A well-known columnist came into my office the other day and asked, "who are you for. Somoza or the Commies in Nicaragua?"

"Why do I only have a choice between a dictator and the Communists? Why can't I be for Lopez?"

"Who's Lopez?"

"I don't know who Lopez is. Let's say he's the guy in the middle who hates Somoza and can't stand the Communists."

"Because Lopez would get eaten up by the Commies. If you're for the American interests in Central America you have to be for Somoza."

"I don't want to be for Somoza. He's a tyrant and from what I read, a crook. He's milked the country dry for 40 years. I hope he gets bounced out on his ear."

What he is and what he does is not our concern. Do you realize if the other side kicks Somoza out, the Commies will have a dagger pointing right at the Panama Canal?"

"Maybe so. But it's obvious Somoza can't hold on much longer, and we should see to it that Lopez is pro-American too. We're not going to do it if he keep training Somoza's national guard officers to shoot the Nicaraguan people."

"So what you're saying is that we should get in bed with Castro?"

"I'm saying no such thing. All I'm saying is that I don't see why we always have to support a military junta when the people want to throw the rascals out."

"It's quite simple. Most of the generals in South America have been trained at West Point, including Somoza. They speak English and you can do business with them. You let the people take over and you'll have another Cuba in six months."

"Not if we support Lopez," I said. "The reason the Commies have a chance of taking over is because the people know we're on Somoza's side."

"You're living in a dream world," the columnist said. "Lopez doesn't have the strength to run a middle-of-the road government."

"He would if we gave him as much military hardware as we've given Somoza. The only thing that's keeping Somoza in power is the stuff we've sold him. Why can't we give it to Lopez?"

"Because if we give the stuff to Lopez it will eventually fall into the hands of the Commies when they topple him. The only way Lopez can stay in power is by being anti-American."

"The people of Nicaragua are only anti-American because they know we support Somoza. If we said we were supporting Lopez we wouldn't get outselves in a Marxist box."

"How can you be so sure of Lopez? We know what we've got with Somoza. He may be a S.O.B. but he's OUR S.O.B."

"So that means we have to support S.O.B.'s all over the world because it's in our best interests?"

"Everytime we don't we get another Allende."

"But he was elected by the people and we knocked him off."

"With good reason. We haven't had to worry about Chile since."

"I'm not going to support Somoza no matter what you say."

"Okay, but when Lopez nationalizes the United Fruit Co.," my friend said, "Don't come crying to me."