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Central American University - UCA  
  Number 21 | Marzo 1983
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Nicaragua

OUTLINE OF EVENTS IN NICARAGUA BEFORE THE POPE'S VISIT

Outside the country much was said of Nicaragua on March 4th and the days that followed. The visit of the Pope created journalistic expectations what made coverage of the information “profitable”. What was happening in Nicaragua in those moments just before the arrival of Pope John Paul II.

Envío team

Much was said about Nicaragua on March 4 and on subsequent days. The Pope's visit created a journalists' bonanza which made it "profitable" to cover Nicaragua.

We feel that many of you who were not here in Nicaragua have probably not understood the repercussions of this visit and the events which surrounded it. A special article in this ENVIO details the Pope's visit and the incidents which occurred in the July 19th Plaza toward the end of the Papal Mass.

Judging from the cables and press clippings which we have received, it would appear that the large news agencies circumvented the general setting of the Pope's visit and focused instead on occurrences during the Papal visit to this country. Only a few tried to learn about the whole dynamic in the country which explains, with a certain objective logic, the day to day situation, the hopes, expectations and the disappointments.

It is very difficult to understand the events of March 4 without an awareness of the recent happenings in Nicaragua and without an analysis, albeit superficial, of the historical- emotional context of the Nicaraguan people.

Unfortunately, some analysts, investigators and journalists came and went rather quickly, in some cases they were only here for the eleven hours of the Pope's stay. This would not have major repercussions if these same persons were not those who through articles and other reports are responsible for forming the opinions of many who are led to believe these "specialized commentaries" as being the objective truth.

We will also present some aspects of the current situation in Nicaragua which many were not interested in seeing: a country affected by the international situation and built (in spite of limitations) with the participation of its people.

REAGAN ADMINISTRATION  MILITARY OFENSIVE

A.- BIG PINE: U.S. military exercise carried out with Honduran troops on the Atlantic coast of Honduras from February 1-5. U.S. troops numbered 1,600, and more than 4,000 Hondurans participated; the whole operation cost $5.2 million.

B.- KINDLE LIBERTY 83: U.S. military exercises carried out with Panamanian troops in Panama from February 11 to 17. Some of the 10,000 U.S. soldiers stationed there participated, and 3,000 more joined them from the States.

C.- NATIONAL SECURITY AND CONTROL OPERATION: This was scheduled for February 5-12, but it is not known if it was actually carried out.

D.- MA U 55 WILLIAM PRATT WARSHIP: During most of the month of February, this warship with 375 soldiers on board was in the Caribbean off the coast of Central America.

E.- READEX 83: Military exercise carried out from March 14 to 23 in the Caribbean off Puerto Rico with the joint participation of U.S., British, and Dutch forces.

REAGAN ADMINISTRATION  POLITICAL DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE

A.- JEANNE KIRKPATRICK: traveled to various Latin American countries: Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Her trip was seen as the continuation of the Latin American trip made by Reagan in December of 1982. It sought to strengthen the Pro-Peace and Democracy Forum and tried to interest Venezuela in becoming a party to it. The trip began on February 3 and lasted 10 days.

B.- THOMAS ENDERS: traveled to Spain on February 8-9 to discuss the Central America situation with the Spanish government. The talks covered two important aspects: a) Zero Option was proposed for Central America, i.e., the withdrawal of all foreign military advisers and military aid from both sides of the warring parties – this proposal characterizes the Central American problem as part of the East-West conflict, without recognizing the underlying causes; b) ratification of the Pro-Peace and Democratic Forum for Central America.

C.- GEORGE BUSH: visited Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and England. The main objective was to promote the Zero Option, which consists in removing all Soviet medium-range missiles from Europe in return for not installing the Pershing and Crucero systems. This proposal does not take into account the NATO missiles already installed in France and Germany. Bush also met with Pope John Paul II and the Vatican Secretary of State, Augustino Casaroli, on February 7.

D.- GEORGE SHULTZ: visited Asia the first two weeks of February, and among other countries he spent some time in South Korea, Japan and China. He arrived in South Korea during the time of the military exercises TEAM SPIRIT 83, in which 180,000 troops participated, 70,000 of them U.S. troops.

E.- PRESIDENT REAGAN: spoke on February 22 to the Veteran’s Association. He said: “Central America is too near to us, and our strategic interests in the Caribbean sea lanes and the Panama Canal are too great not to take into account what is happening there… We must be sure that the governments of El Salvador and the other Central American countries can defend themselves from the Marxist guerrillas who receive arms, training and money through Cuba and Nicaragua.

F.- We should also point out a series of statements made in the U.S. by high officials of the Reagan Administration. For example, George Schultz admitted that military intervention cannot be ruled out in the future even though it might be “the least desired method to preserve our strategic interest”.

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