|Central American University - UCA
Number 22 | Abril 1983
NICARAGUA: NO LONGER A SILENT INVASION
In July 1982 there was much talk in Nicaragua about a “silent invasion”. The invasion against Nicaragua can no longer be seen as covert. It is an an open war.
In July of 1982, there was much talk of a "silent invasion" in Nicaragua. Heavy fighting occurred on the Atlantic Coast, and there were brutal attacks on the northern border, but little attention was paid internationally. Now, however, by any standards the invasion of Nicaragua can no longer be considered silent.
I. INTRODUCTIONHeadlines around the world scream of thousands of Contras inside Nicaragua and of towns taken. Predictions are published of a rapid "liberation" by the counterrevolution. These reports often bear little resemblance to what the people in Nicaragua are experiencing, but an invasion by substantial numbers of Contras is evident.
The invasion is being fought on several levels, one of which is diplomatic. On March 22, Vice Minister of Foreign Relations and Nicaraguan U.N. Security Council Representative, Victor Hugo Tinoco, called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council because of the Nicaraguan crisis. Tinoco blamed the Reagan Administration for the attack, saying it "is determined to destroy the Nicaraguan revolution." Tinoco said the FDN is a CIA creation, and their activities of the last year culminated in February with the massive infiltration of 2000 Somocistas, 500 of whom had managed to penetrate the mountainous area of the Department of Matagalpa.
In reply, according to a UPI story in El Tiempo (Honduras) on March 24, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Jeanne Kirkpatrick charged, "We live in an age in which rights are invented.... Now Nicaragua tells us that someone is violating its right to repress its population, its right to overthrow other governments and to direct revolutions in neighboring countries."
In the ensuing Security Council sessions, 55 countries spoke on the Nicaraguan situation. The U.S. and Honduras were totally isolated in their position against Nicaragua.
In his U.N. address, Tinoco proposed a meeting between the heads of state of Honduras and Nicaragua with the presence of the presidents of Mexico and Venezuela. He also proposed a Nicaragua U.S. meeting in the presence of Venezuela, France, Spain or Panama.
Also in the diplomatic arena, Tomas Borge, Minister of the Interior, is scheduled to head a high level delegation to the U.S. at the invitation of two U.S. universities, John Hopkins and Harvard. However, U.S. Ambassador Quainton told Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry officials verbally that Borge would be denied a visa. Upon leaving Nicaragua on April 5 for a meeting with the State Department, Ambassador Quainton would only say that the matter was under study and gave "tensions between the two countries" as the reason for the U.S. action.
II. THE MILITARY SITUATIONIn spite of exaggerated claims by the invading FDN troops, the Nicaraguan government does not seem to face a serious military threat at present. No towns have been taken in Nicaragua, nor do the Somocista led forces have any broad-based support among the population. What seems to be occurring is a greatly accelerated continuation of the terrorism and selected assassinations that have been going on for some time. Six technicians, three from the Agrarian Reform Ministry and three from the Ministry of Construction, were killed in one week; five campesinos had their throats cut in San Dionisio on March 10; militia are identified and tortured and killed in rural areas as are Delegates of the Word (Catholic lay leaders).
Attacks are frequently against civilians, as in the attack on Rancho Grande on March 23 which took the life of French doctor Pierre Grosjean. The 32 year old doctor was in the village to work on a project to combat mountain leprosy, a serious health problem in the mountains of Nicaragua. According to the testimony of the Italian doctor who was beside him when he died, they were asleep on the floor of a storeroom where they were staying. At about 5:30 a.m. the Contras began firing on the village from the hill behind it and launching mortars on the houses. A bullet hit the French doctor in the head, killing him instantly. Dr. Grosjean, whose friends describe him as non political, had been in Nicaragua since last August. He was scheduled to return home but decided to stay on for six months more because he was excited about working on this particular project.
The death of Dr. Grosjean greatly moved the international volunteers in Nicaragua, as well as the European community. This tragic loss may have served to focus world attention on the situation in Nicaragua. Dr. Grosjean's companion emphasized that the health team, five in all, were unarmed, had no military training nor were they involved in any kind of political work.
Seventeen people were wounded in the same attack on Rancho Grande, including seven children. One eight year old boy had to have his leg amputated after suffering a severe wound from mortar fragments.
Since June of 1981 it is estimated that about 500 Nicaraguans have died from Contra activity. Between February 1 and March 21, according to Nicaraguan military sources, the Contra has suffered 309 casualties, including 205 deaths; the Nicaraguan military has suffered 97 casualties, including 57 deaths. Eleven civilians were killed and six kidnapped in that period.
According to Defense Minister Humberto Ortega and State Security Head Lenin Cerna, in 1981 the CIA ordered the various Contra groups to consolidate and form a real army, under the military leadership of ex National Guard. The actions of this group in November of 1922 were directed mainly at attacks and harassment in Jinotega, Madriz and Nueva Segovia, for the purpose of sabotaging the coffee and cotton harvests. In early December, 800 Contras entered Nicaragua and tried unsuccessfully to take Jalapa. The failure of these two efforts, according to the Nicaraguan officials, brought about "Plan C." Its purposes were to create an organized force with more power, more logistical support and expansion through kidnappings and forced recruitment of campesinos along the border and to restructure the command into Operative Forces that could act as either regular or irregular units. For these objectives, three levels of command were established: a political directorate, a military high command and heads of the Operative Forces.
Many U.S. sources verify that the FDN has a sort of "super directorate" composed entirely of CIA and North Americans from the Southern Command. The U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, John D. Negroponte, is said to oversee the entire Contra operation from the Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
The CIA, according to Cerna, gave the FDN two objectives for February and March: to occupy positions in the north of Jinotega and Nueva Segovia; and to penetrate Zelaya Norte to divert Sandinista troops and facilitate the first objective. About February 1, Cerna said, six task forces entered Nicaraguan territory, some 200 of whom reached the mountains of Matagalpa.
More troops entered just prior to March 31, according to Humberto Ortega, in Zelaya Norte, the area of Jalapa, and Chinandega. Their purpose was mainly to reinforce the earlier invasion. According to the Nicaraguan government, some units have been wiped out, while others are surrounded, on the run or fragmented. Their supplies are running out and, because they are not stationary, air drops from Honduras are for the most part unsuccessful.
Charges of substantial Honduran troop mobilization, especially in Choluteca, and Honduran troop incursions escalate the tensions between the two countries. All Nicaraguan leaders point out that the real danger of this invasion is not a military one in itself but rather the danger that a spark will ignite a war between the two neighboring countries.
So far there has been little action on the border with Costa Rica, although Contra leader Fernando Chamorro declared on March 23 over Radio 15 de Septiembre that a front would be opened soon along the Costa Rican border.
All of these activities bring to mind the testimony given by ex Argentine intelligence officer, Hector Frances, on December 1, 1982. Frances said that beginning on October 14, the CIA was training 800 men to be divided into groups of 200 to enter the northwest section of Nicaragua.
III. THE CONTRABecause the conflict in Nicaragua is frequently depicted in the exterior as a civil war, and the Contra forces as a viable alternative to the Sandinista government, it is useful to look at who comprises the Contra, and who backs them.
A. The FDN. (Nicaraguan Democratic Forces). This group has become the most prominent Contra force and has now embraced several smaller groups, such as the 15th of September Legion and Stedman Fagoth's MISURASATA followers among the Miskito people who are in Honduras. The FDN was organized in 1981 by Jose Francisco "Chicano" Cardenal. Under CIA instructions, the organization was restructured in an effort to make it more acceptable internationally. This new political directorate was first announced at a press conference in Miami and also in a paid ad in La Tribuna in Tegucigalpa on March 21. The political directorate includes: 1) Edgar Chamorro, public relations representative for the wealthy Pellas family until 1979. He lives in Miami. 2) Enrique Bermudez Varela, National Guard colonel, military attaché in Washington under Somoza. He lives in Honduras. 3) Lucia Cardenal, widow of Jorge Salazar, wealthy coffee grower killed in a shoot-out with Nicaraguan police while gun running. Salazar is now a "martyr" of the internal opposition. Sra. Salazar has close ties with this internal opposition. 4) Alfonso Callejas Deshon, Vice President under Somoza, uncle of Alfonso Robelo. He lives in Miami. 5) Adolfo Calero Portocarrero, former manager of the Coca Cola franchise in Managua, former leader of the Conservative Party and leader of the Chamber of Commerce. He lives in Honduras. 6) Indalecio Rodriguez, right-wing intellectual and ex rector of the UCA. He works for the FDN in Panama. 7) Marcos Zeledon, former leader of COSEP and INDE (private sector organizations). He lives in Miami.
Calero had substantial holdings in the Coca Cola plant (which is not U.S.-owned but only a franchise), the El Camino Hotel and the Datsun distributorship. According to Nicaraguan law, the property of counterrevolutionaries is subject to confiscation. Thus these enterprises have been intervened while it is determined what percentage belonged to Calero. Once that is determined, that part will be confiscated and made part of the APP or state property.
In Rome recently, Callejas, Sra. Salazar and Zeledon called themselves the “political arm" of the invasion forces.
The military high command and operations leaders are all ex Guardia, many of them from the EEBI, the hated and feared special forces under Somoza who were responsible for the worst of the repression and terror of the Somoza regime. Many use the same nicknames that they used under Somoza and their infamous past is well remembered by the Nicaraguans.
One Sandinista who fought on the Southern Front in the insurrection said recently, "And to think that we turned 'El Diablo' (one of the high command of the Contra) over to Costa Rican authorities!" A U.S. News and World Report article in the March 14 issue said, "Sandinista vengeance is lasting. The prisons still hold about 3500 former National Guardsmen of the Somoza regime that ran the country for 46 years." If the Sandinistas had really practiced "vengeance", many of the Contra would not be alive to be invading the country. Instead the FSLN abolished the death penalty and tried to rehabilitate the Guardia. In spite of the current difficulties this policy has not changed.
The FDN claims it gets its weapons on the black market, mainly in Florida, with funds provided by unnamed sources. They say other weapons have been donated by the Honduran Army. Large-scale military maneuvers between U.S. and Honduran forces, such as Halcon Vista in November, 1981, and Big Pine in February, 1983, are additional sources of supplies, both to Honduran military and to Contra forces.
The FDN operates the clandestine Radio 15 de Septiembre out of Tegucigalpa and publishes America Libre in California. One question mark in the new structure of the FDN is the absence from the new directorate of founder "Chicano" Cardenal. Apparently he had become so burned and was so openly associated with acts such as the killing of 15 in San Francisco del Norte in July, that a new image was sought. However, Cardenal is still making statements in the name of the FDN. He was quoted in El Tiempo (Honduras) on March 24 as saying "There is an agreement between the forces in the north and the south that this operation continue."
B. Costa Rican Groups. Last fall four Contra groups in Costa Rica formed an alliance which they called ARDE (Democratic Revolutionary Alliance). The groups included the MDN (Nicaraguan Democratic Movement) of Alfonso Robelo; UDN FARN of "Negro" Chamorro Rappaccioli; Brooklyn Rivera's faction of MISURASATA; and Eden Pastora's FRS (Sandino Revolutionary Front). Pastora boasted that ARDE "has the support of 2.5 million Nicaraguans (the entire population). The armed forces are behind us."
However the ARDE alliance cracked recently. Chamorro, in a paid ad in the Costa Rican papers on March 23, announced that his UDN FARN (that was part of the FDN when it was formed but later broke away) was withdrawing from the alliance "for ideological differences." The ad said that the word "dialogue" does not exist in the UDN FARN vocabulary. Chamorro's ad went on that the FDN had "cleaned out their ranks" of Somocistas in order to improve their image, and there were moves toward uniting his group with the FDN, again. The ad also said they were maintaining close contact with Fagoth, whom it now called "the authentic leader of MISURASATA," and they hoped to consolidate their efforts.
The number of armed Contras in Costa Rica is much less than in Honduras, but Costa Rican authorities claim to have dismantled eight camps near the Nicaraguan border. The divisions within the Monge government are evident in the flip flopping policy that one day turns a blind eye on the Contra and the next raids and dismantles their camps. Observers in Costa Rica tell us that when Pastora called for a general insurrection for April 15, he seemed to overstep his welcome and has been less visible recently. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Volio said in Nicaragua on April 4 that Pastora was expelled from Costa Rica on March 28 and left for Mexico in a private plane. Pastora has stated that he will not operate a southern front in Cost Rica but will work from inside; he has also said he has nothing to do with the FDN. On his clandestine radio station on March 27, he claimed that the 25,000 internationalists in Nicaragua are the Sandinista's only support.
C. Contradictions in the Contra. As happened when the CIA mounted the Bay of Pigs operation, a major factor in what the New York Times refers to as the "Bay of Piglets" is the lack of unity among the various Contra groups. Steadman Fagoth and Brooklyn Rivera both claim to be the maximum leader of the dissident Miskito people and seem unable to work together. Hard as it tries, the FDN cannot rid itself of its Somocista image or its military leadership that depends on ex Guardia and EEBI officers. This base will prevent it from ever having broad support within Nicaragua, even among people who are unhappy with the present government. The FDN, in its fanatical anti communism (its radio station frequently says, "With God and patriotism we are fighting communism"), distrusts Pastora, who has a love hate relationship with the Cuban revolution and an admitted admiration for Che Guevara. ARDE wants to disassociate itself from the Guardia, and so cooperation with the FDN is unworkable, but it has no substantial military capabilities on its own.
In addition, many of the exiles in Miami, Honduras and Costa Rica are vain and ambitious, and all want assurances of being on top in the unlikely event that the Sandinistas could be overthrown.
One other factor: the CIA's manipulations are so well known and have been experienced firsthand throughout Latin America, that the Contra groups want to give a certain impression of independence which is more and more difficult as CIA involvement becomes more open.
D. Outside Help. Honduran military support for the Contra and tacit government acceptance of their presence and activities on the border are well documented. Stephen Kinzer, in a March 28 article in the New York Times, reports Honduran soldiers telling him they have a "sense of brotherhood" with the people in the nearby Contra camp, whom they described as anti Sandinista insurgents, and they were therefore helping them to obtain food and other necessities.
Testimonies by both Argentine Hector Frances and Honduran ex Colonel Torres Arias emphasize Honduran strongman Gen. Gustavo Alvarez's support for the Contra.
In spite of the fact that the political situation in Argentina has changed since the Falklands and the present government has much better relations with Nicaragua, some sectors of the military still seem to be aiding Contra forces, according to observers of the situation in Argentina. However, the main Argentine involvement seems to have stopped. Juan Tamayo reported in the Miami Herald on December 20, "Sources said the Contras' Argentine advisors here, now numbering about 18, will soon return home.... The sources said that the Argentines will be replaced by Honduran army officers led by Major Alexander Hernandez, a personal aide to armed forces chief Gen. Gustavo Alvarez.
IV. THE U.S. ROLE"The U.S. is waging an undeclared war against Nicaragua," said Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto. Saul Landau of the Institute for Policy Studies, in a NYT article March 28, made a similar point and said if the U.S. does not want to continue to act outside its own laws and Constitution, it should make the declaration of war. Title I of the U.S. Code says clearly, "it is unlawful to provide or prepare the means for or to furnish money for any kind of military enterprise against a foreign government with which the U.S. has diplomatic relations."
In President Reagan's speech on March 23, he stated, "The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: the United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor." Evidence in U.S. history as well as evidence documented every day by U.S. and international media and congressional testimony would indicate otherwise. In the same speech, Reagan brought out already ridiculed photos of the Managua airport (which he called Sandino Airfield) with one of its three helicopters and two antiaircraft guns. Anyone who flies in or out of Managua can see these rather meager Nicaraguan possessions which Reagan claims indicate a "massive military build up going on in that country."
German author Günter Grass, in The Nation, March 17, asks, "How impoverished must a country be before it is not a threat to the U.S. government?" Even though Nicaragua is staggering under overwhelming difficulties to move forward with its reconstruction, the U.S. continues to project it as a threat to the free world and to U.S. "vital interests."
Even though it denies intentions to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, the U.S. admits efforts to "harass" in retaliation for alleged but never proved arms supplies to Salvadoran guerrillas. According to the Washington Post on February 21, "Diplomatic and military officials in Central America say that for more than a year there has been very little solid evidence of material support for the Salvadorans originating in Nicaragua." U.S. Ambassador Quainton's explanation is, "We now know that massive amounts of arms are going by dugout canoe across the Gulf of Fonseca. These cannot be detected by satellite." He then amended that to "substantial" amounts. (Sojourners, March, 1983)
The aim to "harass" has motivated the installation of a huge radar facility in Choluteca, southwestern Honduras, with 50 U.S. personnel from the Southern Command in Panama at a cost of $5 million. There are also U.S. plans to build a large base for military training in Honduras.
William Casey has asked the CIA for continued funding for covert actions against the Sandinista government into 1984. (Philadelphia Inquirer, February 16.) Reports are that there are now 125 150 CIA personnel in Honduras.
Even if the U.S claim were true, and it is becoming less credible each day, that it only is interested in "harassing" the Nicaraguan government, its actions would still be against U.S. law, since the groups it is openly helping make no such distinction and explicitly intend to overthrow the Sandinistas. In testifying before Congress on March 15, Dr. Richard Millett said, "Writing in the conservative La Nacion Internacional of Costa Rica, edition of Feb. 17 23, Jacobo Schifter noted that this support of the ex Guardia undermines the efforts of democratic opposition groups both within Nicaragua and in exile and that it undermines Washington's opposition to Nicaraguan support for El Salvador's guerrillas since 'the North American government is practicing exactly the same type of military intervention for which it criticizes that nation.' Our involvement with the ex Guardia may well have produced a Frankenstein's monster which we can no longer control."
U.S. policy, rather than having any solid basis, seems to be rooted in an obsession by the Reagan Administration to restore U.S. hegemony in the area, even if it means illegal, immoral and counterproductive measures. It wants "to stabilize through destabilization."
Marc Cooper, News Director of KPFK Radio in Los Angeles, interviewed Wayne Smith, former U.S. diplomat who was for years head of the Havana U.S. Interests Office. Smith says, "I often said that Cuba exercises the same influence over U.S. foreign policy that the full moon does over werewolves. Now I must add that it is not only Cuba but all of Central America." (Uno Mas Uno, Mexico, March 13). Both Reagan and Kirkpatrick speak frequently of defending "democracies" and use allegation of Sandinista violations of civil rights, Miskito human rights and religious persecution as justification for Administration policies. Smith continues, "I'm afraid the Reagan Administration does not consider democracy nor human rights as elements of importance. When the Department of State talks about democracy in El Salvador or Guatemala, it is a camouflage for doing nothing. To Reagan, the democracies in other countries don't mean a thing. What does he do to promote democracy and human rights in Paraguay or Chile for example?"
Of Nicaraguan democracy, Ambassador Quainton says, "If democracy means participation of the people, then there is a good deal of it here...." (Sojourners, March, 1983).
As for the Miskitos, the Moravian Church, probably the group in Nicaragua most deeply concerned with the Miskito people, says in the declaration from their Sixth Synod on February 14: "We denounce the plans of external aggression by the United States Government, the overt and covert plans and actions that have been effected in war operations and blood spilled among Nicaraguans. Such actions have increased even more the suffering of the Costeño people and not supported a positive solution to reconstruction of our nation. They are instead acts which destroy the innocent and only serve the interests of other rich nations."
Ambassador Quainton has admitted the fallacy of Administration charges and said that the Sandinistas are not totalitarian and if free election were held today, the FSLN would win easily. (Mesoamerica, November, 1982). He has also said, "The Sandinista government is not atheistic. Religious freedom will be respected long term. This is a very religious country." (Sojourners, March, 1993).
The dangers of U.S. policy are expressed by French Roving Ambassador in Latin America, Antoine Blanca, "If unfortunately the U.S. army intervenes in Central America it will ignite the whole region."
V. INTERNATIONAL PRESSA few words should be said about some sectors of the international media and their reporting of events surrounding the recent military situation in Nicaragua. We say this recognizing the difficulties involved in reporting on activities in areas to which reporters do not have access and also recognizing the constraints on Nicaraguan press coverage. However many reports took at face value claims by the Contra Radio 15 de Septiembre which were exaggerated or totally false. Other reports were blatantly intended to mislead. A few examples: widely circulated reports of towns "taken" by the Contra, including Dionisio, Muy Muy, Esquipulas, Ocotal, even Matagalpa. We had no trouble in ascertaining by phone that none of those towns had even been attacked. One Mexican reporter arrived here and said in disbelief, "my paper sent me here in a rush because Managua was under siege. I get here and everyone is at the beach!"
In the face of all evidence to the contrary, the papers in Honduras continued to deny any Contra infiltration from Honduran territory.
Some of the more destructive kinds of coverage: La Republica, Costa Rica, March 17. Headline over a photo of police beating demonstrators: "Fierce Combat in Center of Nicaragua." The picture was of an incident in Calcutta.
La Prensa Libre, Costa Rica, March 18. Headline: “10,000 Nicaraguans in Combat”. Beside the title is a picture of a falling building which turns out to be a building being demolished in San Jose. March 19, same paper. Headline: “FSLN Mobilizes 150,000 Men that Comprise its Powerful Army”. Beneath that is a picture of Mussolini.
This is a crucial time in the Nicaraguan revolution a time when policies and directions are still being forged. An image of instability or of a government on the verge of collapse can have a detrimental effect on foreign investment, development projects, credit sources, etc.
VI. OBSERVATIONSA major counterrevolutionary thrust certainly came as no surprise to anyone in Nicaragua. Some factors of that thrust are worth looking at, however.
The timing. There are several theories for the question, why now? Most analysts see strong links to the deteriorating and untenable U.S. position in El Salvador. It becomes more and more clear that the U.S. options are: withdraw support, which would quickly bring a FMLN victory; send in U.S. troops; or negotiate. The U.S. needs to divert attention from El Salvador while it weighs the decisions and tries to push massive aid through Congress. If it can project an image of a civil war in Nicaragua and somehow convince people that the situations in the two countries are similar, it might push for U.S.-directed "regional negotiations" in an effort to undermine the bilateral negotiations proposed by Nicaragua.
There are other factors. The Somocistas leading the fighting are much more of a liability than they are an asset. They have been sitting on the border for three and a half years building up steam for a fight, with U.S. encouragement, and that steam has to escape somehow. No other country wants them. A Miami Herald Dec. 20 article says that "after recent published reports of CIA involvement in Honduras, the Honduran armed forces pressured the Contras into sending more commandos into Nicaragua. About 10 camps are still operating but change locations often to avoid detection."
Thus, sending a sizeable number into Nicaragua can do several things. It can serve as an escape valve for the Contras’ growing impatience for action, test out internal support and U.S. and international reaction for a Contra operation. If many ex Guardia are lost in the process, they are expendable.
One thing is quite clear. There is no civil war going on. In spite of some limited support, most of which is in areas that have traditionally been Guardia recruiting grounds and where many have families, there has been no evidence of widespread or broad based support. Many people are acting out of fear and horror at the atrocities committed by these ex Guardia.
A brief reflection on the type of government the U.S. backed for seventy years in Nicaragua gives a good indication of what the U.S backed Contras would give to the Nicaraguan people. Another indication are the governments that resulted after the successful U.S. efforts to end the Arbenz government in Guatemala and the Allende government in Chile.
The presentation of the FDN as some sort of democratic force also contradicts their own stated program. As summed up in a March 22 Christian Science Monitor article by Larry Boyd, "their program calls for a rollback of the Agrarian Reform in Nicaragua, including return of properties confiscated from Somoza, release of National Guardsmen now jailed by the Sandinistas, and it condemns the literacy campaign as a Marxist Leninist plot." These are the most popular Sandinista programs which have benefited thousands of Nicaragua's poor. The FDN program proves their desire to turn back the clock to the days of Somoza.
Public complaints and discontent over shortages, over inefficiency and economic hardships are understandable. But believing that those frustrations would bring the majority of the people to support a return to the past would be a serious misreading of the situation.
The claims of FDN leaders Indalecio Rodriguez and Adolfo Calero in Bonn that the Sandinistas would be gone in six months and their claims of having 10,000 armed men in Nicaragua and support of 90% of the people are clearly wishful thinking.
The mood in the country is quite positive. The people in the north are planting even if it is with a rifle on their back. Holy Week vacation went on as scheduled and thousands flocked to church services and to the beaches for a four day holiday; this in spite of fighting in some areas of the country, gas rationing and other problems.
There is a danger that U.S. actions could force a radicalization of the Nicaraguan process. The counter productivity of U.S. policy is that it provides the government of Nicaragua with a very real justification for internal tightening and also forces it to look elsewhere for economic and military help. Its policy leaves the U.S. with no moral authority to criticize Nicaragua for supposed help to other liberation movements nor for whatever ties it has or develops in the future with the socialist bloc. Those ties could not be depicted as the will of the Sandinista leadership if no viable alternatives are permitted by the U.S.
Economic destabilization efforts reminiscent of Chile under Allende, military actions that bring images of the Bay of Pigs and the Arbenz overthrow in Guatemala -- all make Nicaraguans more determined than ever to preserve what they won.
Junta member Sergio Ramirez reiterated on March 21 that the Government would do whatever necessary to preserve the Revolution and to continue developing both production and services. Defense and production in the search for peace is the current theme in Nicaragua.
ADDENDUMThe Sandinista Forces
To understand what groups are primarily involved in the fight against the Contra we outline here the various units under the Sandinista Armed Forces, which includes all permanent and voluntary forces.
I. Regular or Permanent Forces
A. Ministry of Defense (Humberto Ortega)
1. EPS (Sandinista Army) and TGF (Border Patrol)
2. FAS (Sandinista Air Force)
3. Sandinista Coast Guard
B. Ministry of Interior (Tomas Borge)
1. General Directorate
a- State Security (Lenin Cerna)
b- Sandinista Police
2. Administrative & Service Directorates
II. Voluntary Forces
A. Militia (under Defense ministry)
B. Voluntary Police (under Interior Ministry)
C. Reserve Battalions (combination of regular and voluntary)
III. Military Discipline Sector
Most estimates of the strength of the Sandinista Army are 20 25,000 regular troops with about 80,000 militia.
The Joint Command of the FAS is comprised of the Minister of Defense and the Minister and Vice Minister of the Interior. In the fight against the Contras, the principal forces are the EPS with the TGF, the State Security General Directorate and the Reserve Battalions.
Under the country's regionalization, Nicaragua is divided into six regions: 1) Nueva Segovia, Estelí, and Madriz; 2) Chinandega Leon; 3) Managua; 4) Carazo, Granada, Masaya, Rivas; 5) Chontales, Boaco, part of Zelaya (Rama and Nueva Guinea); 6) Matagalpa Jinotega. There are three special areas; Northern Zelaya, Southern Zelaya and Rio San Juan. Militarily, the country is divided into three military zones: 1) the Pacific Coast (regions 2, 3 and 4); 2) the Border Zone (regions 1 and 6); and 3) the Atlantic Coast.