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Family Friend Blames American’s Death in Nicaragua on U

April 29, 1987

Family Friend Blames American’s Death in Nicaragua on U.S. Government With AM-Nicaragua-American

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ An American volunteer reported killed by Contra rebels while working in Nicaragua was described by a family friend as a bright young man sympathetic to the Sandinista government.

″We as a country killed that boy,″ Howard Glazer said Tuesday night about the death of Benjamin Linder, a 27-year-old working as a mechanical engineer in a small village in northern Nicaraguan.

″It was our bullet,″ said Glazer, an architect and friend of Linder’s family as he stood Tuesday night near the home of Linder’s parents, David and Elisabeth Linder.

A neighbor said the elder Linders were vacationing in California, but did not know where.

A spokesman for the Nicaraguan government said Linder was killed by a group of six Contras who walked into his office at 8 a.m. in the village of La Camaleona where he was working on the construction of a small hydroelectric plant. The village in Jinotega province is 85 miles northeast of Managua.

Eduardo Griffin Noland of the activist group Witness for Peace, quoted witnesses as saying Linder died during a grenade and gunfire attack that also killed two Nicaraguans.

It was the first reported death of an American working for the Sandinista government in the war between the leftist government and U.S.-backed rebels. Kirsten Moller, a 31-year-old San Francisco millwright, said Tuesday night that she had worked with Linder in Nicaragua to plan another hydroelectric project.

″They were very aware that it was a very dangerous area,″ Moller said about Linder and his co-workers. ″And that was one of the reasons that the project was so important. The peasants there needed to be brought together so that they could protect themselves because they were being killed in isolation.″

She said the power plant was designed to run a lumber mill, which would help make resettlement economically viable.

″I never saw him carry a weapon,″ Moller said about Linder. ″He was not there to fight a war. He was there to build.″

William Seaman, a friend and fellow engineer, said he warned Linder about potential danger when he visited Managua in November.

″We said, ’Ben, maybe the Contras won’t kill Americans, but a land mine isn’t going to discriminate,‴ Seaman said in an interview at his Portland home.

Seaman, a member of the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, said Linder was a graduate of the University of Washington School of Engineering.

″He was willing to take the risks because it was important to him,″ Seaman said. ″He was wanting to give something to the people of Nicaragua who he really loved dearly.″

Glazer called Linder one of the best and brightest young men he knew.

″He was sympathetic to what Nicaraguans were trying to do with their ravaged land,″ Glazer said. ″His death was caused by us, by our country supporting bandits.″

Linder’s father is a retired pathologist who worked at the Oregon Health Sciences University. Mrs. Linder works for the Washington County Public Defender’s office as a trial assisant and had worked for the county’s welfare agencies.

Both were active in a movement to make the Nicaraguan port city of Corinto a sister city of Portland.

″His parents knew it was dangerous,″ Glazer said of Linder’s death. ″His mother and father were always concerned for his safety.″

The Nicaraguan government official, who declined to be identified as is the procedure, said Linder had been working as a volunteer in northern Nicaragua for two years.

He came to Nicaragua in 1985 to work for the Nicaraguan Energy Institute.

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