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
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
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-
The Church and other religious organiza-
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
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.
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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,
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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