This past Christmas day, my brother's family gave me some coffee which was nice. I like coffee. I also liked that it was Nicaraguan coffee and free trade coffee, at that. As I looked at the two bags of coffee sitting on the table it brought back some memories......
I thought back to a time about 20 years ago. Reagan and the US government were funding the Contra "rebels" to overthrow the democratically elected Sandinista government which had overthrown the Somoza dictatorship, which had been supported by the US for many, many years. Not only did Reagan help the Contras (they were terrorists,by the way), but he imposed a trade embargo.
I was a member of a group called Trade for Peace which was importing Nicaraguan goods as an act of civil disobedience to the trade embargo. We brought in stamps, some artwork and--------------coffee. A sympathetic local coffee merchant roasted the coffee beans for us in secret. We imported perhaps $3,000 worth of goods.
One day, US Customs made a raid on one of the members in our group. They searched his house from top to bottom. We're talking dressers, the underwear drawer, etc. They confiscated all those evil postage stamps, the coffee, some oil paintings.
We faced some serious charges. It was scary. It was scary that the government could search our homes. It was absolutely bizarre that they spent much more than $3,000 to "apprehend" us. I called the media. We made the "news". Local columnists called the raid ridiculous, which it was.
Eventually, we came to agreement with the government that the charges would be dropped if we promised not to continue our civil disobedience. A bitter irony was that several members of our group had to meet with the US Customs officer who led the "operation", in his Milwaukee office. There, on the wall, was one of the Nicaraguan paintings he and his agents had confiscated in the raid. Irony.
So, there on the table are the two pounds of coffee. Irony. The times, they are a changin'.................