Sandinista National Liberation Front and Nicaragua

Nicaragua officially the Republic of Nicaragua (Spanish: Republica de Nicaragua, is the largest country in Central America. Nicaragua is bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Nicaragua is located at the center of the Central American isthmus that forms a land bridge between North and South America. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics.

The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east; Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast is part of the Western Caribbean Zone. The country’s physical geography divides it into three major zones: Pacific lowlands, wet, cooler central highlands, and the Caribbean Lowlands. On the Pacific side of the country are the two largest fresh water lakes in Central America—Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. Surrounding these lakes and extending to their northwest along the rift valley of the Gulf of Fonseca are fertile lowland plains, whose soil is highly enriched with ash from nearby volcanoes.

Nicaragua’s abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica’s designation as a biodiversity hotspot. The Central American Volcanic Arc runs through the spine of the country, earning Nicaragua its notably famous nickname: The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes. [6] The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and the territory became associated with the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

Alongside the Spanish, the British established a protectorate on the eastern seaboard beginning in the middle of the 17th century, and ending roughly two centuries later with the rise of the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Granada in the coast. The eastern seaboard retains its colonial heritage; English and Jamaican Patois are commonly spoken and the culture in the Atlantic region identifies as being more Caribbean. In 1821, Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain and joined the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823, later leaving the Federal Republic in 1838. 7] Nicaragua increasingly became a subject of substantial interest because of its geographic position for a canal that would service the Windward Passage. [8] Roughly a century after operations of the Panama Canal commenced and one hundred and eighty five years after the initial plans for the Nicaraguan Canal waterway, the prospect of a Nicaraguan ecocanal has remained the subject of interest, with its construction in progress. [9][10][11][12] Eighteen years after leaving the federal Republic it also became the center of William Walker’s Golden Circle filibustering in Central America. 13][14][15] Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, military intervention on behalf of the United States, dictatorship and fiscal crisis—the most notable causes that lead to the Nicaraguan Revolution. Although the Somoza family ruled the country in the form of a dictatorship for forty years, Nicaragua was among the first countries to sign the United Nations Charter in 1945. [16] Prior to the revolution, Nicaragua was one of Central America’s wealthiest and most developed countries. The revolutionary conflict, paired with Nicaragua’s 1972 earthquake reversed the country’s prior economic standing.

Despite the harsh economic effects of both phenomena, Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic which has experienced economic growth and political stability in recent years. In 1990, Nicaragua elected Violeta Chamorro as its president, making it the first country in the Americas and in Latin American history to democratically elect a female head of state and the second country in the Western Hemisphere to do so, following Iceland’s democratic election of Vigdis Finnbogadottir. The population in Nicaragua, hovering at approximately 6 million, is multiethnic.

Roughly one quarter of the nation’s population lives in the capital city, Managua, making Managua the second largest city and metropolitan area in Central America (following Guatemala City). Other major cities include Leon, Chinandega, Granada, Matagalpa and Jinotega. Segments of the population include indigenous native tribes from the Mosquito Coast, Europeans, Africans, Asians and people of Middle Eastern origin. The main language is Spanish, although native tribes on the eastern coast speak their native languages, such as Miskito, Sumo and Rama, as well as English Creole.

Of the Spanish-speaking countries in Central America, Nicaragua is where the use of the voseo form of address is most widespread. The mixture of cultural traditions has generated substantial diversity in art, cuisine, literature, and music. Nicaragua has earned recognition and various colloquial names in reference to its geographic location, cultural achievements and recent economic development. Nicaragua’s biological diversity, warm tropical climate, and active volcanoes make it an increasingly popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists. 17][18] The country has also been dubbed The Land of Poets, due to various literary contributions of renown Nicaraguan writers, including Ruben Dario, Ernesto Cardenal and Gioconda Belli. [19] In pre-Columbian times, in what is now known as Nicaragua, the indigenous people were part of the Intermediate Area located between the Mesoamerican and Andean cultural regions and within the influence of the Isthmo-Colombian area. It was the point where the Mesoamerican and South American native cultures met.

This is confirmed by the ancient footprints of Acahualinca, along with other archaeological evidence, mainly in the form of ceramics and statues made of volcanic stone, such as the ones found on the island of Zapatera in Lake Nicaragua and petroglyphs found on Ometepe island. The Pipil migrated to Nicaragua from central Mexico after 500 B. C. [22] By the end of the 15th century, western Nicaragua was inhabited by several indigenous peoples related by culture to the Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Aztec and Maya, and by language to the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area. 23] They were primarily farmers who lived in towns, organized into small kingdoms. Meanwhile, the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua was inhabited by other peoples, mostly Chibcha-language groups. They had coalesced in Central America and migrated also to present-day northern Colombia and nearby areas. [24] They lived a life based primarily on hunting and gathering. [25] Joined by waters, the people of eastern Nicaragua traded with, and were influenced by, other native peoples of the Caribbean. Round thatched huts and canoes, both typical of the Caribbean, were commonly crafted and used in eastern Nicaragua.

In the west and highland areas, occupying the territory between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Coast, the Niquirano were governed by chief Nicarao, or Nicaragua. The wealthy ruler lived in Nicaraocali, site of the present-day city of Rivas. The Chorotega lived in the central region of Nicaragua. Without women in their parties, the Spanish conquerors took Niquirano and Chorotega wives and partners, beginning the multi-ethnic mix of native and European stock now known as mestizo, which constitutes the great majority of population in western Nicaragua. 26] Within three decades after European contact, what had been an estimated Indian population of one million plummeted. Scientists and historians estimate approximately half of the indigenous people in western Nicaragua died from the rapid spread of new infectious diseases carried by the Spaniards, such as smallpox and measles, to which the Indians had no immunity. The indigenous people of the Caribbean coast escaped the epidemics due to the remoteness of their area. Their societies continued more culturally intact as a result. 26] The Spanish conquest In 1502, Christopher Columbus was the first European known to have reached what is now Nicaragua as he sailed southeast toward the Isthmus of Panama. On his fourth voyage, Columbus explored the Misquitos Coast on the Atlantic side of Nicaragua. [27] The first attempt to conquer what is now known as Nicaragua was by Gil Gonzalez Davila,[28] who arrived in Panama in January 1520. Gonzalez claimed to have converted some 30,000 indigenous peoples and discovered a possible transisthmian water link.

After exploring and gathering gold in the fertile western valleys, Gonzalez was attacked by the indigenous people, some of whom were commanded by Nicarao and an estimated 3,000 led by chief Diriangen. [29] Gonzalez later returned to Panama where Governor Pedro Arias Davila tried to arrest him and confiscate his treasure, some 90,000 pesos of gold. Gonzalez escaped to Santo Domingo. It was not until 1524 that the first Spanish permanent settlements were founded. 28] Conquistador Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba founded two of Nicaragua’s principal towns in 1524: Granada on Lake Nicaragua was the first settlement, followed by Leon at a location east of Lake Managua. Cordoba soon built defenses for the cities and attacked against incursions by the other conquistadors. Cordoba was later publicly beheaded following a power struggle with Pedro Arias Davila. His tomb and remains were discovered in 2000 in the Ruins of Leon Viejo. [30] The clash among Spanish forces did not impede their devastation of the indigenous population and civilization.

The series of battles came to be known as The War of the Captains. [31] By 1529, the conquest of Nicaragua was complete. Several conquistadors came out winners, while they executed or murdered others. Pedrarias Davila was a winner—although he had lost control of Panama, he moved to Nicaragua and successfully established his base in Leon. Through adroit diplomatic machinations, he became the first governor of the colony. [30] The land was parceled out to the conquistadors, who were most interested in the western portion. They enslaved many indigenous people as labor to develop and maintain estates there.

Others were put to work in mines in northern Nicaragua, some were killed in warfare. The great majority were sold as slaves, whipped, and shipped to other Spanish colonies in the New World, at a significant profit to the newly landed aristocracy. Many of the indigenous people died as a result of infectious disease, compounded by neglect by the Spaniards, who controlled their subsistence. [28] In 1536, the Viceroyalty of New Spain was established. By 1570, the southern part of New Spain was designated the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

The area of Nicaragua was divided into administrative “parties” with Leon as the capital. In 1610, the Momotombo volcano erupted, destroying the capital. It was rebuilt northwest of what is now known as the Ruins of Old Leon. During the American Revolutionary War, Central America was subject to conflict between Britain and Spain, as Britain sought to expand its influence beyond coastal logging and fishing communities in present-day Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua. Horatio Nelson led expeditions against San Fernando de Omoa in 1779 and the San Juan in 1780, which had temporary success before being abandoned due to disease.

In turn, the Spanish colonial leaders could not completely eliminate British influences along the Mosquito Coast. The Captaincy General of Guatemala was dissolved in September 1821 with the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, and Nicaragua became part of the First Mexican Empire. After the monarchy of the First Mexican Empire was overthrown in 1823, Nicaragua joined the newly formed United Provinces of Central America, which was later renamed as the Federal Republic of Central America. Nicaragua finally became an independent republic in 1838. 7] Rivalry between the liberal elite of Leon and the conservative elite of Granada characterized the early years of independence and often degenerated into civil war, particularly during the 1840s and 1850s. Invited by the Liberals in 1855 to join their struggle against the Conservatives, a United States adventurer and filibuster named William Walker set himself up as president of Nicaragua, after conducting a farcical election in 1856. [13] Costa Rica, Honduras and other Central American countries united to drive Walker out of Nicaragua in 1857,[13][14][15] after which a period of three decades of Conservative rule ensued.

Great Britain, which had claimed the Mosquito Coast as a protectorate since 1655, delegated the area to Honduras in 1859 before transferring it to Nicaragua in 1860. The Mosquito Coast remained an autonomous area until 1894. Jose Santos Zelaya, president of Nicaragua from 1893 – 1909, negotiated the annexation of the Mosquito Coast to the rest of Nicaragua. In his honor, the region was named Zelaya Department. In the 19th century, Nicaragua attracted many immigrants, primarily from Europe. In particular, families from Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Belgium emigrated to set up businesses with money they brought from Europe.

They established many agricultural businesses, such as coffee and sugar cane plantations, and also newspapers, hotels and banks. Throughout the late 19th century, the United States (and several European powers) considered a scheme to build a canal across Nicaragua, linking the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. [8] A bill was put before the U. S. Congress in 1899 to build the canal, which failed to pass it; construction of the Panama Canal was begun instead. In 1909, the United States provided political support to conservative-led forces rebelling against President Zelaya. U. S. otives included differences over the proposed Nicaragua Canal, Nicaragua’s potential as a destabilizing influence in the region, and Zelaya’s attempts to regulate foreign access to Nicaraguan natural resources. On November 18, 1909, U. S. warships were sent to the area after 500 revolutionaries (including two Americans) were executed by order of Zelaya. The U. S. justified the intervention by claiming to protect U. S. lives and property. Zelaya resigned later that year. In August 1912 the President of Nicaragua, Adolfo Diaz, requested that the Secretary of War, General Luis Mena, resign for fear that he was leading an insurrection.

Mena fled Managua with his brother, the Chief of Police of Managua, to start an insurrection. When the U. S. Legation asked President Diaz to ensure the safety of American citizens and property during the insurrection he replied that he could not and that… “In consequence my Government desires that the Government of the United States guarantee with its forces security for the property of American Citizens in Nicaragua and that it extend its protection to all the inhabitants of the Republic. [32] ” U. S. Marines occupied Nicaragua from 1912 to 1933,[33] except for a nine month period beginning in 1925.

From 1910 to 1926, the conservative party ruled Nicaragua. The Chamorro family, which had long dominated the party, effectively controlled the government during that period. In 1914, the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty was signed, giving the U. S. control over the proposed canal, as well as leases for potential canal defenses. [34] Following the evacuation of U. S. Marines, another violent conflict between liberals and conservatives took place in 1926, known as the Constitutionalist War, which resulted in a coalition government and the return of U. S. Marines. [35] From 1927 until 1933, Gen.

Augusto Cesar Sandino led a sustained guerrilla war first against the Conservative regime and subsequently against the U. S. Marines, who withdrew upon the establishment of a new Liberal government. Sandino was the only Nicaraguan general to refuse to sign the el tratado del Espino Negro agreement and then headed up to the northern mountains of Las Segovias, where he fought the U. S. Marines for over five years. [36] When the Americans left in 1933, they set up the Guardia Nacional (National Guard),[37] a combined military and police force trained and equipped by the Americans and designed to be loyal to U. S. nterests. Anastasio Somoza Garcia, a close friend of the American government, was put in charge. He was one of the three rulers of the country, the others being Sandino and the President Juan Bautista Sacasa. After the U. S. Marines withdrew from Nicaragua in January 1933, Sandino and the newly elected Sacasa government reached an agreement by which he would cease his guerrilla activities in return for amnesty, a grant of land for an agricultural colony, and retention of an armed band of 100 men for a year. [38] But a growing hostility between Sandino and Somoza led Somoza to order the assassination of Sandino. 37][39][40] Fearing future armed opposition from Sandino, Somoza invited him to a meeting in Managua, where Sandino was assassinated on February 21 of 1934 by soldiers of the National Guard. Hundreds of men, women, and children from Sandino’s agricultural colony were executed later. [41] icaragua has experienced several military dictatorships, the longest one being the hereditary dictatorship of the Somoza family for much of the 20th century. The Somoza family came to power as part of a US-engineered pact in 1927 that stipulated the formation of the Guardia Nacional, or the National Guard, to replace the U. S. arines that had long reigned in the country. [42] Somoza slowly eliminated officers in the National Guard who might have stood in his way, and then deposed Sacasa and became president on January 1, 1937 in a rigged election. [37] Somoza was 35 at the time. Nicaragua declared war on Germany on December 8, 1941, during World War II. [43] Although war was formally declared, no soldiers were sent to the war, but Somoza did seize the occasion to confiscate attractive properties held by German-Nicaraguans, the best-known of which was the Montelimar estate which today operates as a privately owned luxury resort and casino. 44] In 1945 Nicaragua was among the first countries to ratify the United Nations Charter. [16] Throughout his years as dictator, “Tacho” Somoza ‘ruled Nicaragua with a strong arm’. [41] He had three main sources for his power: control of Nicaraguan economy, military support, and support from the U. S. Somoza used the National Guard to force Sacasa to resign, and took control of the country in 1937, destroying any potential armed resistance. [45] Not only did he have military control, but he controlled the National Liberal Party (LPN), which in turn controlled the legislature and judicial systems, giving him complete political power.

Despite his complete control, on September 21, 1956, Somoza was shot by Rigoberto Lopez Perez, a 27-year-old liberal Nicaraguan poet. Somoza was attending a PLN party to celebrate his nomination for the Presidency. He died eight days later. After his father’s death, Luis Somoza Debayle, the eldest son of the late dictator, was appointed President by the congress and officially took charge of the country. [37] He is remembered by some for being moderate, but was in power only for a few years and then died of a heart attack.

Then came president Rene Schick Gutierrez whom most Nicaraguans viewed “as nothing more than a puppet of the Somozas”. [46] Somoza’s brother, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, a West Point graduate, succeeded his father in charge of the National Guard, controlled the country, and officially took the presidency after Schick. Nicaragua experienced economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s largely as a result of industrialization,[47] and became one of Central America’s most developed nations. Due to its stable and high growth economy, foreign investments grew, primarily from U.

S. companies such as Citigroup, Sears, Westinghouse, Coca Cola, Bank of America, Chase Manhattan Bank, “Morgan Guaranty Trust and Wells Fargo Bank. [citation needed] Other investors included London Bank and the Bank of Montreal. [citation needed] The capital city of Managua suffered a major earthquake in 1972 which destroyed nearly 90% of the city, creating major losses,[48] and leveling a 600-square block area in the heart of Managua. Some Nicaraguan historians see the 1972 earthquake that devastated Managua as the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for Somoza.

Instead of helping to rebuild Managua, Somoza siphoned off relief money to help pay for National Guard luxury homes, while the homeless poor had to make do with hastily constructed wooden shacks. The mishandling of relief money also prompted Pittsburgh Pirates star Roberto Clemente to personally fly to Managua on 31 December 1972, but he died enroute in an airplane accident. [49] Even the economic elite were reluctant to support Somoza, as he had acquired monopolies in industries that were key to rebuilding the nation,[50] and did not allow the businessmen to compete with the profits that would result.

In 1973, the year of reconstruction, many new buildings were built, but the level of corruption in the government prevented further growth. Strikes and demonstrations developed as citizens became increasingly angry and politically mobilized. The elite were angry that Somoza was asking them to pay new emergency taxes to further his own ends. As a result, more of the young elite joined the Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN). The ever increasing tensions and anti-government uprisings slowed growth in the last two years of the Somoza dynasty.

In 1961 Carlos Fonseca turned back to the historical figure of Sandino, and along with 2 others founded the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). [37] Fonseca turned to the KGB and Cuba’s DGI for arms and assistance. The FSLN was a tiny party throughout most of the 1960s, but Somoza’s utter hatred of it and his heavy-handed treatment of anyone he suspected to be a Sandinista sympathizer gave many ordinary Nicaraguans the idea that the Sandinistas were much stronger.

After the 1972 earthquake and Somoza’s brazen corruption, mishandling of relief aid, and refusal to rebuild Managua, the ranks of the Sandinistas were flooded with young disaffected Nicaraguans who no longer had anything to lose. [45] These economic problems propelled the Sandinistas in their struggle against Somoza by leading many middle- and upper-class Nicaraguans to see the Sandinistas as the only hope for removing the brutal Somoza regime. In December 1974, a group of FSLN, in an attempt to kidnap U. S.

Ambassador Tuner Shelton, held some Managuan partygoers hostage (after killing the host, former Agriculture Minister Jose Maria Castillo), until the Somozan government met their demands for a large ransom and free transport to Cuba. Somoza granted this, then subsequently sent his National Guard out into the countryside to look for the perpetrators of the kidnapping that were described by opponents of this kidnapping as ‘terrorists’. While searching, the National Guard pillaged villages and imprisoned, tortured, raped, and executed hundreds of villagers.

This led to the Roman Catholic Church withdrawing any and all support of the Somoza regime. Around this time, Chilean president Salvador Allende was removed from power in a military coup that prompted Allende to take his own life, as the presidential palace came under fire. With right-wing Augusto Pinochet in power in Chile, several hundred committed Chilean revolutionaries joined the Sandinista army in Nicaragua. [51] On January 10, 1978, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, the editor of the national newspaper La Prensa and ardent opponent of Somoza, was assassinated. 52] This is believed to have led to the extreme general disappointment with Somoza. The planners and perpetrators of the murder were at the highest echelons of the Somoza regime and included the dictator’s son, “El Chiguin” (“The Kid”), the President of Housing, Cornelio Hueck, the Attorney General, and Pedro Ramos, a Cuban expatriate and close ally, who commercialized blood plasma. [52] The Sandinistas, supported by some of the populace, elements of the Catholic Church, and regional governments (including Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Venezuela), took power in July 1979.

The Carter administration, refusing to act unilaterally, decided to work with the new government, while attaching a provision for aid forfeiture if it was found to be assisting insurgencies in neighboring countries. [53] A group of prominent citizens known as Los Doce, “the Twelve”, denounced the Somoza regime and said that “there can be no dialogue with Somoza… because he is the principal obstacle to all rational understanding… through the long dark history of Somocismo, dialogues with the dictatorship have only served to strengthen it… Somoza fled the country and eventually ended up in Paraguay, where he was assassinated in September 1980, allegedly by members of the Argentinian Revolutionary Workers Party. [54] To begin the task of establishing a new government, the Sandinistas created a Council (or junta) of National Reconstruction, made up of five members: Sandinista militants Daniel Ortega and Moises Hassan, novelist Sergio Ramirez Mercado (a member of Los Doce), businessman Alfonso Robelo Callejas, and Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (the widow of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro).

Sandinista supporters thus comprised three of the five members of the junta. The non-Sandinistas, Robelo and Chamorro, later resigned because they had little actual power in the junta. Sandinista mass organizations were also powerful: including the Sandinista Workers’ Federation (Central Sandinista de Trabajadores), the Luisa Amanda Espinoza Association of Nicaraguan Women (Asociacion de Mujeres Nicaraguenses Luisa Amanda Espinoza), and the National Union of Farmers and Ranchers (Union Nacional de Agricultores y Ganaderos).

On the Atlantic Coast a small uprising also occurred in support of the Sandinistas. This event is often overlooked in histories about the Sandinista revolution. A group of Creoles led by a native of Bluefields, Dexter Hooker (known as Commander Abel), raided a Somoza-owned business to gain access to food, guns and money before heading off to join Sandinista fighters who had liberated the city of El Rama. The ‘Black Sandinistas’ returned to Bluefields on July 19, 1979 and took the city without a fight.

The Black Sandinistas were challenged by a group of mestizo Sandinista fighters. The ensuing standoff between the two groups, with the Black Sandinistas occupying the National Guard barracks (the cuartel) and the mestizo group occupying the Town Hall (Palacio) gave the revolution on the Atlantic Coast a racial dimension which was absent from other parts of the country. The Black Sandinistas were assisted in their power struggle with the Palacio group by the arrival of the Simon Bolivar International Brigade from Costa Rica.

One of the brigade’s members, an Afro-Costa Rican called Marvin Wright (known as Kalalu) became known for the rousing speeches he made, which included elements of Black Power ideology in his attempts to unite all the black militias that had formed in Bluefields. The introduction of a racial element into the revolution was not welcomed by the Sandinista National Directorate, which expelled Kalalu and the rest of the brigade from Nicaragua and sent them to Panama. [55] Upon assuming office in 1981, U.

S. President Ronald Reagan condemned the FSLN for joining with Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries such as El Salvador. Reagan was also concerned about the growing Soviet and Cuban presence in Nicaragua, and the Soviet hope to turn Nicaragua into a “second Cuba”. Under the Reagan Doctrine, his administration authorized the CIA to have paramilitary officers from their elite Special Activities Division begin financing, rming and training rebels, some of whom were the remnants of Somoza’s National Guard, as anti-Sandinista guerrillas that were branded “counter-revolutionary” by leftists (contrarrevolucionarios in Spanish). [56] This was shortened to Contras, a label the anti-socialist forces chose to embrace. Eden Pastora and many of the indigenous guerrilla forces unassociated with the “Somozistas” also resisted the Sandinistas.

The Contras operated out of camps in the neighboring countries of Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. [56] As was typical in guerrilla warfare, they were engaged in a campaign of economic sabotage in an attempt to combat the Sandinista government and disrupted shipping by planting underwater mines in Nicaragua’s Port of Corinto,[57] an action condemned by the World Court as illegal. [58] The U. S. lso sought to place economic pressure on the Sandinistas, and the Reagan administration imposed a full trade embargo. [59] U. S. support for this Nicaraguan insurgency continued in spite of the fact that impartial observers from international groupings such as the European Economic Community, religious groups sent to monitor the election, and observers from democratic nations such as Canada and the Republic of Ireland concluded that the Nicaraguan general elections of 1984 were completely free and fair.

The Reagan administration disputed these results, despite the fact that the government of the United States never had any observers in Nicaragua at the time. The elections were not also recognized as legitimate because Arturo Cruz, the candidate nominated by the Coordinadora Democratica Nicaraguense, comprising three rightwing political parties, did not participate in the elections. [60] He withdrew from the elections due to the government’s lack of response to the document “A Step Toward Democracy, Free Elections” issued in 1982.

The document was asking the government to re-establish all civil rights: freedom of speech, freedom of organization, release of all political prisoners, cease of hostilities against the opposition, lifting the censorship on the media and abolishing all the laws violating human rights. [61][62] As the Sandinistas moved further in the direction of creating a Marxist state and repressing political opposition, opposition to the regime increased.

Heavy-handed tactics by the Ministry of Interior, guided by Soviet, Cuban, Bulgarian and East German advisers,security forces in the countryside, also added recruits to the contra numbers. Inept economic policies, which resulted in hyperinflation and food shortages, also contributed to discontent. Large Soviet arms shipments, including T-55 tanks, other armored vehicles, and Hind helicopters, were used in an increasingly violent counterinsurgency campaign. After the U. S.

Congress prohibited federal funding of the Contras in 1983, the Reagan administration continued to back the Contras by covertly selling arms to Iran and channeling the proceeds to the Contras (the Iran–Contra affair). [63] When this scheme was revealed, Reagan admitted that he knew about the Iranian “arms for hostages” dealings but professed ignorance about the proceeds funding the Contras; for this, National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver North took much of the blame.

Senator John Kerry’s 1988 U. S. Senate 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. “[64] According to the National Security Archive, Oliver North had been in contact with Manuel Noriega, a Panamanian general and the de facto military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989 when he was overthrown and captured by a U. S. invading force. 65] He was taken to the United States, tried for drug trafficking, and imprisoned in 1992. [66] In August 1996, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb published a series titled Dark Alliance, linking the origins of crack cocaine in California to the Contras. [67] Freedom of Information Act inquiries by the National Security Archive and other investigators unearthed a number of documents showing that White House officials, including Oliver North, knew about and supported using money raised via drug trafficking to fund the Contras.

Sen. John Kerry’s report in 1988 led to the same conclusions; major media outlets, the Justice Department, and Reagan denied the allegations. [68] The International Court of Justice, in regard to the case of Nicaragua v. United States in 1984, found; “the United States of America was under an obligation to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by certain breaches of obligations under customary international law and treaty-law committed by the United States of America”. 69] United States however rejected and did not comply with the judgement under the ‘Connally Amendment’ (part of the conditional participation of USA in the International court of Justice, which excludes from ICJ’s jurisdiction “disputes with regard to matters that are essentially within the jurisdiction of the United States of America, as determined by the United States of America”). [70]