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Nicaraguan Contras
Participant in the Nicaraguan Revolution
Frente Sur Contras 1987
Nicaraguan Contra militia
Active 1979–1990
Ideology Various
Leaders FDN – Commandante Franklin
ARDE Frente Sur – Cupula of 6 Regional Commandantes
YATAMA – Commandante Blas
Misura – Steadman Fagoth
Area of
All rural areas of Nicaragua with the exclusion of Pacific Coast, from Rio Coco in the north to Rio San Juan in the south
Strength 23,000
Allies United States
Opponents Flag of the FSLN FSLN
Battles/wars Major operations at La Trinidad, Rama highway, and Siuna and La Bonanza. Numerous government bases overrun throughout Jinotega, Matagalpa, Zelaya Norte, Zelaya Sur, Chontales, and Rio San Juan provinces.

The contras (some references use the capitalized form, "Contras") is a label given to the various rebel groups opposing the Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government in Nicaragua that were active from 1979 through to the early 1990s. Among the separate contra groups, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) emerged as the largest by far. In 1987, virtually all contra organizations were united, at least nominally, into the Nicaraguan Resistance.

From an early stage, the rebels received financial and military support from the U.S. government, and their military significance decisively depended on it. After U.S. support was banned by Congress, the Reagan administration covertly continued it. These covert activities culminated in the Iran–Contra affair.

The term "contra" comes from the Spanish contra, which means against but in this case is short for la contrarrevolución, in English "the counter-revolution". Some rebels disliked being called contras, feeling that it defined their cause only in negative terms, or implied a desire to restore the old order. Rebel fighters usually referred to themselves as comandos ("commandos"); peasant sympathizers also called the rebels los primos ("the cousins"). From the mid-1980s, as the Reagan administration and the rebels sought to portray the movement as the "democratic resistance", members started describing themselves as la resistencia.

During the war against the Sandinista government, the contras carried out many human rights violations, and evidence suggests that these were systematically committed as an element of warfare strategy. Contra supporters often tried to downplay these violations, or countered that the Sandinista government carried out much more. In particular, the Reagan administration engaged in a campaign to alter public opinion on the contras which has been denoted as "white propaganda".



The Contras were not a monolithic group, but a combination of three distinct elements of Nicaraguan society:[1]

  • Ex-guardsmen of the Nicaraguan National Guard and other right-wing figures who had fought for Nicaragua's ex-dictator Somoza[1]—these later were especially found in the military wing of the FDN.[2] The Carter administration had viewed the US-trained Nicaraguan National Guard as a means to keep the Sandinistas from exclusive power,[3] and had taken measures to preserve at least parts of it when Somoza was defeated.[4] On 19 July 1979, as Sandinista forces entered the capital, a U.S. plane disguised with Red Cross markings had evacuated remaining members of the National Guard to Miami. The Guard was then built into a counter revolutionary force by the CIA and Argentine trainers.[5] Remnants of the Guard later formed groups such as the Fifteenth of September Legion, the Anti-Sandinista Guerrilla Special Forces, and the National Army of Liberation.[citation needed] Initially however, these groups were small and conducted little active raiding into Nicaragua.[6]
  • Anti-Somozistas who had supported the revolution but felt betrayed by the Sandinista government[1] – e.g. Edgar Chamorro, prominent member of the political directorate of the FDN,[7] or Jose Francisco Cardenal, who had briefly served in the Council of State before leaving Nicaragua out of disagreement with the Sandinista government's policies and founding the Nicaraguan Democratic Union (UDN), an opposition group of Nicaraguan exiles in Miami.[8] Another example are the MILPAS (Milicias Populares Anti-Sandinistas), peasant militias led by disillusioned Sandinista veterans from the northern mountains. Founded by Pedro Joaquín González (known as "Dimas"), the Milpistas were also known as chilotes (green corn). Even after his death, other MILPAS bands sprouted during 1980–1981. The Milpistas were composed largely of the campesino (peasant) highlanders and rural workers.[9][10][11][12]
  • Nicaraguans who had avoided direct involvement in the revolution but opposed the Sandinista regime.[1]

Main groupsEdit

File:Contra commandas 1987.jpg
Contra Commandos from FDN and ARDE Frente Sur, Nueva Guinea area in 1987
File:Smoke break el serrano 1987.jpg
Members of ARDE Frente Sur taking a smoke break after routing the FSLN garrison at El Serrano in southeast Nicaragua in 1987.

The CIA and Argentine intelligence, seeking to unify the anti-Sandinista cause before initiating large-scale aid, persuaded 15 September Legion, the UDN and several former smaller groups to merge in September 1981 as the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (Fuerza Democrática Nicaragüense, FDN).[13] Although the FDN had its roots in two groups made up of former National Guardsmen (of the Somoza regime), its joint political directorate was led by businessman and former anti-Somoza activist Adolfo Calero Portocarrero.[14] Edgar Chamorro later stated that there was strong opposition within the UDN against working with the Guardsmen and that the merging only took place because of insistence by the CIA.[15]

Based in Honduras, Nicaragua's northern neighbor, under the command of former National Guard Colonel Enrique Bermúdez, the new FDN commenced to draw in other smaller insurgent forces in the north.[citation needed] Largely financed, trained, equipped, armed and organized by the U.S.,[16] it emerged as the largest and most active contra group.[17]

In April 1982, Edén Pastora (Comandante Cero), one of the heroes in the fight against Somoza, organized the Sandinista Revolutionary Front (FRS) – embedded in the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (ARDE)[18] – and declared war on the Sandinista government.[19] Himself a former Sandinista who had held several high posts in the government, he had resigned abruptly in 1981 and defected,[19] believing that the newly found power had corrupted the Sandinista's original ideas.[18] A popular and charismatic leader, Pastora initially saw his group develop quickly.[19] He confined himself to operate in the southern part of Nicaragua;[20] after a press conference he was holding on 30 May 1984 was bombed, he "voluntarily withdrew" from the contra struggle.[18]

A third force, Misurasata, appeared among the Miskito, Sumo and Rama Amerindian peoples of Nicaragua's Atlantic coast, who in December 1981 found themselves in conflict with the authorities following the government's efforts to nationalize Indian land. In the course of this conflict, forced removal of at least 10,000 Indians to relocation centers in the interior of the country and subsequent burning of some villages took place.[21] The Misurasata movement split in 1983, with the breakaway Misura group of Stedman Fagoth Muller allying itself more closely with the FDN, and the rest accommodating themselves with the Sandinistas: On 8 December 1984 a ceasefire agreement known as the Bogota Accord was signed by Misurasata and the Nicaraguan government.[22] A subsequent autonomy statute in September 1987 largely defused Miskito resistance.[23]

Unity effortsEdit

U.S. officials were active in attempting to unite the Contra groups. In June 1985 most of the groups reorganized as the United Nicaraguan Opposition (UNO), under the leadership of Adolfo Calero, Arturo Cruz and Alfonso Robelo, all originally supporters of the anti-Somoza revolution. After UNO's dissolution early in 1987, the Nicaraguan Resistance (RN) was organized along similar lines in May.

U.S. military and financial assistanceEdit

In front of the International Court of Justice, Nicaragua claimed that the contras were altogether a creation of the U.S.[24] This claim was rejected.[24] However, the evidence of a very close relationship between the contras and the United States was considered overwhelming and incontrovertible.[25] The U.S. played a very large role in financing, training, arming, and advising the contras over a long period, and the contras only became capable of carrying out significant military operations as a result of this support.[26]

Political backgroundEdit

The US government viewed the leftist Sandinistas as undemocratic[27][28] and opposed its ties to Cuba and the Soviet Union.[29][30] Ronald Reagan, who had assumed the American presidency in January 1981, accused the Sandinistas of importing Cuban-style socialism and aiding leftist guerrillas in El Salvador.[31] The Reagan administration continued to view the Sandinistas as undemocratic despite the 1984 Nicaraguan elections being generally declared fair by foreign observers.[32][33][34] However throughout the 1980s the Sandinista government was regarded as "Partly Free" by Freedom House.[35]

Apart from that, there were concerns that Nicaragua would inspire and strengthen leftist revolutionary movements throughout Central America.[36][37][38][39] On the one hand, US officials warned that Nicaragua could actively export leftist ideology by training radical union and peasant leaders of its neighboring countries.[40] On the other hand, Chomsky - citing reports from Oxfam - suspected that Nicaragua posed "the threat of a good example",[41] as social and economic reforms undertaken by the Sandinistas in the early eighties (which had already received praise not just by Oxfam, but also by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank[42]) started to succeed.[43]

Anyway, the US government explicitly planned to back the contras as a means to force the Sandinista government to divert scarce resources to the military and away from social and economic programs.[44][45][46]

On 4 January 1982, Reagan signed the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17),[31] giving the CIA the authority to recruit and support the contras with $19 million in military aid. The effort to support the contras was one component of the Reagan Doctrine, which called for providing military support to movements opposing Soviet-supported, communist governments.

By December 1981, however, the United States had already begun to support armed opponents of the Sandinista regime. From the beginning, the CIA was in charge.[47] The arming, clothing, feeding and supervision of the contras[48] became the most ambitious paramilitary and political action operation mounted by the agency in nearly a decade.[49] One of the purposes the CIA hoped to achieve by these operations was an aggressive and violent response from the Sandinista government which in turn could be used as a pretext for proper military actions.[50]

In the fiscal year 1984, the U.S. Congress approved $24 million in contra aid.[48] However, since the contras failed to win widespread popular support or military victories within Nicaragua,[48] since opinion polls indicated that a majority of the U.S. public was not supportive of the contras,[51] since the Reagan administration lost much of its support regarding its contra policy within Congress after disclosure of CIA mining of Nicaraguan ports,[52] and since a report of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research commissioned by the State Department found Reagan's allegations about Soviet influence in Nicaragua "exaggerated",[53][54] Congress cut off all funds for the contras in 1985 by the third Boland Amendment.[48] The Boland Amendment had first been passed by Congress in December 1982. At this time, it only outlawed U.S. assistance to the contras for the purpose of overthrowing the Nicaraguan government, while allowing assistance for other purposes.[55] In October 1984, it was amended to forbid action by not only the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency but all U.S. government agencies.

Nevertheless, the case for support of the contras continued to be made in Washington, D.C., by both the Reagan administration and the Heritage Foundation, which argued that support for the contras would counter Soviet influence in Nicaragua.[56]

On 1 May 1985 President Reagan announced that his administration perceived Nicaragua to be "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States", and declared a "national emergency" and a trade embargo against Nicaragua to "deal with that threat".[57] After the U.S. enforced the embargo, Nicaragua was isolated from the West, forcing the Sandinistas to rely more on Eastern bloc military and economic assistance even though Moscow declined to offer the quantity of aid it provided to close communist allies.[58]

Illegal covert operationsEdit

With Congress blocking further contra aid, the Reagan administration sought to arrange funding and military supplies by means of third countries and private sources.[59] Between 1984 and 1986, $34 million from third countries and $2.7 million from private sources were raised this way.[59] The secret contra assistance was run by the National Security Council, with officer Lt. Col. Oliver North in charge.[60] With the third-party funds, North created an organization called "The Enterprise" which served as the secret arm of the NSC staff and had its own airplanes, pilots, airfield, ship, operatives and secret Swiss bank accounts.[59] It also received assistance from personnel from other government agencies, especially from CIA personnel in Central America.[59] This operation functioned, however, without any of the accountability required of U.S. government activities.[59] The Enterprise's efforts culminated in the Iran-Contra Affair of 1986–1987, which facilitated contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to Iran.

According to the National Security Archive, Oliver North had been in contact with Manuel Noriega, the military leader of Panama later convicted on drug charges, whom he personally met. The issue of drug money and its importance in funding the Nicaraguan conflict was the subject of various reports and publications. The contras were funded by drug trafficking, of which the United States was aware.[61] Senator John Kerry's 1988 Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra drug links concluded that "senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems".[62]

The Reagan administration's support for the Contras continued to stir controversy well into the 1990s. In August 1996, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb published a series titled Dark Alliance, alleging that the contras contributed to the rise of crack cocaine in California. [1] [2]


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During the time the US Congress blocked funding for the contras, the Reagan government engaged in a campaign to alter public opinion and change the vote in Congress on contra aid.[63] For this purpose, the NSC established an interagency working group which in turn coordinated the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean (managed by Otto Reich), which conducted the campaign.[63] The S/LPD produced and widely disseminated a variety of pro-contra publications, arranged speeches and press conferences.[63] It also disseminated "white propaganda"—pro-contra newspaper articles by paid consultants who did not disclose their connection to the Reagan administration.[64]

On top of that, Oliver North helped Carl Channell's tax-exempt organization, the "National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty", to raise $10 million, by arranging numerous briefings for groups of potential contributors at the premises of the White House and by facilitating private visits and photo sessions with President Reagan for major contributors.[65] Channell, in turn, used part of that money to run a series of television advertisements directed at home districts of Congressmen considered to be swing votes on contra aid.[65] Out of the $10 million raised, more than $1 million was spent on pro-contra publicity.[65]

"If you look at it as a whole", a senior S/LPD official said, "the Office of Public Diplomacy was carrying out a huge psychological operation of the kind the military conducts to influence a population in denied or enemy territory".[66][67][68]

International Court of Justice rulingEdit

In 1984 the Sandinista government filed a suit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States (Nicaragua v. United States), which resulted in a 1986 judgment against the United States. The ICJ held that the U.S. had violated international law by supporting the contras in their rebellion against the Nicaraguan government and by mining Nicaragua's harbors. Regarding the alleged human rights violations by the contras, however, the ICJ took the view that the United States could only be held accountable for them if it would have been proven that the U.S. had effective control of the contra operations resulting in these alleged violations.[69] Nevertheless, the ICJ found that the U.S. encouraged acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law by producing the manual Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas) and disseminating it to the contras.[70] The manual, amongst other things, advised on how to rationalize killings of civilians[71] and recommended to hire professional killers for specific selective tasks.[72]

The United States, which did not participate in the merits phase of the proceedings, maintained that the ICJ's power did not supersede the Constitution of the United States and argued that the court did not seriously consider the Nicaraguan role in El Salvador, while it accused Nicaragua of actively supporting armed groups there, specifically in the form of supply of arms.[73] The ICJ had found that evidence of a responsibility of the Nicaraguan government in this matter was insufficient.[74] The U.S. argument was affirmed, however, by the dissenting opinion of ICJ member U.S. Judge Schwebel,[75] who concluded that in supporting the contras, the United States acted lawfully in collective self-defence in El Salvador's support.[76] The U.S. blocked enforcement of the ICJ judgment by the United Nations Security Council and thereby prevented Nicaragua from obtaining any actual compensation.[77] The Nicaraguan government finally withdrew the complaint from the court in September 1992 (under the later, post-FSLN, government of Violeta Chamorro), following a repeal of the law requiring the country to seek compensation.[78]

Human rights violationsEdit

Edgar Chamorro, a former Contra and member of the FDN's political directorate who later became a critic of the Contras, stated that during his time with the Contras, he frequently received reports about atrocities committed by Contra troops against civilians and against Sandinista prisoners: "As time went on, I became more and more troubled by the frequent reports I received of atrocities committed by our troops against civilians and against Sandinista prisoners. The atrocities I had heard about were not isolated incidents, but reflected a consistent pattern of behaviour by our troops. There were unit commanders who openly bragged about their murders, mutilations, etc."[79]

A Sandinista militiaman interviewed by The Guardian stated that Contra rebels committed these atrocities against Sandinista prisoners after a battle at a Sandinista rural outpost: "Rosa had her breasts cut off. Then they cut into her chest and took out her heart. The men had their arms broken, their testicles cut off. They were killed by slitting their throats and pulling the tongue out through the slit."[80]

Americas Watch – which subsequently became part of Human Rights Watch – accused the Contras of:[81]

  • targeting health care clinics and health care workers for assassination[82]
  • kidnapping civilians[83]
  • torturing civilians[84]
  • executing civilians, including children, who were captured in combat[85]
  • raping women[82]
  • indiscriminately attacking civilians and civilian houses[83]
  • seizing civilian property[82]
  • burning civilian houses in captured towns.[82]

Human Rights Watch released a report on the situation in 1989, which stated: "[The] contras were major and systematic violators of the most basic standards of the laws of armed conflict, including by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians, selectively murdering non-combatants, and mistreating prisoners."[86]

Similarly, the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR, now known as "Progressio"), a human rights organization which identifies itself with liberation theology, had summarized Contra operating procedures in their 1987 human rights report: "The record of the contras in the field, as opposed to their official professions of democratic faith, is one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping."[87] Earlier, in December 1984, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs had issued a report condemning the Contras and the United States government as being among the worst human rights violators in Latin America: "The CIA directed forces are among the worst human rights violators in Latin America, responsible for systematic brutality against a civilian population. For its critical role in facilitating the Contra violence, the [United States] Administration must share responsibility as a hemispheric violator of human rights. The Contras have killed, tortured, raped, mutilated and abducted hundreds of civilians they suspect of sympathizing with the Sandinistas. Victims have included peasants, teachers, doctors and agricultural workers."[88]

Human rights violations as a strategyEdit

A fact finding mission of 1985 – sponsored by the International Human Rights Law Group and the Washington Office on Latin America, and carried out independently of any Nicaraguan government interference or direction - found that the contras with some frequency deliberately targeted Nicaraguan citizens in acts of terroristic violence.[89]

An influential report on Contra atrocities was issued by lawyer Reed Brody shortly before the 1985 U.S. Congressional vote on Contra aid. It disclosed a "distinct pattern" of abuses by the contras, including: "attacks on purely civilian targets resulting in the killing of unarmed men, woman, children and the elderly—premeditated acts of brutality including rapes, beatings, mutilations and torture—and individual and mass kidnappings of civilians for the purpose of forced recruitment into the Contra forces and the creation of a hostage refugee population in Honduras; – assaults on economic and social targets such as farms, cooperatives and on vehicles carrying volunteer coffee harvesters; – intimidation of civilians who participate or cooperate in government or community programs such as distribution of subsidized food products, education and local self-defense militias; – and kidnapping, intimidation, and even murder of religious leaders who support the government, including priests and clergy- trained lay pastors."[90]

Similarly, Human Rights Watch pointed out that "the Contras systematically engage in violent prevalent that these may be said to be their principal means of waging war" in a 1989 report.[91]

In his affidavit to the World Court, former contra Edgar Chamorro testified that "The CIA did not discourage such tactics. To the contrary, the Agency severely criticized me when I admitted to the press that the FDN had regularly kidnapped and executed agrarian reform workers and civilians. We were told that the only way to defeat the Sandinistas was to...kill, kidnap, rob and torture..."[92]

These deliberate acts of violence against civilians were acknowledged by the CIA as early as late 1983, when Duane Clarridge, Latin America division chief of the CIA’s Directorate for Operations, reported in a secret briefing to the Senate subcommittee that his contras had murdered "civilians and Sandinista officials in the provinces, as well as heads of cooperatives, nurses, doctors and judges". But that didn't contradict the presidential directive, Dewey said. "These events don’t constitute assassinations because as far as we are concerned assassinations are only those of heads of state. I leave definitions to the politicians. After all, this is a war—a paramilitary operation".[93]

Furthermore, the contras attacked and sabotaged economic and social targets such as lumber yards, coffee processing plants, electrical generating stations, farms, cooperatives, food storage facilities, health centers, including a particular effort to dusrupt the coffee harvests through attacks on coffee cooperatives and on vehicles carrying volunteer coffee harvesters. They also attacked and intimidated civilians deemed to be contributors to the country's economy such as telephone workers, coffee pickers, teachers, and technicians as well as civilians who participated or cooperated in government or community programs such as distribution of subsidized food products, rural cooperatives, and education.[94][95][96][97]

Psychological Operations in Guerrilla WarfareEdit

The CIA manual, "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare" (Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas), had been written in 1983 to be used by the contras.[98] The manual talks about killing civilians who try to leave an occupied town and to rationalize their killing,[71] hiring professional assassins,[72] blackmailing citizens into working for the contras, and inciting violence during demonstrations.[99]

The International Court of Justice ruled on 27 June 1986 that by disseminating the manual to the contras, the United States of America had "encouraged ... acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law."[100] Americas Watch had come to a similar conclusion in 1985.[98]

U.S. justificationEdit

New Republic editor Michael Kinsley argued that critics should not simply dismiss State Department justifications for contra attacks on "soft targets": "The State Department has defended bloody contra attacks on government-sponsored farm cooperatives, saying that these civilian facilities have military aspects. And, of course, that's true. In a Marxist society geared up for war, there are no clear lines separating officials, soldiers and civilians. A guerrilla struggle can't be won by attacking only card-carrying Sandinistas. The goal is to undermine morale and confidence in the government: a perfectly legitimate goal if you believe in the cause, but impossible to achieve without vast civilian suffering. Any sensible policy must meet the test of cost-benefit analysis. The amount of blood and misery that will be poured in, and the likelihood that democracy will emerge at the other end."[101]

In line with this, contra leader Adolfo Calero denied that his forces deliberately targeted civilians: "What they call a cooperative is also a troop concentration full of armed people. We are not killing civilians. We are fighting armed people and returning fire when fire is directed at us."[102]


U.S. news media published several articles accusing Americas Watch and other bodies of ideological bias and unreliable reporting. It alleged that Americas Watch gave too much credence to alleged Contra abuses and systematically tried to discredit Nicaraguan human rights groups such as the Permanent Commission on Human Rights, which blamed the major human rights abuses on the Sandinistas.[103]

In 1985, the Wall Street Journal reported:

Three weeks ago, Americas Watch issued a report on human rights abuses in Nicaragua. One member of the Permanent Commission for Human Rights commented on the Americas Watch report and its chief investigator Juan Mendez: "The Sandinistas are laying the groundwork for a totalitarian society here and yet all Mendez wanted to hear about were abuses by the contras. How can we get people in the U.S. to see what's happening here when so many of the groups who come down are pro-Sandinista?"[104]

Human Rights Watch, the umbrella organization of Americas Watch, replied to these allegations: "Almost invariably, U.S. pronouncements on human rights exaggerated and distorted the real human rights violations of the Sandinista regime, and exculpated those of the U.S.-supported insurgents, known as the contras...The Bush administration is responsible for these abuses, not only because the contras are, for all practical purposes, a U.S. force, but also because the Bush administration has continued to minimize and deny these violations, and has refused to investigate them seriously."[86]

U.S. political scientist Rudolph Rummel estimated that by 1987, the contras had murdered about 500 people while the Sandinistas had murdered 4,000 to 7,000 people in democide.[105] In contrast, Witness for Peace and the Sandinista government claimed at least 736 civilians were murdered by the contras between March 1987 and October 1988 alone.[106]

Military successes and election of Violeta ChamorroEdit

By 1986 the contras were besieged by charges of corruption, human-rights abuses, and military ineptitude.[107] A much-vaunted early 1986 offensive never materialized, and Contra forces were largely reduced to isolated acts of terrorism.[108] In October 1987, however, the contras staged a successful attack in southern Nicaragua.[109] Then on 21 December 1987, the FDN launched attacks at La Bonanza, La Siuna, and La Rosita in Zelaya province, resulting in heavy fighting.[110] ARDE Frente Sur attacked at El Almendro and along the Rama road.[110][111][112] These large-scale raids mainly became possible as the contras were able to use U.S.-provided Redeye missiles against Sandinista Mi-24 helicopter gunships, which had been supplied by the Soviets.[110][113] Nevertheless, the Contras remained tenuously encamped within Honduras and weren't able to hold Nicaraguan territory.[114][115]

There were isolated protests among the population against the draft implemented by the Sandinista government, which even resulted in full-blown street clashes in Masaya in 1988.[116] However, polls showed the Sandinista government still enjoyed strong support from Nicaraguans.[117] Political opposition groups were splintered and the Contras began to experience defections, although United States aid maintained them as a viable military force.[118][119]

After a cutoff in U.S. military support and with both sides facing international pressure to bring an end to the conflict, the contras agreed to negotiations with the FSLN. With the help of five Central American Presidents, including Ortega, it was agreed that a voluntary demobilization of the contras should start in early December 1989, in order to facilitate free and fair elections in Nicaragua in February 1990 (even though the Reagan administration had pushed for a delay of contra disbandment).[120]

In the resulting February 1990 elections, Violeta Chamorro and her party the UNO won an upset victory of 55% to 41% over Daniel Ortega,[121] even though polls leading up to the election had clearly indicated an FSLN victory.[122]

Possible explanations include that the Nicaraguan people were disenchanted with the Ortega regime as well as the fact that already in November 1989, the White House had announced that the economic embargo against Nicaragua would continue unless Violeta Chamorro won.[123] Also, there had been reports of intimidation from the side of the contras,[124] with a Canadian observer mission confirming 42 people killed by the contras in "election violence" in October 1989.[125] This led many commentators to assume that Nicaraguans voted against the Sandinistas out of fear of a continuation of the contra war and economic deprivation.[122][126][127][128][129][130] Both by critics and supporters of the Reagan administration, this was seen as a direct result of the administration's efforts concerning the contras.[131][132][133][134][135]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Lee et al. 1987, p. 29
  2. "The contras are made up of a combination of: ex-National Guardsmen (especially the military wing of the FDN),..." As seen at: Gill 1984, p. 204
  3. As explained by Robert Pastor, President Carter's National Security Advisor on Latin America, there was complete agreement that the U.S.-trained National Guard must be kept intact and it was not until 29 June 1979, shortly before the end of Somoza's rule, that anyone in N.S.C. meetings "suggested the central U.S. objective was something other than preventing a Sandinista victory". Pastor questioned "whether one could realistically expect to win over the military leaders of the Sandinistas in the last days of their revolution after they had been fighting U.S. imperialism for two decades... As long as there was any possibility of placing a buffer between them and exclusive power, should we not reach for it?" As seen at: "Condemned to Repetition: The United States and Nicaragua" By Robert A. Pastor, 1987
  4. In a 30 June cable to Washington on the subject of "National Guard Survival", Ambassedor Pezzullo noted that with "careful orchestration we have a better than even chance of preserving enough of the [National Guard] to maintain order and hold the FSLN in check after Somoza resigns..." As seen at: "Nicaragua, the price of intervention: Reagan's wars against the Sandinistas" By Peter Kornbluh, 1987
  5. "With the Contras: a reporter in the wilds of Nicaragua" By Christopher Dickey, 1985
  6. Dickey, Christopher. With the Contras, A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua. Simon & Schuster, 1985.
  7. "The contras are made up of a combination of: ... anti-Sandinista opponents of ex-dictator Somoza (some of the members of the FDN political directorate eg Messrs. Chamorro and Cruz)..." As seen at: Gill 1984, p. 204
  8. International Court of Justice (IV) (1986), p. 446
  9. Dillon, Sam (1991). Comandos: The CIA and Nicaragua's Contra Rebels. New York: Henry Holt. pp. 49–56. ISBN 978-0-8050-1475-4. OCLC 23974023. 
  10. Horton, Lynn (1998). Peasants in Arms: War and Peace in the Mountains of Nicaragua, 1979–1994. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies. pp. 95–117. ISBN 978-0-89680-204-9. OCLC 39157572. 
  11. Padro-Maurer, R. The Contras 1980–1989, a Special Kind of Politics. NY: Praeger Publishers, 1990.
  12. Brown, Timothy C. The Real Contra War, Highlander Peasant Resistance in Nicaragua. University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.
  14. "Although Calero had opposed Somoza, the FDN had its roots in two insurgent groups made up of former National Guardsmen..." As seen at: Lee et al. 1987, p. 29
  15. "The UDN, including Cardenal, initially opposed any linkage with the Guardsmen. The CIA, and high-ranking United States Government officiais, insisted that we merge with the Guardsmen. Lt. General Vernon Walters, then a special assistant to the United States Secretary of State (and formerly Deputy Director of the CIA) met with Cardenal to encourage him to accept the CIA's proposal. We were well aware of the crimes the Guardsmen had committed against the Nicaraguan people while in the service of President Somoza and we wanted nothing to do with them. However, we recognized that without help from the United States Government we had no chance of removing the Sandinistas from power, so we eventually acceded to the CIA's, and General Walters', insistence that we join forces with the Guardsmen. Some UDN memhers resigned because they would not associate themselves with the National Guard under any circumstances, but Cardenal and I and others believed the CIA's assurances that we, the civilians, would control the Guardsmen in the new organization that was to he created." As seen at: International Court of Justice (IV) 1986, p. 446
  16. "On the basis of the available information, the Court is not able to satisfy itself that the Respondent State "created" the contra force in Nicaragua, but holds it established that it largely financed, trained, equipped, armed and organized the FDN, one element of the force." As seen at: International Court of Justice 1986, VII (4)
  17. "The largest and most active of these groups, which later came to be known as ... (FDN), ..." As seen at: Lee et al. 1987, p. 29
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Williams, Adam (26 November 2010). "Edén Pastora: A wanted man". The Tico Times. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Lee et al. 1987, p. 32
  20. "He insisted on operating in the southern part of Nicaragua." As seen at: Lee et al. 1987, p. 32
  21. The Americas Watch Committee. "Human Rights in Nicaragua 1986" (print), Americas Watch, February 1987.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Gill 1989, p. 328
  25. Gill 1989, p. 329
  26. "The United States has played a very large role in financing, training, arming, and advising the contras over a long period. The contras only became capable of carrying out significant (para)military operations as a result of this support." As seen at: Gill 1989, p. 329
  27. "In spite of the Sandinista victory being declared fair the United States continued to oppose the left-wing Nicaraguan government." Cited in: "1984: Sandinistas claim election victory" BBC News, 5 November 1984
  28. "President Reagan renewed his commitment to the Nicaraguan insurgents Sunday, though he appeared to shift the focus of his Administration's policy away from the military situation to the need to restore democracy to the Central American country". Cited in: "President Shifts Emphasis From Contra Warfare" Los Angeles Times, 4 May 1987
  29. "The Foreign Connection" Washington Post 6 Jan. 1987
  30. "MUDSLINGING OVER CONTRAS" New York Times, 12 March 1986
  31. 31.0 31.1 "NSDD – National Security Decision Directives – Reagan Administration". 30 May 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  33. 1984: Sandinistas claim election victory
  34. "NICARAGUAN VOTE: 'FREE, FAIR, HOTLY CONTESTED'" New York Times, 16 November 1984
  35. Freedom House (2012). "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973-2012" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  36. "There was an impression that the revolutionary left was on a roll in Central America... The administration correctly saw that infectious spirit as a 'virus' that had to be stopped." As seen at: "USING NICARAGUA AS A PRACTICE GROUND FOR A 'LOW-INTENSITY' WAR" Boston Globe, 27 August 1985
  37. "The Sandinistas would attack with ideological "subversion" rather than conventional warfare, and 'You cannot contain that by putting military forces on their border'". Cited in: "Contra Aid Pays Off, Top U.S. General in Latin America Says" The Los Angeles Times, 20 May 1987
  38. "As with other shows of force in the last four years, the maneuver in May is intended to deter the Sandinista Government in Managua from exporting its leftist ideology by maintaining what American officers have called a continuing presence in Honduras and the Caribbean." Cited in: "NEW U.S. EXERCISES SET FOR HONDURAS" The New York Times, 22 March 1987
  39. "We don't have a wall to stop Sandinista ideology or subversives," complains William Hall Rivera, the Honduran president's chief of staff. "It won't be a fight over land, but over minds." Cited in: "Central Issue - If the Contras Collapse, U.S. Faces Bigger Task In Containing Marxism" The Wall Street Journal, 18 May 1987
  40. "officials are concerned that Nicaragua can cause trouble by training radical union and peasant leaders. Fortunately for the neighbors, leftist groups have been declining throughout the isthmus since 1983". Cited in: "Latin Qualms: Central America Allies See U.S. Aid to Contras Doomed by Scandal --- Nations Already Ambivalent Now Actively Criticize Help to Nicaragua Rebels --- Turmoil Seen From San Jose" Wall Street Journal, 5 December 1986
  41. "The destabilization of the Sandinistra government in Nicaragua by the Reagan Administration in the 1980s was, according to Chomsky (citing Oxfam reports), largely a response to the "threat of a good example" posed by the constructive social programs and absence of widespread torture in Nicargua; this example contrasts dramatically with many of the military regimes supported by the United States in the region (e.g. Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala)." As seen at: Cummins, J. (1994). The discourse of disinformation: The debate on bilingual education and language rights in the United States. In R. Phillipson & T. Skutnabb-Kangas (Ed.). Linguistic human rights. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3110148787
  42. "... project implementation has been extraordinarily successful in Nicaragua in some sectors, better than anywhere else in the world..." As seen at:"Nicaragua, the price of intervention: Reagan's wars against the Sandinistas" Peter Kornbluh, 1987
  43. "The remarkable progress in health and literacy achieved in the early 1980's can barely be sustained."... "from Oxfam's experience of working in seventy-six developing countries, Nicaragua was to prove exceptional in the strength of that Government's improving the condition of the people and encouraging their active participation in the development process.." As seen at: Dianna Melrose, "Nicaragua: The Threat of a Good Example?", Oxford (U.K.): Oxfam, 1985 (preface 1989), pp. vii, 13-14
  44. "Administration officials said they are content to see the contras debilitate the Sandinistas by forcing them to divert scarce resources toward the war and away from social programs." Cited in: "CONGRESS' MESSAGE TO CONTRAS: 'SHOW ME'\ CHANCES OF GETTING AMERICAN AID TO FIGHT SANDINISTAS APPEAR LINKED; TO MILITARY SUCCESSES THAT SEEM UNLIKELY" Boston Globe, 9 February 1986
  45. "Those 2,000 hard-core guys could keep some pressure on the Nicaraguan government, force them to use their economic resources for the military and prevent them from solving their economic problems--and that's a plus. Anything that puts pressure on the Sandinista regime, calls attention to the lack of democracy and prevents the Sandinistas from solving their economic problems is a plus." Cited in: "U.S. Lowers Its Contra Goals; Collapse Feared" The Los Angeles Times, 28 May 1988
  46. "The revised goal is not to topple the Sandinistas by force but to push them into increased domestic repression and to spend scarce currency on the military rather than social programs." Cited in: "U.S. ROLE CALLED MAJOR IN ANTI-SANDANISTA EFFORT" Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 January 1983
  47. Lee et al. 1987, p.3
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 48.3 Lee et al. 1987, p. 3
  49. "In December 1982, the New York Times reported intelligence officials as saying that Washington's ‘covert activities have... become the most ambitious paramilitary and political action operation mounted by the C.I.A. in nearly a decade...‘" As seen at: Lee et al. 1987, p. 33
  50. "The principal actions to be undertaken were paramilitary which hopefully would provoke cross-border attacks by Nicaraguan forces and thus serve to demonstrate Nicaragua's aggressive nature and possibly call into play the Organization of American States' provisions (regarding collective self-defense). It was hoped that the Nicaraguan Government would clamp down on civil liberties within Nicaragua itself, arresting its opposition, so demonstrating its allegedly inherent totalitarian nature and thus increase domestic dissent within the country, and further that there would be reaction against United States citizens, particularly against United States diplomatic personnel within Nicaragua and thus to demonstrate the hostility of Nicaragua towards the United States." As seen at: "Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua V. United States of America)" International Court Of Justice, 2000
  51. "...opinion polls indicated that a majority of the public was not supportive." As seen at: Lee et al. 1987, p. 3
  52. "Following disclosure...that the CIA had a role in connection with the mining of the Nicaraguan harbors..., public critisism mounted and the administration's Contra policy lost much of its support within Congress". As seen at: Lee et al. 1987, p. 3
  53. "Soviet military aid to Nicaragua is unobtrusive and sometimes ephemeral... the limited amounts of truly modern equipment acquired by the Sandinistas ... came from Western Europe not the Eastern bloc... all too many U.S. claims proved hollow...the scope and nature of the Kremlin's intrusion are far short of justifying the President's exaggerated alarms." As seen as: "Nicaragua, the price of intervention: Reagan's wars against the Sandinistas" By Peter Kornbluh, 1987
  54. "U.S. DELAYED REPORT ON SOVIETS IN NICARAGUA" The Miami Herald, 18 September 1984
  55. Riesenfeld, Stefan A. (January 1987). "The Powers of Congress and the President in International Relations: Revisited". California Law Review, Inc.. p. 405. Digital object identifier:10.2307/3480586. JSTOR 3480586. "The Boland Amendment was part of the Joint Resolution of December 21, 1982, providing further continuing appropriations for the fiscal year 1983" 
  56. "The Lessons of Afghanistan", by Michael Johns, Policy Review magazine, The Heritage Foundation, Spring 1987
  57. "Executive Order 12513--Prohibiting trade and certain other transactions involving Nicaragua" National Archives
  58. "Nicaragua, the price of intervention: Reagan's wars against the Sandinistas" By Peter Kornbluh, 1987
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.3 59.4 Lee et al. 1987, p. 4
  60. Lee et al 1987, p. 4
  61. National Security Archive (1990?). "The Contras, cocaine, and covert operations: Documentation of official U.S. knowledge of drug trafficking and the Contras". The National Security Archive / George Washington University. 
  62. "The Oliver North File". Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  63. 63.0 63.1 63.2 Lee et al. 1987, p. 5
  64. "It also disseminated what one official termed "white propaganda": pro-Contra newspaper articles by paid consultants who did not disclose their connection to the Administration." As seen at: Lee et al. 1987, p. 5
  65. 65.0 65.1 65.2 Lee et al. 1987, p. 6
  66. "NSC OVERSAW CAMPAIGN TO SWAY CONTRA AID VOTE" The Miami Herald, 19 July 1987
  67. "Reagan's Pro-Contra Propaganda Machine" The Washington Post, 4 September 1988
  68. "Public Diplomacy and Covert Propaganda: The Declassified Record of Otto Juan Reich" The National Security Archive, 2 March 2001
  69. "Having reached the above conclusion, the Court takes the view that the contras remain responsible for their acts, in particular the alleged violations by them of humanitarian law. For the United States to be legally responsible, it would have to be proved that that State had effective control of the operations in the course of which the alleged violations were committed." As seen at: International Court of Justice 1986, VII (5)
  70. "...Finds that the United States of America, by producing in 1983 a manual entitled "Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas", and disseminating it to contra forces, has encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law." As seen at: International Court of Justice 1986, (9)
  71. 71.0 71.1 "In the case of shooting "a citizen who was trying to leave the town or city in which the guerrillas are carrying out armed propaganda or political proselytism", the manual suggests that the contras "explain that if that citizen had managed to escape, he would have alerted the enemy." As seen at: Sklar 1988, p. 179
  72. 72.0 72.1 Sklar 1988, p. 181
  73. International Court of Justice 1986, VIII (1)
  74. "In any event the evidence is insufficient to satisfy the Court that the Government of Nicaragua was responsible for any flow of arms at either period." As seen at: International Court of Justice 1986, VIII (1)
  75. "But the Court, remarkably enough, while finding the United States responsible for intervention in Nicaragua, failed to recognize Nicaragua's prior and continuing intervention in El Salvador." As seen at: International Court of Justice 1986, Dissenting Opinion of Judge Schwebel
  76. "...concluded that the United States essentially acted lawfully in exerting armed pressures against Nicaragua, both directly and through its support of the contras, because Nicaragua's prior and sustained support of armed insurgency in El Salvador was tantamount to an armed attack upon El Salvador against which the United States could react in collective self-defence in El Salvador's support." As seen at: International Court of Justice 1986, Dissenting Opinion of Judge Schwebel
  77. Morrison, Fred L. (January 1987). "Legal Issues in The Nicaragua Opinion". pp. 160–166. Digital object identifier:10.2307/2202146. JSTOR 2202146.  "Appraisals of the ICJ's Decision. Nicaragua vs United State (Merits)"
  78. "Human Rights Watch World Report 1993 – Nicaragua".,HRW,,NIC,467fca491e,0.html. Retrieved 18 September 2009. 
  79. "Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua V. United States of America): Application instituting proceedings" International Court of Justice, 2000
  80. "The Contras' litany of destruction" The Guardian
  81. The Americas Watch Committee (February 1987). "Human Rights in Nicaragua 1986". Americas Watch. 
  82. 82.0 82.1 82.2 82.3 Human Rights in Nicaragua 1986, p. 21
  83. 83.0 83.1 Human Rights in Nicaragua 1986, p. 19
  84. Human Rights in Nicaragua 1986, p. 19, 21
  85. Human Rights in Nicaragua 1986, p. 24
  86. 86.0 86.1 "NICARAGUA" Human Rights Watch, 1989
  87. "Right to survive: human rights in Nicaragua" Catholic Institute for International Relations, 1987
  88. "Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua V. United States of America)" International Court Of Justice, 2000
  89. "We found that there is substantial credible evidence that the contras engaged with some frequency in acts of terroristic violence directed at Nicaraguan civilians... These are individuals who are not caught in the cross-fire between government and contra forces, but...deliberately targeted by the contras for acts of terror." As seen at: "Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua V. United States of America)" International Court Of Justice, 2000
  90. "Contra terror in Nicaragua: report of a fact-finding mission, September 1984 – January 1985" By Reed Brody, 1985
  91. "Nicaragua". Human Rights Watch. 1989. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  92. "Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua V. United States of America): Affidavit of Edgar Chamarro" International Court of Justice, 5 September 1985
  93. "With the Contras: a reporter in the wilds of Nicaragua" By Christopher Dickey, 1987
  94. "Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua V. United States of America)" International Court of Justice, 2000
  95. "Contra Terror in Nicaragua: Report of a Fact-Finding Mission, September 1984-January 1985" By Reed Brody, 1985
  96. "Rebels Still Seeking a Win; Return to Nicaragua Has Limited Impact" The Washington Post, 8 September 1987
  97. "Contras Burn Clinic During Raid on Village; Attack Illustrates Tactics, Problems of Nicaraguan Rebels" The Washington Post, 7 March 1987
  98. 98.0 98.1 "Violations of the laws of war by both sides in Nicaragua, 1981–1985" Americas Watch Committee, 1985
  99. "Nicaragua: the human rights record" Amnesty International, 1986
  100. "Yearbook , Issue 40" International Court of Justice, 1 January 1985
  101. Michael Kinsley, Wall Street Journal, 26 March 1987.
  102. New York Times, 23 November 1984.
  103. The New Republic, 20 January 1986; The New Republic, 22 August 1988; The National Interest, Spring 1990.
  104. David Asman, "Despair and fear in Managua", Wall Street Journal, 25 March 1985.
  105. Power Kills Line 2558
  106. "ADDENDUM A: Casualties from Contra Attacks–Nicaragua". Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  107. Smolowe, Jill (22 December 1986). "Nicaragua Is It Curtains?". Time Magazine.,9171,963090-1,00.html. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  108. Todd, Dave (26 February 1986). "Offensive by Nicaraguan "Freedom Fighters" May be Doomed as Arms, Aid Dry Up". Ottawa Citizen.,187657&dq=nicaragua&hl=en. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  109. "The last major attack, in October along the Rama Road in southern Nicaragua, was considered a success for the guerrillas." As seen at: Lemoyne, James (22 December 1987). "Both Sides Report Heavy Fighting In Rebel Offensive in Nicaragua". New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  110. 110.0 110.1 110.2 Lemoyne, James (22 December 1987). "Both Sides Report Heavy Fighting In Rebel Offensive in Nicaragua". New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  111. Lemoyne, James (2 February 1988). "Contras' Top Fighter Vows No Letup". New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  112. Meara, William R. Contra Cross: Insurgency And Tyranny in Central America, 1979–1989. U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2006.
  113. Kinzer, Stephen (23 July 1987). "Sandinistas report capture of RedEye Missile". New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  114. Wicker, Tom (14 August 1989). "Enough Have Died for Nothing in Nicaragua". Wilmington Morning Star.,5372009&dq=nicaragua&hl=en. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  115. Ulig, Mark (14 August 1989). "New Regional Accord Leaves Contras in Honduras Fearful but Defiant". New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  116. "Sometimes they used force as they rounded up young men for military service, and there were occasional confrontations. But only in the town of Masaya, 19 miles southeast of the capital of Managua, did the conscription spark a full-blown street clash...For several weeks before the latest outburst in Masaya, the opposition newspaper, La Prensa, had been reporting isolated protests against the draft." As seen at: Kinzer, Stephen (28 February 1988). "THE WORLD: Nicaragua; Pushed From Left or Right, Masaya Balks". New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  117. "Sandinistas Surviving in a Percentage Game". Envio. December 1988. 
  118. "Nicaraguans Try Peace Moves While Waiting for U.S. Voters". Envio. November 1988. 
  119. "Contra Insurgency in Nicaragua". December 2000. 
  120. "U.S. Endorses Contra Plan as Prod to Democracy in Nicaragua" The Washington Post, 9 August 1989
  121. Uhlig, Mark A. (27 February 1990). "Turnover in Nicaragua; NICARAGUAN OPPOSITION ROUTS SANDINISTAS; U.S. PLEDGES AID, TIED TO ORDERLY TURNOVER". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  122. 122.0 122.1 "After the Poll Wars-Explaining the Upset". Envio. March 1990. 
  123. "Bush Vows to End Embargo if Chamorro Wins", The Washington Post, 9 November 1989
  124. "The policy of keeping the contras alive ... also has placed in jeopardy the holding of elections by encouraging contra attacks on the electoral process. Thus, while the Bush administration proclaims its support for human rights and free and fair elections in Nicaragua, it persists in sabotaging both." As seen at: "Nicaragua" Human Rights Watch, 1990
  125. "U.S. trying to disrupt election in Nicaragua, Canadians report" The Toronto Star, 27 October 1989
  126. "For Nicaraguans, the choice was simple, he said: continued war, poverty and inflation or opposition candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro ... ′They were not electing a president, they were electing a way out′." As seen at: "Nicaragua Election Was Neither Free Nor Honest, Ex-Contra Leader Charges" Los Angeles Times, 15 March 1990
  127. "American intervention is the main obstacle to the attainment of free and fair elections in Nicaragua...A campaign of intimidation with the clear message,`if you support the (Sandinista government), we will be back to kill you'." As seen at: "U.S. trying to disrupt election in Nicaragua, Canadians report" The Toronto Star, 27 October 1989
  128. "EVEN AT THE END, A CONTRA EXPLOITATION" The Boston Globe, 26 Oct. 1989
  129. "... because the Nicaraguan people were tired of war and sick of economic deprivation" As seen at: "IN THE NATION; Bush and Managua" New York Times, 1 March 1990
  130. "The voters chose a candidate of Washington's choice with a 'gun held to their heads', as was clear to many impartial observers." As seen at: "Nicaragua: living in the shadow of the eagle" By Thomas W. Walker, 2003
  131. "It is true that partly because of the confrontation with the U.S., Nicaragua's economy suffered terribly, setting the stage for the widespread public discontent with the Sandinistas reflected in Sunday's balloting. But few governments become moderate during a war; the contra war strengthened Sandinista hard-liners and probably contributed to their oppressive policies. The way to resolution opened only when Congress suspended the war, in effect, to give the Sandinistas a chance to proceed democratically...Thus, Nicaragua's election has vindicated Washington's fledgling program of providing public, above-board funding to help democratic procedures take root in countries with authoritarian regimes." As seen at: "Nicaragua, Victory U.S. Fair Play" The New York Times, 1 March 1990
  132. "The economic distress that no doubt moved some Nicaraguans to vote for Mrs. Chamorro was caused in part, after all, by U.S. sanctions" As seen at: "ABROAD AT HOME; Out of This Nettle" The New York Times, 2 March 1990
  133. "... wreck the economy and prosecute a long and deadly proxy war until the exhausted natives overthrow the unwanted government themselves. Since 1985 Washington has strangled Nicaraguan trade with an embargo. It has cut off Nicaragua's credit at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The contra war cost Managua tens of millions and left the country with wrecked bridges, sabotaged power stations and ruined farms. The impoverishment of the people of Nicaragua was a harrowing way to give the National Opposition Union (U.N.O.) a winning issue. Nicaragua had been devastated by a 40% drop in GNP, an inflation rate running at 1,700% a year and constant shortages of food and basic necessities. At least 30,000 people had been killed in the war, and 500,000 more had fled." As seen at: "But Will It Work?" Time, 12 March 1990
  134. "Impoverishing the people of Nicaragua was precisely the point of the contra war and the parallel policy of economic boycott and veto of international development loans..The contra war managed to kill more than 30,000 Nicaraguans..The economic disaster was probably the victorious opposition's best election issue..What followed - ceasefire, free election, victory for the opposition, voluntary surrender of political power by the Sandinistas - turned out to be pleasanter than anyone would have dared to predict. Those who supported aid to the contras..., as did this magazine, can find considerable vindication in the outcome. Gratifying as the election results are democracy is not yet quite safe in Nicaragua and having served as an inspiration for the triumph of democracy in our time, the United States now has an opportunity to see to it that democracy prevails." As seen at: "Taking responsibility. (effect of '80's U.S. Nicaragua policy on Chamorro victory)" The New Republic, 19 March 1990
  135. "It is hard to say which is sadder: What happened to Nicaragua and its people (and its revolution) on the way to the stunning defeat of the Sandinistas in the election on Sunday. Or the fact that so many Americans in public life -- the politicians and journalists who establish the terms of discourse for everyone else—describe the election victory of the American-backed candidate as a victory for peace and democracy. This was undeniably a victory for former President Reagan and President Bush, and for Elliott Abrams and Oliver North. It was a victory for violence pays. For money talks. For cynicism. For terrorism, fading into mere cruelty. And for cowardice among the liberal opposition." As seen at: "IN NICARAGUA, A WIN BUT NOT A VICTORY" The Boston Globe, 28 February 1990



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