Nicaragua: New Regime, Old Methods

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Physical torture has two forms. One consists of beatings, electric shocks, blows to the testicles, and so forth. The methods proved to be more effective by the KGB and Cuban intelligence are both more complex and simpler for obtaining information. The Soviets and the Cubans have found out that violent methods are often counterproductive. People will stick to the principles for which they fought. But if you depersonalize a person, he will lose his social standards, his principles. One method is to change the body metabolism. You shut a man in a room with no light or a lot of light 24 hours a day. You interrogate him constantly, off and on. You bring him food every two hours, saying it is mealtime. After two days you lose your sense of time. The constant food brings you to a state of desperation. The mind, upon receiving so much pressure, comes to a point where it is blocked. You are questioned constantly. The mind is so exhausted, it has no defense. There are many medical ways to make a person practically unconscious.

In a more general sense, the pressure begins the moment a man or woman becomes a prisoner. There are seats that have a very uncomfortable backrest. The individual has to maintain an erect position and he has to look straight at his interrogator. If you try to get comfortable, they'll hit you.

Another method is to put you in a small room, completely white. The only furniture is your chair, the interrogator's chair and a desk. In the middle of the wall, going all around the room, is a black stripe. As the interrogation continues, the individual begins to feel that the black line is closing in on him. Sometimes people are locked in a cell so small that they can only sit down, not stand. Then the prisoner is photographed, made to squat for a drug search of his anus. If the prisoner is skinny, he is issued a baggy uniform. If he is fat, it will be too tight. You feel ridiculous. From then on, they address you only by number. Interrogation begins, which can be either very intense or very relaxed. Your cell will always be very bright or very dark. It has no windows, only a door. It is usually designed to echo. Everything echos. You are completely disoriented.

I went to Cuba to study counterintelligence. When I returned in April of 1982,1 was assigned to Zelaya Norte. After arriving there, I began to discover barbarities that were being committed against the Miskito people by reading the Ministry of Defense reports. Here is one entry which I copied in my notebook: "On Feb. 8, 1982, at 8:45 a.m., a troop of border guards fired at civilian persons on the Rio Coco at the point of the community of Bilwaskarma." The report explained that the people were traveling in canoes at the moment the troops fired upon them. One man survived. Reading this, I could not understand why the chief of counterintelligence for the area had not brought this to trial. I couldn't understand also why the soldiers would kill a pregnant woman in the canoe.

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