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Photo cited by Haig of Nicaraguan genocide was fake

PARIS -- The newspaper Le Figaro admitted the photo used by Secretary of State Alexander Haig to show the Nicaraguan government is massacring its Indians was a 4-year-old picture of Red Cross workers burning casualties of the civil war.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said, 'it is unfortunate that the photo was misidentified.

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Nonetheless, our views on the Nicaraguan treatment of the Miskito Indians remains as it was, as stated by the Secretary of State.'

The photograph in the right-wing publication carried a caption that said, 'the massacre of fiercely anti-Castro Miskito Indians by Nicaragua's Socialist-Marxist barbudos (Cuban advisers) last December. Two Hundred Indians were cut to pieces by grenades and automatic arms.'

On Feb. 19, after meeting with AFL-CIO officials about Nicaragua, Haig said he 'drew their attention, for example, to the photograph in Figaro this week in Paris which showed the most atrocious genocidal actions that are being taken by the Nicaraguan government against their Indian populations along the east coast.'

The French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine revealed the photo published in Le Figaro's weekend magazine in early Frebruary was actually taken four years ago.

The Gamma photo agency, whose photographer took the picture, said it bore the label, 'Nicaragua, September 1978,' but that Figaro magazine had not asked for a caption.

Henri-Christian Giraud, editor of Figaro magazine, said the photograph 'was a mistake.' The Paris newspaper generally supports President Reagan's foreign policy, which accuses the leftist government of Nicaragua of arming Salvadoran rebels.

The magazine this week published a letter from the Nicaraguan Embassy denying the massacre and accusing the magazine of 'playing the game of the U.S. policy in Central America which sends advisers and arms to Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala ...'

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