Pubdate: Saturday, 23 January 1999
Section: Page - B3, Letters of the Week
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Author: Frank Chavarria, Toronto


To feel love for two countries is a difficult commitment. The
suffering one observes in each becomes one's own. In early November,
Hurricane Mitch devastated Nicaragua; on New Year's Eve, an avalanche
took the lives of 10 people in northern Quebec.

Ten years after leaving Nicaragua, I still feel an intense bond with
my first country. By the miracle of the Internet, it is possible to
preserve that bond. And recent news from Nicaragua distresses me.

Agro-Hemp, a Canadian company growing hemp in Nicaragua for commercial
purposes, has been discredited as a producer of illegal drugs. On Dec.
23, the American Drug Enforcement Agency issued a report to the
Managua police that Agro-Hemp's crop was, in fact, marijuana.

With no further legal procedure, the company's viable crop was
destroyed. The DEA's report, according to the Managua police, stated
that the crop contained 3 per cent THC. But why was no analysis by a
neutral agency required?

Since release of the DEA report, many professionals have submitted
letters to Nicaraguan newspapers pointing out that plants with less
than a 5 per cent concentration of THC are useless as an illicit drug.

I most certainly do not defend anyone's traffic in illegal drugs. But
the more I read of the circumstances surrounding this affair, the more
it seems to me it has been driven by vested economic and political
interests in disregard for a poor country's need for

How many Canadian companies will be discouraged from investing in
Nicaragua alter such an affair?

And from whence comes such credibility granted in Nicaragua to an
agency of the American government -- the same government that planted
so many thousands of land mines in Nicaragua in the 1980s?

Perhaps, finally, this is about a continued American desire to control
Nicaragua. Meanwhile, in my love for both my countries, I am
distressed for what both Canadians and Nicaraguans have lost in this

Frank Chavarria, Toronto

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