Nicaragua 1984: Swirl In The Eye Of The Storm
SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues
The strife in Nicaragua, while originating in
legitimate grievances against the corrupt Somoza
dictatorship, had ceased early after the 1979 revolution to
be a strictly internal affair. Successfully applying the
six historical lessons of communism in Latin America,
Nicaragua became a new ally in the Third World in the Soviet
offensive against the West. This was accomplished by direct
Cuban and Soviet sponsored military involvement, and massive
arms transfers to achieve political goals through military
violence. Nicaragua as a result, possesses a military
capability superior to all its neighbors combined. The
novel application of this strategy was the use of proxy
forces which enables Moscow to disclaim direct
responsibility, and to avoid confrontation with the United
States. Arms deliveries, which play a significant role in
furthering Soviet hegemony, have been accompanied with
thousands of Cuban, Soviet, and surrogate revolutionary
advisors, in military, educational, technical, and medical
capacities. Many of these personnel have a direct bearing
on the daily command and management decisions in Nicaragua,
and on the exportation of violence to neighboring countries
such as El Salvador.
The United States has been waging political and
economic warfare to force Nicaragua to embrace a more
pluralistic form of government. The Central Intelligence
Agency is also waging a "not so secret" war by backing a
loose coalition of counterrevolutionaries which have
achieved only limited success because of the lack of a
coherent strategy, internal strife, and absence of a
unifying and charismatic leadership.
The Report of the Bipatisan Commission on Latin America
has recommended an $8.9 billion "Marshall Plan" (75%
economic and 25% military aid) to promote regional
stability. Liberal critics call for negotiated settlements
with leftist guerillas and Marxist juntas. They decry the
bipartisan report as being an extension of Reagan
administration policy that will lead to direct U.S. military
involvement. Both Liberals and Conservatives agree that if
immediate action is not accomplished to ameliorate the
position of the Sandista Regime in Nicaragua, the U.S. will
be plummeted into a costly and long Vietnam type war that
could result in 5,000 killed, 18,000 wounded, and still not
accomplish long term objectives of peace.
WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR
Swirl in the Eye of the Storm
Major J. W. Wilson, USMC
2 April 1984
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
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Nicaragua, 285 miles from the strategic Panama Canal
and 1085 miles from Brownsville, Texas, prepares daily for
invasion by United States military forces. Latin American
advocacy groups in the nation's Capitol subscribe to a
poster which reads, "No Mas Vietnams en Centro-America Y El
Caribe" (No more Vietnams in Central America and the
Caribbean). The U.S. Congress contemplates a massive $8.9
billion "Marshall Plan" submitted by The Bipartisan
Commission on Latin America, headed by former Secretary of
State, Henry Kissinger. Fervent Catholic and Protestant
religious groups under a wave of "liberation theology"
influence, call for dramatic and sometimes non-pacifist
involvement to protest social, economic, and political
injustices suffered by a majority of Latin Americans.
Interest groups, members of Congress, clergy, and even wives
of aspiring presidential candidates, make fact-finding trips
and contribute to information and misinformation campaigns
to shape U.S. public and world opinion. Defense analysts
meet weekly in the White House to discuss Central America
and assess the threat of infectious communism on our
borders, and funding requirements for guerrilla groups
operating against the Sandinist Regime of Nicaragua. and
assuredly, military operation plans are being intensely
studied and readied in the Pentagon and U.S. Army Southern
Command, to halt Soviet and Cuban designs on the Caribbean
Basin and the "soft underbelly" of the U.S..
The 25 October, 1983 invasion of Grenada by U.S. Marine
and Army personnel, demonstrated U.S. resolve to prevent
further communist political ascendency, in and around a sea
described by Alfred Thayer Mahan, as "the American
Mediterranean." Another vital interest threatened by Soviet
and Cuban hegemony is the interoceanic canal, about which
President Hayes theorized as the great ocean thoroughfare
between the Atlantic and Pacific, and "virtually a part of
the coastline of the United States."
The Marxist junta in Nicaragua is presently enjoying a
lull but is still running scared. They realize more fully,
that with little warning, history could repeat itself. Over
the horizon, feared U.S. Marines with battleships and
screaming dive bombers, may come as before, to restore
"orderly government" and regional tranquility. So Nicaragua
waits, training physically and psychologically for the next
If more than a hint of urgency is apparent, it is
because the dynamics of the situation demand agressive near-
term action in the social, economic, political and military
arenas. One thing is certain -- Nicaragua, El Salvador,
Honduras, Guatamala, Costa Rica, and Panama will become more
common household words during the next year.
The primary scope of this paper is to sketch the
significant events in Nicaragua since 19 July, 1979, when
leftist guerrillas overthrew the corrupt Somoza
dictatorship, to March of 1984. Although the original
intent was to analyze unconvential warfare tactics of U.S.
supported counterrevolutionaries, one cannot fully
appreciate Nicaragua's current history, without embracing
the complexities of its past. The issues are sometimes gut
wrenching and cut deeply into moral, political, and
religious sentiments. Current literature, most of it
liberal, carries a bias that would lead one to believe that
the U.S. should acquiesce to communist regimes because of
past sins which promoted economic exploitation and
oppressive dictatorships. On the other hand, official
government publications, supported by substantive
intelligence reports, contend that the presence of another
Marxist-Leninist regime in our Southern borders, is a
deliberate and strategic ploy of the Soviet Union for
eventual global domination.
What will be provided in this brief thesis, is an
appreciation for Nicaragua's history, U.S. presence, the
rise and maintenance of a 43 year Somoza dynasty, a
revolution, a CIA backed insurgency, and potential options
for conflict resolution. It is at best, a chronicle of
events which have not yet reached a climax. It is hoped
that this paper will serve as a "pin prick" for the reader
to encourage more exhaustive reading, and to gain a
comprehensive understanding of the United States' next
The opinions presented herein are solely those of the
author and in no way represent official views of the
Department of Defense, the United States Navy, or the United
States Marine Corps.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents vi
List of Figures viii
1. Nicaragua Facts 1
2. A Tortured History 7
The Military Caste System 9
An Era of Intervention 11
Zelaya - Champion of Nationalism 17
U.S. Marines - First Occupation 20
U.S. Marines - Second Occupation 22
General Augusto Cesar Sandino - Folk Hero 22
Somoza - Vestige of Marine Presence 24
The Second Somoza 25
The Third Somoza - The Last Marine 26
The Final Offensive 31
3. A Cog in the Wheel of Soviet Hegemony 35
The Three Tendencies 37
A Revolution Betrayed 39
U.S. Vital Interests in the Caribbean 40
Six Lessons of Communism for Latin America 44
The Militarization of Nicaragua 57
PLO Connections 62
Cubans, Cubans, Everywhere 65
4. The Not So Secret War 71
Contra Organizations 73
Nicaragua Democratic Force (FDN) 75
Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (ARDE) 79
Congressional Limits on Covert Aid 87
U.S. Presence in Honduras 89
5. Options for the Future 95
The Kissinger Report 97
The Report of the Carnegie Endownment
for International Peace 105
The Military Option 106
Chapter One 6
Chapter Two 33
Chapter Three 68
Chapter Four 92
Chapter Five 114
U.S. Government Documents and Contract Reports 117
Magazine and Periodical Articles on Nicaragua 119
Unpublished Sources 122
Newspaper Articles 123
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1-1 Map of Central America 2
Figure 1-2 OAS Map of Nicaragua 3
Figure 1-3 Ethnic Composition and Population
Figure 3-1 Organization, Command and Control
of the Armed forces 56
Figure 3-2 Major Central American Arms
Figure 3-3 The Sandinista's Arsenal 61
Figure 3-4 PLO Connections 64
Figure 4-1 Contra Pressure Points 74
CHAPTER ONE: NICARAGUAN FACTS 1/
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America
(57,143 square miles -- slightly larger than Iowa) and is
the geographic center of the region. (See Figure 1-1.)
Straddled between the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans,
Nicaragua is bordered on the north by El Salvador and
Honduras, both contending with leftist insurgents. To the
south lies politically neutral Costa Rica, which has no
military and is the only land buffer between Nicaragua and
Panama. (See Figure 1-2.) Both Honduras and Costa Rica
provide sanctuaries to Counterrevolutionary forces seeking
to topple the Marxist junta in Nicaragua. Nicaragua, on the
other hand, provides sanctuary for communist insurgents
operating throughout Central America.
Of Nicaragua's total 1980 population of 2.67 million,
715,000 or approximately 27%, resided in the capital city of
Managua. Nicaragua's population has traditionally been
unevenly distributed and in 1980, 61% of the inhabitants
resided in the fertile plains and nearby Pacific highlands,
about 30% lived in the Central highlands, and the remaining
10% dwelt in the Atlantic coastal province of Zelaya. The
median age of the populace is 30 years. The annual growth
rate is projected at 2.8 percent.
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The predominant cultural heritage of the western urban
and highlands areas is Spanish, with Spanish as the primary
language and Roman Catholicism adhered to by 85-90% of all
inhabitants. The population centered around Bluefields on
the eastern coast, retains some native Indian influence, but
its past was shaped by European and western traditions, as
well as by black minorities originating from Jamaica and
other Caribbean islands. Protestantism, especially the
Moravian denomination, is most influential in this region
where English is the primary language. Miskito is the
predominant Indian language, also spoken in the East. (See
Figure 1-3 for Ethnic Compositon and population
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There are three major geographical regions. The
Pacific region is characterized by a line of still active
volcanoes, which intrude from a large structural rift that
forms a long narrow depression from the Gulf of Fonseca
shared by Honduras and El Salvador in the northwest, to the
Rio San Juan drainage into the Caribbean. Lake Nicaragua
and Lake Managua, the two largest freshwater lakes in
Central America, are located in this rift valley. The
Atlantic Coast region encompasses half the national
territory and is characterized as a lowland region abounding
in tropical savannas and numerous rivers which flow eastward
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to the sea. In between the eastern and western regions are
the Central Highlands, which are more extensive in the
Nicaragua's chief products are cotton, coffee, beef,
Chapter One: Nicaragua Facts
1. U.S. Department of State. Background Notes:
Nicaragua. Bureau of Public Affairs. DOS Pub. 7772.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, January 1983.
CHAPTER TWO: A TORTURED HISTORY
The Report of the National Bipartisan Commission on
Central America headed by Dr. Henry Kissinger, was tasked by
President Reagan to develop "long term United States policy
that will best respond to the challenges of social,
economic, and democratic development in the region and to
internal and external threats to its security and
stability. " 1/ The "Kissinger Commission" in its report of
10 January 1984, provided both long and short term
recommendations which will be discussed later. Most
importantly, the commission deduced that the problems of
Central America are extremely complex and cannot be simply
reduced to black and white, East and West, North and South,
or rich and poor issues. The problems are inextricably
woven together and do not require U.S. imposed solutions.
They demand Central American solutions to long problems of
social injustice, corruption, and repression. Obviously,
the U.S. has vital interests at stake in any regional
resolution and must exercise its will in a manner which will
not distance the possibility of long term stability. The
U.S. must also learn from past failures in the region, most
stemming from self-serving interests of strategic and
economic enhancement that ignored the volatile welfare
issues of the Central American people.
The entrenchment of a communist government in Nicaragua
did not have its genesis in the past several decades. The
seeds of revolution have germinated for centuries. A
century and a half relationship with Nicaragua has witnessed
a U.S. policy which has "alternated erratically between the
obsessive and the negligent." 2/ Obsessive policy has
culminated in active Marine Corps intervention to establish
client-governments, without regard to the exploitation and
corruption these governments generated. Negligent policy
has resulted in sending U.S. Ambassadors who could not speak
Spanish and who insulated themselves from fundamental
cultural and sociological ills as well as the unique and
dynamic impact of Latin America military institutions upon
society. Neglect has meant focusing significantly on the
Atlantic and the Pacific alliances as the centerpieces of
strategic interests, and only intermittently concentrating
on relationships with southern neighbors. And for
Nicaragua, neglect in policy resulted in the Somoza family
dictatorship becoming the longest lasting in Latin America.
Although staunchly pro-U.S., the dictatorship systematically
developed the machinery for graft and corruption which would
eventually lead to chaos and revolution in Nicaragua. Many
members of Somoza's National Guard, following the example of
their leader, turned positions in customs, immigration, and
police into wholesale smuggling operations and
opportunities for self-enrichment. Even at the private
soldier level, extortion of peasants had become a way of
life. Those without power, social affluence, or money
always bear the brunt of exploitation. Nicaragua was no
exception and the average citizen paid the price, having no
redress for that which the Guardia expropriated from them or
their homes. As Somoza's guard alienated more of the
civilian population, they evolved into a distinct social
caste. The deeds they exercised were merely an extension of
traditions grounded in the cultural past.
The Military Caste System
A major flaw of U.S. foreign policy has been a failure
to recognize the heritage of Central American armed forces,
and the military organization's contribution to violence and
complex political issues. The power vested in the Nicaragua
Guardia National, complicated pressures by the U.S. to force
Somoza to end or modify his repressive style. Professor
Richard Millett, analyst of Nicaraguan politics, succinctly
describes Somoza and the National Guard:
They are plagued by conflicting and often
contradictory trends, a situation which
consistently frustrates the efforts to control the
power which they possess. The armies are a
bulwark against Communism but at the same time,
their corruption and abuses of human rights
provide invaluable propaganda and recruits for the
radical left. Deeply rooted in regional history
and tradition, the military is also one of the
most modern institutions in each nation. Highly
dependent on external support, it is also strongly
nationalistic and even xenophopic. 3/
An enduring concept, surviving from 18th century
Spanish colonialism, was that of "fuero militar" which
provided exemption of armed forces members from the
jurisdiction of civil courts. It was this principle which
gave rise to the military and emergence of Somoza's National
Guard as an elite class. Military service provided an
opportunity for individuals to gain power, superior
positions, and to advance personal interests without regard
for civil law. This process was facilitated as officers
gathered immense wealth through corruption, and surrounded
themselves with loyalists who were given a "share of the
pie." This was accomplished with relative civil immunity.
Those Nicaraguans abused, notably the poor and Indian
populations, had no recourse for legal grievances. The
colonial emphasis on class also nurtured a patron-client
relationship between officers and men, a relationship which
exists today among many Latin American armies. Instead of
soldiers being loyal to civil officials or their nation,
they were loyal to local commanders. Commanders controlled
pay, discipline, promotion, and participation in schemes of
graft and corruption. Officers who revolted against
government authorities could, therefore, count on the
support of their subordinate commanders and men. In order
to win military allegiance, governments were forced to
negotiate with officers who controlled considerable power
bases. Officers, frequently from prominent families, became
in reality armed partisans of the power in party, and
assured perpetuation of family interests. 4/ Elite sectors
of the society also wooed their own military allies,
influencing them through family ties and promises for key
positions in new governments. The "Coup de Force" became
the normal means of transferring power in the national
sector, rather than by civil means such as elections. To
the poor and disenfranchised, this meant replacement of one
repressive regime with another just as repressive.
Incorporated into Central American struggles was the
philosophy gained from the American Revolution -- that any
people had the right to choose their own government.
Independence and liberty became the cry of Latin America as
nations revolted to free themselves from Spanish and
Portuguese domination. New governments were, in part,
copied after that of the U.S.. While neither endorsed full
pluralism, the distinctive difference in Latin America was
the influence of "fuero militar" into political struggles of
An Era of Intervention
Internal conflict in Nicaraguan history facilitated
foreign intervention. With revolutions fomenting, and
imminent loss of Spanish colonial rule in the early 19th
century, there was a loss of the external stabilizing force
that tended to keep the elites and their armies at bay. By
1838, chaos and interregional power struggles erupted
between the principal Nicaraguan cities of Leon and Granada.
Historically, the conservatives or aristocrats were
associated with the cultural center at Granada, while the
Liberals of Leon represented the successful middle classes
of artisians and businessmen. The strong Catholic church
hierarchy considered the people of Leon as culturally
inferior and sided with the leaders of Granada. The
Catholic church as one of the most stable institutions of
society, continued to play a primary role in power
struggles. The church served as a vehicle of appeal for the
influential as well as for mobilizing popular support for
various causes. Strife bred strife, and interest groups
pitted their private armies against one another until power
disputes were resolved. 5/
The British, who had maintained a protectorate over the
Miskito Indians on the Atlantic coast, took early advantage
of internal strife and sought to consolidate a position in
Nicaragua which was considered the key to Central America.
Of no less importance was the objective of dominating the
potential interoceanic transit routes between the Caribbean
and Pacific via Lake Nicaragua. Such a passageway offered
the prospects for exploiting the still vast wealth of Meso --
and South America, securing new trade routes to a world that
was rapidly growing smaller, and bolstering economies at
home through colonization. When the British seized the
mouth of the San Juan River, the eastern leg in the
transisthmian route, the United States reacted strongly.
They too had an interest in a canal as the 1840's saw the
frenzy of the California gold rush and expanionist fever for
extending America to the Pacific coast. To diffuse a
potentially volatile situation and avoid confrontations
resulting in war, a negotiated settlement was reached in the
Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850. Both signators agreed not to
unilaterally colonize Central America or dominate any
transisthmian canal route. 6/ This settlement was to
demonstrate U.S. interests in the hemisphere which were
outlined in four key points of The Monroe Doctrine of 1823:
(1) The American continents were not to be
considered as subject for future colonization by
(2) The European political system was different
from America's system and any attempt to project
the European system into the Western Hemisphere
would be considered dangerous to the peace and
safety of the United States.
(3) The United States would not interfere with
any existing colonies or dependencies of European
(4) The United States had never taken any part in
the wars of European nations in matters relating
to themselves, nor does it agree to in the
Even while negotiations are proceeding between
Secretary of State John Clayton and Sir Henry Bulwer, an
American transportation company headed by Cornelius
Vanderbilt sought its own agreement with Nicaragua for use
of a Nicaraguan route to transport Americans to California
gold fields. Through intensive business struggles and
competition, Vanderbilt's Accessory Transit Company gained
about one third the business ferrying passengers by a system
of steamers and coaches. In 1853, control of the company
was secured by rivals and U.S. Marines were landed at
Greytown to protect the transit company's property. The
next year the U.S. minister was attacked, and Nicaraguans
refused to provide an apology and reparations. The U.S.
Sloop "Cyane" was dispatched and shelled the Caribbean coast
town of Greytown. Marines were again landed to destroy the
remaining buildings. Tensions between the U.S. and the
British also continued to escalate as foreign interference
and interregional warfare became the dominant theme of
Nicaraguan domestic politics. The British generally
supported the Conservatives and the Americans -- the
Liberals, as both became entangled in Nicaraguan political
struggles. In 1854 the Liberals, who had been
unsuccessfully trying to unseat the Conservatives, enlisted
the help of U.S. soldier of fortune William Walker. Walker
enjoyed delusions of becoming the President of Central
America, and enticed by funds and generous land grants, he
formed a small force of Americans to come to the aid of the
Liberals. 8/ He landed, and after initial military
setbacks, Walker took Granada. He gained additional
followers and to the dismay of the Liberals, entered into a
coalition government with Conservatives, establishing
Patricio Rivas as head of a puppet government while really
manipulating the strings of power himself. He encouraged
foreign investment and exploitation of Nicaragua's
resources. In July 1856, Walker declared himself President
after holding a farcical election. Walker became a threat
to all parties and was probably responsible for the first
display of Nicaraguan "nationalism," -- all directed against
him. Both the Liberals and Conservatives, opposed him.
Vanderbilt opposed him when Walker sided with rivals of the
Transit Company. The British opposed him as a means to curb
U.S. influence. Other Central American countries and the
U.S. finally opposed him fearing that Walker's plans to
annex regions of Central America as new slave states, would
thrust the area into unmanageable conflict. Walker and his
army were defeated eventually at great cost through the
efforts of Vanderbilt, the British Navy, and the combined
forces of all of Central America. 9/ As morale and strength
of alker's troops dwindled, a U.S. ship sent to Nicaragua to
protect America interests dispatched more Marines and
escorted Colonel Walker and his remaining followers to ships
which returned them to the United States. Walker attempted
twice more to take over Central America, late in 1857 when
he was thwarted by U.S. Naval forces, and in 1860, when
after he surrendered to the British Navy, he was promptly
turned over to Honduran authorities and shot. The Walker
affair and mounting business ventures to exploit Nicaragua
were to provide a basis for long-lasting suspicions of U.S.
intervention and regional interests.
Decline of passengers and revenue, along with the
completion of a railroad in Panama, caused the eventual
closing of the transit business in 1868. Nonetheless,
negotiations for a canal route continued and became intense
as the French vied for the same business interests. A rumor
that U.S. Marines would land to reopen the canal route
caused alarm and Nicaragua and Costa Rica submitted a joint
petition to place their nations under the protection of
England, France, and Sardinia. Eventually, in 1868, a new
treaty was ratified but U.S. interest in the canal had
diminished by then. 10/ No doubt reconstruction of a nation
recently torn by Civil War was a more pressing matter.
The face of Nicaraguan politics was soon to change
again. Associations with William Walker and U.S.
intervention caused the Liberals to lose public favor. The
Conservatives ascended to power and ruled until 1893 in
relative peace. The British still maintained an influence
in the Miskito Coast and there was an effort to revive a
Central American Federation. In the 1880's, the major
disturbance was an Indian uprising in the Matagalpa region.
This resulted from conscripting Indian labor to expand
telegraph lines, construct roads, and provide the labor pool
for other modernization projects. The rebellion was quickly
crushed and the Conservatives, generally pro-clerical,
blamed the agitation on Jesuit priests who were subsequently
expelled. U.S. interest in the canal project revived and
the Freylinghuysen-Zavala Treaty of 1884 was concluded.
This treaty expanded previous agreements and provided for
joint Nicaragua-U.S. ownership, a perpetual alliance and a
military guarantee of Nicaraguan territorial integrity.
Although Nicaragua ratified the treaty, President Chester A.
Arthur inexplicably withdrew it from Senate consideration in
1885. Roberto Sacasa succeeded to the presidency after the
death of the elected incumbent in 1889 and by his own
election in 1891. 11/
Zelaya - Champion of Nationalism
In 1893, Liberals under the leadership of General Jose
Santos Zelaya, took advantage of dissidence among
Conservatives and a rather long sixteen year dictatorship
resulted. Zelaya was a champion of Nicaraguan nationalism
and used whatever tyranny necessary to keep himself in
power. Censorship of the press and social injustices
persisted and anti-U.S. attitudes were increasingly
fostered. Zelaya's efforts for a Central American
Federation failed despite pacts with Costa Rica and
Honduras, and abandonment of Britains claims to the Miskito
region. Zelaya did, however, enjoy popular support because
of his pursuits to modernize Nicaragua. Among significant
Abolition of the death penalty
Amnesty to captured insurgents
Separation of church and state
Freedom of religion and free secular education
Government financing of schools and education
for Nicaraguans abroad
Increase in production of export commodities
of coffee, bananas, timber, and gold which
brought capital to the economy. 12/
Zelaya also was the first to attempt modernization of
the military. In the 1890's, a military academy was
established and staffed primarily by foreign officers,
notably German and Chilean. New technology of the 20th
Century and weapons such as the machine gun, demanded that
officers acquire expertise in the full time profession of
conducting war. A detailed set of regulations (The
Ordenanza Militar) was developed for the organization and
employment of the armed forces. Another important
requirement in the professionalization process, and a key to
social mobility, was a literacy program for the troops.
General officers were also required to master subjects
ranging from mathematics and military statistics, to
geography. Appointment to high rank, however, still smacked
of the old colonial and cultural influences. Strong men
emerged who had the support of cronies and armed
Despite conscription of peasants, the army still
achieved a marked degree of effectiveness as it suppressed
any opposition through exile, imprisonment, torture and
murder. Human rights violations were prolific, but as long
as these were targeted at rebellious opposition or those
considered socially inferior, there was no excitement in the
regional or international community. There was no instant
media impact by which opinion might form powerful moral
pronouncements. The U.S., like most other nations,
considered economic and strategic interests a higher
priority than human rights issues in countries distant from
Zelaya's expanded power seemed to pose a threat to U.S.
regional influence and Zelaya's contention that Washington
should keep out of Central America's business, fanned the
coals of future conflict. Further deterioration in
relationships was to occur when President Teddy Rosevelt and
lobbyists convinced Congress that a Panama Canal was in the
U.S.' best interest. This was a letdown to Nicaraguans and
was to have far-reaching consequences on future U.S.-
Nicaragua relations. With rumors that Nicaragua was
attempting to negotiate its own canal with Japan or Britain,
and Zelaya's increasing opposition to U.S. presence in
Central America, an era of U.S. intervention loomed on the
horizon. In 1909, U.S. Marines were landed at Bluefields
ostensibly to protect U.S. property and lives, but in
reality to show support for General Juan Estrada, who
rebelled against the Zelaya government.
Two American demolition experts working for the rebels
were executed and Secretary of State Knox broke relations
with Nicaragua. Fearing U.S. wrath, Zelaya resigned and his
appointed successor, Dr. Jose Madriz, attempted to continue
the conflict against the Conservative rebels. U.S. presence
prevented his success and after failing to gain British
support, Madriz resigned and was replaced by General
Estrada. The U.S. promptly recognized this new puppet
government and special agent Thomas Dawson was dispatched to
assist in government reorganization. A coalition engineered
by Dawson lasted only several months. Personal and
political rivalries prevailed and with pressure from General
Luis Mena, his Secretary of War, Estrada resigned and turned
the presidency over to his vice-president. The United
States continued efforts to reorganize the finances of the
country, arranged for $15 million in loans from two New York
banks, and established customs receiverships. Plans also
included moderinzation of the railroad and reorganization of
the police to maintain civil control. Saber-rattling of
aspiring generals and their followers threatened all these
projects as factions led by Liberal General Mena and
Conservative Party Leader General Emiliano-Chamarro vied for
the presidency. The U.S. came to the aid of the Diaz
government in August 1912. Over 2,700 U.S. Marines and
sailors landed at Corinto and Bluefields. General Mena was
forced to withdraw and the Liberals were finally driven out
of Leon. Another Liberal force commanded by General
Benjamin Zeledon offered more stubborn resistance until
eventually, a joint force of Marines and Nicaraguans subdued
his army, captured and then executed Zeledon.
U.S. Marines - The First Occupation
For the next two decades, Nicaragua was to experience
direct U.S. intervention and occupation by U.S. Marines.
From 1912 to 1925, called the first occupation, the country
had a series of Conservative presidents. The government of
the U.S. and Nicaragua enjoyed a symbiotic relationship.
The Conservatives who lacked sufficient military forces of
their own, needed the U.S. for backing, and the U.S. needed
the Conservatives who Supported U.S. presence and business
interests in their country. Important negotiation during
this period concluded in the Bryan-Chamorro treaty which
- Exclusive U.S. right to build a canal in
- Ninety-nine year renewable leases for military
bases in the Gulf of Fonseca and Corn Islands for
payment of $3 million
Since the Panama Canal had now opened, the U.S. treaty
ensured that no one else could seek designs on a competing
route through Nicaragua. El Salvador and Costa Rica
appealed to the Central American Court of Justice over the
issue of U.S. naval bases in areas they had long contested
with Nicaragua. By ignoring the court's decision in these
countries favor, the U.S. undermined the judicial system it
helped create. This was only one of many instances where
regional and local agreements served nothing more than noble
rhetoric. They were effective only if enforced by a
powerful military machine. The U.S. essentially dominated
the scene with the control of banks, customs receiverships,
and the presence of the "machos" (he-men), U.S. Marines. 14/
During the 1920's, the U.S. sought to upgrade the
professionalism of Central American armies and to establish
non-partisan constabularies trained by American instructors.
It was expected that a disciplined force could replace the
armies tainted by corruption and local oppression, thus
removing principal contributors to social turmoil, disorder
and financial disorganization. The U.S. also wished to
eliminate foreign influence, principally German and
Bolshevik, from seizing opportunities to exploit the
corrupted Central American armies. The Guardia Nacional was
created in Nicaragua, trained by U.S. Marines, and was to
become a dreaded symbol of interventionist policies.
U.S. Marines - The Second Occupation
U.S. troops were withdrawn in 1925, with the assessment
that the propped up government was stable enough. Shortly
after withdrawal, Conservative factions in historical
fashion returned to internal power struggles, and the
Liberals again seized an opportunity for rebellion.
Washington rallied to the ailing government and the Marines
returned. A truce between the Conservatives and Liberals
was engineered and a free, U.S. supervised election was
provided for in 1928. Liberal Jose Maria Moncada won the
election, but the United States continued to dominate
Nicaraguan affairs applying leverage through the American
Embassy, military presence, control of money supply,
railway, custom houses, and the U.S. trained Guardia. 15/
General Augusto Cesar Sandino - Folk Hero
Earlier, in 1927, one Liberal General, Augusto Cesar
Sandino, refused to accept the political arrangements
proffered by the United States and retreated with his men to
the mountains of Nuevo Seqovia. Sandino had formulated his
own ideas and opinions about Nicaraguan politics. Driven by
fervent nationalism, he supported rights for indigenous
Indian populations, land reform and establishment of peasant
cooperatives. His goal was to rid Nicaragua of U.S.
domination and to eject the foreign military, the Marines.
Sandino declared Moncada a traitor and on July 16, 1927,
attacked the Marine outpost in Ocotal. This was the first
of many classical guerrilla actions lasting until 1933. The
mountain and jungle fighting was extremely frustrating for
the Marines. Sandino quickly adapted to a hit-and-run type
warfare and gained much popular support in his desire to
prevent further "imperialistic" aspirations of the U.S. The
war was a ostly one that could not be won militarily.
Sandino had captured the hearts and mind of the people, and
with few exceptions, the Marines and government were
ineffective in fighting an unconventional war. Public
opinion at home was mounting against continued occupation of
Nicaragua. The Marines hard drinking, brawling, womanizing,
and especially their ability to fight, earned both the
disrespect and fear of many Nicaraguans. The aerial
bombardments of suspected guerrilla strongholds and forced
resettlement of the poor, increased support for Sandino,
whose guerrilla activities and strength fluctuated. In
1933, he continued to elude defeat even at the hands of some
of the most famous Marine Corps tacticians. The Marines
finally departed after training a fairly effective and
disciplined Guardia Nacional in charge of protecting the
Somoza - Vestige of U.S. Marine Presence
The command of the Guard was left to Anastacio Somoza
Garcia, who with his family, was to systematically plunder,
degrade, and agonize the Nicaraguan people until 1979. As a
staunch U.S. ally and rabid anti-communist, he would be
tolerated. Considered a vestige of the Marine intervention
which allowed his accession to power, Somoza, his Guardia,
and U.S. policy would become despised by Nicaraguans. This
ill-will would sow the seeds of future insurrection.
Immediately after the Marines departed in 1933, the
undefeated Sandino ceased hostilities and entered into an
agreement with the Sacasa government. In this agreement
were provisions for amnesty for him and his men. Sandino
was recognized as a threat to Somoza's base of power and had
to be eliminated. It is interesting to note that Sandino
was honored by a special resolution at the 1928 Sixth
Congress of the Communist International in Moscow. Moscow
viewed Sandino as a patriot fighting against the forces of
"imperialism." Sandino, however, avowed that he owed no
debts to any foreign ideology and declared his distrust of
communism. For the Marxist-Leninist of the 1979 revolution,
he would be remembered for his guerrilla victories, and his
disdain for U.S. intervention. 16/
Somoza worked hard to consolidate his power as
commander of the only military force in Nicaragua. A system
was devised that required citizens to pay bribes to engage
in any activities, legal or otherwise. Many of Somoza's
men, extended their own influence into vice such as
gambling, prostitution, and smuggling. Because of the
Guardia's power and infusion into Nicaragua politics, Somoza
successfully rigged the 1936 election and became President.
Somoza became astute in his political dealings with the
U.S. He generally received backing because of his anti-
communist stand and his obsequious support of U.S. foreign
policy. In exchange for his loyalty, Somoza was granted
Lend-Lease funds to modernize the Guard and perpetuate his
power base. There was growth in exports markets as well as
development of an economic infrastructure primarily because
of U.S. banking interests. Economic wealth, however, was
distributed only to the family and privileged cronies of
Somoza. It is estimated that Somoza added $50 million to
his personal wealth during his tenure. The plight of the
common Nicaraguan remained a festering sore, a reminder that
the dictatorship survived only because of U.S. support. 17/
The Second Somoza
In 1956, as he was manipulating another campaign to
ensure his fourth presidential term, Anastacio Somoza Garcia
was assassinated. His oldest son, Luis, U.S. educated and
President of the Congress, filled the vacancy. Luis'
younger brother, Anastacio, head of the National Guard,
seized and imprisoned any opponents who might have offered
resistance to his brother's succession. During the next
decade, democracy was just a convenient fascade to ensure
consolidation of greater power and wealth. Ffor four of
these years martial law was imposed. For those Guardia
officers and men associated with the vast Somoza
enterprises, there always remained the opportunity for
"extra income." Strong opposition still existed, but
rebellions by outspoken critics and youthful university
nationalists were easily crushed.
The most serious confrontation for the Somozas was the
adversarial role of the new Castro regime in Cuba. Castro
had attempted to topple the Somoza government and was
training Nicaraguan students in Cuba for that purpose.
Several uprisings failed, but Somoza retaliated by lending
Nicaraguan support for the U.S. sponsored "Bay of Pigs"
invasion which was launched from Puerto Cabeza on the
Miskito Coast. Castro in turn encouraged the formation of a
new elitist guerrilla organization, the Sandinista National
Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion - FSLN) in
1961 which was to spearhead popular uprisings in 1978 and
1979. The FSLN's original founders included two avowed
Marxists, Tomas Borge Martinez and Carlos Fonseca Amador.
Fonseca chose the term Sandinista to signify both indigenous
Nicaraguan tradition and hatred of U.S. interventionism.
The Third Somoza - The Last Marine
Somoza responded to these subversive activities by
declaring a state of seige which helped consolidate power,
censor the press, and increase his counterinsurgency
capabilities through U.S. assistance. Luiz died of a fatal
heart attack in 1967, but true to form and with the powerful
Guardia behind him, Anastacio "Tacho," gained the presidency
through another rigged election, a hallmark of Nicaraguan
politics and power transferral.
During his first term (1967-1972), Anastacio relied
heavily on his military power. The principles and abuses of
"militar fuerar" were rampant. "Militar fuerar" was
demonstrated time and again as Guardia officers who
perpetrated crimes against civilians were exiled with full
pay and allowances, or remained immune from prosecution.
The constitution was amended at Somoza's insistence in order
for him to succeed himself "legally." Tacho's true motives
reflected those of his family predecessors, using public
office to make himself one of the richest men in the world.
He, his family, and friends owned most of the major
industries, and over 20%. of the arable land. His holdings
by 1972 were estimated to be at $300 million. 18/
A severe earthquake in Managua in 1972 killed 10,000
people, devastated the city, and left thousands homeless.
He turned this national disaster into short-term personal
advantage. The National Guard was allowed to sell the
international relief supplies that streamed in and to loot
and plunder the devastated city. Somoza and his associates
awarded business contracts to themselves for reconstruction,
financed predominantly by international relief funds.
Emergency housing funds were used to build luxury homes for
National Guard officers, while the poor received sub-
standard wooden shacks. Somoza declared emergency taxes,
but exempted himself. Somoza provided all the incentives
necessary to alienate the people, further drive young people
to join the FSLN, and encourage some elite and business
sectors to financially support the FSLN guerrilla movement
to topple Somoza.
After a spectacular FSLN raid in December 1974, which
was a personal affront to his dignity, Somoza declared
martial law and unleashed his Guard to root out the
terrorists. Arbitrary imprisonment, rape, summary
execution, torture and extensive pillaging were the tactics
used against the Nicaraguan people. Somoza's flagrant abuse
of human rights was observed by Catholic and Protestant
missionaries and as a result became a subject for the
international press and hearings before the House of
Representatives Sub-committee on International Relations.
Human rights violations became a focal point of
international relations in 1977 for the newly elected U.S.
President, Jimmy Carter. Military and humanitarian aid was
used as an enticement by the U.S. for Somoza to modify his
dictatorship to acceptable levels of tolerance. Somoza
responded by lifting press censorship, the state of seige,
and ordering the National Guard to stop terrorizing the
peasants. During July of 1977, Somoza suffered his second
heart attack and was evacuated to Miami where he remained
for one-and-a-half months. Many hoped that he would die.
Others pondered the political future of Nicaragua as
Somoza's aides began looting the national treasury. Upon
his return, Somoza was forced to purge his own political
household. The free press La Prensa carried vehement
charges of corrupt government, chipped away at the regime's
popular image, and gave encouragement to the opposition.
FSLN attacks on Guard outposts increased and a group of
prominent citizens appeared, known as "Los Doce" (The
Twelve). Comprised of professionals, businessmen, and
clergy, this group called for a national solution and an end
to the dictatorship. Assassination of La Prensa's editor,
Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, precipitated a final 18 month
offensive in what the opposition called "a war of national
liberation in which an externally created dictatorial system
supported almost exclusively by a foreign trained personal
army, was overthrown by all classes." Somoza was simply
"the last Marine." 18/ The two week strike that followed
was 80-90% effective, but the Guard, which could not afford
to lose its sponsor, was able to hold out despite more
spectacular raids and attacks by the FSLN, intermittent
labor strikes, and civil uprisings in urban areas. An
Indian prising in a Masaya neighborhood was countered with 2
tanks, 3 armored cars, 5 50-caliber machine guns, 2 planes,
2 helicopter gunships, and 600 heavily armed men. 19/ The
lightly armed people were easily defeated and their homes
were completely destroyed.
Somoza remained determined to complete his term which
expired in 1981. The U.S., realizing the serious
circumstances that Somoza now confronted, tried to
ameliorate the situation by promoting elections. These
actions were viewed as manipulation by Nicaraguans who
already sensed a victory was near. A private letter sent by
President Carter, congratulating Somoza on his promises to
improve human rights, infuriated the FSLN which concluded
that they had misjudged the U.S.'s waning support for the
dictator. On 22 August, a daring raid was launched on the
National Legislative Palace, led by Eden Pastora. Twenty-
five FSLN guerrillas impersonating the elite guard of
Anastacio III, Somoza's son, burst into the palace and
immediately seized 1,500 hostages, mostly legislators and
bureaucrats. Intense negotiations netted the FSLN $500,000
ransom, safe passage, release of 59 political prisoners,
concessions to striking health workers, and a humiliating
defeat for Somoza. Pastora, who took the "nome de guerre"
of "Commandante Zero" because of the number 0 on his dog
tags, became the national hero of the revolution. Massive
acts of defiance were triggered within a restless population
that saw Somoza's power easily challenged. Nonetheless, the
Guardia fought ferociously and with vengeance, bombarding
and strafing insurgent cities. Government forces moved in
for "mop up" operations. Males who were of fighting age and
thousands of non-combatants were summarily executed.
Sensing that the end was near, Somoza and his associates
began liquidating assets and a capital flight commenced that
was to leave the treasury depleted. U.S. support had been
withdrawn, and arms sales frozen, despite arguments by
Somoza's U.S. friends that Cuban-backed communists were
about to defeat a long-time ally.
The Final Offensive
The FSLN prepared itself for one final offensive,
enlisting several thousand young men and women, mostly
students from urban areas. They were armed with light
western weapons, purchased on the international arms market
with funds donated by sympathetic Latin American countries,
notably Panama, Venezuela, and Cuba. Finances for arms also
came from the social democratic parties of western Europe,
leftist groups in the U.S., and undoubtedly from Soviet bloc
and other revolutionary governments. 20/ In June 1979,
barricades were erected in poor neighborhoods and Somoza`s
control gradually shrank as the FSLN systematically overran
National Guard outposts throughout the provinces. With the
prospect of near certain defeat of Somoza, the U.S. proposed
to the Organization of American States that a peace keeping
force be sent to Managua. This was unanimously rejected and
the U.S. began dealing with the FSLN which had declared
itself the Provisional Government of National
The U.S. proposals for the FSLN to include "moderates,"
members of Somoza's Guard and party were flatly rejected,
and the U.S. was forced to accept Somoza's inevitable and
total defeat. Arrangements were made to fly Somoza to Miami
on 17 July. On 18 July, the provisional junta took the oath
of office in Leon, and on 19 July, greeted by enthusiastic
supporters, the new government marched into Managua. The
following day, they celebrated their unconditional
insurrectionist victory and pledged to restore democracy and
freedom to a war-torn Nicaragua. The events of the next
four years demonstrated that the revolution was not yet
complete, but a beginning of greater crises yet to come.
Somoza's violent finale came just a year later. His
net worth was then estimated at $600 million. 21/ After his
escape to Miami, he settled into a palatial estate in
Asuncion, Paraguay with his mistress of 18 years. One
morning his chauffer-driven Mercedes was attacked by bazooka
and machine gun fire, and Somoza was assassinated. An
Argentine revolutionary group was implicated. In the
streets of Managua, people danced and rejoiced. 22/
Chapter Two: A Tortured History
1. Henry A. Kissinger. Cover Letter to Report of
the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America,
commonly referred to as the "Kissinger Report." Washington,
D.C.: U.S. Executive Dept., 10 January, 1984.
2. Ibid., p. 12.
3. Richard L. Millett. Guardians of the Dynasty.
(Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books 1977) p. 198.
4. ____________. "Praetorians or Patriots? The
Central American Military" in Central America, Anatomy of a
Conflict. Ed. by Robert S. Leiken (New York: Pergamon
Press, 1984) pp. 69-70.
6. Thomas W. Walker. Nicaragua, The Land of
Sandino. (Boulder, Co.: Westview Press, 1982) pp. 10-12.
7. The Monroe Doctrine as outlined in
Encyclopedia Brittanica. 15th ed. vol. 12. (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1980) pp. 388-389.
6. Richard L. Millett. "Historical Settings" in
Nicaragua: A Country Study. Ed. by Rudolph. (Washington,
D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1982) pp. 11-12.
9. Walker, p. 14.
1e. Millett, A Country Study. p. 14.
12. Walker, p. 16.
13. Millett, Guardians, p. 21.
14. _________. A Country Study, pp. 19-20.
15. Walker, p. 21.
16. Millett, A Country Study, p. 28-9.
17. Walker, p. 28. Any figures of Somoza family
wealth are estimates at best, and probably exaggerated by
Walker. There is no doubt, however, that all the Somozas
were immensely wealthy from their monopoly of Nicaragua's
16. Ibid, p. 34.
19. Ibid, p. 35.
20. Millett, A Country Study, p. 52.
21. _________. p. 58 and Walker p. 43. Net
worth of the last Somoza range from $100-500 million, with
total capital flight from Nicaragua at $1.5 billion.
Logically, much of his wealth was in land and business
holdings that could not be liquidated.
22. "Somoza's Violent Death." Newsweek, 29
September, 1980. pp. 34-36.
CHAPTER THREE: A COG IN THE WHEEL OF SOVIET HEGEMONY
On 13 May, 1983, the Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence of the House of Representatives issued a report
which concluded that Cuban and Nicaraguan insurgents had
escalated aid to leftist guerrillas in Honduras with massive
Soviet bloc support. El Salvador, Guatamala, and Costa Rica
were also targeted for revolution. The explicit goals of
these actions were to consolidate control of the Sandinista
regime in Nicaragua and, through politically motivated
violence, to exacerbate demands for more democracy, social
justice, and economic development. Under this guise,
extreme leftist groups might be brought to power in Central
America. 1/ Several weeks earlier, on 27 April, 1983, in an
address to a joint session of Congress, President Reagan
The national security of all the Americas is at
stake in Central America. If we cannot defend
ourselves there, we cannot expect to prevail
elsewhere. Our credibility would collapse, our
alliances crumble, and the safety of our homeland
would be put at jeopardy.
The potential for crises in Central America was
recognized as early as 1954, when President Dwight D.
Eisenhower believed that Latin America would become a battle-
ground against communism. In documents recently
declassified as part of the State Department's series "The
Foreign Relations of the United States," Eisenhower was
quoted as saying to his Secretary of State, John Foster
Dulles, that "you must think of our policy in Latin America
as chiefly designed to play a part in the Cold War against
our enemies. ... Russia would shortly step into any vacuum if
we allowed one to develop in Latin America. The United
States is not merely doing business in Latin America, but is
fighting a war there against communism." 2/ Two decades
later, a senior U.S. military advisor to Nicaragua would
assess in his debriefing report that the threat of communist
insurgency was minimal in Nicaragua, but that the dominance
of General Somoza and his family in all the country's
functions ranging from economics to politics, misuse of
authority by the National Guard officers and men, monopoly
of reconstruction jobs and contracts by Somoza after the
earthquake of 1972, and a potential pool of insurgents among
university students and construction laborers, constituted
all the volatile ingredients necessary for an insurgency.
The only significant insurgent group at the time was
considered to be the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion
Nacional (FSLN). "They were poorly organized, lacked
leadership, and appeared to have little external communist
assistance." 3/ The briefing officer's assessment
underestimated the FSLN completely. On July 19, 1979,
Eisenhower's prophetic insight was to be borne out again and
suddenly another "Cuba" had arrived in the hemisphere. The
victorious Sandinista revolutionaries were in power in
Managua, and they had deposed the most long-lived
dictatorship in the history of Latin America. The
Sandinista ideology had grown around cult hero General
Augusto Sandino. The name and the myth surrounding this
man signified blind patriotism and a guerrilla stalemate
against U.S. Marines in a 6 year Vietnam-type war. In 1959,
a group of students, long frustrated at their inability
through legal means to rid the country f the Somoza dynasty,
turned their efforts towards insurrection. The organization
was called Frente de Liberacion Nacional (The National
Liberation Front). It was their Marxist leader, Carlos
Fonseca Amador, who added "Sandinista" as previously
mentioned to stress both indigenous Nicaraguan tradition and
a strong position against United States intervention.
The Three Tendencies
The Frente Sandinista de Liberacion (FSLN) was
officially founded in Honduras on the symbolic date of July
26, 1961 (the eighth anniversary of Fidel Castro's attack on
Moncada Barracks that launched the Cuban Revolution). 4/
The Sandinista National Liberation Front was to wage several
unsuccessful guerrilla battles in the 1960's against the
guardians of Somoza's dynasty, the National Guard. In the
1970's, the FSLN concentrated its efforts on organizing the
peasants and with "land for the poor" as one of its platform
objectives, began to rally support. There were three
distinct factions or tendencies which formed the FSLN. The
Prolonged Popular War tendency had its roots in "Che"
Guevara's "foco" theory which initiated revolutionary
movement through the armed action of a rural guerrilla
vanguard. This movement essentially mimicked the rhetoric
and tactics of the Cuban revolution to mobilize the masses.
Because the foco theory had essentially failed in Latin
America due to its predominant rural emphasis, Fonseca
modified the military strategy slightly. He theorized
that war should still be fought primarily in the Nicaraguan
countryside and mountains, but logistical support must be
provided from the cities. In the beginning of the 1970's,
the Proletarian tendency evolved as a novel Marxist faction.
Its leaders had received their ideological foundations in
Chile during the Allende years. Their theories favored a
total break with western centers of capitalism, and movement
of revolution from the countryside to the city.
Proletariats would be organized from the Nicaraguan working
class and the rural proletariats from the cotton fields of
Leon and Chinandega, the only regions where rural
proletariats rather than peasants existed in Nicaragua.
Between the ideological divisions of the Proletarian and
Popular War Tendencies emerged the "insurrectionist
tendency" or the "tercerista" (third way) faction. This
tendency was more pragmatic and envisioned a gradual
transition to socialism, incorporating a broad concept of
class alliances including middle-class businessmen and
professional groups. Without the catalytic Fidel Castro
advocating the unification of the three tendencies, and the
efforts of Panama's Torrijos and Carlos Andres Perez, social
democrat and former president of Venezuela, a unity of
effort might not ever have been achieved. 5/ The new
coalition came to a basic agreement for a broad political
program and developed a unified military strategy and
command structure. Thousands of men, women, young boys and
girls barely in their teens, allied to the cry of "Sandino,"
and with the concurrent tactics of guerrilla insurgency and
massive labor strikes, Nicaragua became paralyzed. The
retaliatory and indiscriminant bombings and excessive
counterattacks that left 50,000 dead and 100,000
homeless, 6/ were not sufficient deterrents to a people who
desired the platforms of the Sandinista Party. These were
democracy, development and transformation of the economy,
improved social welfare programs, and the rights of
sovereignty and self-determination for Nicaraguan people.
A Revolution Betrayed
The betrayal of the revolution of 1979 which led to the
dominance of a Marxist-Leninist regime is attributable to
three primary causes. Ffirst was the history of U.S.
interventionism and endorsement of pseudo-democratic
governments backed by strong military factions. Second was
the insensitivity of U.S. policy makers to chronic
sociological and economic problems in Nicaragua. And the
third was the adroit manner in which the Soviet Union has
assessed the U.S. self-created "vacuum in the region and
fostered promotion of its own strategic interests. The
Soviet projection of power moved from subtle to crude power
plays using Cuba and now Nicaragua as linch pins in their
efforts to hegemonize the Caribbean region and undercut the
strategic "backdoor" of the United States. This has been
accomplished by fomenting wars of national liberation to
free "the long suppressed masses," infiltration of the
Catholic clerical heirarchy, and radicalization of small
political bases among revolutionary leaders who were to
become major proponents of isolating Latin America from the
U.S. and its western allies. A review of Soviet strategy
and pragmatic communist doctrine is appropriate to
analyze historically the Sandinista rise to power, and the
employment of Cuban and other Soviet aligned Third World
governments to achieve Soviet objectives.
U.S. Vital Interests in the Caribbean
On the grand scale of strategy, the Soviet aim in the
Caribbean region is to achieve both a military and economic
balance of strength over that of the United States. The
increased presence of Soviet might, utilizing Cuban
surrogates as recently as Grenada, illustrates an attempt to
establish and consolidate footholds in a region vital to our
welfare. This is to be accomplished while U.S. power
concentration is in the mid-East and western Pacific. The
vitality of the entire region lies in the crossing of the
sea lines of communication (SLOC) and aerial-skyways of
transport and resupply (ASTAR), as well as other vital
checkpoints through which critical logistic supplies of
petroleum and minerals, and U.S. military forces must pass
in order to quickly respond to global crises. The Soviet
goal is to restrict, and eventually cutoff these air and sea
routes. An analysis of the logistics make-up of items
traversing the SLOC and ASTAR will readily make their
The United States depends upon foreign sources for over
fifty percent of the thirty-two minerals essential for
industrial and military applications. Also, the U.S.
imports over one-third of its oil supplies. Control of the
Caribbean and Central America are critical for protection of
logistic pipelines. Arabia and Africa have been described
as the petroleum pump for oil resources, the Indian Ocean
and Atlantic Ocean as the sea hoses of communication, and
finally the Caribbean and Central America as the nozzles for
the petroleum l feline. 7/
The limited number of entrances and exits to the
Caribbean make t a closed continental sea. The Caribbean
basin is encirc ed by the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Virgin,
Leeward, Windward and Grenadine Islands on the eastern edge.
North, Central and South America complete the perimeter.
The Panama Canal currently remains the only passage to the
Pacific. It has been described as the juggler vein of the
region. The Greater Antilles grouping of Puerto Rico,
Hispanola, Jamaica and Cuba dominate the ocean basin and
also form a barrier between the continents of North and
South America. The Mona, Windward, and Yucatan channels
provide north and south routes through the chain to the
Americas, while the straits of Florida and Santaren passage,
provide outlets from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic. To
the east and south of the Caribbean Basin lie Mexico and
Venezuela, major world oil producers. The petroleum super
tankers of the Mid-East, Alaska and Ecuator pulsate through
the Caribbean and Antilles channels. Additionally, the
Bahamas, Virgin Island, Trinidad, and Curacao-Aruba have
ports where the super tankers emanating from the Persian
Gulf, transfer their petroleum to smaller tankers before
further transport of Gulf and Atlantic coast refineries.
The Panama Canal also is a critical key for U.S. energy
supply as both Alaskan crude and oil from Ecuador are
transported through the canal or pumped overland through The
Republic of Panama to augment the present volume. In
perspective, approximately seventy-five percent of all U.S.
oil imports are either produced on the shores of the
Caribbean Basin, or transit its straits or periphery. The
power that controls the region and Central America, could
easily interdict and cutoff the U.S. petroleum pipeline.
As previously indicated, strategic minerals essential
for high technology defense and industrial systems also pass
through this vital region. Examples follow: Mexico and
Brazil are significant suppliers of manganese (the U.S.
imports 97% of its requirement). Guatamala possesses large
nickel reserves and became a major supplier in 1978 (the
U.S. imports 76 percent). The major U.S. supply of bauxite
(93 percent is imported) is mined in the Caribbean nations
of Jamaica, Haiti, Surinam, Guayana, and The Dominican
Republic. Much of the iron ore critical for the U.S. steel
industry originates from Brazil and Venezuela, and like
petroleum must transit the chokepoints and passageways of
the Caribbean. 8/
The current revolutionary upheaval in Meso-America, and
specifically Nicaragua and neighboring El Salvador, is no
coincidence; it is a blatant projection of Soviet and Cuban
power. Such a strategy mandates that the U.S. assume a
permanently increased defense burden in a time of burgeoning
national debt, or compels already overcommitted forces to
the regions closer to our borders. This could only occur at
great expense, and by reducing important commitments
elsewhere in the world. In addition to petroleum and
strategic minerals, approximately fifty percent and forty
percent of total shipping tonnage for European and East
Asian scenarios respectively, would also have to pass
through the Caribbean Basin. The exportation of communist-
inspired insurgency from Cuba and Nicaragua, poses
significant problems to our security interests, and if such
a threat is not countered, would further serve to
demonstrate U.S. impotence. The Kissinger Panel summarized
our direct national security interests in the American-
Caribbean region as preventing:
-- developments which would require commitment of
large resources to defend our southern approaches
-- threats to our Caribbean SLOC's
-- increased violence, dislocation of Meso-
Americans, regional repression generated from
-- further erosion of the U.S.' ability to
influence events worldwide as perceived from our
impotence to solve problems close to home. 9/
Six Lessons of Communism for Nicaragua 10/
Historically the Soviet strategy has been developed
through trial and error application since the 1930's. The
lessons of revolutionary warfare have been reduced to six
fundamental principles. A general review of Sandinista
actions since 1979, corroborate a similar scheme in
I. While the middle class can be manipulated to gain power,
it is only by revolutionizing the masses that Marxists
can maintain power.
The Sandinistas expanded their powerbase rapidly in the
mid-to-late 1970's period with wide popular support. Their
revolutionary movement promised extensive political,
military, social and economic changes. After 1979, these
changes were made suddenly and with significant short term
success with which the masses could identify. The Robin
Hood bravado of expropriating the goods of the rich, notably
Somoza's and his families properties, to feed, clothe, and
house the poor, served to radicalize the popular base even
further. The middle class-liberals, social democrats,
conservatives, church hierarchy who were all manipulated to
assist in he overthrow of Somoza, were quickly edged out
after the revolution and proved to be no match against what
had become a disciplined, organized communist cadre. The
masses continued to observe tangible results while being
inculcated with massive doses of revolutionary propaganda.
The literacy program, implemented predominantly by 2,000
Cuban teachers, served not only to teach people how to read,
but cultivated and nourished an anti-imperialist, anti-U.S.
attitude. Agrarian reform, National food and health
services programs, though positive and initially effective,
all carried the unmistakeable mark of developing loyalty to
the one-party system of the Sandinistas.
II. A Marxist-Leninist nation in Latin America such as
Nicaragua must reduce economic dependence upon the
U.S. and integrate economically with the Soviet Union
or other communist bloc countries.
After July 1979, Fidel Castro counseled the Sandinistas
that they should modify this tenet and trade with
industrialized democracies to ensure the safety and success
of the revolution. From his own mistakes in Cuba, Castro
essentially derived Lenin's dictum that "the capitalists
will fight among themselves to sell us the rope to hang them
with." 11/ Castro experienced, as would Nicaragua, the
difficulty delivering promises of prosperity for the-poor in
a war-torn economy, particularly when much of the expertise
in the industrial and business sector had fled in the face
of state appropriation, or to escape the consequences of
prior associations with Somoza.
While Nicaragua is still very much dependent upon U.S.
and other western markets, its goal has been to achieve
solvency through trade with other Third World countries,
especially those countries that are pro-soviet. This
strategy has been facilitated to a great extent by U.S.
economic warfare and an embargo of Nicaraguan goods. The
U.S. reduced by 90% its sugar import quota from Nicaragua
and redistributed it to other ailing Central American
countries friendly to the U.S. Although the January 1984
embargo of meat from Nicaragua 12/ was under the pretense of
carcinogen contamination, it is another element of U.S.
strategy to constrict Nicaragua's economy. In response to
the U.S. sugar embargo, the governments of Algeria and Iran
agreed to off-set these actions and to purchase more than
the amount embargoed and at higher prices. It is also
estimated that 25% of goods such as sugar and coffee, find
their way to the Soviet Union while these products are
rationed in Nicaragua. 13/ Although the economic outlook is
precipitous at best, foreign credits from sympathetic
governments, rescheduling of almost $3 billion in debt, and
expansion of trade with anti-western countries will assist
in reducing dependence on U.S. trade. But it will be a long
struggle that will require Nicaraguans many years of
"tightening their belts" for the sake of the revolution, and
promises that will never be fulfilled.
III. A socialist state in Latin America cannot expect help
from the Orqanization of American States (OAS) and
any appeals should be made directly to the United
Nations where the Soviet Union sits on the Security
Nicaragua has consistently ignored the OAS forum as a
means to solve regional conflicts or to protest the U.S.
backing of Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries working out of
Honduras. The OAS, criticized as being too "U.S. oriented,"
has experienced a gradual erosion in its influence and has
been ineffective in voicing the concerns of its thirty-one
member nations. Nicaragua bypasses the OAS and uses the
more sympathetic United Nations arena to capitalize on USSR
backing. Here it castigates the U.S. for interventionist
and subversive activities. This elevated attention serves
to further polarize the crisis into an East-West
confrontation, and alienate world opinion against the U.S..
Meanwhile, the Soviets smugly sponsor wars of national
liberation by both direct and surrogate means. Although the
U.N. Security Council is the primary means for Nicaragua to
gain international recognition and legitimize their
revolution, another group has evolved to the status of
neutral mediator. The Contadora group (taken from meetings
on the Panamanian resort isle of Contadora and composed of
Mexico, Venezuela, Panama, and Columbia) is seeking to
become the power broker in negotiating or encouraging
bilateral and multilateral agreements to avoid further
turmoil in the region. The political clout of this group
rests in the primary fact that both Mexico and Venezuela are
major suppliers of U.S. oil and wield considerable
influence. Also, Panama and Columbia play significant roles
in maintaining a secure trans-isthmian canal. The relative
stability of these nations and their quasi-independence
from U.S. domination, also lend credibility to Contadora's
The resurgent interest in reviving the effectiveness of
the OAS body will be viewed merely as an opportunity for the
U.S. to renew its historically manipulative influence in the
affairs of Central and South America. The Soviets will
strongly insist that the Sandinista government continue the
"status quo" to further enhance Soviet strategic goals.
IV. Political rights should only be exercised by the com-
munists, and a dictatorial one-party system must be
established to eliminate any opposition.
The Sandinista platform also contained promises of a
pluralistic government, a new constitution, and free
elections after the takeover. As previously stated, the
revolution had the support of many broad factions. The
government initially installed by the FSLN reflected the
pluralistic, multi-class representation of the revolution.
The cabinet included FSLN militants, Christian democrats,
Liberals, Conservatives, and representatives from the
Catholic hierarchy. The Junta of National Reconstruction
also reflected a diverse range of interests -- militants
Daniel Ortega Saavedra and Moises Hassan, author-educator,
Sergio Ramirez Mercado, prominent businessman, Alfonso
Robelo Callejas, and the wife of martyred La Prensa editor,
Violeta Barrios de Chamorro.
Despite the diverse character of the new government,
the only real power was the nine-man directorate of the FSLN
party. All other groups were politically dwarfted by the
FSLN which continued to gain support from the profileration
of "popular organizations" that were established in every
hamlet and neighborhood in the country. Among the ass
organizations were the Sandinist Youth, the grass-roots
Sandinist Defense Committees (CDS), the Sandinist Workers
Central (CST) which would soon dominate industry and labor
unions, the Rural Workers Association (ATC), and the Luisa
Amanda Espinosa Association of Nicaraguan Women (AMNLAE).
The Nicaraguans never had such freedom of association or
participation in government organizations and while
membership swelled, the FSLN continued to consolidate,
propagadize, and further radicalize their one-party system.
The FSLN dominated the television and radio networks,
operated the national newspaper Barricada while allowing the
independent La Prensa to publish, but only under restrictive
censorship rules which would not tolerate government
criticism. Among the elements of pluralism that remained
were the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP),
representing owners of 60% of the economy that had not been
nationalized after the revolution, the Social Christian
Party, the Conservative Democratic Party, and the Nicaraguan
Democratic Movement. Collectively, these groups commanded
as little as 20% of the popular support. COSEP did retain
some political leverage because of its influence over the
private sector. COSEP's existence was in reality spared
because the FSLN had neither the means nor the technical
expertise to nationalize any greater amount of property than
what was seized after the revolution. As early as six
months after the overthrow, however, COSEP members were wary
of further encroachment by the Sandinistas into economic
decisions and deliberate FSLN attempts to dilute their
power. In I980, COSEP withdrew from the Council of State
and began drawing smaller organizations into a non-Marxist
coalition critical of Sandinista initiatives. The
Sandinistas countered by reviving their own pre-
revolutionary coalition, and by directing attacks at any
opposition, forcing many to flee and others to remain,
stripped of any political means to voice their dissent. The
completion of this lesson is still underway in Nicaragua
although militant dissidents and social reformists still
seek options for a pluralistic form of government 14/
V. The Church must be infiltrated and stripped of its
power, discredited, or won over to eliminate a rallying
point for anti-communists.
The Sandinistas manipulated the church to accomplish
revolutionary goals and now continue to capitalize on the
most liberal elements of both Catholic and Protestant
denominations to influence world opinion. The various
churches achieved unity in the struggle to topple Somoza and
to end the corruption of his National Guard. Participation
by Christians ran the gamut from those who joined the FSLN
and the armed struggle for radical change, to those who
sought non-violent solutions. There were communists and
anti-communists, both united in their single cause. The
Catholic church had strongly denounced the abuses of Somoza.
The most vehement protests came after the 1972 earthquake
when mass relief assistance intended for homeless victims,
was confiscated by the government and appropriated for
Somoza's and his associates' personal profit. The church
became a haven of refuge during the massive destruction
caused by Somoza, and because of the church's outright
criticism, it too came under attack and reprisal. Numerous
priests and nuns supported the guerrillas and some took up
arms themselves. The role of the church had begun a gradual
transformation since the Vatican Council of Pope John XXIII
in 1962, which called for a socially active dimension to
minister to the needs of the poor. The church had long been
criticized for its patronage to the elite in Latin America,
while ignoring the oppressed and downtrodden. Out of this
movement was to evolve "liberation theology" to counter the
economic assault of the poor, i.e., low standards of living,
and on an ideological level, to articulate the dignity and
rights of the indigent and oppressed minorities. Liberation
theology called for the active participation by Christians
to correct these social ills. Unfortunately, this movement
attracted radicals with an insurrectionist bent for
violence. Many of the Catholic hierarchy, profoundly
influenced by Marxist thought, translated this into armed
struggle by leading guerrilla movements or by endorsing wars
of national liberation. Those radical extremists,
considered Christianity and Marxism as mutual vehicles to
cultural and political revolution. Nestor Paz Zamora, a
Bolivian student involved in the guerrilla movement in his
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends ... . That is why
we take up arms to defend the illiterate and
undernourished majority from exploitation by a
minority and to give back dignity to the
dehumanized person. 15/
Another proponent added that:
There can be authentic development for Latin
America only if there is liberation from the
domination exercised by the great capitalist
countries, and especially by the most powerful,
the United States of America. 16/
In Jose Miranda's book, Communism in the Bible,
published by Maryknoll, the foreign missionary service of
the American Catholic Church (and source of many clergy
under Marxist influence), the author states that Jesus
Christ was the first Sandinista, an avowed communist, who as
a hardened revolutionary engaged in revolutionary activity,
was executed for sedition. His revolution collapsed because
it was a "communist island in an economic sea characterized
by exploitation of the poor." 17/
Among the first events staged by the Catholic hierarchy
after the revolution were church masses to celebrate
Somoza's overthrow. At least two dozen clergymen accepted
key positions within organizations or ministries, and other
important government posts. Father Miquel Escoto Brockman,
a Maryknoll priest, Father Ernesto Cardenal Martinez, a
Trappiest Monk, and Franciscan Father Edgardo Dorrales
Castillo received ministerial posts. A subsequent directive
issued from Pope John Paul II in 1980 and a pastorial letter
by Nicaragua's bishops in 1981 called for their resignation.
Their refusal led to a compromise that allowed the Marxist
priests to continue in their governmental positions but they
were not allowed to perform the Sacraments. The church
became divided over the issues of the revolution, and
opposition led by Archbishop Miquel Obando y Bravo, charged
that the government was manipulating religious sentiment,
denigrating religious education, and moving away from the
pluralistic objectives originally espoused by the government
of National Reconstruction.
Priests and Protestant clergy critical of the
Sandinistas have been deported, maligned, and have had
religious services disrupted by Sandinist supporters. The
overall effect of continued repression has been to divide
the church and undermine the popular support and power base
which it formerly enjoyed. This has been accomplished not
without extensive support from leftist interest groups in
VI. The old army must be liquidated and replaced with a Red
Somoza's National Guard was quickly dismantled. Many
former Somoza loyalists fled the country to avoid
retribution for the atrocities they had committed. Some
formed the nucleus of counter-guerrilla groups to wage hit
and run operations against the new "de facto" government.
Summary executions were common if captured Guard members
could be associated with atrocities, torture, and murder
committed during their tenures. Others were linked to the
military operations that were overreactions to FSLN
guerrilla activities before the fall. These operations,
mostly indiscriminant reprisals by the Guard, resulted in
50,000 civilian dead, 100,000 wounded, and over 150,000
homeless or orphaned. The jails soon swelled to 11,000
persons, mostly Somoza supporters and National Guard. 18/
During the final days of war before the victory, the
Sandinista strength grew exponentially as urban insurgents
liberated weapons from surrendering guardsmen.
Although this army was largely untrained, it provided a
base from which police and emerging service organizations
could be mobilized. During the first year, undisciplined
adherents were weeded out. The remainder became politically
and socially indoctrinated supporters of the Sandinista
revolution. 19/ Throughout 1980, these rebel and urban
militia were transformed into an official armed forces.
Military advisors from Cuba, the Soviet Union, European Bloc
Countries, and other revolutionary governments provided
technical expertise to complete this transformation into an
FSLN army. The armed forces were comprised of three
branches -- the Sandinist Popular Army (EPS) of
approximately 25,000 strength, the Sandinista Police (PS),
comprised of several thousand urban police officers, and a
lightly armed volunteer force of about 100,000 civilians in
the Sandinist Popular Militias (MPS). A thorough program of
political education was implemented in all branches. The
ultimate control of all decisionmaking and policy
formulation was vested with the National Directorate which
was the collective leadership of the FSLN. The FSLN
Directorate consisted of nine members who were the senior
veterans of the revolution. A three-man military committee
was formed consisting of Tomas Borge, Commander of the
Revolution, Humberto Ortega Saavedra, Minister of Defense,
and Luis Carrioni, Vice Minister of Interior. Borge rose to
preeminent power as the most influential of this group whose
mission was responsibility for all military affairs.
Figure 3-1 depicts organization, command and control of the
Nicaraguan armed forces. Forces are moved freely within
this command structure depending upon the mission or
perceived threat. The unifying factor, however, is that the
military force is totally dominated by the FSLN to ensure
that the one-party revolutionary government remains in
power. Lesson number six was accomplished in consonance
with communist doctrine and Nicaragua emerged with a red
militia. Once this was concluded, the stage was set to tip
the balance of strength in the region through a massive
weapons buildup. To avoid greater visibility and insulate
itself from negative world criticism, Cuba was used as the
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major instrument by which the Soviets would ply its
strategies in Nicaragua, and export future revolution to
leftist guerrillas in El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and
Guatemala. Moscow has openly professed that its efforts in
Nicaragua have been successful in promoting anti-western
attitudes with a long range goal of creating pro-Soviet
The Militarization of Nicaragua
The flow of arms has steadily upgraded Nicaragua's
defensive and offensive capability. (See Figure 3-2 - Major
Arms Routes.) Sophisticated weaponry is passed to leftists
in El Salvador and Honduras. At Somoza's height, he
commanded less than 12,000 ill-equipped troops, supplied
mostly with older vintage U.S. arms and a proliferation of
weapons purchased from the international arms market. Today
the characteristic weaponry in Nicaragua is distinctly
Soviet. Currently, over 5,000 Cuban, Soviet and East
European military advisors, coupled with Soviet military aid
which exceeds the total U.S. military aid to all Latin
America countries combined, has placed Nicaragua in a
position of overwhelming military superiority over its
neighbors. 21/ Tanks and fighter aircraft had never before
been dominant in the region. Now, arms flow through Cuba
(from USSR) at three times the volume of arms shipments in
any year preceding the 1979 revolution n Nicaragua.
Estimates are that the Soviets are providing ten times the
military aid to Cuba and Nicaragua (65,000 tons by 1981) as
the U.S. is providing to all of Latin America and that
Soviet advisors in Cuba and Nicaragua out number U.S.
military advisors twenty to one in the Caribbean region. 22/
Such massive build up and aid has been an incentive for
extreme left unity and has provided for an increase in
communist unsurrectional activity. The chronicle of events
and activities that follow, serve to demonstrate a
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legitimate recognition of concern and a rallying point for
U.S. resolve to counter the strategic threat at our borders.
February 1982. Soviet ships delivered 270 mili-
tary vehicles to the Nicaraguan port of Corinto,
raising the total Soviet bloc truck inventory to
more than 1,000.
April 1982. Four Soviet heavy tank ferries, one
small patrol boat, and 12 BM-21 mobile, multiple
rocket launchers were delivered. The tank
ferries provide Sandinista forces an offensive
water-crossing capability, to rapidly reinforce
insurgent successes in El Salvador across the Bay
of Fonseca, to support forces by traversing either
Lake Managua or Lake Nicaragua, or even to boldly
interject forces against Costa Rica, which has no
army. The rocket launchers provide fire power
capabilities unparalleled in the region.
Mid-1982. Evidence of increasing military
construction activities, such as a new garrison
for Soviet T-54/55 tank battalion outside Managua,
completion of two new infantry battalion garrisons
and commencement of another around Managua to
assist in fortification of Managua. Overflight
photos depict that all installations possess
layout designs similar to Cuban garrisons or those
constructed by Cuban engineers in other countries.
Mid-1982. Cuban Defense Minister Raul Castro
visited Nicaragua with a high level military
delegation. Soon thereafter, 2,000 Cuban
construction workers were dispatched to commence
November 1982. An additional 25 T-54/55 tanks
were delivered by a Soviet bloc ship. This
occurred shortly after Defense Minister Daniel
Ortega's visit to Moscow. Also, to enhance the
Sandinista Army's mobility, the Soviets supplied
MI-8 helicopters, AN-2 aircraft, and BTR armored
December 1982. Eight new 122mm howitizers were
delivered to augment the 12-152mm guns delivered
in 1981. Total estimates of both howitzers is
December 1982. Initial deliveries of sophisti-
cated electronic gear commenced, including a high
frequency/direction intercept facility similar to
ones installed in Cuba. The purported application
of this equipment is to intercept signals
throughout Central America and to keep tabs on
Honduran military communication sites and troop
Additionally, there has been improvement of lines
of communication and logistic routes by
construction of a road between Puerto Cabezas on
the Eastern Coast and the interior to facilitate
the flow of Cuban supplies to Sandinistas
operating in the troubled northeast border
The above information was part of a massive education
campaign that began in March of 1982 to heighten public
awareness of the Nicaraguan buildup. A host of former high
level officials from Secretaries of State and Defense, to
defense policy analysts, considered data presented by the
Reagan administration as "highly convincing." From the
thirty-six new military installations built during the
previous two years since the revolution, to lengthened
airstrips capable of launching MIG-21 and MIG-23 aircraft,
the message was extremely clear -- Nicaragua had become an
anti-western fortress. (See Figure 3-3.)
Much of the information gained by the U.S. intelligence
agency was via U-2 over flights, an activity that had been
greatly reduced in Latin America because of CIA budget
constraints. Other data were secured by electronic-
intelligence gathering equipment aboard Spruance-class
destroyers posted off the Nicaragua Coast. Intelligence
information was corroborated with infrared and side-looking
radar-satellite photography as well as CIA operatives within
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Nicaragua. The intelligence effort has been aimed at
tracking arms shipments to El Salvador through the Gulf of
Fonseca, to pinpointing Sandinista and Salvadoran command
and control facilities near Managua. Agents on the ground
have confirmed the presence of Cuban and Soviet advisors at
these facilities. 24/
Not only has there been a gradual increase in weaponry,
but also the enhancement of technical sophistication of
equipment. For air defense, the Sandinistas have received
large stockpiles of shoulder fired SA-7 anti-aircraft
missiles, four barreled ZPU-4 and 37mm anti-aircraft guns,
with anticipated shipments of larger Soviet anti-aircraft
missiles and guns.
Of even graver concern to U.S. intelligence analysts is
the lengthening of runways which can accommodate Soviet MIG-
aircraft. Pentagon officials have feared the arrival of a
MIG squadron which would give Nicaragua the most powerful
air fleet in the region. Over 80 Sandinista pilots have
been trained in Bulgaria and there is speculation that the
aircraft are staged in Cuba. The advent of such aircraft
would provide the leftist regime another means to intimidate
its neighbors and Honduras, whose 24 F-86's, A-37's, and
French Super Mysteres, would be no match for the MIGs. 25/
In addition to outright grants from Soviet and Eastern Bloc
countries, Nicaragua sealed a $17 million arms deal with
France including ammunition, 100 rocket launchers, 2
Alouette-3 helicopters, two patrol boats, and 45 trucks.
France had also offered to train an unspecified number of
Nicaraguan Air Force pilots and Naval officers in
France. 26/ Concurrently, hundreds of Nicaraguans are also
being indoctrinated in Cuban and Eastern European military
Up to 50 Libyan and Palestinian Liberation Organization
(PLO) advisors are also assisting the Sandinista regime,
with the Libyans providing maintenance on helicopters and
small aircraft used in counterinsurgency operations. The
PLO has been an active ally of Central American
revolutionaries. As early as 1969-70, Sandinistas were
fighting beside PLO comrades in the middle-East and
receiving terrorist training in Algeria and Tyre. On 7
June, 1979, six weeks before the overthrow of Somoza,
Sandinista press spokesman Jorge Mandi stated in Al Watan, a
There is a longstanding blood unity between us and
the Palestinians. Many of the units belonging to
the Sandinista movements were at Palestinian
revolutionary bases in Jordan. In the early
1970's, Nicaraguans and Palestinian blood was
spilled together in Amman and other places during
the Black September battle.
It is natural, therefore, that in our war against
Somoza we received PLO aid for our revolution.
It was Fidel Castro who introduced the PLO into Latin
America and supported their terrorist activities and
training of revolutionaries. Since opening its first Latin
American office in Havana in 1974, the PLO has cultivated
ties with over half the regional revolutionaries. (See
Thomas Borge, Minister of Interior, has openly
professed that he and other Sandinist leaders received PLO
terrorist training prior to 1970. He also worked for Castro
in the 1970's shuttling between Cuba and the Mid-East, using
PLO assistance and Libyan funds to purchase arms for Central
America's guerrilla movements. The PLO-Sandinista alliance
was officially confirmed in Mexico City in February, 1978,
when both factions issued a joint communique affirming ties
of solidarity and united in their anti-Semitic hatred of the
"Zionist state of Israel." 27/ Immediately following the
victory in 1979, the PLO arranged for loans to support the
new revolutionary government and a PLO mission was
established in Managua. The Sandinistas refer to this
mission as an embassy and the ranking PLO official is
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accorded full status as an ambassador.
On the first anniversary of the Sandinista victory in
July of 1980, not only were Fidel Castro and Soviet
dignitaries present, but Yasser Arafat himself participated
in the celebration as an honored guest. Thomas Borge stated
that the PLO and Sandinista causes were synonymous, and
Arafat is reputed to have responded, "The links between us
are not new ... your enemies are our enemies." 28/
In April of 1983, Brazil detained 4 Libyan cargo planes
that supposedly contained medical supplies. Because pilots
could not produce cargo manifests, officials became
suspicious and initiated a search. Discovered were 42 tons
of mostly Soviet arms. Varied reports included 5 tons of
U.S. made bombs, a light training plane, 8 Soviet anti-
aircraft guns, 8 multiple rocket launchers, 2 dismantled jet
fighters, wire guided missiles, rifles, achine guns,
mortars, bazookas, and 90mm cannons. All these items were
destined for Nicaragua. The seizure of the above weapons
served to add "fuel to the fire" when President Reagan
presented to a joint session of Congress a report outlining
the arms traffic in Central America, much of which has been
sketched previously. 29/
Cubans, Cubans Everywhere
To further confirm the rapid build-up in Nicaragua
beyond a defensive posture, Cuba sent its top combat
commander, General Ochoa, to Nicaragua in June of 1983 to
bolster the Sandinista government and promote Castro's
revolutionary image in the Caribbean region. Ochoa, a close
friend of Castro's, had received special training in the
Soviet Union in 1976, and went directly to Angola, where
Cuban forces were increased from 3,000 to 20,000 in defense
of the Marxist Luandan government. In December, 1977, he
was transferred to Ethiopia as head of Cuban combat and
support forces and increased their strength from 2,000 to a
strength of 17,000 men. Since 1981, he was in charge of
military combat training in Cuba. His presence in Nicaragua
is a strong indication that a similar momentum of force
build-up, with Cuban aid, will continue there.
Although estimates vary, in 1983, there were up to
8,000 Cubans in Nicaragua, a fact which the Sandinistas have
not denied. Today they are engaged in not only military and
security affairs, but there are also 500-700 doctors, and up
to several thousand teachers involved in propaganda and
literacy training. There are 1,000 construction workers,
erecting bridges and facilities, and maintaining hydro-
electric plants and state-owned telecommunication com-
panies. 30/ Cuban Ambassador Julian Lopez is considered the
most influential diplomat in Nicaragua, and policy makers in
the U.S. fear that Cuba and Soviet entrenchment is so deep,
that nothing short of a military solution will eliminate the
Nicaraguan menace. Since the U.S. invasion of Grenada,
little information has been publicized about the continuing
arms build-up in Nicaragua. That data has remained
classified. But the preponderance of evidence cannot be
cast aside lightly and considered a massive misinformation
program designed to support a muscle flexing
administration. The threat is a cogent one and must be
understood not as an isolated revolution of independence,
but part of a larger scheme to control the entire region.
It is an active war that is creeping northward. Our vital
SLOC's and ASTAR's are threatened presently along with our
critical petroleum and mineral supplies. The political,
economic, and military strategies that the U.S. pursues or
ignores in the next decade will determine the ultimate
victor. If some successes are not achieved soon, this
generation will be drawn into a conflict that will not only
be at our borders, but will cross them.
Some of the U.S. public has been misled into believing
that the Sandinista revolution was grounded in a unique
Nicaraguan nationalism rather than in Marxist-Leninist
doctrine. Whatever the debaters may conclude, Nicaragua and
its blatant militarization will remain an irrevocable
reminder of a failed U.S. policy.
In 1981, after realization that the revolution in
Nicaragua had gone completely stale, the U.S. planned a
three-fold offensive to regain lost influence. This
included economic and political pressure, and CIA
sponsorship of counter-guerrillas to destabilize the
Sandinista government. This group would be called
Chapter Three: A Cog in the Wheel of Soviet Hegemony
1. U.S. Departments of State and Defense.
"Background Paper: Central America". (Washington, D.C.:
U.S. GPO, 27 May, 1983) p. 1.
2. Jim Anderson. "Eisenhower Saw Latin Struggle
on Communism." Washington Post. 4 January 1984. A-12.
3. K.E. Murphy, Colonel, U.S.A. "COMUSMILGRP
Senior Officer Debriefing Report for Nicaragua" (RCS-CSFOR-
74) for the period 20 July 1971 - 20 December, 1973.
Department of the Army Ofc. of Adjutant General HQDA Ltr.
525-74-13. (Washington, D.C.: 21 March 1974) pp. 1-4.
4. Frank Aker. "Tactics, The Theory and Practice
of Revolutionary Warfare." Unpublished paper. Aker
personal files Quantico, VA, 1983. p. 67.
5. Arturo Cruz Sequeira. "The Origins of
Sandinista Foreign Policy," in Central America, Anatomy of
Conflict. ed. by Robert S. Leiken. (New York: Pergamon
Press, 1984) p. 95.
6. Jan Kippers Black. "Government an Politics"
in Nicaragua: A Country Study. ed. by James D. Rudolph.
(Washington, D.C.: 1982) pp. 146-7.
7. Lewis A. Tambs. "Guatemala, Central America,
and the Caribbean: A Geopolitical Glance." Senior National
Security Council Consultant paper delivered to the U.S.
House of Representatives Sub-Committee on Inter-American
Affairs. (Washington, D.C.: 30 July 1981) p. 1.
8. Ibid, pp. 2-3.
9. Kissinger Report, p. 93.
10. Tambs, p. 2. Dr. Tambs analysis has been
applied to The Nicaraguan Revolution.
11. Nikolai Lenin, as quoted by Tambs in "A
Geopolitical Glance," p. 2.
12. "U.S. to Bar 14 Nations Meat." Washington
Post, 28 December 1983. A-4.
13. "Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama." Quarterly
Economic Review. The Economist Intelligence Unit, London,
1983, p. 11.
14. Walker, p. 41.
15. Nestor Paz Zamora, quoted in Esther and
Mortimer Arias. The Cry of My People: Out of Captivity in
Latin America. (New York: Friendship Press, 1980) p. 139.
16. Arias, p. 139.
17. Teofilo Cabestrero. "La Revolucion y los
Cristianos: La Iqlesia Catolica en los 3 anos de Ia
Revolucian. Translated by James and Margaret Goff.
Amancer. (Managua) No. 10-11 - June-July, 1982) pp. 22-23.
16. Julian C. Heriot. "The Economy" in Nicaragua:
A Country Study, p. 109.
19. Walker, pp. 93-96.
20. Soviet Military Power, 2nd edition
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, March 1983) pp. 87-90.
21. Alex Alexiev. Soviet Strategy in the Third
World and Nicaragua. U.S. Dept. of State Contract Paper.
(Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, March 1982) pp. 7-9.
22. Fred C. Ikle. "The Three Elements of Our
Caribbean Strategy," Defense 83. December, 1983, pp. 10-15.
23. "Background Paper," pp. 15-17.
24. "Taking Aim at Nicaragua." Newsweek, 22
March, 1982, p. 9.
25. "Nicaragua, A Whole New Universe," Time, 12
January, 1982, p. 36.
26. Guy Gugliotta. "France Offers Central America
Another Choice." Miami Herald, 15 February, 1982. 9-A.
27. White House Digest, 20 July, 1983, pp. 2-3.
26. Ibid, p.5.
29. Richard House. "Brazilians Study Libyan Arms
Cargo: Reports Vary on Contents," Washington Post. 26
April, A-14, and Michael Getler. "Grounding of Libyan
Planes In Brazil a Tremendous Gift." Washington Post. 26
April, 1983, A-14.
30. "Cuba's Top Combat Commander 13 Reported Seen
in Nicaragua." New York Times, 19 January 1983, p. l.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE NOT SO SECRET WAR
Night after night in Managua, Nicaraguans get the same
two government television announcements. One provides
detailed instructions on how to clean firearms and the other
how to dig trenches and build bomb shelters. Between these
announcements is depicted the reason for acquiring such
skills -- a caricature of Uncle Sam carrying a carpetbag
labeled "C.I.A." skulking across a map of Nicaragua. A
baritone voice reminds the audience that it is the U.S.
imperialists who are supporting the "Contras" or
revolutionary forces against the Sandinista regime. 1/
One of the rationalizations for the Sandinista's
massive defense buildup was that following a National war of
liberation, there are always displaced factions that
immediately seek to restore the old government which
provided their livelihood through vice and exploitation. In
December of 1981, congressional oversight committees were
informed by the Central Intelligence Committee (CIA) that it
was training a small band of about 500 Latins to serve as a
strike force to harass the Marxist regime in Nicaragua.
Sixteen months later, the ranks had swollen to 7,000 men and
the CIA feared that control and the original purpose in the
Contra's creation, i.e. limited objectives, might be
replaced by a direct overthrow of the Nicaraguan
government. 2/ The sudden growth of the guerrillas'
strength, forced the U.S. to acknowledge at least tacitly,
that it was carrying on a "not so secret war." The
administration was to come under increased scrutiny, both
congressional and public, for its controversial supporting
role. In February 1984, after over two years of concerted
fighting, the leaders of the "Contras" have been forced to
curtail their military and political objectives. There were
numerous attempts to seize a border area and declare a
provisional government that would be recognized by
conservative Central American governments and the U.S..
Hampered by logistic problems, internal strife, and
surprising resistance, the Contras are re-evaluating their
next strategy. The 1983 Christmas offensive was
discouraging as the Sandinistas hurled 7,000 government
troops at 3,000 counter-guerrillas who were attempting to
carve out an enclave around the town of Jalapa in Nuevo
Seqovia province. For the first time, the government troops
used Soviet mobile multiple rocket launchers acquired during
its massive militarization campaign. Also employed were
large mortars, cannons, artillery, and mines in a display of
firepower that is an omen for future confrontations. During
the same week, RPG 2 rocket launched grenades, most likely
supplied by Nicaraguans, brought down two U.S. helicopters
in El Salvador. The sobering military might of the
Sandinistas has forced the contra leadership to drastically
reassess its objectives, and to concentrate on binding
relations with their internal factions, a key cause
contributing to military ineffectiveness. 3/
The Contras are a loose, sometimes divergent coalition
of U.S. backed insurgents who represent the grave robbers of
a deceased Monroe Doctrine. They apply pressure on three
Fronts. (See Figure 4-1.) Within this coalition are five
factions, each with their own agenda, but loosely united for
the purpose of ending communist domination by the FSLN in
Nicaragua. The organization represents views of
revolutionary, restorational, and reformist insurgents. The
revolutionary insurgent seeks to mobilize the masses,
generally victims of repression, and to radically transform
the social structure into a new and centrally controlled
regime. The restorational insurgent identifies with a
recent regime, in this case the Somoza dictatorship, and
represents elitist values and an obligarchic political
structure, with minimal participation for the masses. The
reformist insurgent is usually a member of a discriminated
sector of society, for example, Indians, who seeks more
political, social, and economic freedom without necessarily
displacing the authority in power. 4/ Because organization
is critical for an elite group trying to mobilize the
masses, the divergent philosophies cutting across all five
factions have served to confuse potential enlistees within
Nicaragua and denied the Contras two key principles of
warfare, unity of command and mass. The coalition is also
Click here to view image
confusing to would-be supporters and sympathizers external
Initially, the Reagan administration characterized the
Contras as a harassment and interdiction force. Their
mission was to disrupt the exportation of arms to leftist
guerrillas in El Salvador and to force the Sandinista
government towards more pluralistic aims at the negotiating
table. The Sandinists claim on the other hand, that the
Contras are nothing more than displaced elements of Somoza's
regime and Guardia. The FSLN uses this suspicion of
lingering "Somoscisma" to justify a state of emergency and
propagandize their cause. They also argue that the
revolution was necessary to rid Nicaragua of the brutality
and corruption that these factions represent. The
"Contras," conversely, insist that the Sandinistas have
betrayed all the promises of the revolution, and turned the
country into a Soviet-Cuban client state.
Nicaragua Democratic Force (FDN)
Adolfo Calero is a rebel leader who sits on the seven-
man directorate of the Nicaragua Democratic Force (FDN),
the largest and most organized of the Contra factions. He
stated: "We are fighting for the establishment of a Western-
type democracy in Nicaragua ... . We're talking about a
democracy without the Sandinistas in power. Sandinistas in
power and democracy are opposites." 5/ The FDN was
initially financed and encouraged by affluent Nicaraguan
exiles in Florida, California, and elsewhere. While
conclusive evidence has not been published, the fact that
Somoza was buried in Florida after his assassination, that
family members fled there, and that there are active
training bases for Contras in Southern Florida, would lead
one to believe that much of the wealth that disappeared from
Nicaragua's national treasury is financing a significant
portion of the counter-revolutionary activities. Within the
FDN are two groups, the National Liberation Army (ENL),
formed primarily from former members of Somoza's National
Guard, and the Nicaraguan Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARN).
The nucleus of the ENL began resistance fighting in 1979
after the revolution. A few hundred guardsmen who escaped
before the final FSLN victory fled to Honduras and
established a base at a refugee camp near Choluteca, about
20 miles from the border. They launched what they called
"pinprick" operations against Sandinista border troops. One
tactic was to fire from concealed positions on both Honduras
and Nicaragua guards in hopes of starting a war. A
communications relay system was set up between the two
governments to avert a regional escalation of conflict. 6/
The guerrilla forces settled down in jungle camps in
Honduras, close to the 500 mile common border with
Nicaragua. The Sandinista junta gave this last group the
name "Contras" or counter-revolutionaries, "the most
derogatory expression in the communist book." 7/
The leadership of the FDN is comprised mainly of
business and professional people whose property was seized
or whose businesses were nationalized after the revolution.
While there were members no doubt allied with the Somoza
regime, there are many others (including Calero) who opposed
the dictator and were incarcerated for their disageements.
Today the composition is described as:
freedom fighters, patriots from all political
parties and democratic groups, thousands of
Miskito Indians, former officers and enlisted men
of the extinct National Guard, who never partici-
pated or condoned the crimes of the Somocista
dictatorship, and members of the Sandinista
Popular Army and People's Militia who have joined
us because they do not want to belong to the
imposed communist tyranny. 8/
While no exact percentage of former Guardia members is
known, the CIA attempted to purge main-line Guardia early on
to rid the Contras of the Somoza stigma. 9/ The FDN is
highly organized and its leaders travel freely throughout
the U.S. raising funds, gaining public support, and
providing lobbyist and congressional sub-committees the
tenets of their counter-revolution. These principles and
objectives are published as follows:
I. Repudiation of any connection with the corrupt
II. Adherence to the nationalistic and patriotic
principles of the revolutionary hero -- Augusto Cesar
Sandino, and refutement of communism as the vehicle for
political expression of Nicaragua.
III. Endorsement of pluralistic government and honest
and free elections.
IV. Creation of a representative provisional
government, where all democratic groups will have a voice.
V. Non-inclusion of any persons who have committed
crimes or participated in the communist conspiracy in con-
junction with Marxist-Leninist foreign "invaders."
VI. A guarantee of human and civil rights. A review by
jurists of civil rights violated in the confiscation of
property and restoration of religious freedom.
VII. Reestablishment of the autonomous character of
universities and educational institutions at all levels in
consonance with democratic traditions, cultural heritage,
and fundamental national belief.
VIII. Guarantee of free labor unions for laborers,
skilled workers, and professional associations.
IX. Revision of the Marxist agrarian reform program,
granting provisional titles to farmers until permanent
titles are issued, and an open market.
X. A balanced national budget.
XI. Recuperation of the national economy, through a
policy of fiscal austerity and production incentives.
XII. Diplomatic relations based upon mutual respect for
national sovereignty, and respect for principles of non-
intervention in internal affairs. An international policy
based upon primary obligations within the inter-American
Community of States, without effecting commitments to other
countries and the United Nations.
XIII. Municipal and national constituent assembly
elections within a year that will provide a basis for
establishing a new Nicaraguan Constitutional System. Assis-
tance of O.A.S. and other democratic national sectors will
be used to guarantee free and honest elections. 10/
On the 13th of January, 1983, the FDN published a
widely distributed Peace Initiative which was essentially
ignored by the Sandinistas. Outlined in it were proposals
for general amnesty for dissidents, with full guarantees for
rights as citizens, revocation of the National Emergency Law
which places Nicaragua in a "state of siege," abolishment of
repressive institutions, cessations of religious oppression,
creation of a national army vice a one-party army,
disbandment of the Sandinista Peoples Militia, drastic
reduction in armament which is consuming a disproportinate
amount of scarce national resources, separation of public
administration from partisan political and ideological
activities, establishment of free speech, free press,
abolishment of all forms of censorship and state control of
the media, and cessation of persecution and extermination of
the Miskito population. 11/ The demands were many,
particularly to come from a group of rebels who neither
enjoyed the political solidarity nor the military might of
the Sandinistas. In an effort to seize the initiative, the
Sandinistas have loosened censorship restrictions on the
only private press, La Prensa, although everything must be
proofed by the Sandinistas before publication. There has
been public admission of crimes -- excesses committed
against the Miskito tribes relocated from their villages.
Other Sandinista proposals for modifying their government,
include elections in 1985, which will pose no problems as
lack of any opposition strength will assure a Sandinista
victory. The FDN now claims that it has more enlistees than
weapons and estimates of its seize range from 10,000 to
17,000 including teenagers of both sexes. For now however,
their problem still remains the Somoza stigma, and concern
that elusive military successes will threaten future
"covert" aid from the United States. Resupply problems and
the new firepower of the Sandinistas make a military
solution for the Contras appear highly remote.
Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (ARDE)
The next most influential Contra group is the
Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (ARDE) whose troops are
led by Eden Pastora, the Sandinista hero of the 1979
revolution, and Alfonso Robelo, former moderate member of
the Sandinista junta. Both defected because of increasing
repression by the Sandinists and growing influence of Cubans
and Soviets in governmental decisions. Robelo had formally
been the head of COSEP (Consejo Superior de Ia Enpresa
Private -- Higher Council of Private Enterprise) which was
the umbrella oganization that linked the chambers of
industry and commerce together. Robelo played a key role in
the general strikes organized against Somoza in 1978, and
after his overthrow, became one of the original five members
of the Sandinista junta. Robelo left Nicaragua on 24 March,
1982, when he realized that total censorship of the press,
FSLN ownership of most newspapers, radio and television
stations, and restriction of any political disagreement
offered no chance for emergence of democratic pluralism.
The FSLN had tolerated Robelo's Democratic Coordinating
Committee (MDN) as an outward show that pluralism existed,
but only manipulated the organization and world opinion in
the process. 12/
The other leader of the ARDE, Pastora, is perhaps the
only person among all the various Contra factions that has
any charisma. Pastora claims to be the true defender of
Sandinista ideals and claims much support from within
Nicaragua. Pastora and the ARDE, unlike the FDN, have
avoided being closely associated with the Reagan
administration and the CIA. Pastora would consider U.S.
intervention as against the nationalistic aims of the
revolution. Pastora had operated from a small camp outside
the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, where he operated a
clandestine radio station beaming anti-Sandinista propaganda
into Nicaragua. The ARDE claims to have 2,000 - 4,000
members but could potentially draw from 20,000 Nicaraguan
refugees who fled after 1979 and still reside in camps in
Northern Costa Rica. Pastora's ultimatum to the Cubans in
April 1983, was that they had 15 days to get out, or he
warned them, "They will end up like all who have dared to
interfere here; expelled or dead!" 13/ While the ARDE has
resisted direct U.S. assistance, or ties to the FDN, reality
has forced them to accommodate both in meeting their
$600,000 monthly budget. The ARDE remains chronically short
of funds and equipment and after a temporary suspension in
military operations in 1983, resumed activities again with
an infusion of aid from Israel, Columbia, Panama, Venzuela,
and other South America and European groups. While ARDE has
greater political credibility and associations with a more
radical revolution, disagreements between Robelo and Pastora
have weakened their unity. 14/ Neither is Costa Rica as
receptive as Honduras to allowing the ARDE Contras to
conduct their spectacular raids and then retreat into the
sanctuary of Costa Rican jungles. Costa Rica, without an
army, and with only a small police force, can ill-afford to
invoke the wrath of the powerful Sandinistas. President
Luis Monge has vowed to maintain Costa Rica's permanent
neutrality in regional conflicts. To complicate matters,
the Costa Rican attorney general's office filed homicide and
kidnapping charges against all the leaders of the ARDE,
including Pastora and his cousin Orion, Robelo, Brooklyn
Rivera, and Jose Davila. This may be a reaction to
increasing pressure and terrorist activities originating
from the Nicaraguan embassy in Costa Rica, 15/ and a gesture
to discourage an attack on Costa Rica in retaliation for
Pastora's activities. While Contra activities have not been
closed down completely, the Costa Rican government has
severely restricted the ARDE.
It is noteworthy to reflect upon purported Cuban
efforts to promote negotiations between Pastora and the
Sandinistas, possibly to weaken Contra efforts or further
divide the ARDE and FDN. A discussion of Pastora's
personality may offer some understanding why he may be
subject to Cuban influence, and why his revolutionary
motives are considered suspect. Pastora admits that his
ideology is Sandinismo, or at least that it approximates
social democracy. He also admits admiration for Fidel
Castro and Che Guevara. He organized his own Sandino
Revolutionary Front in 1959 and later gravitated to another
group that eventually became the FSLN. After three prison
terms and torture in Somoza jails, he left for Costa Rica.
In 1976 he again joined the Sandinist movement, and after
the 1979 revolution, he was passed over for top government
and military jobs. Just before the second anniversary of
the Sandinista victory, Pastora departed without saying a
word. He left behind a letter which stated: "I am going to
discharge my revolutionary gun powder against the oppressor
in whatever part of the world in which he is found, without
it mattering whether they call me Quixote or Sancho." 16/
Thomas Borge attributed Pastora's defection to ego and not
ideology. When Pastora became the most beloved war hero of
the revolution because of his daring raid on the Palace, an
instant cult arose around him. After Pastora acquired world-
wide fame, he wanted a position in the FSLN commensurate
with his new found status. Because of what the Junta
assessed as "personal limitations," Pastora did not get the
job he wanted. Disgruntled, he said he would join the
revolution in Guatamala. He defected and joined Robelo, who
was strongly denounced by Pastora only a year earlier. 17/
Pastora's true motives remain an enigma. The ARDE's
limited activities, internal dissent, and pressure from
Costa Rica serve to nullify large scale mobilization from a
southern front. That Pastora is perceived as a threat to
the FSLN junta, however, remains a reality. In October
1983, a member of the Basque Terrorist Organization, [Basque
Homeland and Liberty (ETA)] was arrested in Costa Rica. He
stated that he had been sent by Nicaragua to assassinate
Eden Pastora and other exile leaders. 18/
The third major group of Contras is the MISURASATA (an
acronym taken from Miskito, Sumo, and Rama -- three
Nicaraguan Indian tribes, and Sandinista) a coalition of
Indians and Creoles of about 2,000 strength that operates in
the jungles of Northeastern Nicaragua. When the Sandinists
toppled the Somoza dynasty in 1979, the main demand of the
Miskitos on the isolated Atlantic Coast was for legal titles
to their communal lands that they had occupied for hundreds
of years. The revolutionaries were more interested in
turning the Indians into party members. They attempted to
integrate the 100,000 Miskitos too hastily into the larger
population. Miskitos and smaller group of Sumos and Ramas,
soon became disenchanted with the FSLN's national literacy
campaign. They desired to learn how to read and write in
English, their customary language, rather than in Spanish,
which was initially taught. They rebelled against Sandinist
efforts to supplant the authority of their native leaders.
The Miskitos' leader was a young lawyer, Steadman Fagoth
Muller. In an attempt to clear a neutral zone some 50 miles
deep along the vulnerable Northeast border, the Sandinistas
began forced evacuation of Miskitos, destroying between 25
to 40 villages, killing an estimated 200 inhabitants and
evacuating 10,000 more. This was the Sandinistas first
attempt to neutralize the Miskito minority which comprised
some 4-5% of Nicaragua's population. 19/ The forced
resettlement was designed to prevent them from providing
food, shelter, and intelligence to the FDN operating from
Honduran sanctuaries. As the population became more
disgruntled with ideology taught by Sandinista volunteers
and Cuban cadres, the FSLN became concerned about a
separatist movement. Thirty-three Indian leaders were
arrested including Fagoth Muller who was accused of being an
official of Somoza's hated security apparatus. This move
elicited strong reaction as 5,000 Indians occupied a town in
northern Zelaya province for a month until their leaders
were freed. Upon their release, Fagoth immediately fled to
Honduras where he made contact with the FDN, and started
beaming broadcasts to the Indians on the exiles radio.
Initially, 200 Indians were provided training by the
Honduran Army and by December, 1981, had already initiated
their own independent attacks against Sandinista outposts
along the border. Reprisals by Sandinistas have caused an
exodus of as many as 15,000 - 20,000 Indians to camps across
the border where they presently rely upon the FDN for
military and logistics support and international aid
agencies for basic sustenance. This organization, for all
practical purposes, has been integrated into the FDN Contra
Another Miskito group is led by Brooklyn Rivera, and is
more closely aligned with Eden Pastora's radical ARDE.
Because Riveria reportedly hates Fagoth, the MISURASATA
effort is also inefficiently divided. Rivera's band of
several hundred Indians, primarily work the Eastern Coast
between the ARDE and the FDN.
Another group of Contras, the Revolutionary Nicaraguan
Armed Forces led by Fernando "El Negro" Chamorro, a former
Sandinista general, splintered off the ARDE and has openly
cooperated with the FDN in Honduras. Chamorro gained
international attention in 1979, when he climbed to the top
of Managua's Hotel International and initiated a one-man
bazooka attack against the heavily fortified bunker
personally belonging to Somoza. Alfonso Robelo states that
Chamorro was expelled from Costa Rica and lost contact with
the ARDE leadership. Chamorro's account is that he was
"tired of Pastora mouthing off" and that Pastora and his men
continue to display the Sandinista colors and sing their
anthem (in which the U.S. as cited as being the enemy). 21/
Basically, at the close of 1983, the FDN remains the
dominant group, with the ARDE and MISURATA - splinter group
led by Riveria, playing out secondary rules and without a
A liberal view is that support for the Contras has
served more to produce negative domestic and international
criticism of U.S. policies, than in curbing the militaristic
growth of Nicaragua. In fact, the pressure cooker that they
have been placed in, has allowed the Sandinistas extension
of their state of emergency, curtailment of constitutional
rights and censorship of the press. One European diplomat
stated, "Sometimes I think they must be very happy with the
attacks of the Reagan administration. ... It helps them
justify their [totalitarian] policies." Jaime Wheelock,
minister of agriculture, and another comandante of the
Sandinist Party agreed that, "This sense of danger and
tension has helped consolidate the revolution." 22/
On the U.S. home front, during November 1983, 20,000
persons marched in an anti-war demonstration in Washington,
D.C. The demonstrators gathered outside the offices of
Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of
Human Services, the State Department, and finally the White
House. They carried signs protesting U.S. support for anti-
government guerrillas in Nicaragua and for the government of
El Salvador. 23/
Collective U.S. strategies have not been without
significant impact. Because of severe economic
destabilization, harassment by Contras, and increasing
internal dissension calling for more moderation, the
Sandinistas proposed four security accords to the U.S. in
October 1983. These were non-aggression treaties between
Nicaragua and the U.S., between Nicaragua and Honduras, a
broader non-aggression treaty to be signed by all Central
America governments, and a draft accord to contribute to the
peaceful solution of the armed conflict in the Republic of
El Salvador. 24/ Three weeks later, the United Nations
General Assembly adopted, by consensus, a resolution which
called for an end to aggression against Nicaragua and
condemned attacks launched from outside Nicaragua against
the country's strategic installations. 25/
Congressional Limits on Cover Aid
Resistance and debate in Congress to limit or abolish
covert aid to the Contras has also been dynamic. Since
1974, members o Congress insisted on being informed about
such intelligence operations. In 1980, new legislation was
passed to centralize oversight responsibilities in both the
Senate and House intelligence committees. This legislation
called for the President to keep these congressional
committees fully advised and currently informed of
intelligence activities. As the "secret war" became more
publicly visible, and it became apparent that the "Contras"
sought total victory over the Sandinistas, members of
Congress feared wholesale escalation as well as the long
range impacts of regional and U.S. intervention. Edward
Boland (D-Mass), Chairman of The House Intelligence
Committee, attempted to limit chances for a larger war by
attaching to the fiscal year 1983 intelligence authorization
bill, a prohibition on any provision of "military equipment,
military training or advice, or other support for military
activities, for the purpose of overthrowing the government
of Nicaragua or provoking a military exchange between
Nicaragua and Honduras." 26/ This bill was finally passed
as (Boland-Zablocki Bill - H.R. 2760 28 July 1983) to end
U.S. covert operations and to authorize $38 million for FY83
and $50 million for FY84 for overt arms interdiction.
Boland again proposed a rider bill with similar language for
the intelligence authorization for fiscal year 1984, and the
House again confirmed their opposition to covert aid. The
Republican-controlled Senate sought a less stringent
limitation of "Contra" actions -- "getting Nicaragua to
cease exportation of revolution to its neighbors." A
compromise was struck which approved $29 million for the
administration to continue operations, with no statutory
limit on objectives, and no back door funding -- until June
1984. Then the administration must ask for more. 27/ A
primary factor in getting legislators to extend aid was the
overwhelming positive response by constituencies after the
invasion of Grenada, and the clear evidence of Soviet-Cuban
involvement in the Caribbean area. 28/
In the final analysis, though, the CIA concluded that
there are no circumstances under which the Contras can
achieve either a military or political victory over the hard-
lined Marxists. The Reagan administration has begun to
explore other possible solutions that would provide amnesty
for the "Contras."
As a confirmation of at least other nations' support
(in addition to the Contadora Group) to find alternative
solutions, Argentina`s new democratically elected President,
Raul Alfonsin, advised the U.S. that he was withdrawing
advisors from the Contras. This alignment with other
countries, critical of U.S. policy, is a clue that a
regional settlement, coordinated by Latin American countries
is a more desirable objective and more palatable to Central
U.S. Presence in Honduras
Heightened tensions between Nicaragua and Honduras,
which continues to provide sanctuaries for the FDN and
MISURASATA, are very real. Exacerbating this is the
increase of U.S. exercises, notably Big Pine II (Ahuas Tara
II), the construction and negotiation of U.S. military bases
in Honduras, and the presence of 5,000 - 7,000 U.S. military
personnel. It is generally believed that the Hondurans
desire the Contras to stay because it not only bolsters
their defensive capabilities along the southern border, but
also insures U.S. support in case of a Nicaraguan
The biggest obstacle to success for the Contras remains
the internal division and competition between the FDN and
the ARDE. Without cooperation, there cannot exist the
tactical advantage of employing multiple pressure points.
While there is talk of mutual support, a wide gulf exists
between the primary factions. There do not appear to exist
any brighter prospects for resolution in the future.
The Contras had gambled on a short and decisive war, a
"knockout punch," to restore the revolution to its original
goals. They worked very hard to win "the hearts and minds"
of the people, especially the Indians and peasants. Using
Mao Tse-Tung's Code of Conduct as their model, they were
trained to respect people and property. All food and
logistical supplies obtained from villages were paid for
with cash. The Sandinista patrols on the other hand, took
what they needed and gave receipts which are seldom honored.
The Contras used psychological warfare methods to exploit
discontent over the wrecked economy, repression, compulsory
participation into cooperatives, conscription, and required
attendance at political lectures held by the Sandinistas in
respective neighborhoods. 31/ Frequent clashes between the
Contras and Sandinista militias remained inconclusive, and
no significant control over any provinces was achieved. The
two-pronged offensive from Honduras and Costa Rica never
materialized. That is where the Contras remain today,
divided and waiting the outcome of a crucial 1984. The
success of the Contras is invariably tied to continued
monetary and logistical support from the U.S. But this is
an election year, and the defeat of incumbent U.S. President
Ronald Reagan may dash the hopes of the Contras for
continuing any kind of large scale counter-guerrilla
operations. In the meantime, training in Camp Cuba-
Nicaragua in Florida continues, and Adolfo Calero stumps the
U.S. in his three-piece suit, telling his story of a
revolution betrayed, and keeping the hopes of a Nicaraguan
Chapter Four: The Not So Secret War
1. Brenton R. Schlender and Gerald F. Seib. "Up
in Arms, Resisting Pressure from U.S., Nicaragua Grows More
Militaristic." Wall Street Journal, 31 May, 1983, p. 1.
2. Don O'Berdorfer. "U.S. Backed Nicaraguan Army
Swells to 7,000 Men." Washington Post, 8 May 1983. A-11
3. "Anti-Sandinista Rebels Curtail Some
Ojbectives." Washington Post, 20 February 1984. A-1, A-24
4. Bard E. O'Neill. "Insurgency: A Framework
fro Analysis" in Insurgency in the Modern World, ed. by Bard
O'Neill, William R. Heaton, and Donald J. Alberts, (Boulder,
CO: Westview Press, 1980) p. 3.
5. Adolfo Calero, quoted in Washington Post, 8
May 1983. A-11
6. "Taking Aim at Nicaragua." Newsweek, 22
March, 1982, pp. 24-5.
7. Edgar O'Ballance. "The Nicaraguan Domino."
Military Review, October, 1983, p.6.
8. Pronouncement of the Nicaraguan Democratic
Force - Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN), delivered by
Adolfo Calero to Ad Hoc Committee on Democracy for
Nicaragua, Washington, D.C.: 19 July, 1983, p. 2.
9. Christopher Dickey. "Rebel Odyssey, Foes of
Sandinistas Seek to Purge Somoza Stigma." Washington Post,
4 April, 1983. A-1, A-22.
10. Pronouncement, pp. 2-4.
11. Nicaraguan Democratic Force Peace Initiative,
submitted to OAS and Junta of Reconstruction, Managua, 13
January, 1983, p. 1.
12. "Nicaraguan Resistance Leader Voices
Optimism." Alfonso Robelo as quoted in West Watch, A Report
on the Americans and the World. Council for Inter-American
Security, ed. by Roger Reed. (Washington, D.C.: Inter-
American Press, Vol. VI, No. 2, May 1983), 4 pp.
13. "Nicaragua's Zero Option," Newsweek, 18
April, 1983, p. 40.
14. Christopher Dickey. "Pastora Renews Battle
Against Sandinistas in Nicaragua." Washington Post, 3 July,
1983. A-1, A-27
15. "Costa Rica Charges Pastora and Others in
Killing, Kidnap." Washington Post, 3 December, 1983. A-13
16. "Commander Zero's Resolve." Chicago Tribune,
14 August, 1983. B-1
17. Tomas Borge, as quoted by Claudia Dreifus in
"The Sandinistas" Playboy Interview. July, 1983.
18. Jay Mallin. "Basque's Arrest Embarrasses
Sandinistas." Washington Times, 3 October, 1983. 6A
19. "Moving the Miskitos." Time, 1 March, 1982,
21. Brenton Schlender. "Nicaraguan Exile Unites
Feud With Each Other As Well As Sandinistas." Wall Street
Journal, Vol. CCII, No. 18, 27 July, 1983, p. 1.
22. Wall Street Journal. Vol. CCI, No. 103, 31
May, 1983, p.1.
23. "20,000 Protest U.S. Intervention." Washing-
ton Post, 13 November 1983. B-8
24. "Sandinistas Propose Four Security Accords to
U.S." Washington Post, 21 October, 1983. A-1
25. Christian Science Monitor, 14 November, 1983,
26. I.M. Destler. "The Elusive Consensus:
Congress and Central America" in Central America, Anatomy of
Conflict, p. 327.
27. Ibid, p. 329.
28. Joanne Omang. "Reagan Gains Bulk of Latin
American Goals." Washington Post, 20 November, 1983. A-11
29. John M. Goshko. "Argentina Ends Contra Aid."
Washington Post, 19 January, 1984. A-1
30. Fred Hiatt. "U.S. Plans New Latin Maneuvers."
Washington Post, 2 February, 1984. A-1, A-23
31. O'Ballance, pp. 8-9.
CHAPTER FIVE: OPTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
Formulating a national strategy to counter the direct
Soviet challenge in Nicaragua is difficult. Any strategy
must be dynamically derived. What really are U.S. vital
interests? Basically they are defense of our homeland, U.S.
economic well being, world order (favorable to the U.S), and
promotion of American values abroad.
The United States has a number of interests in Central
America. Among the primary interests are preventing Central
America and the Caribbean from becoming an armed base for
the Soviet Union. Also, the protection of vital sea and
logistic routes makes the security of the Panama Canal a key
interest, as well as the security of the biggest domino to
our South, Mexico. The U.S. has an interest in supporting
the growth of democratic institutions in the region rather
than military or revolutionary dictatorships. There is also
an interest in earning the good will of the people despite
thirty-four American military interventions in the Caribbean
and Central America over the last ninety years. And
finally, a significant interest which impacts upon our
policy formulation is the issue of human rights. 1/
Fred C. Ikle, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy,
articulated the three elements of our Caribbean strategy in
the December issue of Defense 83. The underlying
principles of the strategy are a continuation and
stengthening of positive trends towards democratic
institutions, economic and social betterment for the people
of Central America, and prevention of Leninist totalitarian
regimes (complete with Stalinist Police Systems and
establishment of Soviet military bases) which become
irreversible and export their revolutions. First, the
United States desires to foster democratic and economic
development by facilitating trade, and by providing advice
and aid. The Caribbean Basin Initiative of the Reagan
Administration was cited as an implementive example of this
aspect of our strategy. Second, in order to accomplish the
above, guerrillas with a "rule or ruin" strategy must be
effectively neutralized. The guerrillas blow-up bridges,
destroy schools, and key economic institutions and
installations faster than U.S. economic aid can restore
them. The stablized environment necessary for social and
economic recovery, or the salvage and revitalization of the
Central America Common Market cannot exist without defeating
insurgents militarily. Ikle explicitly states the degree to
which this is to be accomplished:
We do not seek a military defeat for our friends
We do not seek a military stalemate
We seek victory for the forces of democracy. 2/
Sufficient military assistance must be allocated to
defeat organized forces of violence that refuse to accept
the democratic will of the people or allow establishment of
internal systems that will ensure justice and personal
political freedom. Third, the United States must prevent
the disintegration of Central America into East-West spheres
with one portion linked to the Soviet Union and the other to
the U.S., creating further potential for hostile
confrontation of military forces that could extend into the
next several decades. Economic support, democratic
development, and military assistance to the region must
succeed in preventing the Sandinistas from further becoming
an arsenal for insurgency and a haven for those exporting
violence. If these goals cannot be accomplished, the U.S.
must expect to see increasing use of violence and U.S.
forces to halt Soviet hegemony. 3/
The Kissinger Report
The timing of President Reagan appointing a special
bipartisan commission to propose solutions to conflict in
Central America was no coincidence. The U.S. was clearly
losing. The C.I.A. concluded that the Contras could not
win. Nicaragua continued to consolidate and militarize
despite clandestine military, political, and economic
pressures applied by the U.S.. Also, the army in El
Salvador was suffering significant defeats at the hands of
communist rebels. The one-hundred thirty-two page document
recounts the tortured history of Central America, our
neglect in policy, and the critical threat imposed by Soviet-
Cuban influence in Central America and specifically,
The Commission openly acknowledges that the Sandinista
government has made significant gains against illiteracy and
disease, but that economic performance has been poor because
of disruption caused by the revolution, world recession
which more significantly impacts upon mono-economies
(countries where two commodities comprise more than 50% of
total exports), and mismanagement associated with Marxist-
Leninist ideology. The commission also recognized that the
history of U.S. intervention both military and private, from
soldier of fortune William Walker to monopolies of fruit
companies and banks, has profoundly colored the attitude of
Central Americans. It has also fostered a perception of
U.S. economic and political imperialism, despite significant
technological, industrial, social and economic contributions
to Latin America.
A consensus was reached which considered that our moral
and strategic interests coincide and in broad terms outlined
those interests as follows:
(1) preserving the moral authority of the
(2) improving the living conditions of the
Central American people
(3) advancing the cause of democracy,
(4) strengthening the weakness of the
hemispheric system (North and South) both socially
(5) promoting peaceful change, and
resistance to democracy by terroristic forces
(6) Preventing hostile forces from expanding
on treatening our vital interests (oil, minerals,
(7) barring the Soviet Union or its
surrogates from consolidating footholds in Central
The above reiterates the strategy espoused by Under
Secretary Hickle, but also recognizes a tradition of deep
rooted social and moral deficiencies.
In order for such goals to be successfully achieved,
there must be total cooperation and assistance from non-
governmental institutions and groups, businesses, voluntary
organizations, churches and lay organizations, trade unions,
agricultural sectors, peasant leaders and cooperatives.
Implicit in such a sweeping and comprehensive strategy are
some major problems. The Sandinistas have already
capitalized on consolidating power in many of the special
interest groups cited. And a dilemma in Nicaragua is what
happens when confiscated lands, and businesses now turned
into cooperatives or nationalized, become the subject of
jurisdictional claims from former owners? Such ends are
mutually exclusive and would be a threat to a recalcitrant
The solution proposed is a buy-or-fight our way out
strategy. The price tag is in excess of $8.9 billion over a
5 year period. Through massive economic aid (approximately
75% economic and 25% military assistance), the U.S. hopes to
induce "behavior modification" in Central American countries
and produce a confederation that will isolate Nicaragua or
force them to integrate. Despite current political
differences, Nicaragua is recognized as being an essential
part of the Central American economy, although it has
deteriorated and undermined linkages with the rest of the
Central American economic network. Among the current
conditions and causes of Central American economic demise
are the high cost of energy imports, interregional conflict
and political rivalries, extensive foreign debt, and one
that the commission does not specify, widespread corruption
and the influence of "militar fuerar." In addition to an
energy stablization program, the commission recommended
eight key elements for an economic recovery program:
(1) The U.S. and Central American countries
develop a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate the
Central American Common Market.
(2) Maximum participation by the private
sector, i.e. training, technical advice, and new
public and private initiatives to foster economic
recovery and growth.
(3) The U.S. would address the servicing of
external debt, lengthening or deferring payment
(4) Immediate increase in bilateral
assistance from $628 million in FY83 to $877
million in FY84.
(5) Expanded aid for housing projects
employing labor intensive methods to provide more
jobs. Also improvements in electricity, irriga-
tion, roads, bridges and municipal services.
(6) Trade credit guarantees and seasonal
credits for agricultural concerns.
(7) The U.S. would provide energy credits
to the Central American Common Market.
(6) The U.S. would join the Central American
Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI) and provide
investment capital for small entrepreneurs and new
business ventures. 5/
The ambitious programs, already evaluated by the Reagan
administration, have been submitted to Congress. They pose
a very expensive solution at a time when U.S. deficits
approach an historical record. Constituencies will play an
important role in determining final acceptance of these
recommendations in an election year. While the commission
was chaired by both Republicans and Democrats representing a
range of conservative and liberal opinions, the issue of $8
billion plus will be bantered around in campaign rhetoric
with each side having the ideal solution. Division and
argument, without immediate implementation, will only
prolong the agony of Central American problems and
inevitably require large scale military intervention. The
report maintains that in order for a massive aid program to
be effective, assistance must be disbursed on a conditional
basis to those countries that can demonstrate strong
judicial systems, where individual grievances can be fairly
and objectively addressed and resolved, where free elections
representing the will of all the people determine national
and municipal leadership, where free and democratic trade
unions exist, and finally, where there is a significant
improvement in the social conditions of the poorest.
Nicaragua would be encouraged to participate in a newly
created Central American Development Organization (CADO),
which would be open to the seven countries of Central
America -- Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatamala,
Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, and to the United States
which would serve as chairman. Further associate status
would be available to other Latin American democracies
willing to allocate resources to accomplish the regional
objectives outlined above. The control of all aid would
have to rest with the donors and would be conditional upon
progress towards economically, politically, and socially
defined objectives. This multilateral body would include
eminent Central Americans drawn from the private sector
primarily, including representatives of democratic trade
unions, business or government.
A key assessment by the panel is that any institutions
tied to regional development and progress, must represent
indigenous efforts. If the "hearts and minds" of the people
are not enthusiastically captured for programs, they cannot
succeed no matter how much the U.S. spends or desires to
influence regional stability. In order for economic
development to exist, there must be a great reduction in
regional violence, which accelerates not only capital
flight, but the loss of technical and professional personnel
essential for implementation of economic and industrial
In the areas of human development, the following areas
were targeted to improve living conditions and basic
-- Reduction of malnutrition
-- Elimination of illiteracy
-- Primary education and health care for all
-- Reduction in the infant mortality rate
-- Improvement in housing conditions and
reduction in the population growth
The Sandinista government became highly successful when
it implemented many of these same health and social reform
programs early in its tenure. They were programs badly
needed. The legitimate grievances which caused such
problems were not invented by the junta, but served to make
the insurgency possible. The proliferation of grievances
forced the oppressed to seek the social reformist ideology
of Marxism without realizing that totalitarianism, not a
democratic socialism, would be the final outcome.
To promote cultural and educational ties, the
Commission recommended expansion of the Peace Corps role in
a front-line literacy campaign. (The U.S. is 2,000 Cuban
teachers too late in this program for Nicaragua, but in all
the other Central American countries, this great need still
exists.) Vocational training, strengthening the major
universities and judicial systems, are included in
recommended educational programs, as well a substantial
expansion in scholarships to complete with and exceed those
offered by the Soviets. For example, in Fiscal Year 1982,
there were only 391 scholarships awarded to Central
Americans as opposed to 7,500 by Soviet, Eastern Bloc, and
Cuban institutions of higher learning. 7/
The Commission recognized the need for significant
increases in military aid to fight leftist guerrillas and
also to fund Contra operations "to create conditions under
which Nicaragua can take its place as a peaceful and
democratic member of the Central American community." There
were, however, minority dissents filed with the report which
recommended suspension of covert aid to the "Contras"
through 1985 so that the Sandinista government can
demonstrate its capacity for adhering to election schedules,
and movement towards a more pluralistic government. Such a
cut-off would be contingent upon Nicaragua modifying their
policy of exporting advisors and aid to Salvadoran
insurgents, and a decrease in military buildup activities.
This, the panel maintains, would in turn decrease the U.S.
requirement to provide higher levels of military aid to
Honduras and El Salvador.
The Kissinger Commission and Reagan Administration also
support enforcement of stability in Central America through
the Central American Defense Council (CONDECA). This
alliance was formed in 1964 by the military dictators of
Central America. It encouraged mutual defense provisions,
joint maneuvers, and generally provided a military mechanism
to ensure that social and economic development could
continue. 8/ Because Somoza was a principal figure in this
organization, there is reluctance by some Central American
nations, notably Panama, to fully accept CONDECA as a means
to further isolate Nicaragua.
The Report of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Published as a collection of essays by Central American
specialists, Central American, Anatomy of Conflict, was
released shortly after the Kissinger Report. Its purpose
was "to crystallize democratic thinking," to provide
additional analyzes of complex issues in Central America and
to offer more liberal solutions which diminish the
possibility of a U.S. military intervention. While the
Kissinger report details that regional crises must be met by
a combination of economic, military, political and social
measures, the Carnegie report supports political
negotiations between warring priorities ahead of an $8.9
billion aid program. Political settlements, editor Robert
Leiken argues, would enable revival and growth of the
Central American Common market, and without such
settlements, a "massive U.S. Marshall Plan for Central
America would not be successful and only would lead to
further polarization by rewarding friends and punishing
enemies." 9/ There exists fear among liberals both in the
U.S. and Latin America, that massive aid would only end up
in Florida real estate or Miami bank accounts. The Carnegie
report also states that the Bipartisan Report only serves to
further reinforce current Reagan administration policy,
except for recommendations that aid be more stringently tied
to human rights reforms as a means of controlling right wing
death squads. The report cites Honduras as an example of
what would happen if the impacts of U.S. policy are not
thoroughly considered. Despite significant military aid and
development assistance since 1981, and a strong U.S.
military presence through joint exercises, there has been
little change in the social conditions in Honduras. A wide
disparity still exists between rich and poor, the balance of
power has shifted from the civilian government to the
military allied with the oligarchy, and there has been an
increased possibility of destablizing non-extremist forces
in the region. 10/
The Carnegie report concludes that the Sandinista
government in Nicaragua should negotiate with their
opposition and provide greater participation with middle-
class and private enterprise not aligned with the FSLN.
Without creating a stable environment with broad base
cooperation, the Carnegie report dooms the Nicaraguan
economy to continuing failure. Appeals for such
accommodations, however, from both Carter and Reagan
administrations, have fallen on deaf ears in Managua.
The Military Option 11/
Scenario: An Invasion and Occupation of Nicaragua
To isolate the struggle in El Salvador, the U.S.
moves against Nicaragua. American troops and
representative CONDECA contingents establish
beachheads and air heads in Nicaragua, take over
the principal cities of Nicaragua, extend a
presence throughout the countryside, and proceed
to deal with sabotage and insurgency after the
high-intensity warfare has died down.
So reads the proposal by Theodore H. Moran who is a
contributor to Central America, Anatomy of Conflict. Moran
is currently Landegger Professor and director of the program
in International Business Diplomacy at the Georgetown
University School of Foreign Service, and formerly a member
of the policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of
State. Moran in his study, attempts to determine the
alternative costs for four different scenarios. Moran does
not try to judge which of his 5 year scenarios is best, nor
suggest that U.S. policy decisions on Central America will
be based only upon economic issues. What he does attempt to
do is provide a stimulus for the larger debate on political
and security issues for U.S. policy and strategy formulation
for 1984 and beyond.
Moran draws upon three separate analyses by military
experts and consultants, all which call for between two and
three divisions of American troops backed by air and
logistics support. His assessment recognizes that there
exist many uncertainties in trying to estimate American
losses, notably, the pace at which an intervention would
proceed, and the endurance of Nicaraguan resistance.
In the base scenario, U.S. forces conduct the main
fighting with perhaps some CONDECA representation. The U.S.
forces would be comprised of one Marine Division, one U.S.
Army air mobile division, one Army light infantry brigade,
and one Ranger battalion. Their mission would be to seize
airports and beachheads, conduct a link-up, and occupy the
four major Nicaraguan cities in 12 days. For the next 20
days, the U.S. would expand their presence to the
countryside seeking out Sandinista insurgents over the next
3 months. Sandinista resistance would be reduced as their
logistical supplies are drawn down. One U.S. division would
withdraw after 122 days of intense fighting, and over the
next 5 year period, the remaining one-and-a half U.S.
divisions along with CONDECA contingents, would seek out and
destroy the remaining FSLN forces. Exports in the
Nicaraguan economy would drop 80% during the initial year of
fighting, while import levels would remain constant through
American economic aid. American assistance is also required
to off-set a 20% reduction in revenues, and $500 million
would be allocated for reconstruction and development.
Sabotage over the next four years would prevent exports from
reaching more than 60% of 1982 levels and an additional $300
million per year would be needed for reconstruction and
An expansion of the above scenario would add Air Force
and Navy air support, with appropriate logistics and
personnel: (61,000 total with 25,000 direct combatants),
three air wings (216 fixed wing aircraft and 734
helicopters) with tanks, trucks, armored personnel carriers
would constitute part of the equipment. During the first 32
days of intense fighting, 148 helicopters and 7 fixed wing
aircraft would be lost. U.S. casualties would be 50-100 per
day killed-in-action (KIA) in built-up areas, with 300-600
wounded-in-action (WIA) during the first 12 days. These
figures are based upon statistical records of Vietnam, which
reflect a 6 to 1 wounded to dead rate although some military
analysts conclude that as high as a 10 to 1 ratio may be
more appropriate for application to Nicaragua. American
casualties would diminish to 15-30 KIA and 120-180 WIA over
the next 20 days. In summary, during initial intense
fighting, American KIA's total between 1,061-2,122, WIA's,
5,400-10,800, not including accidental deaths based again
upon Vietnam ratios of 1 accidental death per 5.6 killed due
to enemy action. A much higher rate of civilian casualties
would occur in such an intense environment. In the
subsequent 3 months and in presumed lower intensity, the
casualty figures would be 15 helicopters, 3 planes, 450-900
KIAS, 2,700-5,400 WIA's, and 81-161 accidental deaths.
In the next two year period, 30 helicopters, 6
aircraft, 200-600 KIA's, and 300-900 WIA's, would become
casualties, and figures assume that CONDECA troops and
Contras implement any pacification programs. For the final
two years and eight months, the attrition rate is 15
helicopters, 2 aircraft, 400 U.S. KIA, 600 WIA, all based
upon declining resistance and ability to cut-off logistical
support from external sources such as Cuba or Soviet bloc
countries. The total five year losses recapitulated are:
Total estimated cost of equipment lost is $2,608
million broken down as follows:
Helicopters - 2,306 million
(75% attack helicopters, Blackhawks at $7 million each,
Apaches at $10 million each, 20% observation helicopters at
$4 million each, and 5% heavy lift helicopters at $27
Fixed-wing Aircraft - $222 million
(70% of losses -- replaced by F-16's at $22 million each,
10% Harriers at $24 million each, 10% F-15's at $27 million
each, and 10-A-6E's at $36 million each)
Tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks, etc. - $50 million
Tacked on to equipment losses is the incremental
operating costs of maintaining an infantry division in
combat. The figures of $1.938 million is derived from
subtracting the average daily cost of a division in training
status in the U.S. ($2.192 million/day) from the average
daily cost of maintaining an infantry division during
Vietnam ($4.705 million/day in 1983 dollars). Different
rates of expenditures are applied relative to the intensity
of combat over the 5-year period. Coupled with aid, the
economic cost of invasion and occupation of Nicaragua for
the 1984-1989 period is:
1. Equipment losses $2,608
2. Operating costs 1,938
3. Economic assistance 6,100
While such costs are staggering, Moran is quick to
point out that there is an inherent danger in trying to
project costs based upon the historical experience of
Vietnam and by cranking figures through simulation models.
There are just too many unknown variables. Such an
approach, is aimed only at a segment of total regional
problems. Application of any scenario is bound to result in
further deterioration in Central America and require long
term military and economic initiatives. One thing that the
author does allude to, is the level of Sandinista
resistance. Since Contra initiatives began on a wider scale
in 1981, the leftist regime has been actively preparing for
invasion and storing provisions and arms in the rugged
mountain country of Nicaragua. The Sandinistas are prepared
to wage a long term guerrilla war that would result in much
higher casualties and cost. A U.S. invasion would also
cause additional popular support for the Sandinistas based
solely upon Nicaraguan hatred of U.S. interventionism. Eden
Pastora of the ARDE has reiterated on several occasions that
the problems of Nicaragua must be solved by Nicaraguans, and
the U.S. military action would revive the nationalistic
spirit of Sandino in all his countrymen.
A criticism of this particular article is that it pays
too little attention to the terrain and geography of
Nicaragua. It does not address how thinly our air and naval
assets would be stretched and what would be the U.S. ability
to respond to other world crises where vital interests are
at stake. Neither does the analysis fully address the
negative consequences of fighting in several major cities
where 60% of Nicaraguans live, and where thousands of
innocent civilians would be killed. How much more prepared
today is the U.S. military to pursue an enemy in extended
jungle and mountain warfare where logistical burdens are
enormous, while at the same time countering massive acts of
sabotage in rear area installations? Will there really
exist a rear area? In an environment similar to Vietnam, it
was difficult to distinguish between friend and foe. The
Spanish and English speaking Nicaraguans, may be grudging
tolerators of U.S. presence by day, but guerrillas by night.
In the final analysis, no solution is going to come
cheaply to solve regional conflict and counter Soviet
influence. Whether our strategy is a continuation of
present policy, a negotiated solution with power sharing by
left and right winged factions, a military solution with
surrogates, or direct invasion by U.S. forces, the primary
emphasis must be to promote long term stablization at least
cost of U.S. lives. Not in favor of the U.S. is a chronic
history of interventions which has alienated Central
Americans. What ultimately is in favor of the U.S., is an
honest appraisal of deficiences in the past, and a marriage
of both moral and strategic interests for the future. The
final test will be the resolve of the American people.
Overwhelming support for the Reagan administration after the
invasion of Grenada, demonstrated that Americans do not
desire a Soviet hegemony on their borders. But Nicaragua is
not Grenada. A military victory there will be neither quick
nor cheap. Even when U.S. troops eventually prevailed,
combat losses, domestic dissent, and a damaged U.S. alliance
system could turn tactical victory into strategic
defeat. 12/ Can the United States live with a Sandinista
regime if it does not continue as an instrument of communist
revolution? Complex questions without easy answers.
If there is a peaceful solution in the future, the U.S.
must strive for it with all its collective being. If there
cannot be a peaceful solution, Americans will face the
prospects of war in the next two years.
The biggest danger is a naivete of an American public
that negotiations will deter the Sandinistas or Soviets from
seeking their ultimate objective, strategic and economic
defeat of the United States. Because of Soviet objectives,
the U.S. must remain physically and morally prepared for the
worst case situation.
Chapter Five: Options For The Future
1. "The Risks in Central America." Commonweal,
22 April, 1983, p. 227.
2. Ikle. "Caribbean Strategy," pp. 8-15.
4. "Kissinger Report," p. 37.
5. Ibid., pp. 45-60.
6. Ibid., p. 68.
7. Ibid., p. 72.
8. Walker, p. 108.
9. Robert S. Leiken. "Can The Cycle Be Broken,"
in Central America, Anatomy of Conflict, pp. 3-15.
11. Theodore H. Moran. "The Cost of alternative
U.S. Policies Toward El Salvador 1984-1989," in Central
America, Anatomy of Conflict, pp. 166-170.
12. Joseph Cirincione and Leslie C. Hunter.
"Military Threats, Actual and Potential," in Central
America, Anatomy of Conflict, p. 189.
On 13 March, 1983, the Senate Intelligence Committee
authorized an additional $21 million in Covert aid to the
counterrevolutionary forces in Nicaragua. A Department of
Defense spokesman the same day admitted that the United
States has exceeded its self-imposed ceiling of 1,700 troops
and that 2,000 troops will be in Honduras by the end of
March. These troops are scheduled to conduct "a series of
emergency deployment readiness exercises."
President Reagan has appointed a new Ambassador to
Nicaragua, Harry E. Bergold, Jr., and Congress has not yet
acted on his request for $1.2 billion in economic and
military aid to Central America, the first installment of
the five-year $8.9 billion package recommended by the
Kissinger Commission. President Reagan has publicly stated,
"As a nation, we can't afford to let this issue drag on
while people die in Central America."
In Nicaragua, the Sandinista government has dispatched
troops, artillery and tanks to the Honduran border to
counter an expected rebel offensive. Because of the
Grenada experience, Cuba has decided to restructure their
corps of "advisors" in Nicaragua to better prepare for
aggression against Nicaragua. Cuba is also considering
withdrawing its 25,000 troops from Angola perhaps they will
end up in Nicaragua. The United States next war has already
Esther and Mortimer Arias. The Cry of My People. New York:
Friendship Press, 1980. Recounts the social injustices
of South America that require radical, and violent if
necessary, action by Christians.
Gustavo Gutierrez. A Theology of Liberation, translated and
edited by Sister Caridad India and John Eagleson. Mary-
knoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1973. A classic inter-
pretation of liberation theology with a Marxist bias.
Terry L. Heyns, ed., Understanding U.S. Strategy: A Reader.
Washington, D.C: National Defense University Press,
1983. An excellent collection of articles addressing
the U.S. vital interests during an era of U.S. decline.
*Robert S. Leiken, ed., Central America, Anatomy of Conflict.
Published in cooperation with Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, New York: Pergamon Press, 1984.
Liberal counter proposals to the Kissinger Bipartisan
Report. Leiken, et al, call for negotiated solutions
with leftists ahead of military air or U.S. interven-
Bard E. O'Neill, William R. Heaton, and Donald J. Alberts,
ed.`s. Insurgency in the Modern World. Boulder,
Colorado: Westview Press, l980. Provides a succinct
framework for analyzing the elements of insurgency and
provides testbook case studies.
*James D. Rudolph, ed., Nicaragua: A Country Study. (Area
Handbook series: DA pam. 550-88). Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982. 2nd ed. A basic
reference providing history from the colonial period to
current problems of the FSLN.
*Richard L. Millett. Guardians of the Dynasty. Maryknoll,
N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1977. A chronicle of U.S. Marine
intervention, training of the National Guard, and the
Somoza family's 44 year dictatorship.
________, and W. Marvin Will, ed., The Restless Caribbean.
New York: Praeger Publishers, 1979.
*John J. Tierney, Jr. Somozas and Sandinistas: The U.S. and
Nicaragua in the Twentieth Century. Published jointly by
the councils for Inter-American Security and for Inter-
American Security Educational Institute. Washington, D.C.:
1982. Discusses rise to power of the Sandinistas and
current problems they pose to the U.S. and Central America.
*Thomas W. Walker. Nicaragua, The Land of Sandino. Boulder,
Colorado: Westview Press. Second printing 1982. Chroni-
cles the history of Nicaragua and rise of the FSLN. Pro-
fuse with leftist rhetoric but does provide many useful
*Denotes key references for research
U.S. Government Documents and Contract Reports
Thomas P. Anderson. The Two Revolutions: Nicaragua and
Cuba - Similarities and Differences. Prepared for
Office of Long Range Assessments and Research, Dept.
of State, Contract No. 1722-320036, Eastern Connecti-
cut State University, 3 Feb., 1983. Compares the
application of communist revolutionary models in both
Alex Alexiev. Soviet Strategy in the Third World and
Nicaragua. Santa Monica, Ca.: Rand Corporation,
March 1982. A discussion of Soviet designs on the
Caribbean and the militarization of Nicaragua.
Edward Gonzales. Reflections on Nicaragua and the Cuban
Model. Dept. of State, Contract No. 1722-320039,
Santa Monica, Ca.: Rand Corporation and U.C.L.A.
3 Feb., 1983. Similar to Anderson above.
Colonel Kenneth E. Murphy, U.S. Army. "Senior Officer
Debriefing Report, Commander, COMUSMILGP, Nicaragua,
20 July 1971 - 20 December 1973." (RCS-CSFOR-74).
APO New York: U.S. Dept. of Defense, U.S. Military
Group Nicaragua, letter dated 21 December, 1973.
File Symbol SCNI-CO. Military briefiing on Nicaragua
and cites potential sources for future insurrection.
Bernard C. Nalty. The United States Marines in Nicaragua.
Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps
G-3 Division Historical Branch. (Revised) 1968.
Harry F. Young. Atlas of United States Foreign Relations.
U.S. Dept. of State Bureau of Public Affairs. Pub.
9350, Washington, D.C.: June 1983. A general re-
ference work which graphically highlights interna-
tional treaty organizations.
U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on
Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Inter-American
affairs. Assessment of Condition in Central America.
Hearings, April 29 and May 20, 1980. (96th Congress,
2d Session). Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1980.
Testimonies on suppressive activities in Nicaragua
and Marxist domination.
_________. United States Policy Toward Nicaragua. Hearings
June 21 and 26, 1979. (96th Congress, 1st Session)
Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1979.
U.S. Department of Defense. Soviet Military Power. Wash-
ington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, March 1983. 2nd ed.
___________. and U.S. Department of State, "Background
Paper: Central America." Following to May 13, 1983
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the
House of Representatives Report on Cuban, Soviet,
and Nicaraguan Activities in Central America. Wash-
ington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 27 May, 1983. A basic re-
ference which is a collection of CIA evidence on the
militarization of Nicaragua. President Reagan went
public with this information to bolster increased aid
for Latin America military and economic programs.
U.S. Department of Commerce. "Foreign Economic Trends and
Their Implications for the United States - Nicaragua."
Prepared by the American Embassy in Managua. FET 82-
118. Washington, D.C., December 1982.
__________. "Labor Trends in Nicaragua." Prepared by the
American Embassy in Managua, draft notes dated April,
1983. No place or author provided. Obtained from
Nicaragua Desk, U.S. Dept. of State. A sketch of
Nicaragua's economy, labor unions, and problems.
U.S. Executive Department. Report of the National Bipartisan
Commission on Central America. Chairman, Henry A.
Kissinger. Washington, D.C., January 10, 1984. The
consensus report which recommended $8.9 billion aid to
Latin America for the period 1984-1989.
U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Nicaragua.
Bureau of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO,
January 1983. A concise document on Nicaraguan facts.
___________. "Comprehensive Strategy for Central America."
Current Policy No. 502, Washington, D.C.: August 4,
__________. "Nicaragua: Threat to Peace in Central America,"
Current Policy No. 476, Washington, D.C., 12 April,
White House Digest, Office of Media Relations and Planning,
Four issues. June 1, July 13, July 20, August 24,
1983 relating to Central America and Nicaragua subjects.
An excellent collection of short topics which highlight
repression and external influence in Nicaraguan affairs.
Magazine and Periodical Articles on Nicaragua
Over 250 magazine articles were consulted covering the
period from July 1979 to 10 March, 1984. Primary reference
materials were U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, and
Time Magazines. Those articles considered most representa-
tive are listed herein:
"An Evolving Policy: U.S. Intervention and the Reagan Admin-
istration." Coalition for a new Foreign and Military
Policy, Washington, D.C. March, 1983, 5 pp: A left-
wing Tabloid but gives a good outline of U.S. policy
"A Foreign Policy Emerges." Newsweek, March 9, 1981. pp. 22-
"Arguing About Means and Ends." Time, April 18, 1983. pp. 30-
"A Revolution of Disillution." World Press Review, June 1983.
Jim Boyce, Major USMC. "Combat Patrol: Nicaragua." Leather-
neck, October, 1982. pp. 40-44. A general article which
gives an appreciation for difficult guerrilla warfare.
"Covert Operations Voting Record." Campaign Against U.S.
Intervention. Legislative Update, Supplement-D. Coali-
tion for a New Foreign and Military Policy. Washington,
D.C.: August 10, 1983. A liberal lobby group but details
on the evolution of the Boland-Zablocki Amendment are good.
"Crackdown - Sandinistas Fail Businessmen." Time, November
2, 1981. p. 44.
George de Lama. "Spreading the Marxist Gospel." Chicago
Tribune Magazine, 22 August 1982, Section 9. A satirical
article recounting that "Jesus was a Sandinista" for
radical Marxist-Christians in Nicaragua.
"Double or Quits in Nicaragua." The Economist, 20 March,
1982. pp. 55-56. Recounts Eden Pastora's defection
from the FSLN.
"Falling Dominoes: Is Nicaragua Next?" Nicaragua Information
Center Bulletin. Berkeley, Ca.: November, 1983. 4 pgs.
A left wing tabloid.
Vincent J. Giese. "The Church in Nicaragua." Our Sunday
Visitor White Paper. Huntington, IN: 7 November, 1982.
4 pgs. Recounts the religious persecution being ex-
perienced in Nicaragua.
Chuck Henry, SSgt USMC. "Ahuas Tara II." Marines, January,
1984. pp. 19-22. A brief article on joint Marine-
Honduras amphibious operations.
"Hero Unwelcome." The Economist, 24 April, 1982. p. 64.
On Eden Pastora, FSLN defector trying to find his
Joyce Hollyday and Jim Wallis. "Nicaragua; A Fragile Future."
Sojourners, March 1983. pp. 8-13. A liberal appraisal
of the 1979 revolution in Nicaragua and propaganda for
the FSLN programs.
Maurice G. Holmes, Captain, USMC. "With the Horse Marines in
Nicaragua." Marine Corps Gazette, February 1984. pp. 36-
Fred C. Ikle. "The Three Elements of Our Caribbean Strategy."
Defense 83, December 1983. pp. 10-15. Excellent and
crisp statement of U.S. policy for the region.
"In Nicaragua, A Revolution Gone Sour." U.S. News and World
Report, 18 October, 1982. pp. 41-45.
"Inside Communist Nicaragua: The Miquel Bolanos Transcripts."
The Backgrounder. Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foun-
dation. No. 294, 30 September, 1983. Bolanos is an
FSLN defector and was a member of the Government Security
Apparatus. Attempts to confirm facts with the Heritage
Foundation were negative concerning allegations that the
Soviets are building a trans-istamian canal.
Stephen Kinser. "Nicaragua, The Beleagured Revolution." New
York, Times Magazine, 28 August, 1983. pp. 22-28, 65-
66. Excellent essay and pictorial view of Nicaragua's
precipitous position and economy.
"Kissinger's Rescue Plan." U.S. News and World Report, 23
January, 1984. pp. 22-25.
James LeMoyne. "The Secret War Boils Over." Newsweek, 11
April, 1983. pp. 46-7.
"Moving the Miskitos." Time, 1 March, 1982. p. 22.
"New NSC Chief Inherits a Bag of Troubles." Time 31
October, 1983. p.28.
"Nicaragua's Agonizing Slide." World Press Review. July
1981. pp. 26-28.
"Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama." Quarterly Economic Review.
London: The Economist Intelligence Unit. Three issues:
3rd Qtr. 1981, No. 3 1983, and Annual Supplement. Various
pages. An analysis of Nicaragua's GNR and economic dif-
"Nicaragua's Contras Face a Rough Road." U.S. News and World
Report, 29 August, 1983. pp. 29-30.
"Nicaragua: The Contras Set-Up Shop." Newsweek, 4 April,
"Nicaragua: Development Under Fire." Facts For Action. Oxfam,
America. Boston, Mass. Vol. 8.
"Nicaragua Enjoys a Lull But Still Runs Scared." U.S. News and
World Report, 5 March, 1984. pp. 31-32.
"Nicaragua Nettle." The New Republic, 9 May, 1983. pp. 15-16.
"Nicaragua: Scared of U.S. But Still Talking Tough." U.S.
News and World Report, 14 November, 1983. pp. 26-27.
"Nicaragua: A Whole New Universe." Time, 18 January, 1982.
Nicaragua Update. By Nicaragua Interfaith Committee for Action.
San Francisco, Ca. Vol. 5, Issue 6, December 1983 and
Vol. 6, No. 1. Jan/Feb - 1984.
Nicaragua: A Look at the Reality. Published by Quixote Center.
Hyattsville, MD: September 1983, 3d printing.
"Nicaraguan Resistance Leader Voices Optimism." West Watch.
Vol. VI, No. 2. May 1973. pp. 1-8.
"Nicaragua's Zero Option." Newsweek, 18 April, 1983. p. 40.
Wallace H. Nutting, General U.S.A. "A World in Conflict."
Defense 83, December 1983. p. 2-9.
Edgar O'Ballance. "The Nicaraguan Domino." Military Review,
October 1983. pp. 2-l0.
"Perspectives on Nicaragua." Commonweal, 22 April, 1983.
"Revolution on a Leash." The Economist, 3 April, 1982. pp. 57-
"The Sandinista War on Human Rights." The Backqrounder. No.
277, Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation. 19 July, 1983.
"The Sandinistas." Playboy. Interview with the leaders of the
Marxist junta in Nicaragua. July, 1983. Various pages -
20 total. An excellent and candid interview with all
members of the Nicaragua junta of National Reconstruction.
Alludes to their internal divisions.
"Somoza's Violent Death." Newsweek, 29 September, 1980. pp. 34-
"Taking Aim at Nicaragua." Newsweek, 22 March, 1982. pp. 20-29.
John Hoyt Williams. "Augusto Cesar Sandino: Was Latin America's
Romantic Revolutionary the First Sandinista?" Soldier of
Fortune, December 1982. pp. 32-39.
Frank Aker. "Tactics The Theory and Practice of Revolutionary
Warfare." Woodbridge, Va. October 1983. Dr. Aker is an
independent State Dept. Analyst. In this thesis, he
analyzes application of "foco" theory and other models.
__________. "The Third World War and Central America: U.S.
Strategic and Security Considerations in the Caribbean
Basin." Woodbridge, Va. No date. Forecast of Soviet
hegemony creeping towards our borders.
__________. ed. Treaties, Conventions, Agreements and United
States Public Laws of the Caribbean Region. A complia-
tion of all treaties currently in effect in this region.
Adolfo Calero Portocarrero. Pronouncement of the Nicaraguan
Democratic Force Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN.
Statement delivered to the Ad Hoc Committee on Democracy
For Nicaragua, 106 Dirksen Building, Washington, D.C.,
19 July, 1983. Obtained from Aker files.
Daniel Ortega Saavedra. The Philosophies and Policies of the
Government of Nicaragua. Delivered to the United Nations,
New York: March 25, 1982. Obtained from the Nicaragua
Information Center, Berkely, Ca.
James Sensenbrenner, Member - U.S. Congress. Unedited trip
notes dated 11 October 1983. Gives insight into press
and religious censorship in Nicaragua, as well as state
of economy. Obtained from files of Dr. Frank Aker.
Brief descriptions of war torn economy, presence of
Soviet weapons observed on Nicaragua fact finding trip.
L.J. Sklenar, Major, USMC and Major L. Wilson, Jr., USMC.
Nicaragua: Revolution Betrayed. Thesis submitted for
War Since 1945 Symposium. Marine Corps Command and
Staff College, Marine Corps Development and Education
Command, Quantico, Virginia. 229 pp. June 1983.
Lewis A. Tambs. "Guatemala, Central America and the Caribbean -
A Geopolitical Glance." Delivered to the U.S. House of
Representatives Sub-Committee on Inter-American Affairs.
Dr. Tambs is currently U.S. Ambassador to Columbia and
was a senior consultant to the National Security Council
when this paper was delivered. Dr. Frank Aker above was
a contributor to this report. Washington, D.C.: July
30, 1981. Excellent evaluation of our Caribbean vital
interests and logistics pipelines.
"Central American Showdown in Nicaragua." Chicago - Sun Times,
1 June 1982. A-1.
Christian Science Monitor. 9 May 1983 - 15 February 1984.
New York Times. 15 April 1981 - 30 November 1984.
Wall Street Journal. 31 May 1983 - 30 November 1983.
Washington Post. 30 July 1981 - 14 March 1984.
Washington Times. 11 April 1983 - 14 March 1984.
Over 200 Newspaper Articles were consulted. The bias
represented by the news articles ranged from the most
conservative The Washington Times, to the liberal Washington
Post and New York Times. The Washington Times has generally
been favorable to Reagan administration policies while
writers of the liberal papers, have supported negotiated
settlements with leftist guerrillas and denounced U.S.
military intervention. Criticism has diminished somewhat
since the Grenada invasion which showed strong public
support for that action. Joanne Omange of the Washington
Post has consistently presented objective reports on
Nicaragua. Key articles have been cited in the endnotes of
Dr. Frank Aker - Independent State Department analyst.
Interviews conducted in Woodbridge, VA during October and
November, 1983. Dr. Aker provided access to his extensive
reference files as well as keen insight into Latin American
Stephen McFarlane - U.S. Department of State, Nicaragua
Desk. Various interviews during October 1984. Helpful
information and official publications were provided on U.S.
policy towards Nicaragua and an assessment of the Nicaraguan
Professor Richard L. Millett - Visiting Professor, Air War
College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Dr. Millett is considered a
noted authority on Nicaraguan affairs had has provided
expert testimony on numerous occasions to the House and
Senate Committees on Foreign Relations. Many of the
histories consulted reference his works. During a brief
interview in January 1983, Dr. Millett was able to suggest
additional sources as well as provide a flavor for the
volatility of the Nicaraguan crisis. Quantico, VA.
Comandante Topita - EPS, FSLN, Nicaraguan representative to
the Inter-American Defense Board. Comandante Topita is a
lawyer who recently returned from fighting contras in
Northern Nicaragua. His answers to pointed questions were
evasive or he regurgitated the Sandinista party line
concerning pluralism and self-determination. Washington,
D.C. 8 March, 1984.
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