Alright, 2 of 13 down. This time I watched the 1983 doc “Nicaragua – A Nation’s Right to Survive”. This doc was shot because of the Oct 25th U.S. invasion of Grenada, which Pilger suggests [at the time] would be a forerunner for an invasion of Nicaragua (which fortunately did not happen). He then goes into the history of U.S. involvement in Central America (which is really depressing), specifically Nicaragua. From 1909-1933, U.S. Marines occupied Nicaragua, until guerilla forces led by Nicaraguan Gen. Augusto Sandino successfully forced them out. This lasted until 1937, as wikipedia puts it: “The Somoza family came to power as part of a US-engineered pact in 1927 that stipulated the formation of the Guardia Nacional, or the National Guard, to replace the U.S. marines that had long reigned in the country. Somoza slowly eliminated officers in the National Guard who might have stood in his way, and then deposed Sacasa and became president on January 1, 1937 in a rigged election.” The Somoza family controlled Nicaragua until 1979. This is primarily due to a 1972 earthquake, which wikipedia once again puts so poignantly: “[was the] final ‘nail in the coffin’ for Somoza. Instead of helping to rebuild Managua, Somoza siphoned off relief money to help pay for National Guard luxury homes, while the homeless poor had to make do with hastily constructed wooden shacks.” Due to this corruption, an uprising slowly built and a revolution took place, which put the Sandinistas in power in July 1979.
The rest (from wikipedia of course):
Upon assuming office in 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan condemned the FSLN for joining with Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries such as El Salvador. His administration authorized the CIA to have their paramilitary officers from their elite Special Activities Division begin financing, arming and training rebels, some of whom were the remnants of Somoza’s National Guard, as anti-Sandinista guerrillas that were branded “counter-revolutionary” by leftists (contrarrevolucionarios in Spanish).
This was shortened to Contras, a label the anti-socialist forces chose to embrace. Eden Pastora and many of the indigenous guerrilla forces, who were not associated with the “Somozistas,” also resisted the Sandinistas. The Contras operated out of camps in the neighboring countries of Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. As was typical in guerrilla warfare, they were engaged in a campaign of economic sabotage in an attempt to combat the Sandinista government and disrupted shipping by planting underwater mines in Nicaragua’s Corinto harbour, an action condemned by the World Court as illegal. The U.S. also sought to place economic pressure on the Sandinistas, and the Reagan administration imposed a full trade embargo.
U.S. support for this Nicaraguan insurgency continued in spite of the fact that impartial observers from international groupings such as the European Economic Community, religious groups sent to monitor the election, and observers from democratic nations such as Canada and the Republic of Ireland concluded that the Nicaraguan general elections of 1984 were completely free and fair. The Reagan administration disputed these results however, despite the fact that the government of the United States never had any observers in Nicaragua at the time.
The elections were not also recognized as legitimate because the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinator, considered the main opposition group, and the only group of democratic opposition in the country did not participate in the elections. The Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinator did not participate in the elections due to the government’s lack of response to its document “A Step Toward Democracy, Free Elections” issued in 1982. The document was asking the government to re-establish all civil rights: freedom of speech, freedom of organization, release of all political prisoners, cease of hostilities against the opposition, lifting the censorship on the media and abolishing all the laws violating human rights.
After the U.S. Congress prohibited federal funding of the Contras in 1983, the Reagan administration continued to back the Contras by covertly selling arms to Iran and channeling the proceeds to the Contras (the Iran–Contra affair). When this scheme was revealed, Reagan admitted that he knew about the Iranian “arms for hostages” dealings but professed ignorance about the proceeds funding the Contras; for this, National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver North took much of the blame.
The International Court of Justice, in regard to the case of Nicaragua v. United States of America in 1984, found; “the United States of America was under an obligation to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by certain breaches of obligations under customary international law and treaty-law committed by the United States of America”. But was rejected citing the ‘Connally Amendment’, which excludes from the International court of Justice’s jurisdiction “disputes with regard to matters that are essentially within the jurisdiction of the United States of America, determined by the United States of America”
I find it absolutely embarrassing that I’ve never known about this…