Ideas For Action

new internationalist
issue 156 | February 1986


Worth reading on...

There has been no shortage recently of books on Nicaragua. The following are just a few of the newer and more interesting ones.

What Difference Could a Revolution Make? by Joseph Collins; Institute for Food and Development Policy 1985. $7.95/£7.95. An insider's view of agrarian reform: Joe Collins was an adviser to the Nicaraguan government. Originally published in 1982, this is an updated edition. The book is about agriculture. But, just as interestingly, it shows the experimental (or 'seat of the pants' ) nature of the Sandinista approach: they are prepared to try almost anything that might combine equity and efficiency. It also gives instructive explanations of the mistakes they made.*

Nicaragua - A New Kind of Revolution by Philip Zwerling and Connie Martin; Lawrence Hill, 1985. $9. 95/£8. 95. A collection of 45 interviews from all shades of Nicaraguan opinion - including contra leaders in Honduras. The format may seem relentless, but a good mix of subjects and careful editing makes it surprisingly readable.*

Nicaragua - The Threat of a Good Example? by Dianna Melrose; Oxfam, 1985, £2.50, A welcome, brief and clear introduction to Nicaragua. The book arises out of Oxfam's experience in Nicaragua, before and after the revolution, and highlights the British and European responsibility.*

Nicaragua: A Revolution Under Siege edited by Richard Evans and Carlos Vilas; Zed Press, 1985. £6, 95. More for the serious student, this has good up to date information on agrarian reform, the economy, trade unions, the Miskitos and the religious debate.

Fire from the mountain, Omar Cabezas; Crown (US); Jonathan Cape (UK), £5.95 pbk. One of the most highly recommended books to come out of the Sandinista revolution. Cabezas was a guerilla fighter who gives a revealing and personal account of his experience.

Nicaraguan women. Undermining the Alphabet of Submission Women's International Resource Exchange (WIRE), 2700 Broadway', New York NY 10025. A collection of articles which show that Nicaraguan women, even with the help of a sympathetic government, will have a hard time overcoming male domination.

*For UK readers, these books are available from TWP, 151 Stratford Road, Birmingham RI I JRD.

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The United States, with the support, active and passive, of other Western governments, insists on the right to impose its will by force on another sovereign nation. In so doing it has taken the lives of thousands of Nicaraguans - and caused untold suffering to many thousands more.

This is not something which democrats of any political persuasion can accept without protest. Like apartheid in South Africa, the persecution of Nicaragua can only be sustained with the assent of the citizens of Western nations. And that is why Nicaragua, like South Africa. has become a focus of international protest.

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Among the things you can do are:

1. Make you views clear to your own political representative. The solidarity groups listed here will help you do this at a local and national level.

2. Give what financial support you can. Most of the voluntaryaid agencies have valuable prolects in Nicaragua - this is one country where aid, even through government channels, is put to productive use.

3. Offer material help. Many organisations listed here are sending to Nicaragua shipments of much-needed supplies.

4. Travel to Nicaragua. Not many people have the money or time for this. But for those who do it, this is that rare Third World vacation where the visitor can make a genuine contribution, either as pan of a study tour or by working.

We have listed below some of the groups with whom you might make contact:

Australian Council of Churches,
P0 Box 0199, Clarence Street, Sydney 2000.
Co-ordinates Australia’s ‘Tools for Peace’ campaign, sending
tools, educational supplies and medical equipment.

Other contact points are:

Latin American Support Committee,
P0 Box 17, Adelaide 5000.
Tel. (08) 4351 53

Trade Union Committee for Central America,
P0 Box 186, North Melbourne 3051,
Tel (03) 329 6944

Latin American Information Centre,
183 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Victoria 3065.
Tel. (03) 419 5588

Resource and Action Committee for Latin America,
P0 Box 265, Broadway, NSW 2007,
Tel (02) 560 4532

Tools for Peace,
2542 Cypress St., Vancouver BC V6J 3N2,
Tel (604) 733 1021,
A nationwide coalition: solidarity groups, aid agencies, women’s groups, trade unions, and many more, who are now starting their fifth campaign. The aim is both to educate the public and provide material aid - one-and-a-half million dollars in 1985. The goods they ship include everything from medical supplies to musical instruments.

Central America Solidarity Network,
38 Howland Aye,, Toronto, Ontario M5R 3B3.
Runs education and fundraising campaigns, including arranging speaking tours for visitors from Central America.

Canadian Action for Nicaragua,
P0 Box 398, Station ‘E’, Toronto, Ontario M6H 4E3.
Tel: (416) 534 1766
Organises study tours and work brigades.

Latin American Working Group,
Box 2207, Station ‘P, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2T2.
One of the principal sources of information. Publishes ‘Central American Update’ and an ‘Anti-intervention handbook'.

Toronto Anti-intervention Coalition,
427 Bloor St. West, Toronto, Ontario M56 1X7.
A campaigning group which combines action and education.

There are many other regional groups throughout the country.

Latin American Projects Committee.
, P0 Box 9716, Wellington.
Co-ordinates most of the information and support activity in New Zealand.

Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign,
20/21 Compton Terrace, London Ni,
Tel 359 8982.
Has a wide range of activities, It can help organize speaker meetings and supply leaflets and posters for local publicity, In conjunction with War on Want it has also organised appeals to fill aid containers.

NSC can give information on town linking schemes, Liverpool, for example, is linked with the port of Corinto and Oxford with Leon, The Campaign organises study tours and also sends work brigades which have helped build a school and harvest coffee.

NSC has produced a concise and useful background booklet ‘Nicaragua must Survive' (50p).

Nicaraguan Health Fund,
82 Margaret Street, London Wi N 8LH.
A new organisation backed by the major UK aid agencies, which raises funds for aid projects.

Washington Office on Latin America,
110 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Washington DC 20002.
Tel (202) 544 8045.
A research and lobbying group which, among other things, provides information to US legislators and to the press.

American Friends Service Committee,
1501 Cherry Street Philadelphia PA 19102,
Tel (215) 241 7000.

Their Central America Assistance Fund is currently collecting school supplies for children in Nicaragua - they will send anyone interested a free organising packet, They also produce a very good leaflet, in question and answer form: ‘Talking Sense About Nicaragua’ -
25c a copy or 100 for $15 (+15% postage).

Central America Resource Center,
1701 University Avenue, SE., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414.
Tel (612) 379 8799
This group has published an excellent handbook: ‘The Minnesota Guide to CentralAmerica Resources’ which, while having local pages, also gives details of all the materials, including films and videos, that are available nationally.
$7.50 + $1 postage.

115 Broadway, Boston, Mass 02116.
Supports development programs and, with CARE, organised the US ‘Tools for Peace’ shipment.

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