Essays, featured, latest, Latin America, Nicaragua
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CIA Hits of Yesterday and Today: Nicaragua Collection

Hope K

We’re well-trained by the CIA with Yankee tax money in Ft. Bragg
The Peace Corps builds US labor camps
When they think they’re building schools, ha!”
Dead Kennedys, “Bleed For Me,” 1982

When I was knee high to a grasshopper and listening to 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) by the Eurythmics on my jambox, CIA agents were dropping tons of drugs on my state and training death squads in our forests. I had heard of Contras and Daniel Ortega, but I had no idea they had any impact on my life at all.

However, a couple of years later at one of my first babysitting gigs, I was getting a little girl ready for bed when I found a big plastic zipper bag full of white powder in her underwear drawer. “You’re not supposed to touch that,” she told me. I guess her parents thought that was a safe place to hide it. It had probably come from an airport in small town called Mena, but we’ll get to that later.

First, let’s look at the history of Nicaragua. A country of gorgeous lakes, beaches, and volcanoes and full of people so very strong in spirit.

The indigenous Nicaraguans were colonized by Spain, England, and then the US. The first unwelcome US intervention I can find was in 1850, when the USA and Britain signed a treaty, without Nicaragua’s consent, to establish an interoceanic trade route. I’m thinking Manifest Destiny meant more than just that Oregon Trail game we played in middle school. It looks like they wanted the entire Western Hemisphere.

I’m going to let General Smedley Butler summarize the Banana Wars:

I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912.”

At least he was honest. War is always about money. Never forget!

In 1927, Augusto Sandino led a rebellion against the US Marines, who withdrew from Nicaragua in 1933. He was lured to a supposed peace conference by Anastasio Somoza, the head of the National Guard, when Sandino was assassinated in 1934. The Somoza dynasty ruled for decades after Sandino’s death. Franklin Roosevelt said of Somoza, “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

During their regime, the Somozas and their cronies benefited from US support and the ownership of Nicaraguan land and businesses. On the other hand, most Nicaraguan citizens were suffering from crushing poverty.

In the 1960s, a group of college students formed the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), named after Sandino, who had led the revolt against US occupation in the 1930s. Contrary to US propaganda, the Sandinistas did not consider themselves to be Communists. They were a coalition of people (some Marxists, many Christians, and even some conservatives) who opposed the Somoza regime and US-based corporate influence.

The Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza regime in 1979, and Daniel Ortega became leader of the multipartisan junta. The US government did not like this at all. Income was being threatened by a bunch of Spanish-speaking peasants. How dare they! So the CIA and company armed, trained, and financially supported Somoza supporters called the Contras, and Ronald Reagan proclaimed them to be “freedom fighters.” The Sandinistas were labeled Communist terrorists.

A bloody war of unimaginable tortures and killings ensued. Death squads roamed the country, kidnapping, torturing, burning, and pillaging. It was so egregious that the US Congress passed the Boland Amendment to stop the flow of money from the US to the Contras. The CIA fixed that problem at least partially by accepting cocaine for arms payments. This was at the same time Nancy Reagan was telling American youth to “Just say no” to drugs.

The US portrayed Nicaragua as a dictator-led “banana republic,” a term of derision and also the name of a trendy fashion company. A 1984 Banana Republic catalog shows drawings of tropical explorer gear and Women’s Polish Solidarity Bags. US culture was saturated with the message that drug dealers and Commies were evil, and the Sandinistas were labeled as both.

Central America is a notable narcotrafficking location, due to its being halfway between South America and the US. One pilot, Barry Seal, was flying drugs from Contra airfields to a tiny airport in the small town of Mena, Arkansas, and flying arms back to the Contras. Death squads were trained in the woods of Arkansas, sometimes alarming the locals. It appears that there were many such operations in the US, but after Seal was murdered, the plane he had previously owned was shot down in Nicaragua, and the press found out. This began an international scandal dubbed “Iran/Contra.”

In 1990, after Nicaragua had been worn down by the war, Daniel Ortega lost to a more US-friendly presidential candidate, even though polls leading up to the election clearly showed he had popular support.

Ain’t found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere
Wife and kids, household pet”
Alice in Chains, “Rooster,” 1993

In the ensuing years, the Nicaraguan economy was increasingly privatized, and the Nicaraguan people became the poorest in Central America. In 2004, the CAFTA trade agreement was signed, increasing corporate interest. Nicaraguans toiled in Wal-Mart sweatshops and later coffee fields for Keurig.

In 2006, Daniel Ortega won the presidency again. Since then, Nicaragua has still been dealing with poverty and the problems that come with that. Ortega, that “brutal dictator,” has implemented “radical socialist” programs like feeding the poor and giving small businesses loans with no interest. But despite these implementations, US corporations still thrive, and Nicaragua’s economic growth has been good, due in part to tourism. It is a country of dazzling beauty and safer than other Central American countries. Well, it was until April of 2018, but we’ll get to that later.

In 2013 Nicaragua entered into a deal with a Chinese billionaire to build a canal across Nicaragua, like the one in Panama only bigger, allowing for giant cargo ships to pass through. A canal such as this could make the country billions in revenue. The Panama Canal is due for an upgrade, and as recently as last month, after the US withdrew their business manager, Panama told the US to respect its right to do business dealings with China in regard to the canal. In 2016, the US trade surplus with Panama was 5.9 billion dollars. Imagine if the Panama Canal had a rival route.

In Nicaragua, aside from the understandable concern from environmental activists, something funny is going on with their proposed canal. The Wikipedia page for it says that its status is cancelled, but the Nicaraguan government is saying they’re still planning to build it. The Chinese billionaire who was funding the canal lost most of his fortune in the stock market and is embroiled in scandal. The US mainstream media calls him the “Canal Madman” and the Nicaraguan project “magical realism.” It’s almost like the US feels… economically threatened? Surely not!

Like any country, Nicaragua has cracks within its society. Intelligence agencies find those cracks, hammer wedges into them, and pillage. That’s just what they do. In the 1980s, the cracks were between Somoza’s supporters and the Sandinistas. Now it seems to be a fractured political left. The Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) broke off from the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). The MRS is kind of like the US neoliberals — lots of talk about human rights while supporting US corporate interests and interventionism.

The Ortega presidency has had its share of criticisms. Thousands have protested the canal, though polls show most Nicaraguans favor the project, due to the money and jobs it would bring into the country. Others have protested what they consider to be corruption, cronyism, and nepotism in the current government. The police’s reactions to the protesters have been denounced as “brutal” by the likes of Bianca Jagger, who oddly enough, came to Ortega’s “Emotional Rescue” in the 1980s.

Whether or not Ortega is corrupt, and I have no doubt that neither he nor his administration are perfect, it is not the US government’s business. Nicaragua is a sovereign country. Or at least it should be. The people of Nicaragua need to be the ones to decide who their president is.

The FSLN and its supporters claim that the protesters have kidnapped, tortured, and killed people sympathetic to the government. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting déjà vu, and it’s not just that Clash song stuck in my head. I think the CIA is trying to pull a coup in Nicaragua again.

Violent protests sprang up in April after Ortega made social security reforms. Students in blue and white bandanas trashed college campuses. Catholic churches sheltered protesters. Bloody pictures and SOSNicaragua hashtags began to appear on social media. When the SOSNicaragua folks started praising Marco Rubio, I got suspicious. Why would they want sanctions put on their own country? Why would Nicaraguans want US intervention? They say it’s because of Ortega’s brutal regime.

A WikiLeaks cable from 2007, shortly after Ortega was elected, explains some things. At the University of Central America (UCA) in Managua, the Millenium Challenge Corporation, a CIA front organization, held a feminist forum to educate the women on how difficult their lives were. Few university students actually showed up, but the ones that did were eager for the information, according to the document. Eleven years later, on this October 1st, a protest was held at the main gate of UCA.

In another cable from 2008, CIA front USAID held a moot court at the National Autonomous University (UNAN) in Leon. Ten years later, UNAN, Nicaragua’s largest university, was overrun with masked rebels and molotov cocktails. It just reopened in September after being closed since April, due to the protests.

This has been planned for a long time and even some Nicaraguans didn’t understand what was happening at first.

Because, you see, that’s how they do it now. The CIA can’t just do a covert action anymore. They have to create these “charitible” (in reality deceitful) NGOs and go in pretending like they’re nice or something while rounding up criminals and malcontents, training them, and arming them. It’s neoliberal colonialism. Think the Clinton Foundation in Haiti. Yeah. That kind of thing.

Cash rules everything around me
Singin’ dollar dollar bill y’all (dollar, dollar bill y’all)”
Wyclef Jean, “Sweetest Girl,” 2007

Unless you look very hard, and let’s face it — most people in the US don’t bother, you won’t find out about some of the protesters being gang members holding siege to poor urban neighborhoods, setting up roadblocks, torturing people, and setting bodies on fire. You’re just going to hear that the paramilitary police are shooting innocent students and Ortega is a brutal dictator. That’s by design. Even Amnesty International is in on it.

So are the Washington Post, and the Guardian, surprise, surprise. They sent a reporter to Nicaragua who encouraged the government opposition groups and filmed the kidnapping and torture of an elderly man accused of being an Ortega sympathizer, which the “reporter” did not report. Recently he wound up getting detained and then deported from Nicaragua. Rumors spread that he was working on behalf of the CIA, and though there is no proof of this, he basically performed the same function a CIA officer would. As my friend on Twitter said, “Sometimes you can’t tell an asshole from an agent — and it doesn’t matter.”

Some of you reading this who aren’t from Nicaragua might wonder, what does this have to do with me? Why should I care?

Well, in 1996 Gary Webb did a series called Dark Alliance about how the CIA was at least partly responsible for the crack epidemic that destroyed inner cities of the US. His reporting on the drug led him to Nicaragua. Unfortunately, he died of two-bullet suicide. So don’t be surprised when your 12-year-old babysitting daughter stumbles upon some scary drugs that were brought into the country to fund a faraway war.

People of the US should know, also, that their tax dollars are being spent on invading tiny, poverty-stricken countries not for national defense, but to make some rich folks richer.

Also, I see a lot of whining in the US about the border situation. Republicans want a wall, and Democrats are worried about refugee children in cages. But hardly anybody is talking about the root cause of the problem — US government meddling in countries south of its border.

What’s happening in Nicaragua follows the color revolution model used by USAID & NED (CIA), the Open Society Institute (Soros), and other sneaky NGOs to destroy a country and set up a puppet government. The Ukraine is a famous example. They got the color orange. I don’t know what color Nicaragua gets. Maybe pink.

What color will your country get?

“There’s a mountaintop that I’m dreaming of
If you need me, you know where I’ll be
I’ll be riding shotgun underneath the hot sun
Feeling like a someone”
George Ezra, “Shotgun,” 2018


Winner of my high school's citizenship award.

22 Comments

  1. paul metcalf says

    ………and the “Tatum chronicles,” by chip tatum.if you can find it.great cameo about w.j.clinton.

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  2. Kathy says

    Thanks for this article. Another reminder of how:dope for guns: and the suppression of the people works. The links between the drug trade and State imperialism go back a very long way. The British flooding of China with opium in the 1800s for example. As always the narrative and misdirection keep the people fed on a diet of false information.While gross manipulations and power grabs are continually underway. This bombardment of fake news spews forth insidiously. Over and over again the course of history has been set and people die and people are enslaved and people are displaced all for profit, all for gain by a small power base of corrupt and murderous gangsta elites. The truth is out there but as always it is drowned out by a cacophony of lies and deception.

  3. Here is an example of collateral damage from the CIA drug trafficking
    Here is an example of one woman who has not given up on TRUTH after 30 years.

  4. Hugh O'Neill says

    Excellent article which reminds me of some personal history and then history in context. As a seafarer, I visited many countries and spent some time in Chile in July 1973. Then in 1979, we were to load bananas in Corinto (Nicaragua) but no-one could go ashore because a curfew had just been declared. About lunch time, an American chap came aboard in an agitated mood and complained that the country was in chaos: since our (British) ship was bound for Long Beach (USA) would we get in touch with President Carter to send in the US Marines….Yeah, right! (Reader, the man was a tosser and No, we did not act as requested). I took an interest thereafter in Nicaragua, having seen (from afar) the results of CIA intervention in Chile.
    The history of the Panama Canal project (started by Ferdinand de Lesseps after his Suez Canal opened 1869) is well covered in a superb BBC doco series (Seven Wonders of the Industrial World). As you might expect, the BBC didn’t delve too deeply into the political machinations and coups against Colombia in whose territory the isthmus lay orchestrated by business interest represented by Wall Street lawyers, Sullivan & Cromwell (yes the same team for whom the amoral John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen) so dark deeds and coups have been part of the show for ever. The US was once interested in Nicaragua as the route of the Transoceanic canal, but thought they might get a better deal by buying out the French. It was Teddy Roosevelt and the US Army who finished the Panama Canal by 1914, within months of the Kiel Canal’s widening. Both these events were not unconnected with the decision to launch WWI, all it needed was an excuse. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a pretty feeble casus belli. The other trigger point was the near completion of the Berlin to Basra railway which would have given Germany easy access to Oil, hence the wonky Gallipoli Landings, the Sykes Picot Agreement and the further adventures of TE Lawrence. All a charade.

  5. frank says

    I’ll always remember the pictures of the skulls on the single multi death corporation.
    Here’s the track.

  6. harry stotle says

    “But hardly anybody is talking about the root cause of the problem — US government meddling in countries south of its border.” – that’s because the MSM is controlled by the very people who are part and parcel of a kleptocracy who have been getting away with plundering weaker countries for centuries.

    Axisofoil led me to a fascinating film that spelt out ways in which the worlds dominant financial centres (such as the city of London) have set up opaque banking sytems to enable the ‘flight’ of capital away from wealth producers (i.e people working in the mines, factories and shopping malls) and into the off-shore accounts of asset strippers.
    The amounts being funnelled off run into the trillions.
    https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/spider-web-britain-second-empire/

    One of the universal mechanisms underpining this long-standing arrangement is the way bullies (like the US) ensnare impoverished countries (in places like Africa and South America) with loans that become impossible to pay off, while at the same time collaborating with corrupt business and political figures in order to quosh opposition that might put the needs of the wider population before those of the financial, corporate or military class governing those countries.

    The fate of Nigaragua, or Venezuela falls prey to this oppressive rubicon – as it stands all the cards are stacked against them because of imperial powers aided and abetted by our rancid media.

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  7. bevin says

    Perhaps the reason why the Guardian, these days, employs contras to ‘report’ from Central America, and large sections of the ‘left’ side with them-in Nicaragua as in Syria-, is that the Empire is now in mortal danger. It no longer feels the confidence in its immortality that allowed it to welcome and tolerate liberal dissent.
    In this ‘lutte finale’ between imperialism and its victims George W Bush’s call resounds in the ears of the privileged: ‘You are either with us or the terrorists.”
    And by ‘terrorist’ or ‘extremist’ is primarily meant anti-imperialist.

    Looking back over the coverage that Nicaragua received during the Spring and Summer, when the CIA was actively working for regime change, I seem to recall several ‘left wing’ sites in Canada and the US which blamed the troubles there on Sandinista ‘authoritarianism’ A point of view whose merits dissolve when one sees photographs of Nicaraguan ‘dissidents’ meeting with Cuban fascist exile congressmen and women in
    Miami.

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    • George Cornell says

      I think you are right Bevin about the Evil Empire being threatened. They seem to be teetering between a sense of complete power and invulnerability vs the uncomfortableness that must accrue when more and more people loathe you.

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  8. Gary Weglarz says

    Excellent piece. An ironic aside in the 1980’s Contra operation is that two future U.S. presidents played key criminal roles. Ex-CIA head George H. Bush was Reagan’s vice president managing the “guns paid for with drugs” operation out of his role in the White House; while Bill Clinton was a small time Arkansas governor who squashed his own State Police department’s investigations into the drug shipments routinely coming into the Mena, Arkansas airport. This is how the presidency is vetted in the U.S. Thus out of the so called “Iran/Contra scandal” two future presidents earned their bonafides to rule the empire. Both demonstrating to those that matter that they were completely amoral liars, and thus fit to rule.

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  9. Bob Van Noy says

    Thank you Hope K for this really helpful essay. Actually you have added much to the discussion about the significance of the CIA manipulation of Nicaraguan Sovereignty. I was especially touched by the opening remark about the child’s room in Arkansas. Most people know little about Mena, Arkansas, if they did it would go a long way toward explaining our current problems far from Mena. May I suggest that curious people read “Lost History” by Robert Parry at…

    https://consortiumnews.com

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  10. George Cornell says

    This is the kind of article The Fraudian used to publish before the takeover by the dark swirling forces that control it now. What an important service the offGuardian now provides. It used to be a niche, now it is a giant Rift Valley.

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    • Tom says

      You are right. Back in the 70’s one would see positive articles about Nicaragua in the MSM. Even the US congress tried to reign in funding to the CONTRA’S. Not anymore. The opposition has been mostly crushed. Any member of congress or media to strays from the Neocon script is silenced. Part of the “left” is bought off and used to say, see, we have “bipartisan” support. The only way for this horror to end abroad is when civil strife reaches the homeland through a financial collapse. The chickens coming home to roost so to speak.

  11. summitflyer says

    Thank you so much for the history lesson of Nicaragua .Unfortunately most people are totally unaware of the civil war in this poor country ,instigated by the good old USA as usual .That is what the CIA is good at , infiltration and covert training of malcontents ,misfits and criminals to act as their destabilizing agents in countries they seek to control for their big corporate sponsors .Will it ever end I have to wonder ,as it is still very much happening today.
    Do you think that Venezuela or Honduras is much different or all of central and South America for that matter .
    As a North American citizen I find the truth very hard to bear. And the media blame Russia 24/7 …………

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  12. Maggie says

    Extremely important information and history, concisely written. Thank you.
    If we want to know why the public are so ignorant, look no further…
    How many people have even bothered to open this link and read it? They would rather chase the Novichuckle or 911 myth, which was designed in such a way to have the sheep running round in circles, knowing full well they would become so confused they would give up, settle back down to chew the cud, satisfied that their owners had the job in hand, would repel all boarders, and keep them safe. lol lol lol..

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  13. An excellent article.

    I am afraid that Nicaragua is a country that I know next to nothing about. All you hear in the mainstream media is that information that is planted there by people with a fixed agenda.

    It was a surprise to learn that in general it is a peaceful country that makes an ideal destination for tourism.

    One day a few more people will wake up to the fact that this vast migration of migrants is all due to and created by the destabilising influences in the world with the only intent being to make large corporations and a select few very much richer.

    Does anybody else get the feeling that when Russia and China extend the New Silk Road to South America that they will be received with open arms and maybe the Mexican wall might serve a new purpose and that is to stem the flow of migrants in the reverse direction.

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