Speeches at TAIC Rally, February 2 1988
We reprint below transcripts of three of the speeches made at the February 2 demonstration against contra funding. The speeches are printed in the order they were given.
Robert A. (Alliance for Socialist Action)
I’m speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Socialist Action. You know, we must not be fooled into thinking that the divisions between the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress over the contra aid issue can in any way lead to an end in contra aid. The Democrats and Republicans, let me tell you, are both committed to containing and destroying the Nicaraguan revolution. They can differ as far as the methods but they seek to do that.
Reagan’s request for $43.3 million [in] aid to the contras with $3.6 million in military aid might very well not go through in that form. But I think there’s a deal that’s being cut right now with bipartisan support to send so-called humanitarian aid to the contras. Yeah, humanitarian aid to killers and torturers. One can not think of a more preposterous contradiction.
As long as the Arias plan—unfortunately, the Arias plan has become more and more a tool being used against Nicaragua. We see that the countries’—the other countries in Central America—compliance with the accord, or more correctly, lack of compliance with the accord, is making just an absolute mockery of the accord, while Nicaragua is being forced to make ever greater and greater concessions. I think that the Arias plan was unfortunately a mistake for the Sandinistas, but it’s not something that we should really criticize them for ‘cause our main task in this country is to put an end to U.S. intervention and to look at the real culprit of the war, and that’s Reagan and the U.S. government, and to step up our efforts to stop contra aid and U.S. intervention once and for all.
One of the things that the Nicaraguans have always said to us is that the best thing we can do to help their revolution is to make a revolution in our country and I think the people here should really take that to heart. And you can see what that means in tactical terms is the fight to build a revolutionary workers party to lead a socialist revolution in this country. For Nicaragua, and countries like it, will forever be faced with wars of intervention as long as the capitalist class in countries like Canada and the United States remain in power. We would like to see the day where rather than standing out in the cold protesting against the actions of our governments intervening around the world, that we would instead, the working people, be in charge of our own affairs and actually be able to help countries like Nicaragua. U.S. Hands Off Nicaragua! Victory to the Nicaraguan Revolution! Build the Anti-Intervention Movement! Thank you.
Tom R. (Bolshevik Tendency)
Yeah, the Bolshevik Tendency was one of the groups that was most active in building this demonstration and we’re certainly pleased to be here tonight. We think it’s extremely important that so many people have come out to show the broad kind of unity there is across the left and solidarity movement in opposition to Reagan’s criminal contra-terrorist policies. It’s important though to recognize that the contras have been sustained through their entire existence on the basis of a bipartisan consensus in the United States. That is, both of the major capitalist parties agree on what they see is the necessity to roll back the gains of the Nicaraguan revolution. And at the same time, the contras continue to have a powerful ally in Nicaragua itself, and I’m referring to the capitalist class there, which still controls 60% of the Nicaraguan economy and does not use it to benefit the workers and peasants of that country.
Now, Somoza’s Nicaragua, like virtually every third world country, was characterized by a tremendous gap between a very tiny elite which is benefitting from the system of exploitation and the vast masses of the population who are oppressed under that system and subject to desperate poverty. The Nicaraguan revolution represented a tremendous step forward for the oppressed of Nicaragua in their struggle for a decent life, but at every point, the oppressed masses of Nicaragua have encountered opposition from the ruling elite—from the capitalist minority in that country. The Nicaraguan revolution also had a tremendous impact internationally, throughout Central America and the whole region.
Unfortunately, it’s our view that the Arias plan is predominately an attempt to isolate and strangle the Nicaraguan revolution before it can spread. That is, to stabilize the capitalist regimes in Central America where exploitation is still the norm. Unfortunately, we believe the Sandinistas’ response to the Arias plan to date has been one of conciliation and concession, for which they have very little to show. They’ve even gone so far recently as to float the idea of Canadian peacekeepers. Now we all know here that Mulroney is every bit as much the enemy of the Central American workers and peasants as is Reagan. And the idea that the Canadian government will play any role that will represent in any way the interests of the workers and peasants in Central America is completely erroneous and is potentially dangerous for the future of the Nicaraguan revolution. The alternative, we believe, to a policy of conciliation is to break with the attempt to conciliate the interests of the working class and the Nicaraguan capitalists and to complete the revolution in Nicaragua by expropriating the capitalists who live there.
To finally defeat the contras it is necessary to uproot the system of capitalist oppression of which they are the expression and to do that means to complete and extend the Nicaraguan revolution begun with the tremendous overthrow of Somoza in 1979. It is our duty though in Canada, whatever criticisms or differences we may have with the Nicaraguan revolution and its leadership, to fundamentally make clear that we stand in solidarity with them 100% against Reagan, the contras and Mulroney.
Naomi W. (Canadian Action for Nicaragua)
I’m speaking on behalf of Canadian Action for Nicaragua. I want to say a few words about the Arias peace plan. Canadian Action for Nicaragua’s point of view is this: the Arias peace plan represents from our point of view, and from the point of view of many solidarity activists in Canada and around the world, a very real attempt on the part of the Central American countries to forge their own destiny. Now granted, the government of El Salvador and the government of Guatemala, the government of
Honduras and even the so-called democracy of Costa Rica, do not represent for us the kinds of governments that we want to see in Central America’s future. However, we feel very strongly that one of the most important significances of this plan is that these countries have made an attempt to send the United States a message.
Now, we also realize that in terms of Guatemala and Honduras in particular, these countries are being used as pawns to further the U.S. plans in Central America. But, it’s very, very important that we support the plan. First of all, I’ll tell you that if you’ve ever been to Nicaragua, the country is desperate for peace. I don’t think that we’re in a position up here to tell the Nicaraguan people to keep on fighting.
Inflation is 1,400%; the drought, which they just went through over the early part of winter, cost them 75% of their bean crop. That’s all the people have to eat down there. They also lost 10% of their rice crop. They also, because of the drought, didn’t get as much of the coffee harvest or the cotton harvest in. The people are being strangled. The country is being strangled. I don’t think that we’re in any position to tell the Nicaraguan government that this is not a good peace plan for them and that they shouldn’t have signed it.
I think it’s important if we’re doing serious solidarity work in Canada and in North America that we listen to what the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan people are telling us: they want us to support the peace plan. Who are we to say no? It makes no sense.
Another point that I want to make about the peace plan is that Reagan has been under pressure. Let’s look at the real world that we live in. O.K., we don’t like Mr. Reagan or his policies in Central America—that is an understatement. However, he was going to ask for $270 million, now he’s asking for $36 million. He may have to wait until March 31 to get that. So there is international pressure. This demonstration here tonight is part of that international pressure. We have to look at reality. The reality is the Nicaraguans, the Sandinistas, are in no position to take an isolated stand in Central America. They’re part of that region, one of five countries. They have to live with that reality, and we have to determine the solidarity, the work that we do, in relation to what their real needs are. And at this particular time, their real need is that we support that peace plan as best we can. If we want to support it critically, we can do that.
For example, we can certainly say, as was said earlier here tonight, that Nicaragua has a gun to its head. Well of course Nicaragua has a gun to its head. That’s the whole point. Nicaragua has a gun to its head and therefore, if we want to get rid of that gun, we have to have peace in Nicaragua. The way to get peace now is to support the peace plan. That is what we have to do. Thank you very much.