Chamorro notes (1985)

A Nicaraguan exile with legitimate anti-Sandinista credentials, Chamorro was recruited by the CIA in 1982 to merge his organization, the UDN, with the 15th of September Legion (mostly former Somoza National Guard types) to form the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN): the Contras. The CIA wanted to put a more democratic face on anti-Sandinista activity by bringing him into the leadership of a group that had thus far been vilified not only for its association with the former dictator but also for its vicious tactics. Contrary to Reagan's wide-eyed pieties, the Contras were “formed and directed” by the CIA and “nothing happens that they don't know about.”

Though it's certainly not the way he would describe it, Chamorro was essentially bought off; paid to be a front man for the Contras, he lied through his teeth to hide U.S. involvement as Washington was pulling the strings. “Washington really wants to oust the Sandinistas and is doing everything to prepare the situation for some major invasion or major move.” (It appeared the Sandinistas weren't just being paranoid.) He was told to lie about how many men they had under arms, “double the numbers,” and say Nicaraguan peasants were voluntarily joining them. He resisted the approach at first because “CIA has a very bad reputation” in Latin America and “anything CIA is doing will bring a bad reputation to whatever they are working on.” But they said , “If you merge we'll give you money. If not, no money.”

His description of CIA tactics was depressing and infuriating to have verified. A book about persecution by the Sandinistas, “Christians Under Fire,” was printed and distributed with CIA money. The Contras' continuing lack of success frustrated them. In ‘83, Dewey Maroni, CIA agent in charge, told him to destroy farms and crops was counter-productive because ‘we would lose the support of the farmers.” That changed and they were told to hit only export crops because of their value to the economy. Then “in late '84 and '85 they (the CIA) were willing to destroy all crops, farms and co-ops.” The CIA justified this new approach by maintaining that “the only way to defeat Communism is to use the same means, the same tactics. Kidnap, kill, torture, rob. Democratic means are not effective.”

As things became uglier and more difficult to rationalize, Chamorro was criticized by the CIA for publicly admitting the Contras had “kidnapped and executed agrarian reform workers and civilians.” “They don't want to talk truth,” he said, “ but just manipulate information.” He ultimately separated himself because “I feel uncomfortable. They are creating great damage. The CIA… urged terrorism.”

“Two major myths,” he said, “are – ‘leaders of the Contras are democratic Nicaraguans who want freedom for their country' – and – ‘(Sandinista) Nicaragua is today building a military power which threatens Honduras.'” “My concern,” he said, “is that we are preparing an ultra-right government for Nicaragua. I heard much of ‘settling accounts,' of ‘going back to the old order,' to when Somoza was in power.”

“It is a great deception.” Before he came into the organization the dominant forces were the CIA, Argentines (“heavy-handed, right-wing torturers”) and remnants of the National Guard. “The people who have the guns.,. give the orders… When I tried to democratize, when I tried to criticize, they fought me.” They “were using me and were not morally right… They believe the only good Communist is a dead Communist. That's why they didn't feel bad about killing prisoners, agricultural workers, people who were working on co-ops and so forth.”

Regarding Miskitia: Steadman Fagoth was a murderer willing to work for whoever paid him and was terrorizing the Indian peoples for the Contras. Denounced during Somoza's time in a letter from the German Ambassador claiming he had achieved prominence by mutilating and committing atrocities, he was “responsible for the suffering of the Sumus and the Ramas” as well as the Miskitos, Fagoth had been repudiated by everyone but the CIA.

“I was uncomfortable because I don't know where the money is coming from. Some ultra-right guys are providing the money and they call the tune. They say rich Americans are providing money and must keep their names quiet. Who are these guys? What are their motives? Are they for helping the poor, for social change, or just wanting to get back in business?” (The answer to some of these questions came out a year or so later when a plane was shot down and Eugene Hasenfus, an American contract employee of the CIA, was captured. The resulting investigation exposed the Iran-Contra scandal and the perfidy of the Reagan Administration.)

Reagan's statements about the Contra leadership are just “not true.” As Reagan's rhetoric escalated, Somocistas, who used to “hide in shame,” are coming out and “being more blunt.” They are “the radicals of the right” and Reagan has “invited them to come out… There seems to be a belief in this Administration that Communism must be countered by Fascist tendencies.”

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