Nicaragua: New Regime, Old Methods

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The Directorate had published an article in Barricada [the official government newspaper] boasting that Sandinista soldiers had killed counterrevolutionaries coming out of Honduras. This was the same shooting I was reading about. The report I was reading said the people were searching for food and lived in Nicaragua. They had gone from Waspán [a town on the river] to Bilwaskarma in their canoes. I couldn't understand this. I fought against the barbarities Somoza committed against the Nicaraguan people. But as the revolutionary process increased, the level of class hatred increased. Among the officers, an attitude was created that one should kill rather than forgive.

The Miskito populations began to rise up. The Ministry of Defense said in its propaganda that the people who were fighting us were former national guardsmen [Somoza supporters], not Miskitos. On June 5, I participated in a firefight that was said to be with guardsmen, but it was really with Miskitos. They lost no one. We lost 19 men, officers as well as enlisted men. Twenty-two more were wounded. Only I and one other man were not hurt or killed. The regional chief of staff and his escort staff ran when the fighting started. When he decided to leave, he defended this by saying that he could not afford to die like any ordinary soldier.

There were large-scale arrests of Miskitos. About 800 people were detained. A second lieutenant saw an Indian woman among the prisoners and raped her. When this was investigated, the chief of staff pardoned him and transferred him to another unit in Kambla. It was interpreted as a promotion. I was transferred to Managua in August. I was now determined to leave Nicaragua.

But on Aug. 8, state security called me to a meeting in the Ministry of Defense building at Chipote military base. There they proposed to me that I provide the logistics, the guns, trucks and soldiers to physically eliminate the 800 Miskito prisoners. The state security people said they would have to be killed, and it should look as if they died in combat. When this was discussed, I practically went into a state of shock because of the moral conflicts it caused within me. It made me sick. They wanted me to provide soldiers to dig the graves, guards to control the Miskitos while they were being shot, trucks to transport them. I don't know if this massacre actually happened or not. On Aug. 10, I left Nicaragua.

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