in an election that the U.S. (hence history) refuses to recognize because it could not control the outcome, then it will again be considered a state that supports terrorism, with the penalties that ensue. It will be barred from the coalition of the just that is combating the plague, including Russia, China, Turkey, Algeria and others that are delighted to have U.S. authorization for their own terrorist atrocities, in many cases merely extending previous support.

Nicaraguans heeded the warnings and obeyed, so that U.S. elite opinion could once again be "United in Joy" at this new "Victory for U.S. Fair Play." The victory of the U.S.-backed candidate "resulted both from fear of the Sandinistas' past and declarations by American officials who doubted the sincerity of Mr. Ortega's statements that he had moderated his political views," the newspaper of record reported; in translation, fear of a renewal of Washington's terrorist attack and economic strangulation, and doubts of Ortega's sincerity in submitting to Washington's demands. The second national newspaper noted casually that the winning candidate "focused much of his campaign on reminding people of the economic and military difficulties of the Ortega era," their source left mysterious. NOTE {David Gonzales, _NYT_, Nov. 6; Mary Jordan, _WP_-_International Herald Tribune_, Nov. 7, 2001.}

Citing Washington's cynical warnings, the research journal of the Jesuit university in Managua observed that "it is a safe bet that those who took up arms at a time when state terrorism [organized and directed in Washington] was killing, torturing, forcing disappearances and closing all political spaces will now be reclassified as terrorists." The atrocities of September 11 were denounced as "Armageddon," the editors observed, but Nicaraguans recall that their country "lived its own Armageddon in excruciating slow motion" under U.S. assault "and is now submerged in its dismal aftermath," having been reduced to the second poorest country in the hemisphere (after Haiti) with perhaps the world record for concentration of wealth, a radical reversal of the "abominations" that were successfully overcome by Washington's international terrorist crusade. NOTE {Envío, Oct. 2001. For a judicious current review, see Thomas Walker and Ariel Armony, eds., Repression, Resistance, and Democratic Transition in Central America (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 2000).}

Among the victors, all of this has been effaced in the classic fashion. One would be hard put to find a phrase that taints the image of the leaders of the new war against terrorism, including those who held positions of authority in the administration that was condemned for international terrorism.

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