Resisting Reagan: The U.S. Central America Peace Movement
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Focusing on the movement's three most important national campaigns—Witness for Peace, Sanctuary, and the Pledge of Resistance—this book demonstrates the centrality of morality as a political motivator, highlights the importance of political opportunities in movement outcomes, and examines the social structuring of insurgent consciousness. Based on extensive surveys, interviews, and research, Resisting Reagan makes significant contributions to our understanding of the formation of individual activist identities, of national movement dynamics, and of religious resources for political activism.
Resisting Reogon THE U. S. CEN'I'~L AMERIC)l PE.ACE MOVEMENT CHRISTIAN SMITH The University of Chicago Press Chicago and London CHRISTIAN SMITH is assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of The Emergence of Liberation Theology, also published by the University of Chicago Press. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637 The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London ©1996 by The University of Chicago All rights reserved.
government (e.g. Voice of America), clandestine Contra, and religious radio stations transmitted programs into Nicaragua. These far outnumbered Sandinista media in power and number (Frederick 1987). Foreign stations often broadcast anti-Sandinista, pro-Contra messages and news reports. Many of the stations were paid by the CIA to do so (Chamorro 1987: 25-26; Nelson-Pallmeyer 1989: 45).10 Mainstream stations, for example, often warned listeners of the "communist threat" of Nicaragua, sometimes
Contras from foreign governments, including $30 million from Saudi Arabia, and had diverted to the Contras millions of dollars of profits from secret and illegal arms sales to Iran. According to the report of the Tower Commission that investigated the Iran-Contra affair (quoted in Barry, Vergara and Castro 1988: 80), "The National Security Council [was] led by reckless cowboys, off on their own wild ride, taking direct operational control of matters that are the customary province of more sober
organizations provided newly emerging movement carriers by promoting them throughout their communication networks. Such infusions of money and diffusion of publicity at critical moments in organizations' development can make the difference between political insignificance and the rapid expansion to positions of influence. Interestingly, for all of their importance in assisting the formation of new movement carriers, preexistent movement-midwife organizations appeared to have been fairly
the crucifixion has taken on new meaning for me: it is through suffering, I have learned from the refugees, that we learn compassion. Hearing the testimonies of Salvadoran refugees in Sanctuary, whose stories greatly differed from the tale my government was spreading, was for me the beginning of a decade of ongoing political activism. The refugees' personal stories were greatly effective in generating this kind of insurgent consciousness for two reasons. First, they effectively transformed the