Junior Studies Role of Youth During Mission to Nicaragua

A Harvard junior who recently returned from an international fact-finding mission in Nicaragua said yesterday he was amazed "by the extraordinary extent to which young people are involved in determining the policies of both the Sandinists junta and opposition" parties there.

Jonathan H. Spalter `84, of New York City and Mather House, spent ten days in Nicaragus as the American representative in a delegation of eight young liberal activists. He studled the effect of the ruling military government's polices on the students and young adults of that country.

The fact-finding tour which was sponsored by the Partido Liberal Independiente--a Nicaraguan party opposed to the Sandinsta regime--met with the ministers of housing. Health, Education, and Labor as well as the leaders of various opposition parties, civil activists, and the archbishop of Nicuragua. The delegation was given permission to travel freely in all parts of the country, Spalter said.

Over 50 percent of the Nicaraguan population is under 20-years-old, he said and youth organizations are given a large influence in the development of Sandinista policy through a permanent seat on the State Council, the country's prime decision-making body.

Under the revolutionary Sandinista government, which has controlled the country since the overthrow of Anastasid Sornaza in 1979, educational opportunities have also become more egalitarian, Spalter said, "Education is no longer the province of only wealthy Nicaraguans." Spalter explained, adding, "it's a great advance."


Spalter also said he was impressed by the willingness of the Nicaraguan people to discuss their political views, even those in direct conflict with policies of the Sandinistas government. Western countries have repeatedly accused the Sandinistas of repression of civil liberties and free speech.

"The notion that the Sandinists are a paranoic, oppressive group of communists is simply not true," said Spalter's a Fine Arts major. "I certainly didn't run into anyone who was scared to tell me of his political opposition to the Sandinism regime," he added The junta has said they plan to institute democracy in Nicaragua with the 1985 elections.