Enemy at the Door

September 25, 2007

In the third week of May, a Literacy Crusade volunteer named Georgino Andrade was attacked in his small shack on the out- skirts of San Francisco del Norte, a town near the Honduran border. The young teacher was tortured and finally killed by a pro-Somoza band from a military training camp in Hon- duras. According to Interior Minister Tomas Borge, there are at least 30 more such camps in Honduras, harboring members of the old National Guard. At a mass rally to honor the slain brigadista, Tomas Borge declared that, "It is no coincidence that the somocista groups, concentrated at the Honduran-Nicaraguan frontier, have substituted Alfonso Robelo for Anastasio Somoza as their leader." From their clandestine radio station, the somocistas broadcast support for the industrialist who resigned his position on the Junta of National Reconstruction in April. All those like Robelo, Borge continued, who raise the ban- ner of anti-communism and counterrevolu- tion, "are the assassins of Georgino Andrade." I Robelo had just made a tour of the northern region, speaking against the FSLN. In this Report we have already discussed some of the problems the revolution con- fronts- economic underdevelopment, the need to develop more skilled cadre, the race against time to build dynamic, powerful mass organizations, etc. But none compare to the dangers from those who want to sabotage the revolution. The counterrevolutionaries: "They are searching for ways to extinguish this revolution." In Nicaragua, as we have discussed, some bourgeois sectors have thus far decided to stay. At this moment, their attempts to create a new bourgeois order out of the ashes of the Somoza regime stop short of military means. But many historic examples, notably Chile, have shown that the bourgeoisie is never averse to using arms when appropriate. Somocistas in exile have already moved to that stage. They had no compunction about unleashing wholesale military force to prevent the victory in Nicaragua; they now have none about using whatever means they can to pre- vent the consolidation of that victory. When Somoza's National Guard collapsed, well over 6,000 soldiers fled to Honduras. Some of the officers have now joined the military forces of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, while others lay plans for return- ing with their troops to overthrow the new Nicaraguan government. In Guatemala, the so-called Armed Democratic Forces (FAD) was recently found- ed, under the leadership of political and military figures of the Somoza regime. The FAD has already directed several forays into Nicaragua, and has reportedly offered $2,500 for the assassination of any members of the Nicaraguan Junta or the Sandinista National Directorate. In early June, 42 people were de- tained in northern Nicaragua on suspicion of conspiring with the FAD, including nine prominent cattle ranchers- one of whom was an alternate delegate to the Council of State. 2 Attacks by such groups intensified in the last week of May. A second teacher, this time a member of the Sandinista Popular Army, was killed south of Managua in a barracks at- tack. One soldier was killed and another wounded during another assault in the north." "We know our enemies are concen- trating troops and transporting arms," said Daniel Ortega. ". . . They are searching for ways to assassinate us, destabilize us, harass us, to try to extinguish this revolution. But even when their planes come, even when the tanks and mortars come, they cannot make our people take flight." 4 The Counterrevolutionary Axis The dictatorial forces of neighboring El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are to- day seeing regional control slip rapidly out of their hands. They fear both the current moral and potential material support that Nicaragua represents for revolutionary forces in their own countries. Thus they have been facili- tating the activities of the ex-National Guard units. The FAD is receiving support from the Guatemalan bourgeoisie and sectors of the 31 MaylJune 1980NACLA Report Army." According to a Honduran newspaper, La Tribuna, other Guardsmen are training on Honduran haciendas provided by wealthy landowners to "carry out sabotage and other acts [in Nicaragua] in an attempt to destabilize the Sandinista government." 6 Most of the armed attacks so far have emanated from Honduras. At the same time, the Salvadorean regime is providing the propagandistic pretext for the three northern countries to harbor counter- revolutionary elements. Jaime Abdul Gutier- rez, Commander of the Salvadorean Army, declared that Nicaragua had sent 1,500 San- dinistas to fight with the guerrillas in El Salvador, while another Salvadorean Army officer claimed that 3,000 more were being trained to invade El Salvador. The FSLN responded by calling the charges "absurd" and "dangerously irresponsible." Tomas Borge offered to let the Salvadorean officers making these charges come to Nicaragua to point out where the supposed invasion force is being trained. 7 In pursuit of their common goals, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are forg- ing a counterrevolutionary axis to halt the revolutionary movement in Central America. Such an axis was already attempted in the early 1960s when the United States helped found the Central American Defense Council (CONDECA), which included military of- ficers from all the Central American countries except Costa Rica. But like its economic counterpart, the Central American Common Market (which did include Costa Rica), CONDECA was severely weakened by intense competitive antagonisms between the Salvadorean and Honduran ruling classes.8 To avoid a repetition of CONDECA's in- ability to respond to the Nicaraguan revolu- tion, El Salvador and Honduras-under U.S. pressure-are patching up their differences and coordinating their military operations against the Salvadorean guerrilla units operating near their common border. The military high commands of these two coun- tries have also met with their counterparts in Guatemala to coordinate counterinsurgency. And finally there is the United States, which on more than 75 different occasions in the last century and a half, has directly in- tervened in Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean to protect its own interests. It is in El Salvador- the country where pre- revolutionary conditons are most advanced- that the United States is now focusing its ef- forts. The U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, has told Salvadoreans private- ly that , "The United States will intervene militarily to prevent the Left from achieving a military victory." International support: "The Social Democrats have demonstrated a spirit of solidarity with us." The Nicaraguan government has moved to ward off U.S. interventionist moves in Central America by strengthening its ties with other Latin American countries. On June 4th, Ar- turo Cruz, a member of the Nicaraguan Jun- ta, attended a session of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, where he praised the organization for having re- jected a U.S. request in June 1979, to send a "peace-keeping force" to Nicaragua when the Sandinistas were on the brink of victory. He declared that the OAS must continue to "re- ject any threats or attempts at intervention in the internal affairs of our countries." 0 In the broader international arena, the Nicaraguan revolution has the support of the Second International, the worldwide organization of Social Democratic parties, some of which hold power in Western Euro- pean and Latin American countries. At their last conference, held in the Dominican Republic in March, the organization gave its unconditional support to the FSLN and the Nicaraguan government. It also passed a resolution against U.S. interventionist moves in El Salvador. Tomas Borge told the Second International, "We are not Social Democrats, but the Social Democrats have demonstrated a spirit of solidarity with us."" Meanwhile Nicaragua maintains a strong anti-imperialist stance. It is a member of the non-aligned movement and, along with Cuba and Grenada, has condemned the existence of U.S. military bases in the Caribbean and Cen- tral America." Humberto Ortega, Com- mander of the Sandinista Popular Army, reflected the views of the Nicaraguan people 32MaylJune 1980 when he proclaimed moral support for those "in Latin America who engage in armed struggle to end oppression . .. and especially those in El Salvador who give their blood generously in search of liberty." " A common refrain at Nicaraguan demonstrations is, "Si Nicaragua vencio, El Salvador venceral" (If Nicaragua triumphed, so will El Salvadorl) The intransigent Bankers International support for the Sandinistas has not deterred the private international banks from harassing the new regime. Over $1 billion of the $1.6 billion foreign debt in- herited from Somoza has been renegotiated with governments and multilateral lending institutions on fairly lenient terms. But the private banks are being more hardline about their $490 million claim." 4 Six months of negotiations have not led to a solution, as the banks continue to insist that the debt be refinanced at an interest rate of close to 20%. Nicaragua has rejected these conditions, but unless a settlement is reached, the private banks may use their clout to unleash an international campaign against the coun- try, impounding its exports and pressuring governments to cut off bilateral credits. So far, Nicaragua has been very successful in obtaining economic assistance from non- private sources, i.e. governments and multilateral lending agencies. This includes $100 million in outright grants, and another $275 million in new loans.' 5 The average in- terest rate is less than 5%, and the average length of repayment is 35 years. While this aid will help the country through an extreme- ly difficult year, the situation could be bleak again in 1981, when lenders begin to impose the harsh terms that characterize their rela- tions with third world countries. Socialism Under Siege Thus far, this revolution has been open and generous. There is no death penalty, political forces that are patently counterrevolutionary are allowed to function, and government leaders spend much of their time out talking to workers in the fields and factories to hear their complaints and work out feasible solu- tions. The Church and other religious organiza- 33 tions have participated actively in the revolu- tion. Four priests hold high ministerial posi- tions in the government, while many others are active as leaders and members of the mass organizations. Miguel D'Escoto, a priest and Nicargua's Foreign Minister, explained the growing con- vergencL between Christianity and Marxism in his country: "We Nicaraguans don't have the United States' hang-ups on Marxism. ... We think that Marxism has made a tremen- dous impact on the world. It is the most ade- quate instrument of analysis of the realities and contradictions of the economic system. Marxism has been a great blessing for the church, a divine whip to bring It back to its true function. It is not Marxism, but the right-wing regimes that persecute the legitimate church." 1" If these freedoms and this broad support afe abused by the Robelos, the reactionary sectors of the bourgeoisie, by the remaining somocistas, by the Central American dictator- ships and by the United States, it will force the Sandinista leadership to take greater precautions in defense of the revolutionary process. Like so many revolutions before it, Nicaragua may become a society under siege, taking strong political, economic and social measures to contain the forces of counter- revolution. And then of course, the Carters, the Robelos and others, choosing not to acknowledge their part in the play of events, will self-righteously scream about socialist "lack of democracy" and the "tragic end of pluralism." But the Nicaraguan people who are experiencing true popular democracy for the first time in their lives, will not be fooled. They know their revolution must be defended from attack. The main enemy of the Nicaraguan revolu- tion remains the United States. Its challenge will come in dramatic form if, in conjunction with right-wing groups in Central America, the United States uses military force to try to destroy the revolutionary forces in El Salvador and the rest of Central America. As Tomas Borge made clear, "If they commit the adven- ture of intervening in El Salvador, we are go- ing to consider it an aggression on our own soil." To that, Miguel D'Escoto added, "The result would be the Vietnamization of Central America." "34 NACLA Report About our Contributing Author Tim Draimin works for Central America Update and is a member of Latin American Working Group of Canada. He lived in Cen- tral America for several years. WHAT NEXT IN CENTRAL AMERICA? Stay abreast of the rapidly changing situa- tion in Central America with Central America Update, a monthly publication pro- viding in-depth news and analysis of the popular struggles throughout the region, from Belize and Guatemala to Panama. Central America Update Box 2207, Station P Toronto, Ontario Canada M5S 2T2 Six issue subscriptions sent first class cost $8 (individuals), $25 (institutions). Please add $3 for overseas postage. I am enclosing a cheque or money order made out to "Central America" for ........ as pay- ment for the following six-issue subscriptions: .... regular ($8) ..... sustaining ($15) ..... associate ($25) ..... founding ($100) ..... institutional ($25) Name .................................. Address .............................. ..................... Postal Code......... Gift subscriptions: I am also enclosing ....... to cover gift subs (only $7 each) for the people whose addresses are attached. ENEMY AT THE DOOR 1. Barricada (Managua, Nicaragua), May 24, 1980. 2. Diario Las Americas, (Miami, Florida). May 28, June 6, 1980. 3. Ibid., May 28 & 29. 1980. 4. Ibid., May 23, 1980. 5. NACLA Interviews in Guatemala. 6. La Tribuna, (Tegucigalpa, Honduras), May 19, 1980. 7. Barricada, May 24, 1980. See also Diario Las Americas, May 30, 1980. 8. NACLA, "El Salvador: Why Revolution?" NACLA Report on the Americas, Vol. XIV, No. 2 (March-April 1980), p. 12. 9. NACLA Interview in San Salvador, El Salvador. 10. Diario Las Americas, June 5, 1980. 11. Barricada, March 28, 1980. See also Diario Las Americas, March 14, 1980. 12. Diario Las Americas, May 2, 1980. 13. Ibid. June 6, 1980. 14. Barricada, March 23, 1980. 15. "Mensaje de la Junta de Gobierno de Reconstru- cion Nacional al Pueblo de Nicaragua leido por el Com- paneroSergio Ramirez Mercado en ocasion de la instala- cion del Consejo del Estado el 4 de Mayo, 1980." 16. Latin America Press, (Lima, Peru), May 22, 1980. 17. Ibid., See also Intercontinental Press, April 28, 1980, p. 424.

Tags: Nicaragua, FSLN, contras, US intervention, debt

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