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  Number 14 | Agosto 1982
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Nicaragua

The Silent Invasion

The armed aggression against Nicaragua perpetrated by “contra-revolutionary military units” increases. Nicaraguan leaders now are talking about a “silent invasion”.

Envío team

INTRODUCTION

Within Nicaragua, alarm over increased military activity has grown considerably in recent weeks. News has focused on armed attacks, numbers of Nicaraguans killed, and notes of protest between Nicaragua and neighboring countries. Junta Coordinator Daniel Ortega said at the July 19 Celebration in Masaya that Nicaragua was the victim of a silent but bloody invasion, and Comandante Luis Carrión, Vice-Minister of the Interior, said, “The aggression has already begun. We can no longer talk of preparation for war because the war is underway”. On the other hand, White House Press Secretary Dean Fisher said that the Nicaraguan allegations had no foundation. Honduran officials deny not only aggressions by their troops, but even the existence of the counterrevolutionary camps. According to an Associated Press article in the Denver Post on July 25, Honduras has accused Nicaraguan troops of crossing into Honduras four times between July 14 and 24.

Is Nicaragua simply paranoid, labeling every criticism “counterrevolution” and magnifying incidents to rally what opponents insist is waning internal support? Or, as some charge, is Nicaragua the victim of a deliberate plan on the part of the U.S. to bring down what it calls the “Marxist-Leninist totalitarian” government?

This article will look at recent military actions here in Nicaragua, the “counterrevolution”, Nicaragua’s relationship with its neighbors, especially Honduras, and the role of the United States in the region.

ARMED ATTACKS

Between July 1 and July 18, the Nicaraguan Army carried out an operation against a counterrevolutionary military unit of some 200 men, which had set up a camp at Seven Bank, 38 km. Southwest of Puerto Cabezas and very near Tasba Pri, the resettlement area of the Miskito Indians. According to military authorities, 75 counterrevolutionaries (“contras”) were killed as well as 25 Sandinista soldiers.

According to Nicaraguan officials, since May 1 there have been over 50 armed attacks in Nicaragua and at least 100 Nicaraguan military and civilian deaths. These attacks are no longer perpetrated by small, ill-equipped bands, according to the Nicaraguan military, but rather by counterrevolutionary military units, well-equipped with sophisticated weapons and logistical and communications capacity.

The more serious attacks include the following:

On July 19 a light plane coming from Honduras fired rockets at the gas storage tanks of Esso-Standard in the port of Corinto. If the target had been hit, it would have been a major disaster with a loss of thousands of lives as well as material destruction of the town.

On July 20, between 30 and 40 Honduran Army troops attacked a Nicaraguan observation post at La Ceiba. This was one of several attacks in recent months by Honduran troops, according to Nicaraguan government officials.

On July 24 a group of 60 anti-Sandinistas tried to blow up a dam near Bonanza on the Atlantic Coast. Seven militia, including one woman were killed.

On July 27 at 9:30 a.m., two light planes coming from Honduras and approaching Managua were spotted by a Sandinista Air Force pilot on an unarmed training flight, who saw that the planes were armed with bombs and rockets. Realizing they had been spotted, the two planes turned and fled, one toward the Gulf of Fonseca and the other toward Honduras. The Nicaraguan pilot pursued the latter to the Honduran border.

The most barbarous of the attacks took place on July 24 when 100 counterrevolutionaries crossed from Honduras and attacked the town of San Francisco del Norte, 12 km. from the border. There is no army unit there and the town was defended by some 30-40 civilian militia. Fifteen of these townspeople were killed, and 8 of them severely tortured and their bodies mutilated. Eight others were kidnapped and taken to Honduras. The invading group painted the letters FDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Front) on the walls of many houses. They painted many slogans such as “With God and Patriotism we will drive out communism”. According to the testimony of townspeople, the attackers tried to force one man, whom they tortured to death, to repeat slogans against the government.

That same day, Foreign Minister Miguel D’Escoto took the ambassadors of France, Venezuela, México and Honduras to the site. The Honduran Ambassador said at a press conference that evening that it was truly a deplorable act, although he said that the fact that the attack came from Honduras did not prove Honduran complicity.

During the attack telephone and telegraph wires were cut, which prevented a quick response from the nearest army post. That evening the army caught up with one part of the retreating group. In the ensuing battle, 600 meters from the border, three Sandinista soldiers were killed and four wounded. One of the wounded soldiers told us that the Honduran soldiers were clearly visible on the other side of the border, where they were waiting with trucks. The Hondurans, according to the soldier, fired mortars into Nicaraguan territory.

THE PEOPLE’S RESPONSE

According to volunteer workers on the Atlantic Coast, the people in the resettlement areas have been very frightened during the recent military operations because the action took place so near that they could hear the sounds of the battles.

People in the north tell us there are many “contras” in the mountains. In some areas near the borders, isolated families have begun moving together, forming tiny hamlets in order to avoid the danger of living alone and unprotected.

A religious worker in San Juan de Limay, 20 km. from San Francisco del Norte, said people there were very affected by the events in San Francisco. Many of those killed have families in San Juan and were well-known there. Some people in San Juan, especially old people and mothers, were very afraid while many others were angry and determined to reinforce civilian defense measures or join the militia to defend themselves.

One American priest had to leave his parish in Zelaya Sur because of death threats from roving bands. The principal lay leader in his parish was killed outside the church one evening, and the priest and those worshiping with him were held at gun point while the leader of the band told the people that the killing was a warning not to participate in any way with government health, education or civil defense programs.

Many of these attacks are carried out under a quasi-religious pretext of “driving out communism”. Many pastors and lay ministers, especially in northern Zelaya have been implicated in attacks. This has led to considerable distrust on the part of the government toward the religious sects. Both the protestant social action umbrella group, CEPAD, and the Moravian church have issued statements denouncing these pastors.

THE “CONTRA”

Who comprises the counterrevolution? What is the difference between legitimate healthy criticism and counterrevolution? Is everyone who leaves the country a counterrevolutionary?

There is little argument that groups which have taken up arms for the express purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua can be called “contra”. Likewise, their political and diplomatic counterparts, who although they themselves are not taking up arms, work actively to support those who do, also are considered by the government and by most Nicaraguan to be counterrevolutionaries.

Sandinista spokespersons have defined counterrevolutionaries as those who are working to destroy the revolutionary process by whatever means, as opposed to critics who want to improve the process or eliminate errors and mistakes by working within legal channels.

Problems sometimes arise when those less politically responsible, from lower echelons of government, begin to apply the label loosely to anyone who disagrees with them. As attacks in the country increase, there is a danger that this tendency could increase. In a situation of virtual war, there will be less space for dissent and criticism, especially if national security is at stake.

Another problem arises from the proliferation of “bolas” –gossip or rumor. Many incidents that take place are not published in the paper. This leads to a host of rumors and it is often difficult or impossible to verify a particular rumor or determine whether an incident was the result of counterrevolutionary activity or non-political criminal behavior.

Organized Groups

Government spokespersons have stated recently that as many as 1000 armed counterrevolutionaries are operating within the country, many of them having recently crossed over from their training camps in Honduras. They belong to several different organized groups.

1-Legión 15 de septiembre (15th of September Legion). Possibly the first group to form after the Sandinista victory on July 19, 1979, the Legion was begun by the Somocista ex-National Guards who fled to Honduras. This group is located principally in the Mosquitia of Honduras along the Río Coco and operates Radio 15 de septiembre, the anti-Sandinista clandestine radio station heard all over the Atlantic Coast and northern Nicaragua.

2-Misurasata. The Legion is closely tied to Misquito exile Steadman Fagoth and his followers. They still use the name Misurasata, the now defunct Nicaraguan indigenous organization which Fagoth headed before he left Nicaragua. A worker with the Miskito refugees in Honduras stated that when Fagoth returned from his trip to the U.S. in March (invited by the American Security Council but attended to by the personal staff of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Jeanne Kirkpatrick), he boasted that he had been given a large sum of money in the U.S. Fagoth has openly worked with the counterrevolutionary forces and frequently broadcasts over the 15 de septiembre radio station. He has well-publicized close ties with the Honduran military, especially Major Leonel Luque, head of the Honduran military in the area and known as the “godfather” of the “contras”. Last December Fagoth was wounded when an Honduran Air Force plane in which he was riding with Major Luque crashed. He was treated in a military hospital in Tegucigalpa, according to news accounts from Honduras. On June 18, 1982 the Honduran newspaper Tiempo said Fagoth had recently been visited in Puerto Lempira, at Major Luque’s military base, by Eden Pastora.

3-Brooklyn Rivera. An enigmatic figure in the counterrevolutionary picture is Brooklyn Rivera, once second-in-command of Misurasata and briefly in charge after Fagoth left until he also left the country. Once in Honduras, he appears to have tried to establish his own leadership in the refugee camp in Mocorón. In April, after being arrested by Honduran military in what some people in the area feel was a move by Fagoth to eliminate Rivera’s competition for leadership of the Miskitos, Rivera went to the U.S. at the invitation of the Indian Law Resource Center and toured the country and later Europe. He claimed to have been named by the “Council of Elders” as leader of the Miskito, said he wants a “negotiated settlement” of differences with the Sandinistas, and disassociated himself from Fagoth. According to the German newspaper, Die Tageszeitung, of June 7, 1982, Brooklyn recently was in Germany with Edén Pastora and other Nicaraguans who have left the country.

Sources connected with the Miskito people both in Nicaragua and in Honduras say Rivera’s influence is minimal and Fagoth still enjoys a large following, especially in Honduras. Workers in Mocorón say it is no secret that Fagoth, in effect, runs the camp. He was wounded in June in an apparent assassination attempt attributed to Rivera’s followers, and he is said by refugee workers to be staying at the military base in Puerto Lempira since his release from the hospital.

4-UDN-FARN. The UDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Union) and its armed component FARN (Nicaraguan Revolutionary Armed Forces) were formed in 1980 by dissident conservatives, led by Fernando and Edmundo Chamorro-Rappaccioli. In January, Nicaraguan Security uncovered a plot to blow up the oil refinery and cement plan. William Baltodano, a UDN member, confessed his role in the plot and said officers of the Argentine Armed Forces gave $50.000 to their project. He implicated a member of the Honduran military intelligence service and members of the Special Forces in Honduras. Baltodano also mentioned trips to the U.S. where he said the Chamorro-Rappaccioli brothers met with Thomas Enders of the U.S. State Department and other functionaries of the Reagan Administration. Arms were reportedly purchased in Florida, shipped to the Special Forces Unit of the Honduran military and then distributed to counterrevolutionaries in Honduras. According to the Miami Herald on March 23, “UDN sources confirmed virtually every major element of Baltodano’s testimony”.

5-ELN. Another smaller group is the ELN (Nicaragua Liberation Army) headed by Somoza associate Pedro Ortega and made up of ex-Guardias. It seems to operate principally in Costa Rica.

6-FI. A small group known as the Frente Interno (Internal Front) claims to operate within Nicaragua, generally in small, scattered bands.

7-FDN. On August 11, 1981, according to the Miami Herald, the UDN-FARN formed an alliance with the 15th of September Legion and Misurasata which was called FDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Force), reportedly headed by Orlando Bolaños. There was evidently much internal fighting however and the UDN-FARN is apparently no longer connected to the FND.

Paid ads by the FDN in La Opinión, a Spanish language newspaper in Los Angeles, California, in late March claimed credit for blowing up two major bridges in northern Nicaragua on March 14. The same group is implicated in the July 24 attack on San Francisco del Norte.

8-MDN. Alfonso Robelo, head of what was an opposition political party within Nicaragua, the MDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Movement), left the country in April and has since talked of forming alliances with various armed groups, but exactly what alliances have been forged is unclear. Robelo said that he would consider joining with Edén Pastora and also expressed a willingness to work with at least some of the ex-Guardia, according to Infopress Centroamericano of June 24, 1982.

9-FRS. When Edén Pastora, former “Comandante Cero”, publicly surfaced in April, ten months after leaving Nicaragua to “join other revolutionary struggles”, he announced the formation of the FRS (Sandinista Revolutionary Front) and called for the ouster of all foreign advisors from Nicaragua, but he seems to vacillate on his relationship with the armed counterrevolution.

At this April 15 press conference, Pastora vowed to drive out the National directorate of the Frente Sandinista at the point of a gun. On another occasion, the news agency APIA quotes him as saying, “This time I will not only be on the Southern Front, I’m going to conspire from Honduras, I’m going to go to the Atlantic Coast, to the cities of the Pacific…”

However in an Op Ed article which appeared under Pastora’s name in the New York Times on July 14, he said his movement would resist any Somocista incursion into Nicaragua launched from anywhere, and he denounced counterrevolution as harmful to the cause of democracy. Nevertheless, when asked about Pastora, Daniel Ortega said in Madrid that in Nicaragua there is only one revolution and thus sooner or later there will be only one counterrevolution. He warned Pastora that he would end up on the side of the Somocistas fighting against the revolution.

The same day as the brutal attack on San Francisco del Norte, José Francisco “Chicano” Cardenal, coordinator of the FDN, said in Costa Rica that work was being done to unite his group to the forces of Pastora and Robelo in the FDN’s efforts to overthrow the Sandinista government, according to UPI cables. The following day, in a full page ad in La Nación in San José, Pastora denied any alliance with Cardenal and said he was dissolving his FRS for as long as the “genocidal National Guard exists as an armed institution in northern Nicaragua”. He denounced what he called Cardenal’s irresponsible and manipulated attempt to group together revolutionary forces and progressives with the Guardia and counterrevolutionaries which he said would precipitate an imperialist intervention in the area.

In spite of this inconsistency, Pastora enjoys some credibility in the U.S. and Europe, especially with the Social Democrats, precisely because outside Nicaragua he is not seen as an extremist. Here he is viewed as a traitor, even by some who have criticisms of the government. One Central American U.S. diplomat is quoted in the May 3 New York Magazine as saying, “So we’re really pulling for Comandante Cero. There is no doubt about it. I don’t know if we’re giving him money, buy I wouldn’t be surprised if we were. He’s our boy”.

THE HONDURAN CONNECTION

Foreign Minister Miguel D’Escoto has said that the U.S. is trying to turn Honduras into the “Israel of Central America”. There is mounting evidence that Honduras is beginning to function as the policeman for the United States in the area. General Nutting has said publicly that there are 120 military personnel in Honduras. This includes military technicians, advisors and Green Beret counter-insurgency troops in Honduras, plus an admitted 79 now participating in joint military maneuvers.

Raymond Bonner wrote in the New York Times on July 8 that Honduras sent 3000 soldiers into the Salvadoran province of Morazan to help the “bogged down” Salvadoran forces. In writing of the “armed camp waiting for a war” on the Honduran-Nicaraguan border, Bonner quotes an Honduran military officer as saying, “We can’t have a socialist government there. It’s them or us”. The officer went on to say that the Honduran Air Force was ready to bomb a Nicaraguan port until the U.S. discouraged the move.

Honduras, the western hemisphere’s second poorest country, 60% of whose economy is dominated by Castle & Cook (Standard Brands), United Brands, and Chase Manhattan Bank, is experiencing growing guerrilla activity and political unrest, although still below the levels of Guatemala and El Salvador. General Gustavo Alvarez, head of the Honduran military command, seems unconcerned about internal unrest. Quoted in the Canadian magazine McLean’s, Alvarez comments, “The Honduran peasant might be just as hungry as the Salvadoran peasant. The difference is that the Honduran peasant doesn’t know he’s hungry”.

Bordering on Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua has made Honduras an increasing recipient of U.S. attention. But the attention has been consistent with the Reagan Administration’s Central American policy of responding to the area’s problems with increased military aid to fight off the “communist threat” which is being “exported to the area from Russia via Cuba and Nicaragua”.

Not all U.S. government officials see alleged Russian/Cuban/Nicaraguan exported terrorism as the cause of the region’s problems. At the 1982 congressional budget presentation, the Agency for International Development (AID) spokesperson said that regional turbulence in Central America “has as its basis the inequitable distribution of income and wealth long characteristic of the region and the inability or unwillingness of governments to redress these inequities”.

A. U.S. Aid. U.S. military aid to Honduras has climbed from $3.53 million in 1980 to a proposed $15.3 million for 1983, plus $17 million proposed in the Caribbean Basin Initiative for 1982. Honduras thus has the distinction of being the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid to Latin America. The Reagan Administration also proposed $21 million for upgrading three Honduran airstrips to accommodate U.S. jet fighters, and in return the U.S. would have access to the airfields for military purposes.

On June 30, Senator Pell of Rhode Island said at hearings over the $21 million for the airstrips, “This proposal has grave foreign policy implications, not the least of which is the potential for involving the United States even more deeply in the turmoil in Central America. Such a move sends a signal to the world, and especially to those in Central America and the Caribbean that the United States is indeed preparing for deeper involvement, including direct military intervention”.

Honduras already has the best air force in the region, with twelve Super Mystere fighter jets, six A-37 jet fighters, and 20 Huey helicopters, according to the Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy.

A British journalist reported here that four different Honduran sources, including military sources, told him that U.S. military aid is really over $100 million. This would indicate that the much publicized $19 million in CIA funds for Nicaraguan destabilization is really only a fraction of what is really being channeled.

U.S. economic aid also has increased 286% between 1968 and that proposed for 1983. This increased aid enables the U.S. to wield considerable influence in Honduras. It is generally agreed that little happens there without approval from the U.S. Embassy, a situation which has existed in many Latin American countries at various times for over a century and one which prevailed in Nicaragua until the Sandinista victory.

In From Gunboats to Diplomacy, a set of papers prepared for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Richard L. Millett writes, “…the involvement of Honduras in United States actions against Nicaragua… raises the specter of a regional war, makes impossible efforts at regional economic recovery and, especially with the introduction of Argentine military personnel, places in jeopardy the fragile balance of civil/military relationships”.

B. Refugees. Honduras is a haven, not always a safe one, for refugees from neighboring countries. The large numbers of Salvadoran refugees in Honduras have marginal physical conditions. Countless testimonies attest to cooperation of the Honduran and Salvadoran military in repression, killing and even massacres of refugees.

A marked contrast exists in the area near Mocorón to which have come an estimated 12,000 Miskito refugees. According to recent reports from a British journalist and an international development agency director, the Miskito refugees lack for nothing. They have permanent housing, food grinders, various machine such as sewing machines, tools, etc. Although the region is very inaccessible (over an almost impassable road during the rainy season, that only goes from Puerto Lempira to within 10 km. of Mocorón), there are huge warehouses in Puerto Lempira loaded with supplies. There are practically no military guarding the refugee area and almost no effort is made to control the food supplies or prevent the food from being given to the “contra” training camps which operate freely in the area. There have been many reports of U.N. supplies being deliberately diverted by the Honduran military to the “contra” camp at Rus Rus.

A relief worker in Tegucigalpa said that the “contra” have the use of two Honduran military vehicles. He said that at first the “contra” activity appeared to be autonomous, but then planes began arriving from Tegucigalpa carrying large quantities of arms and equipment. He also said rumors have been circulating since June about a major offensive to be launched in July.

A director of one of the relief agencies said quite openly that the leadership of the Miskito refugees (approximately 8500 in the Mocorón camp and 2000 in surrounding areas) is “controlled by outside ‘contras’”. “Observers state that there are many young men in the camp, but most leave at night, with no restrictions.

In Mocorón, the refugees want to move away from the border area, but the “contras”, the Honduran military, and their U.S. advisors are all against it, according to the director of one agency.

The reasons are: it serves as a continual indictment against the Nicaragua government; it serves as an attraction for more refugees; and most importantly, it is a prime recruiting area for the anti-Sandinista forces. According to the agency director, “These refugees are probably the most privileged in the world. They have a non-hostile environment in an area where their own language is spoken; all the funds necessary are available. The Americans have made sure of that”.

C. Joint Honduran/U.S. Military Maneuvers. The U.S. is now conducting joint military maneuvers, called “Combined Movement”, which according to a Pentagon spokesperson are “designed to practice and evaluate movement control and communications procedures in deployment activities”.

In these maneuvers, which began on July 26 and are scheduled to last three weeks, U.S. planes and pilots based in Panama have been flying C-130’s loaded with Honduran troops and communications equipment from Tegucigalpa to the base at Puerto Lempira. The area of the “maneuvers” is the primary training and encampment area for the counterrevolutionary forces in Honduras. On July 28, according to an American who was in the area, an American major, Tom Regal, stationed in Panama, appeared to be in charge of the airstrip in Puerto Lempira. The major even tried to prevent a Wings of Hope plane with refugee workers from landing.

Raymond Bonner’s article in the August 4 New York Times says the military base at Puerto Lempira is being moved nearer the border and nearer Mocorón.

The Honduran press has been carrying on an intensive campaign in the last few weeks, picturing Honduras as attacked by Nicaragua. One military officer was quoted as saying, “We’re preparing for war”. On April 2, the Honduran newspaper Tiempo quoted General Alvarez in an interview on Mexican television: “There is no such thing as social injustice provoking violence.” He also said that he would not object to U.S. intervention in Honduran territory to help defend it from “Russian aggression through Cuba”.

PROGNOSIS

The situation in Nicaragua is very tense and the prospects of avoiding a less “silent” invasion are diminishing. Nicaragua continues to press for a Honduras-Nicaragua joint border patrol but has failed to receive any positive response from Honduras. Nicaragua has formally invited the Honduran president for talks on topics of mutual interest, including the Honduran peace proposal, and has also repeatedly expressed its willingness and desire to negotiate with the U.S. According to a July 8 article in the Washington Post, the Administration privately admits that it wants to postpone negotiations until economic and political problems force the Sandinistas to arrive at the negotiations ready to make concessions.

The U.S. seems to have reduced its verbal aggressions since the departure of Alexander Haig but while the talk has diminished the actions have increased in terms of more extensive and more open support of the anti-Sandinista forces.

According to The Nation, March 6, 1982, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Thomas Enders told members of the Intelligence Committees of the House and the Senate that the CIA was already providing covert training, money and arms to the ex-Guardia. Enders said the funds were being channeled through friendly Latin American countries. The aim, according to Enders, is to destabilize Nicaragua by supporting dissidents both within Nicaragua and in exile, and he admitted that the administration was ignoring the Neutrality Act violations by exile groups in the U.S.

Where will all this lead? On March 23, the Miami Herald listed among the possible scenarios, if the counterrevolutionary groups could effect a unification, a successful, well-financed invasion resulting in overthrowing the government.

The major obstacle for the accomplishment of that scenario is getting the different anti-Sandinista groups to work together. The U.S. faced a similar problem with the Bay of Pigs operation: diverse groups, and ambitious and egocentric leaders with unclear political ideology and commitments only to their own advancement. Even with massive military and financial aid from the Unites States, uniting all the groups who want to see the present Nicaraguan government fall may be unattainable to the degree necessary to successfully wage a counterrevolution.

Some other possible outcomes of the current situation are being discussed. One is a radicalization of the process – the “self-fulfilled prophecy” – justifying direct or indirect U.S. intervention to “save the area from another Cuba”. There is also speculation both in the country and elsewhere that this is precisely what the U.S. id trying to orchestrate. Some analysts believe that the U.S. could much better carry out its policy toward a completely leftist government than toward one that has a successful mixed economy and is politically pluralist, and so poses an example to other Latin American countries.

There are also the continuing provocations which, if successful, could push Nicaragua to a military response, again justifying an armed invasion under the protest of repelling an attack.

Even some of the U.S. observers who buy the “communist threat” theory see serious flaws in the Administration’s policy – although they may agree with some of its goals. Robert Pastor, member of the National Security Council under the Carter administration, wrote in the July Atlantic Monthly:

“The time when the U.S. could bring political stability to the region is long past; all we can do now is contribute to the problem by demonstrating an unwillingness to negotiate, an eagerness for unproductive threats and military confrontation, a penchant for military responses to political problems, a preference for unilateralism instead of regional cooperation. Or the U.S. can seek social and economic justice even as it resists communism, condemn human rights violations even as it denounces Cuban-supported terrorism, promote democracy, and seek to de-politicize the military.”

Nicaraguans have learned from history to view the U.S. presence in the region with apprehension. Central America and the Caribbean have experienced 34 U.S. military interventions since 1898, seven in Nicaragua. U.S. troops occupied part or all of Nicaragua for 23 of those years and controlled the political and economic life of the country even when not militarily present.

It is also clear that the Nicaraguans do not intend to buckle to U.S. threats. Both Daniel Ortega and Sergio Ramírez have stated within the past week that Nicaragua’s response to the increased aggression will be to arm itself “to the teeth”, getting arms however and from whomever necessary to defend itself.

Lars Schoultz, in an article on Nicaragua in From Gunboats to Diplomacy, says, “History indicates that the surest way to make Nicaragua into a national security threat is to push the Sandinistas, as we pushed Castro, into a corner. The virulently nationalistic Nicaraguans… are not going to capitulate to U.S. pressures. Cut their aid and they will find aid elsewhere or do without; arm and encourage their Somocista rivals and then refuse to sell them arms, and they will find arms elsewhere; destabilize their economy and they will reorient it to minimize destabilization; invade their territory and they will fight tooth and nail, in the process accepting as an ally any country that will help defend the Nicaraguan revolution. We have been down this road before, and we know it leads to a foreign policy disaster”.

The Reagan administration has thus far ignored public opinion at home and abroad. But as more and more people begin to see the imperative necessity of opposing Central American intervention, as more and more see the relationship between Reagan’s social services cuts and his increase in military spending, and as more and more see the relationship between the situation in Central American and the threat to a nuclear holocaust, the U.S. administration may find itself faced with a public that can no longer be ignored. The good will and political voice of the American people is one of the only hopes to those living under the threat of a regional war in Central America.

Original in English

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