By Phillip Berryman

Published by Pantheon Books, NYC copyright 1985

page 68

........... who see the revolution as offering hope for their future and those who see it as diminishing their power and prestige. Naturally, opponents of the revolution do not refer to their own interests but to such principles as political pluralism, free enterprise, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.

As noted in Chapter 2, the Catholic church itself is split over the revolution. The bishops' anti-Sandinista stand has its roots in their close association with anti-Somoza business and upper-class groups during the 1970s.

The honeymoon ended for them at the same time it did for the business opposition. Alfonso Robelo resigned from the junta in April 1980, and in May the bishops told the priests in government posts they should leave (see p. 43).

Many ordinary Nicaraguan Catholics are scandalized that their bishops, who have frequently criticized the Sandinistas, have never raised their voice to protest the CIA-directed contras, who by mid-1984 had inflicted 7,000 casualties, most of them civilians.

Similarly, La Prensa, which the U.S. media describe as an "independent" newspaper, is viewed quite differently by ordinary Nicaraguans. To begin with, for about half the population, it would be unthinkable to buy La Prensa since it would take 5 percent or more of a day's income.

In any case, most see La Prensa as a weapon being used against the revolution. (The CIA worked with the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio in its efforts to overthrow the elected Allende government.) La Prensa is not "independent" of the elites. Some Nicaraguans would no doubt prefer to see La Prensa closed, and that is no doubt a temptation to the Sandinistas, who have thus far sought to maintain some measure of press freedom even when under military attack. The point here is modest enough: the whole question of La Prensa looks quite different when viewed from the angle of most Nicaraguans.

Again, after forty-five years of complete subservience to the United States under the Somozas, most Nicaraguans are proud of their new independence. As citizens of a nonaligned country and as members of the international community, they feel free to maintain a warm relationship with Cuba and to welcome collaboration from other socialist countries. By one count there were 1,200 technical assistants from socialist countries in Nicaragua, alongside 3,400 from Europe and the Americas. Some Cubans have worked with the Nicaraguan army and police, but there is no public proof for the administration's assertions that 2,000 or more Cubans are in Nicaragua.