Reagan Central America Policy Defended

Abrams Claims No Alternative

Amid tight security, the assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs defended the Reagan Administration's policies in Central America last night before an almost full Kennedy School Forum.

Elliott Abrams '69 argued that there is no alternative to supporting the Nicaraguan Contras in their fight to overthrow the Sandinista government "unless you suggest that it's okay to have a communist country in Central America subverting its neighbors."

Any accord between Nicaragua and the United States that would sever aid to the Contras in return for a Sandinista pledge not to help revolutionary movements outside the country would end support for democracy in Nicaragua, Abrams argued.

Responding to a question from the audience, the assistant secretary said he thinks the 20,000 Contras can overcome the Sandinistas.

In his response to Abrams, Professor of Government Jorge I. Dominguez said he does not think the policy of supporting the Contras is likely to bring democracy to Nicaragua.



Kennedy School Lecturer in Public Policy Gregory H. Treverton, the other respondent, said that although he is uneasy with support for the Contras, the existence of the group has deterred the Sandinista government from aiding revolutionaries in neighboring countries.

Abrams said that aside from the Sandinistas, the main enemies of democracy in Latin America are overpopulation, the debt crisis and the combination of narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

Not only does terrorism corrupt governments and militaries, but terrorists and narcotics traffickers also work together to further their respective aims, Abrams said.

As about 30 protesters chanted slogans outside before Abrams' address, secret service agents and Harvard policemen checked bags at the door.

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