Monday, November 14, 2005

You've got to be kidding me

My sitemate Paige sent me this link to Contra Café, an online coffee store that raises money for the Contras. I thought it was a joke at first. I mean, the picture and quote by Ronald Reagan? The fact that it raises money for a charity founded by Oliver North? I thought it was an example of over-the-top satire. But no, it's real. For those of you who don't comprehend how ridiculous this is, let me explain. Nicaragua under the control of the Somoza dictatorship from the 1930s until leftist rebel Sandanistans overthrew the government in 1979 and set up a Socialist government. All of this occurred in the backdrop of the Cold War, and the United States, fearful of the growing influence of leftist regimes in Central America, supported the anti-Sandanistan Contras, illegally funding them in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair.
Before I went to Peace Corps, I didn't really know anything about Sandinistas, other than the fact that they were supposedly the bad guys. However, my host family and nearly all of my Nicaraguan friends were ardent Sandanistans. Why? Because before the revolution, they had nothing. Nothing. Several of them had relatives murdered by Somomza's National Guard. The Sandanistan government gave them land and an education, in other words, hope and opportunity. No, the Sandanistans weren't perfect, but they were a drastic improvement over the Somoza dictatorship for the campesinos of Nicaragua. Not to speak ill of the dead or anything, but Ronald Reagan is not viewed in a positive light by many Nicaraguans, and his smiling face represents a U.S. foreign policy that illegally funded a brutal civil war in their country for nearly a decade.

In Nicaragua, Reagan's financial and military support for anti-government
rebels "caused a lot of damage in our country, a lot of suffering, a lot of
death and destruction," said Carlos Chamorro, a journalist and political
analyst, whose mother, Violeta Chamorro, became president in elections in 1990
that ended the rule of the Marxist-led Sandinistas.
"There might be a group that was supported by Reagan that may have a different memory of him. But I have the impression that a majority of the people will associate him with the war and with the destruction," Chamorro said. The U.S.-backed war killed at least 20,000 people.

For another example, look at this mural. Yikes.

Okay, enough of my rant. If you really want to help poor coffee farmers, buy certified Fair Trade coffee, from TransfairUSA or Café Campesino, or look for this symbol on the coffee you buy at the grocery store.

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