Reagan didn’t fire gun, but supplied the bullets

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From: Andrew Bounds, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire.

I WAS astonished to read your Editorial likening Ronald Reagan to Nelson Mandela (Yorkshire Post, July 6).

You describe the former US president as a “global force for good”. Try telling that to the tens of thousands of people, many unarmed peasants, in El Salvador and Guatemala who were murdered, tortured or imprisoned by regimes funded and armed by his administration in the 1980s. Faced with a Congressional ban on sending arms to the Contra rebels fighting Left wing Sandinista rule in Nicaragua, his administration came up with a secret plan.

It paid Iran, a state branded terrorist by the US at the time, to supply the weapons to a movement with scant popular support. One does not have to wonder what Iran did with the money. There were communist elements among the guerrillas of Central America but their voice within what were diverse and in many cases democratic mass movements were only strengthened by US rhetoric and paranoia, which saw the hand of the USSR behind every popular uprising and believed it a vital front in the Cold War.

Some may recall that Osama bin Laden and other mujahideen commanders in Afghanistan were also encouraged and financed by the Reagan administration, since they opposed the USSR.

The statue you refer to bears an inscription that Mr Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot. He may not have fired the gun, but he provided many of the bullets, and plenty of innocents were killed.