Hey everyone this is Colin from Salt of the Streets and welcome to my first audio blog post. This will be the first of a multi part series on the political controversy known as Iran-Contra.
For as much as I would like to cover this topic from start to finish in one sitting, as a big fan of history I believe proper context must be given to historical events to truly understand them. With a topic like this which led to one of, if not the biggest, political controversies our nation has even experienced context is paramount to understanding the full story. So I invite you to check out my series about the Iran-Contra affair. A story that spans the globe from the deserts of the middle east to the jungles of central America. CIA covert missions, gorilla warfare, hostages, White House scandal and even a little treason.
So without further adieu, welcome to: Part one of Iran-Contra: Nicaragua.
Lets travel back in time. The year is 1979 and President Jimmy Carter is in the White House, though not for much longer. The multi decade long Cold War is entering a new era, but the United States government is still very concerned and determined to stop the spread of communism across the world.
Down in Central America, nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica lyes the small country of Nicaragua. It’s leader, a US backed dictator named Anastasio Somoza DeBayle is in trouble. As head of the National Guard, he had essentially become the de facto ruler of the country since 1967 after the death of his older brother. But his grasp on power is slipping, and very life is in danger. He is about to become the last of the Somoza family to be President, ending a family dynasty of power dating back to 1936, when his father had first risen to power, with thanks to the US Marine Corp by the way.
His county has been embroiled in deeply violent civil war since the early 1960’s when the Nicaraguan Revolution first began. The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (F.S.L.N.) known in English as the Sandinista National Liberation Front have grown in strength and number to the point that a governmental overthrow is coming, it’s now just a matter of time.
As far as the United States is concerned, the FSLN were becoming a massive problem. If you’re looking at this situation with contemporary glasses, you may be thinking that the US government would be on-board with helping a peoples revolution to overthrow a nepotist dictatorship like the Somoza’s, but keep in mind that the Somoza family only came to power due to US military involvement in Nicaragua a decade or so earlier.
The real problem the US had with the rise of the FSLN was the fact that they were primarily supported by communist governments such as Cuba, Panama and Venezuela. But of course the strings traced all the way back to Moscow, the proverbial queen bee of Communism. On July 17th 1979 it happened, Somoza stepped down and escaped into exile essentially handing over the reigns of power to the FSLN who began to inject communism and socialism into the county.
Now we introduce the Counter Revolutionists, better known as the Contras. The Contras were actually built up of a great number of various anti-Sandinista rebel groups, the largest of those being the Nicaraguan Democratic Force. Overtime these various rebel group began to merge, ultimately they would from into a group known as the Nicaraguan Resistance, though this didn’t happen until 1987.
In 1980 a man by the name of Ronald Reagan had become President. Reagan was a staunch anti-communist and his administration saw the formation of these loosely grouped bands of anti-Sandinista rebels as an asset and wished to forge a relationship with them. Anti-Sandinista meant Anti-Communist after all, and fighting Communism was one of, if not the greatest foreign policy concern at the time.
There was a problem that the Reagan administration faced when allying with the Contras though. While fighting the Nicaraguan government, they allegedly committed a large number of blatant violations of human rights, carrying out more than 1300 attacks that would be classified today as acts of terror. This is something the Reagan administration downplayed as much as possible, but this is how the contras fought, and there was no amount of downplaying the administration could do to make that fact go away.
From the beginning of there relationship with the US, the contras received the vast majority of there support directly from the United States Government, something they grew to depend on as time went on. That is of course until the all mighty power of the United States Congress put there own foot down with the passing of the Boland Amendment between 1982 & 1984, which essentially stopped governmental assistance to the contras in it’s tracks. But this wouldn’t stop the Reagan administration from fighting back against the spread of the communism. As they saw it, communism was still the greatest threat to American safety and Democracy, and they’d stop at next to nothing to rid the world of it’s cancerous spread.
How’d they do it?
You’ll have to wait for Iran-Contra part two, when we tackle to Iran side of Iran Contra, which comes out January 10th 2019, right here on saltofthestreets.com.
Until then, as always you can find us @saltofthestreets on both instagram and facebook.
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Don is @saltofthestreet on twitter and @alpaca_donavan on instagram
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