The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on February 19, 1989 · 47
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 47

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Sunday, February 19, 1989
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47
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THE OTTAWA CITIZEN SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1989 E5 WORLD YOO 3JSAJIAV. rrr. SflOU 35 w ml miii Ll- j ri 1.t.,. Armed soldiers kept watch over polling places across Sri Lanka AP photo Sri Lankan election exercise in ingenious rule-bending By Christina Spencer Citizen staff writer COLOMBO, Sri Lanka y the time the voting ended in one southern Sri Lankan village this week, both Sisila Nandasena and his neighbor A. M. Laxmen were registered as having cast their ballots. But Laxmen, an agricultural officer, died several weeks ago. And Nandasena has been in pris on for the past Vt years. He was still there on voting day, his friends say. President Ranasinghe Prema- dasa's ruling United National Party won the Wednesday elec tion, capturing 125 seats in the 225-member parliament. The chief opposition group, former prime minister Sirimavo Ban-daranaike's Sri Lanka Freedom party, captured 67 seats, Tamils won 23 seats, and the rest went to small parties and independents. This week's parliamentary poll, the first in Sri Lanka in almost 12 years, provided insights into the ways democratic theory sometimes translates into prac tice. There was, for instance, the ruling United National Party candidate who breezed into one rural polling station to introduce himself. Campaigning is prohibited within 200 metres of the ballot box, but Jayantha Jaya- weera just smiled when reminded of this. Five well-armed bodyguards stood outside, scrutinizing prospective voters. At a town down the road, dozens of men with valid poll cards were told they were ineligible to vote. By contrast, at a location in Colombo, campaigners for one candidate were more than eager to donate blank ballots to passers-by. Millions of rupees were spent by all the major parties on colorful campaign posters, which blanketed walls, windows, animals and even concrete conduits at construction sites. Posters bearing photographs of candidates were illegal, so the placards also contained the small print: "Not for public distribution." Under the law, campaign advertising stopped three days before the vote. Readers of the government-backed Daily News, however, opened their election-day newspaper to find a bright green poster touting "candidate No. 10" a leading political figure in Colombo. The terrorist attacks that have wracked the island figured heavily in this election, as they had in the presidential race two months earlier. In some areas, voters were too frightened to go to the polls. In others, they defied the threats. But reporting of terrorism was kept to a minimum. Last week's massacre of 37 people 22 of them children in the northeast of the island was buried more than half-way into the nightly television newscast. And when leading opposition politician Bandaranaike told foreign journalists that there had been more than 1,100 killings during the campaign, government officials primly upbraided her. There were, they asserted, only 669 murders. Soldiers were assigned to protect Bandaranaike after an attempt on her life near the end of the campaign. Election-day violence prompted a 21-hour curfew. The government announced it only in the middle of the night, leaving most people to discover the next day's holiday just as they were getting ready for work. Yet despite the electoral glitches, Sri Lankans made it to the polls in greater numbers than during the presidential campaign in December. And dozens interviewed were upbeat at the chance to cast a vote. Commenting on the visible instances of ballot-fiddling, Dr. Frank Jayasinghe, president of a citizen's group that monitored the polls, said: "There was certainly enough manipulation going on by all the parties. But was there enough cheating to give one party a victory it would otherwise not have won? I don't think so." Nicaraguan Contras get that left-out feeling By Dave Todd Boutham News SAN SALVADOR Ihe Contras are a cadaver, and it's very difficult to talk to a cadaver." So spoke Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega before meeting this week with other Cen-. tral American leaders to revive the troubled region's ailing peace plan. Ortega made his case effectively. There will be no seance with the anti-Sandinista rebels, about 11,000 of whom are bogged down in their Honduran base camps. Meanwhile, the last deliveries of U.S. non-military aid, approved by Congress at the former Reagan administration's request, must be sent by March 31. The Central American prcsl-. dents' summit Monday and Tues- day at a beach resort in Costa del Sol, 70 kilometres southeast of San Salvador, had been widely described beforehand as a last chance to save the accord that gained Costa Rican leader Oscar Arias the 1987 Nobel peace prize, i In the end, after much hard bargaining, it produced a tradeoff that calls for a sweeping program of political liberalization within Nicaragua in return for support .from its neighbors in working to dismantle the Contra movement. ' Significantly for the Sandinistas, the deal although It details a long series of measures Nicaragua is obliged to undertake avoids any specific reference to Incorporating the Contras In any peace talks or arrangements to decide their collective fate. When the Arias peace plan was signed 18 months ago by the same five leaders, there was intense pressure on Ortega to initiate direct negotiations with the rebels. After months of concessions ei tracted gradually from the Sandinistas and painful for them because of an ideological resistance to sitting down with the rebels this goal was achieved, only to be lost last June, when the Contras' most militant political elements forced their chief negotiator, Alfredo Cesar, to break off negotiations in Managua. t Does the exclusion of the guerrillas herald their disappearance as a factor in Central America's political equation? Are they the cadaver Ortega says? The Sandinistas are clearly not the only ones convinced this is so. For Cesar, the agreement to advance Nicaragua's next general election to February 1990 from November next year has put him in the troublesome position of having to accelerate his own long-nurtured plans to abandon the Contra movement and run in the presidential race. But the outcome of the next act in this suddenly speeded-up political drama depends on what George Bush's new administration decides in Washington. Since Bush's election last November, he and Secretary of State James Baker's have been silent about policy toward Central America. This week's agreement calls for a timetable for demobilization and repatriation of the Contras to Nicaragua or other countries to be developed by mid-May. In Nicaragua, new censorship laws and reforms that would provide strong guarantees of a fair electoral process are to be in place by April. The Bush administration Is therefore under the gun to decide whether it will continue to insist that the Contras Ronald Reagan's "freedom fighters" be made party to any accord aimed at determining Nicaragua's future political course. Meanwhile, as Nicaragua's civil war wound down after a ceasefire was reached 11 months ago, Honduras Nicaragua's northern neighbor has grown increasingly apprehensive about the guerril-las' continued presence on its territory. Honduras is deeply concerned about becoming isolated politically and being stuck with the Contras forever, said one Canadian External Affairs Department analyst. Above all, the Nicaraguan government hopes that by making the commitments to move closer to liberal democracy, it will satisfy the United States enough to open the door to direct negotiations on a host of mutual concerns and an end to the crippling trade and financial embargo Reagan imposed in May 1983. Nicaragua an economic ruin after a decade of revolution, the civil war, natural disasters like last October's devastating hurricane and Sandinista mismanagement Is being driven to democracy by despair. 2)1 LriniiKjyj Registration and Placement Tests Now Open for Spring Session Starting April 3rd & 4th By Peter Calamai Southam News WASHINGTON orget glasnost. The Cold War is alive and thriving on North American airwaves, as the United States and Cuba thrust and parry through propaganda broadcasts. It's about to get worse legislators here want $40 million for saturation TV bombardment of Havana and the electronic fallout will probably reach Canada. Already in the past week, a few puzzled night-owls in Ontario and Quebec could have picked up faint strains of Latin dance bands on AM radio, the lingering remains of half-strength Cuban propaganda retaliation that completely drowned out several commercial radio stations in Florida. The Cubans are annoyed by a U.S. plan to begin blanketing their capital of Havana this fall with "objective, balanced" TV news programs, beamed in from an airborne antenna on a small blimp 150 kilometres away and four kilometres above the Florida Keys. U.S. experts say the plan is fatally flawed technically and may violate international agreements designed to protect broadcast frequencies from interference. Canadian and Mexican broadcasters have already voiced "strong concern" about the TV antenna blimp, according to the National Association of Broadcasters, the umbrella group representing most U.S. radio and television stations. Association spokesman Susan Kraus says: "We're opposed to the TV proposal because it's a threat to domestic broadcasting. We think it's a waste of money." And the boss of the government agency responsible for U.S. worldwide information activities told Southam News this week that Canadians are understandably concerned over whether' apparent U.S. flouting of international broadcast agreements might spread. "But it's not going to happen," said Marvin Stone, acting director of the U.S. Information Agency. "You (Canadians) don't have a Castro up there." Indeed, only a fixation with Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro explains why the United States persists in a propaganda project that will tarnish the Bush administration internationally when diplomats gather in London this April to compare notes on easing communications under an East-West security agreement. That project is called TV Marti, an electronic extension of Radio Marti, the most extensive U.S. propaganda effort outside of West Berlin. For nearly four years, powerful Radio Marti antennas in the Florida Keys have beamed Spanish-language soap operas, call-in shows, documentaries, popular music and news into Cuba at 1180 on the AM dial. The TV Marti antenna blimp will be tethered at the same location. Radio Marti's goal, like that of the rest of the United States Information Agency, is to "tell the amazing story about the success of the American system around the world," says Edward Feulner, who chairs the advisory panel that overseas the U.S. global propaganda effort, known here as "public diplomacy." Best known of the $600-million-a-year effort is the short-wave Voice of America (VOA), which by charter must "present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively" in broadcast editorials. But the United States Information Agency also operates libraries in 95 countries and arranges extensive educational and cultural exchanges both costing more than the VOA operations. Radio Marti was lorcea on a reluctant vua early in the Reagan era. The station needed instant journalistic credentials because earlier propaganda stations beamed at Cuba were virulently anti-Castro and covertly funded by the Central Intelligence Agency. But naming the station after Jose Marti, Cuba's prophet of independence, was equivalent to "Moscow beaming something called Radio Lincoln across the Bering Strait," editorialized the New York Times back then. So far, TV Marti is meeting an even rougher reception. "At the very time the Soviet Union is ending its jamming of U.S. broadcasters, we should clearly refrain from intrusive broadcasts that would have the effect of jamming TV in Cuba with spill-over interference on American TV and potential hazard to air traffic," says Democratic Senator Claiborne Pell. The domestic TV spillover would be limited to southern Florida, but the National Association of Broadcasters fears that U.S. radio stations could be disrupted half-way across the country. That's because Cuba has several AM radio transmitters capable of 500 kilowatt signals, 10 times the maximum strength permitted in North America. When the U.S. Congress approved initial funding for TV Marti last June, Cuba retaliated by blasting more than 200 kilowatts on seven AM frequencies over several nights. Two Florida stations were knocked off the air and the ionospheric skipwave at night carried the Cuban broadcasts through Tennessee and as far as Chicago and Detroit. Similar events were repeated over the past week and full-power retaliation would easily reach Canada, say engineers here. "The real question is: why is this happening?" asks Tom Kneitel, editor of Popular Communications, a magazine for radio hobbyists. "Castro has been sitting in power for 30 years and it doesn't look like anything we're going to say or do will incite a popular revolt among Cubans to change their government." Tom Korologos has two answers. "If Castro doesn't like it, then I'm for it," says the vice-chairman of the propaganda advisory panel. "I can also give you a political answer. There are a lot of Cubans living in Florida and they've got a lot of clout in the Senate." Chief political backer of TV Marti is Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina, who told fellow lawmakers recently: "Castro likes to tout his revolutionary credentials but he cannot begin to match the revolutionary potential of television." Evidence about the impact of Radio Marti is spotty. At various times, officials have claimed audiences ranging from one million to 2.5 million of Cuba's 10 million inhabitants. Director Ernesto Betancourt says Radio Marti uses extensive audience research to identify information needs on the island. "The Cubans don't seem to mind that this is a station of the U.S. government, because we don't go in and keep telling them about the beauties of the U.S.," Betancourt says. In the end, however, the arguments over ideology, audience research and even international iaw are insignificant next to one technical fact: A one-kilowatt transmitter in Havana would easily scramble TV Marti's 1,000-kilowatt signal. "It doesn't make sense," says Ralph Justus, an engineer with the National Association of Broadcasters. "Congress wants to spend $40 million for two years of operation that could be wiped out by Cuba with a $5,000 jammer." But then, whoever said the Cold War made . sense? iaiii r i n fTm ZJ 1 VU StSjilliis ssi Sffl S 1M The OTTAWA CONSTRUCTION SHOW will save you time and money . . . see over 200 or Ottawa's major suppliers all under one roof . . . profit from special prices available only at the show ... get hard facts from free Info sessions ... get more for Your bucki ttend the Ottawa Construction iShow FeOruary 22 and 23.1989 at trie Congress Centre. 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