Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ben Linder 1959-1987

Benjamin Linder was a young US engineer killed in an ambush on April 28, 1987 In El Cua, Nicaragua during the height of the Contra War. He and two Nicaraguans were cold bloodedly murdered by a group of CIA-funded Contras while working on a small hydroelectric dam that was to bring electricity and water to the village. Linder's death made front-page headlines around the world and polarized opinion in the United States.

Linder's murder and the revelations of more brutality led to softening of support in the U.S. for the covert war in Nicaragua. Congress prohibited any military aid to the Contras, but Ronald Reagan and his henchman Oliver North found a way to subvert that and led to the Iran-Contra scandal that should have defeated Reagan but to amazement, never did.

Linder, an engineer by training and a clown/juggler by hobby, was inspired by Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution. He came during the middle of the Contra war to support efforts to improve the lives of the country's poorest people. Many of us do that today. It was common for the Contras, who were of course against the Sandinistas, to attack projects aimed to help the poor, so as to weaken the people's support of the Revolution. Linder, simply was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Incredibly, his death was brushed off by the leading Republicans (there you go again, assholes) of the administration. One senator told Linder's mother that "she was using her son's death to politicize the situation and told her "I don't want to be tough on you, but I really feel you have asked for it". The official spokesperson for the White House said basically the same thing.

Linder's take on it: "It's a wonderful feeling to work in a country where the government's first concern is for its people, for all of its people. "

The singer Sting wrote a song in honor of Ben Linder in 1987 called "Fragile". A Ben Linder House in Managua carries on his work.

Rest in Peace Ben Linder. Know that some of your work goes on.

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