US Accuses Sandinistas of Anti-Semitic RemarksGEORGE GEDDA , Associated Press
Jan. 22, 1990 5:46 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department accused the Nicaraguan government Monday of using anti-Semitic remarks to try to discredit what the Sandinistas contend is a bungled U.S. effort to help finance the Nicaraguan electoral process.
At issue is an editorial in last Thursday's edition of the government- control led newspaper ''Barricada'' which tried to explain why the ''Yankee bureaucracy'' has had difficulty in disbursing the money.
The editorial said there has been an ''excessive distrust'' by the ''Yankees'' toward the leading opposition coalition in Nicaragua and attributes this to the ''traditional 'Jew-style' with which the U.S. Congress manages the taxes of the taxpayers.''
Congress, with the stated aim of promoting fair elections, has approved funds for such politically neutral projects as verifying voter registration lists and training poll watchers. Other funds were earmarked for the opposition coalition led by presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro.
With the election just five weeks away, however, only a small fraction of the money has been delivered to the designated recipients. Partly as a result, the opposition campaign has been far less visible than the Sandinistas'.
State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler blamed the Sandinista government for the logjam in the disbursement of the U.S. funds and ridiculed the Barricada's comments.
''The Nicaraguan government is doing everything in its power to block moneys designed by Congress to help level the playing field for the opposition,'' she said.
''To resort to anti-Semitism in its attempt to explain to Nicaraguans why it has failed to live up to the promises it made ... to the national opposition is contemptible and does a profound disservice to the Nicaraguan people, to Congress and to all who want open, free and fair elections in February.''
The funds earmarked for Nicaragua are channeled through the National Endowment for Democracy, which uses international affiliates of the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties as conduits.
The Barricada editorial makes references to two officials of the National Democratic Institite, Ken Wollack and Barry Feierstein. It claimed that the funds earmarked for the election campaign are being diverted by Nicaraguan opposition leaders for ''renovating their homes and purchasing new cars.''
Wollack, the executive vice president of the institute, refused comment on the editorial. Feierstein was not available for comment.
The Reagan administration frequently charged the Sandinista government with anti-Semitic activities but was hard-pressed to back up its allegations.
President Reagan's allegations were undercut by his own ambassador to Managua, Anthony Quainton, who said in a secret July 1983 memo that ''the evidence fails to demonstrate that the Sandinistas have followed a policy of anti-Semitism or have persecuted Jews solely because of their religion.
''Although most members of Nicaragua's tiny Jewish community have left the country and some have had their properties confiscated, there is no direct correlation between their Jewish religion and the treatment they received from the ( Sandinistas),'' Quainton's memo said.