Efforts To Subvert The Nicaraguan Revolution And Its Process Of Reconstruction
We said in previous envíos that the first months of 1982 would be the most difficult for the Nicaraguan government in light of a predicted increase in military activity by groups who oppose the Sandinista revolution.
On repeated occasions government authorities confirmed this, as during the interview given by Comandante Lenín Cerna, head of State Security, to Agencia Nueva Nicaragua (New Nicaragua Agency) during the last days of December, in which he described this situation with particular realism.
The first forty days of 1982 have demonstrated that these speculations were not unfounded. The Ministry of the Interior revealed two conspiracies as examples and concrete proof of the increase in the activities of counter-revolutionary bands that operate in Nicaragua, trying to destabilize the government and turn this popular process around. These are: the conspiracy to destroy the oil refinery in Managua and the cement plant in San Rafael del Sur; the attempt against the life of various revolutionary leaders, among them Comandante Leticia Herrera, the national head of the Sandinista Defense Committees; and the “Red Christmas” plot, which tried to throw the Atlantic Coast into chaos and separate it from the rest of Nicaragua.
The conspiracy against the refinery and the cement plant were denounced publicly on January 9 through a communiqué by the Minister of the Interior, which was amplified in a public presentation by Comandantes Borge and Cerna on January 12, in which two of those implicated gave public confessions.
The “Red Christmas” plot was denounce in a press conference before national and international reporters on February 3.
The conspiracy against the refinery and the cement plant.If this conspiracy had succeeded, it would have meant the total destruction of both production centers. Some 312 sticks of dynamite were to have been used in this action, which was organized by the UDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Union) and the FARN (Armed Forces of Nicaragua). Both organizations are comprised of ex-Somocistas and are the same ones that are organizing the military training camps in Honduras and the United Sates. Among the leaders of these organizations are Edmundo and Fernando Chamorro Rapaccioli, “Chicano” Cardenal and others.
In order to evaluate the importance of the uncovered conspiracy, it is only necessary to point out the importance of the refinery and the cement plant for the Nicaraguan economy. The refinery is the principal supplier of petroleum and its by-products in Nicaragua. Its destruction would have signified the total or partial paralyzation of the main production centers in the country. It would have signified the paralyzation of a good part of the agricultural work; it is important to keep in mind that Nicaragua is a predominantly agricultural country, that the majority of the foreign exchange earned through exportation comes from agriculture, and that this is harvest time.
The destruction of the refinery would have left the majority of the country without electricity since 60% of electric energy in Nicaragua comes from combustible fuels. In the emergency, Nicaragua would have had to import petroleum by-products, spending an immense amount of money on this, which of course would not have been budgeted. Much more tragic than the material consequences, of which we have mentioned only a few, the destruction of the refinery as well as the cement plant would have caused thousands of dead and wounded, not only workers in both plants, but also inhabitants of the densely populated areas nearby. People in the streets were heard speaking of consequences similar to another earthquake.
The destruction of the cement plant, or of some of its ovens, would have meant the paralyzation of the principal source of cement production for many years, clearly halting the process of reconstruction of buildings and roads and the construction of new schools, hospitals, etc. It would have forced the modification of the criteria and priorities existing in the present plans in Nicaragua.
Some 32 persons are accused of being involved in the conspiracy, based on confessions given by the principal participants; 17 of the accused are under arrest and the others are outside the country. Among those indicted are William Baltodano, Julio González Ferrón, the Chamorro Rapaccioli brothers, “Chicano” Cardenal, Adriana Guillen, José Esteban González. The legal proceedings against them began on January 28, when the proceedings against those not in the country were separated from those who are. This was done so that the absence of a large number of those implicated would not delay the trial. Several of those directly implicated are foreigners, and at least three of them belonged to the Venezuelan Embassy in Managua. This caused diplomatic problems which strained relations between the two countries.
On January 12, in a press conference given by Comandantes Cerna and Borge, the involvement of the previously mentioned diplomats was cited. It was explicitly reiterated, however, that Nicaragua was convinced that those functionaries who had been implicated in the conspiracy did not represent either the government or the people of Venezuela. This declaration did not prevent Venezuela from making a very critical response directed personally toward Comandante Borge, in which the involvement of Embassy personnel was denied.
The public confessions made during the aforementioned press conference by the principals in the case (Julio González Ferrón, Venezuelan and member of the military intelligence agency of Venezuela, and William Baltodano, Nicaraguan) showed considerable international involvement in the conspiracy. Functionaries of other countries, both military and diplomatic, had supported the UDN-FARN in its plans. According to the confession, General Baliú and Colonel Cavico of the Argentine Armed Forces gave $50.000; there was participation by employees of the Venezuelan Embassy in Nicaragua and Costa Rica (Colonel Pedro Sánchez Rivero, José Anibal Palacios, Edgard Escobar); a Salvadoran military attaché in Costa Rica (Eduardo Avila); a member of the military intelligence service of Honduras (Captain Alexander); and members of the Special Security Forces in Honduras. The Hondurans, among other things, furnished false documents to some of those involved in order for them to enter Nicaragua.
The confession of Baltodano included details of trips to the United States which supposedly included visits by the Chamorro Rapaccioli brothers to Thomas Enders and other functionaries of the Reagan Administration, the purchase of arms in Florida, which were shipped to the Special Forces Unit in Honduras, where they were then distributed to the counterrevolutionaries training in camps in Honduran territory.
The trial is still in progress at the present time.