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US-Nicaragua (1979-)

Project: History of US Interventions
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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The corrupt, repressive, US-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle is overthrown and is succeeded by the Sandinistas. The Sandinistas will implement reforms that significantly improve social conditions. For instance, the literacy rate will improve from 25 percent to 80 percent, student enrollment will more than double by 1984, the number of school teachers will more than quadruple, and the percentage of people with access to health services will dramatically increase. [Anderson, 1988; Media Monitors, 9/24/2001; Walker, 2003] An Oxfam report entitled, Nicaragua: The Threat of a Good Example, will conclude in 1985: “In Oxfam’s experience of working in seventy-six developing countries, Nicaragua was to prove exceptional in the strength of that government commitment [of meeting the basic needs of the poor majority].” [Melrose, 1985]

Entity Tags: Anastasio Somoza Debayle

US Army intelligence manuals provided to Latin American military officers attending the US Army’s “School of the Americas” advocate executions, torture, blackmail and other forms of coercion against insurgents and sanctions the use of “fear, payment of bounties for enemy dead, beatings, false imprisonment, executions and the use of truth serum” to recruit and control informants. [Washington Post, 9/21/1996]

Entity Tags: Western Hemispheric Institution for Security Cooperation (School of the Americas)

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, US International Relations, US-Guatemala (1901-2002), US-El Salvador (1980-2002)

Under US President Ronald Reagan, the CIA responds to the Sandinista revolution by creating a paramilitary force of ex-National Guardsmen known as the contras. Based in neighboring Costa Rica, the force mounts raids on Nicaragua, attacking schools and medical clinics, raping, kidnapping, torturing, committing massacres, and mining harbors. [The Other Americas Radio, 10/1987; Guardian, 7/26/2000; Media Monitors, 9/24/2001; Walker, 2003]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan

1984: Reagan Announces End to Aid for Contras

US President Ronald Reagan publicly claims to end aid to the contras in accordance with a congressional ban. However his administration continues the support, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal. [BBC, 6/5/2004; Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth edition, 2005]

Entity Tags: Ronald Reagan

Timeline Tags: Iran-Contra Affair

Elections are held in Nicaragua and the Sandinistas win with 67 percent of the vote. International observer teams find no evidence of election fraud. [Keen, 1992, pp. 460]

The Associated Press discloses a 90-page CIA-produced training manual called “Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare” providing the contras with instruction on political assassinations, blackmailing, mob violence, kidnappings and blowing up public buildings, and calling for “implicit terror.” [Central Intelligence Agency, n.d.; Associated Press, 10/17/1984; CNN, 2/21/1999]

Deputy Director of Intelligence Robert Gates sends what he calls a “straight talk” memo to his boss, CIA Director William Casey. Gates recommends the US openly deploy military forces to cripple Nicaragua’s “Marxist-Leninist” Sandinista government and elevate the Contras into power. Among his “politically more difficult” recommendations, Gates pushes for “the use of air strikes to destroy a considerable portion of Nicaragua’s military buildup.” Gates’s recommendations, which would be tantamount to the US declaring war on Nicaragua, will in large part not be followed. [Central Intelligence Agency, 12/14/1984 pdf file; Foreign Policy, 10/22/2010]

Entity Tags: William Casey, Robert M. Gates

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, Iran-Contra Affair

Nicaragua appeals to the World Court in The Hague to end US efforts to destabilize its government. The court rules in its favor, ordering America to end its interventionist policy in Nicaragua and to pay massive reparations. [Associated Press, 6/27/1986; Keen, 1992, pp. 459] The court does not specify an amount; however, Nicaraguan legal experts estimate that reparations, including interest, would be as much as $17.8 billion. [Norsworthy and Barry, 1990, pp. 59; New York Times, 9/30/1990; CounterPunch, 9/13/2002] America immediately rejects the World Court’s ruling. [Associated Press, 6/27/1986]

Timeline Tags: US International Relations

The UN General Assembly calls on the US to comply with the International Court of Justice’s judgment that the US pay Nicaragua reparations (see June 27, 1986). The US continues to ignore the ruling. The UN will repeat its demand the following year. [United Nations, 7/27/1986; United Nations, 11/12/1987]

Elections are held in Nicaragua, and the Sandinistas lose to US-backed Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. The US spent millions in overt and covert dollars to consolidate and strengthen the opposition parties. [Latin American Studies Association Commission to Observe the 1990 Nicaraguan Election, 3/15/1990, pp. 24-26; Walker, 2003, pp. 57]

Entity Tags: Violeta Barrios de Chamorro

1997: High Debt Harms Nicaraguan Economy

Nicaragua is crippled by its $6 billion debt, which at $1,300 per capita, is the highest per capita debt in the world. [Oxfam, 10/1998]

Amnesty International, in its annual report on US military aid and human rights, states that “throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared’ at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame.” [Chomsky, 1998]

Entity Tags: Amnesty International

Timeline Tags: US-Guatemala (1901-2002), US-El Salvador (1980-2002)

A nonviolent demonstration is held calling on the US Army to close its infamous School of the Americas, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/19/2000; School of America's Watch, 7/12/2001] The school trained more than 60,000 Latin American military officers over the past 50 years [CNN, 4/3/2000] , many of whom were since implicated in egregious human rights abuses (see March 15, 1993). [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/19/2000; Associated Press, 11/20/2000; School of America's Watch, 7/12/2001] 1,700 of the protestors are thrown in jail, including an 88-year old nun. [Associated Press, 11/20/2000; New York Times, 6/24/2001]

Entity Tags: Western Hemispheric Institution for Security Cooperation (School of the Americas), Augusto Pinochet

Timeline Tags: US-Chile (1964-2005), US-Guatemala (1901-2002), US-El Salvador (1980-2002)

Roger Noriega, the Bush administration’s outgoing top envoy to Latin America, tells the Managua newspaper La Prensa that Nicaragua will “sink like a stone and reach depths such as those of Cuba” if the Sandinistas return to power. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/15/2005; USA Today, 10/6/2005]

Entity Tags: Roger Francisco Noriega

Nicaraguan presidential candidate Daniel Ortega says that if he wins the election on November 5, he will make sure that Nicaragua joins the Alternativa Bolivariana para la America (ALBA), or the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. Initiated by Venezuelan and Cuba in 2005, ALBA is intended to counter Washington’s Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). One of ALBA’s stated goals is to promote social and economic justice. [Christian Science Monitor, 5/5/2006]

Entity Tags: Daniel Ortega, Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, Alternativa Bolivariana para la Americas

US ambassador in Managua Paul Trivelli sends a letter to Nicaraguan conservative political parties offering US support for primaries that would select one presidential candidate to run against Sandinista Daniel Ortega. The US is concerned that in a multi-candidate race, Ortega will secure enough votes to avoid a run-off election. According to Nicaraguan election law, a candidate only needs 35 percent of the votes to win. The letter states: “As part of my government’s efforts to respond to these requests to promote democratic practices and free elections in Nicaragua, the US is willing to collaborate in this process.” Trivelli says the parties must respond with a list of their candidates no later than April 18. All of the parties reject the request. [Nicaragua News Service, 4/12/2006]

Entity Tags: Paul Trivelli

Nicaraguan presidential candidate Daniel Ortega strikes a deal with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that will allow an alliance of 51 Nicaraguan mayors, many from the Sandinista party, to purchase 10 million barrels of Venezuelan fuel on preferential terms. Under the agreement, the mayors will pay 60 percent of the cost of their purchases within 90 days of shipment, with the remaining 40 percent payable over the next 25 years at one percent interest, with a two-year grace period. In Nicaragua, high oil prices have led to rolling blackouts and transportation strikes. [Xinhua News Agency (Beijing), 4/26/2006; Associated Press, 5/5/2006] Chavez says Venezuela will also donate 10,000 tons of urea to Sandinista farming organizations. [Associated Press, 5/5/2006] During Ortega’s visit to Venezuela, he also says (see April or May 2006) that if he wins the November 5 elections, he will make sure Nicaragua joins the Alternativa Bolivariana para la America (ALBA), or the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which was initiated by Venezuela and Cuba in 2005.

Entity Tags: Hugo Chavez Frias, Daniel Ortega

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

In an interview with the Financial Times, US ambassador to Nicaragua Paul Trivelli justifies his recent warnings to Nicaraguans that the country will suffer if they elect Daniel Ortega as their next president. He tells the newspaper that Ortega is “undemocratic” and that the US will likely reconsider its relations with the country if he is elected in November. He says that Ortega, who months before struck a deal with Hugo Chavez to import fuel on preferential terms (see April 25, 2006), “has made it pretty clear what kind of model he would put in place. And I think that under those conditions… [bilateral relations] would definitely be re-examined—and not only by the executive or the State Department or the White House but by the US Congress.” Trivelli makes it clear that Washington is concerned that Ortega’s election would embolden efforts by leftist Latin American leaders to counter US initiatives in the region. [Financial Times, 9/14/2006]

Entity Tags: Paul Trivelli, Daniel Ortega

Congressman Dan Burton, Chair of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House’s Committee on International Relations, is in Managua, Nicaragua on a two-day visit to meet with presidential candidates Eduardo Montealegre and Edmundo Jarquin. The two US-backed candidates are running against Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, who polls suggest may win the presidency on November 5. Montealegre is a Harvard-educated banker; Jarquin, a Sandinista dissident. [Associated Press, 9/22/2006] During a press conference, Burton warns that the US could cut $175 million in aid to Nicaragua through the Millenium Challenge Account and block Nicaragua’s participation in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) if Ortega wins the elections. He also states that if Ortega creates a state agency to process remittances from the US, as he has promised, Nicaraguan families might end up earning “much, much less money” and would experience “a significantly reduced quality of life.” Ortega has pledged to “make sure that Nicaraguans get 100 percent of their remittances.” Transfers from family members working in the US are usually sent through private companies such as Western Union, which charge a hefty commission. Remittances are the primary source of income for many families and accounted for 16.9 percent of the country’s GDP and 99 percent of its exports in 2005. [CounterPunch, 10/5/2006]

Entity Tags: Daniel Ortega, Eduardo Montealegre, Dan Burton

In an interview with the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa, US embassy spokeswoman Kristin Stewart hints at possible sanctions against Nicaragua if Ortega is elected president: “If a foreign government has a relationship with terrorist organizations, like the Sandinistas did in the past; US law permits us to apply sanctions.… Again, it will be necessary to revise our policies if Ortega wins,” she says. [La Prensa (Managui), 10/31/2006; Democracy Now!, 11/1/2006]

Entity Tags: Daniel Ortega, Kristin Stewart, US Department of State

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