During the 1980s, the Reagan-Bush administration covertly organized and financed the Contra army to overthrow Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government. The Sandinistas had come to power in 1979, after spearheading a popular revolution to oust hated dictator Anastasio Somoza, a long time U.S. ally. The American-sponsored Contra war claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and was widely condemned by the international community and the World Court. In 1990, elections the U.S.-backed candidate, Violetta Chamorro defeated Sandinista president Daniel Ortega, effectively ending the war.
President George W. Bush has now appointed some of the architects of the Contra war, also implicated in the resulting Iran/Contra scandal, to prominent positions in his administration. Meanwhile, Nicaraguans are getting ready to vote for a new president Nov. 5, and public opinion polls show the Sandinista's Daniel Ortega with a 7-point lead. The White House, fearing that their old nemesis Ortega could win, has made it clear that Nicaraguans will suffer the wrath of the U.S. should they choose to defy Uncle Sam again.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Dr. Alejandro Bendana, former Nicaraguan government ambassador to the U.N. during the Sandinista era, who now serves as the president of the Center of International Studies in Managua. Bendana takes a look at the history of the Contra war veterans appointed by Mr. Bush and the potential for U.S. intervention in this November's Nicaraguan election.
This interview segment is available in downloadable MP3 and RealAudio on radio newsmagazine Between The Lines' website www.btlonline.org for week ending 6/15/01.
Contact the Center for International Studies in Managua. Visit the Center's Web site at www.ceinicaragua.org.ni
Related links: Dr. Bendana is also affilitated with Jubilee South's movement for debt reduction: www.jubileesouth.net