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Wednesday, 01 March 2017 02:54

“Light for the People”

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Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss – Portland Chapter

“My son was brutally murdered for bringing electricity to a few poor people in northern Nicaragua. He was murdered because he had a dream and because he had the courage to make that dream come true. ... Ben told me the first year that he was here, and this is a quote, ‘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.’ ”

Elizabeth Linder spoke thus at her son’s funeral in Nicaragua after he was shot at close range by the Contras in 1987. Ben Linder’s death at the hands of the Reagan-supported Contras made headlines in his hometown, Portland, and around the nation. The death of Linder, coming as Congressional hearings investigated the Iran-Contra Affair, fueled the debate in the US over the covert war in Nicaragua. The next year, Congress refused to renew aid to the Contras. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Linder)

Kitty Madden, a Maryknoll Affiliate who has worked many years at Casa Materna in Nicaragua, added: “This year in April we mark the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Ben and his Nicaraguan co-workers. His friend Rebecca Leaf and dozens of Nicaraguan workers continue his dream/passion of bringing light to the people of rural communities in northern Nicaragua.” 

El Payaso, a bilingual play by Emilio Rodriguez about Ben Linder and his legacy, premiered in January at Portland, Oregon’s Milagro Theater. (http://milagro.org/event/el-payaso/) The play advocates following your passions and working to make the world better. The Milagro touring company has performances and workshops on environmental issues scheduled at high schools and colleges across the country. In the play’s closing scene, actors wave protest signs for “Black Lives Matter,” “Water = Life, ” “NO Pipeline,” and a blank sign for which they ask,

“What’s your passion?”



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