IF YOU LISTENED closely to Ronald Reagan's bill of particulars against the Nicaraguan government during his joint address to Congress, you might have thought it deserved to be overthrown. And you might also have thought that he should be launching secret wars against two other Latin American regimes who are committing all the crimes he charged and more and have been for a long time.
He said for instance that Nicaraguan regime came out of the "barrel of a gun." So, for that matter did Argentina's and Chile's. He noted that Nicaragua has not held elections. Nobody has seen the inside of a polling booth since the generals shot their way to power in Buenos Aires and Santiago, either.
He said that the Sandinistas had abused the Miskito Indians -- driven them from their homelands, forced them into internment camps.
For many Argentins and Chileans, an internment camp might look like a resort. Hundreds and thousands of them have been put through interrogation centers, where they were subjected to brutal tortures which many of them did not survive.
The Reagan administration quivers with rage over the Miskitos. The Nicaraguan Minister of Justice Carlos Arguellos came through Washington recently, claiming that the Sandinistas were simply trying to remove the Indians from harm's way -- out of reach of CIA recruiters looking for soldiers to sign up in its secret war. That may be neither here nor there.
No one has charged that the Sandinistas are systematically torturing, kidnaping and murdering their dissident fellow-citizens, which practices are the official state policy in Chile and Argentina. Their human rights violations have been copiously documented by human rights and church groups by the unimpeachable Amnesty International. The valiant Argentine women, the mothers of the Plaza of May, who march around the government square every Thursday demanding to know the whereabouts of their "disappeared" children have not let the world forget that even babies are not safe under the provenance of the generals.
The Chilean Commission on Human Rights reports that 1982 was the worst recent year in the bloody history of the junta, which overthrew the government of Salvador Allende 10 years ago this September.
In its latest grisly report, Amnesty reports that hundreds of Chileans have been tortured in a secret center, with trained Chilean medical personnel participating.
One instance: "A 33-year-old human rights worker being treated for epilepsy said he was electrically tortured after being tied naked to a metal bed and that a doctor examined him in between torture sessions."
But we have not said a word or dispatched a single helicopter or sent a single spook to mobilize counterrevolutionaries to topple the torturers.
On the contrary, we are doing everything we can to keep them going. President Pinochet is in terminal economic trouble. Although once hailed by his great friend, U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, as a "model" which shared our economic goals, the Chilean economy is barely breathing.
Presented with a perfect opportunity to give the coup de grace to the illegitimate tyrant regime, the Reagan administration has rushed forward to lift it from its knees.
When the Chileans applied for a $400 million emergency loan, the Treasury granted them a $144-million Commodity Credit Corporation guarantee. The Federal Reserve Board assured the private U.S. banks from which Chile borrows millions that Chile's credit was good and put in a word for it with the IMF.
Sens. Edward Kennedy and William Proxmire protested that this is in violation of the law that curtails assistance to Chile. They pointed out in a letter to Treasury Secretary Donald Regan that Chile has made no progress in human rights, and refused to find and charge the government thugs who killed Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffit in Washington in 1976.
And while he burns at the injustices to the Miskitos, Reagan has not even noticed that the military dictatorship of Argentina recently exonerated itself from any blame in the disappearance of as many as 15,000 Argentines during the 1970s. In an obscene report, the generals called the secret mass murders "a service to the country" in its "dirty war against the left."
The Spanish, Italian and French governments and the Vatican issued furious statements of condemnation. The United States is still thinking of what to say.
What are the Nicaraguans doing wrong? Why do they get machine gun fire and mercenaries while Chile and Argentina get money and "silence." They are Marxists, and to the Reagan administration to be a Marxist is the only actionable human rights violation on the books.