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In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Becker

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Nicaragua — Reference

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Below is a hodgepodge of resources I used to corroborate my recollections, support my opinions, and present whatever else might be of interest to students of Nicaragua. It is of course only a small fraction of the materials available to the dedicated researcher.

On my various Nicaragua pages I have not provided many footnote- or endnote-like citations of the sites shown below. I leave it to skeptical visitors to check out the sites themselves. They are presented in no particular order. I close with an op-ed by Noam Chomsky.

I'll begin on postive, contemporary notes:

Sunflower Children's Foundation. Santa Monica-based organization founded by Sheva Carr to help Nicaragua's children. Looks pretty good to me.  

Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. Based in the UK.

The Nicaragua Network. U.S.-based.

www.sandino.org   Comprehensive treatment of Augusto Sandino and his messianic project to free all of Latin America from foreign domination, beginning with Nicaragua.

Official U.S. Country Studies site.

Andrew Reding on the 1984 Nicaraguan election.   Written for Christianity and Crisis. Concise, comprehansive, and challenging even today.

Council On Hemispheric Affairs.    COHA press releases relevant to the 1984 election.

(This site seems to be down right now, but it may come back up at any time, so I've left it on the list.)

Secrets of the CIA     Super website of Darrell G. Moen, Ph.D., Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Systems Engineering, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan.      Look for a forum discussion between former CIA agents about the "Company". Lots of other great material, too.

Somozas, Sandinistas, Contras, and US   A 1991 essay by yours truly.

Nicaragua: Fair Elections Versus an Unfair Press   From Project Censored.

John Stockwell   Former CIA station chief, head of the covert Angola operation. Lots of information from, and references to, Stockwell's books, lectures, tapes.

The Blood of Brothers, by New York Times super-star foreign correspondent in Nicaragua, Stephen Kinzer. Putnam, 1991. Touted by the publisher as the definitive treatment of the Sandinistas' rise and fall. (I disagree, but that's a topic for an entire website all by itself.) Useful for names, dates, events.




September 5, 1985

Former contra director Edgar Chamorro testifies under oath that the contras are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the CIA which would "immediately begin to disintegrate" without U.S. support. He also confirms that contra atrocities were part of a purposeful strategy, carried out with full CIA knowledge and approval.

This is a 740KB, non-searchable PDF file, and requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download the Reader here.


An Official Publication of the LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION — November 19, 1984

The full LASA report on the 1984 election, in PDF format, is available here. It is reprinted with the permission of the Latin American Studies Association.

This is a 24.6MB searchable PDF file, and requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download the Reader here.

ELECTORAL DEMOCRACY Under International Pressure  —   The Report of The Latin American Studies Association Commission to Observe the 1990 Nicaraguan Election — March 15, 1990

The full LASA report on the 1990 election, in PDF format, is available here. It is reprinted with the permission of the Latin American Studies Association.

This is a 25.3MB searchable PDF file, and requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download the Reader here.

The following websites deal with the 1984 U.S. elections. I used the last two (*) for my calculations and conclusions, because they appeared to be the soundest. I could not find accurate figures for the ineligible sector of the voting age population, or for the number/percentage of invalid votes cast.

* www.eac.gov/election_resources/turn/natto.htm
* http://clerk.house.gov/members/

The last document shows the state-by-state popular vote for Presidential and Vice-presidential electors. I use page 70 of 74, which shows the totals.

The following is posted with Noam Chomsky's permission.


By Noam Chomsky

Boston Globe March 4, 1990. Page 71.
[Noam Chomsky was then, and is today, a professor at MIT. At the time of writing this op-ed, he had most recently authored Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies.]

"Two crucial features of the elections in Nicaragua have never been in doubt. First, the United States would not tolerate free elections; second, the facts would be suppressed here. Both expectations were fulfilled.

"In the early days of the campaign, Violeta Chamorro was brought to Washington to receive a White House promise 'to lift the trade embargo and assist in Nicaragua's reconstruction' if she won the election. In other ways, too, it was made abundantly clear that the United States would continue to strangle Nicaragua through economic warfare and maintain a low-level terrorist war until its people accepted US terms.

"Direct reports confirm that people voted for UNO assuming that only its victory might bring an end to the torture. To speak of a free election under these conditions is ridiculous. What is astonishing is the scale of resistance to the Colossus of the North. With 40 percent of the vote, the FSLN remains the only significant political organization in the country, and one can only guess the actual level of its support.

"Suppose that some power of unimaginable strength were to threaten to reduce the United States to the level of Ethiopia unless we voted for its candidates, demonstrating that the threat was real. Suppose that we refused, and the threat was then carried out, the country brought to its knees, the economy wrecked and millions killed. Suppose, finally, that the threat were repeated, loud and clear, at the time of the next scheduled elections. Under such conditions, only the most extreme hypocrite would speak of a free election. Furthermore, it is likely that close to 100 percent of the population would succumb.

"Apart from the last sentence, I have just described US-Nicaraguan relations for the last decade.

"In 1984, Nicaragua held elections that were superior by any rational standards to those conducted in the US terror states of El Salvador and Guatemala, a fact confirmed by a wide array of qualified and neutral (even hostile) observers. The United States labored effectively to disrupt the elections, as is now conceded. By then, the United States had already launched extensive economic warfare and a terrorist war. After the election, both were escalated and intensified again, with the support of both US political parties, when the World Court declared them illegal. A weak and tiny country, dependent for survival on its relations with the United States, could hardly withstand such an assault for long.

"The next elections were scheduled for 1990. The only effect of US pressure was to advance them by a few months. By now, the choices were stark: Vote for our candidate or watch your children starve.

"The first expectation, then, was entirely fulfilled. So was the second: The crucial facts were barely noted in the massive commentary on the elections, or the triumphalism as the subversion succeeded. There was some discussion of US aid to the political coalition it constructed. Its scale was indeed extraordinary; of course, the United States permits nothing of the sort, even in peacetime. But this intervention was a mere footnote. The major and decisive US intervention to ensure that there would be no 'level playing field' was kept to the remote margins of discussion and was considered legitimate across the political spectrum.

"These facts come as no surprise to anyone familiar with US history and political culture. There are deep reasons why the United States so consistently opposes social reform and democracy in its domains, and the conformism of the educated culture has long been an object of wonder. Henry David Thoreau once wrote there is no need for censorship in the United States, because the community agrees on 'what things shall be uttered . . . and not one in a thousand dares utter anything else.' Extensive studies of media performance through the 1980s have documented the accuracy of Thoreau's observation in the case of Central America, and much else.

"As for policy, the historical record of US intervention conforms to the thinking articulated in top-level planning. Imperial powers have typically constructed comforting images of their benevolence, conceding errors in an excess of missionary zeal, and the United States is no exception. But the internal record reveals something quite different.

"In Latin America, as elsewhere, 'the protection of our resources' must be a major concern, the influential former State Department planner George Kennan explained. Since the main threat to US interests is indigenous, we must realize, he continued, that 'the final answer' might have to be 'police repression by the local government.' 'Harsh government measures of repression' should cause us no qualms as long as 'the results are on balance favorable to our purposes.'

"The major threat is persistently identified as 'nationalist regimes' that are responsive to popular pressures for improvement in low living standards and production for domestic needs. The United States, in contrast, is committed to 'a climate conducive to private investment' and adequate return on 'foreign capital.' The Kennedy administration identified the core issue in Latin America as 'the economic root': 'private US investment' and trade. It has always been understood that the United States must gain control over the security forces, which will ensure obedience. One of their tasks, the Kennedy planners explained, is to overthrow civilian leaders whose conduct is deemed 'injurious to the welfare of the nation,' and US training will bring them to understand what that means.

"Since functioning democracy interferes with its objectives, the United States has consistently intervened to bar it, once again in Nicaragua.

"Democratic forms are tolerable as long as a proper outcome is guaranteed. Take Honduras. Its November 1989 elections were hailed in the Globe as 'a milestone for the United States, which has used Honduras as evidence that the democratically elected governments it supports in Central America are taking hold.' The two candidates were a wealthy industrialist and a wealthy landowner, with the same programs. The effective rulers remain the US- dominated military. The campaign was reduced to insults and entertainment. Human-rights violations by the security forces escalated as the election approached, aimed at independent political figures, journalists and union leaders. Starvation and general misery are rampant, and have increased through the decade of 'democracy.' But there is no major threat to order, and profits flow.

"In short, Honduras is a praiseworthy democracy, and there is no concern over the 'level playing field.'

"Even El Salvador and Guatemala, murderous gangster states run by the US- backed military, are considered democracies. Elite opinion expresses considerable pride in having established and maintained these charnel houses, with 'free elections' permitted after a wave of mass slaughter, torture, disappearance, mutilation and other effective devices to destroy the popular organizations that might have offered a means for meaningful democracy. Even physical destruction of the independent media and murder of editors and journalists by the security forces passed virtually without comment -- often literally without report -- among their US colleagues.

"There is no thought of disbanding the military that controls the terror states. Rather, it is the Nicaraguan army, guilty of nothing remotely like their atrocities, that is the threat to order. It will remain so until it returns to US control, much as Jimmy Carter hoped in 1979, when he sought to retain the murderous National Guard after Somoza had to be abandoned.

"The basic problem, recognized throughout, is that the United States is politically weak, though militarily strong. The policy consequences are obvious. Indochina was a striking example. It was recognized that the enemy was the only 'truly mass-based political party' in South Vietnam, which therefore had to be destroyed. Much the same has been true in Central America. A decade ago, there were signs of hope in this miserable region, with church- based self-help groups, peasant associations, unions and other popular organizations, and a government in Nicaragua that was directing resources to the poor. These hopes had to be drowned in blood and suffocated by starvation and disease, for there was no other way.

"The lesson of Central America is simple: Violence works. Eastern Europe teaches the same lesson. It was only when the reigning power retracted its fangs, for internal reasons, that the popular democratic forces could achieve major gains. In the US domains, that has not happened. An honest look at what has happened would teach us a great deal about a topic that we rarely consider: ourselves. We can be confident that the major instruments of articulate expression will harbor no such subversive enterprise, though independent minds should have no difficulty penetrating the mask, and acting accordingly."


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