Complaint on crimes against humanity reinstituted vs. Ortega
Managua, Aug 1 (EFE).- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has reinstituted an old complaint regarding crimes against humanity against former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and other Sandinista leaders, a legislative source said here Monday.
Legislator Miguel Lopez Baldizon, of the Azul y Blanco congressional caucus, told EFE that the IACHR in Nicaragua brought out from its archives a complaint against Ortega concerning alleged crimes against humanity committed in 1983.
The "Red Christmas" complaint refers to supposed crimes committed during the Sandinista army operation to remove some 8,500 Indians from their communities on the banks of the Coco River, along the border with Honduras, and relocate them in five camps to prevent them from giving logistical support to the Contra insurgents.
Indigenous groups have complained that hundreds of their people died during the operation.
Today's La Prensa has a very good editorial about the whole issue.
I am still amazed at how cynical the Sandinista's were. They called the relocation centers Tasba Pri, which in Miskito means, "Promised Land". Unfortunately, these events became one of the most under-reported stories in this war. Part of that was due to the strict censorship the Sandinista's imposed in the country. And, since the Atlantic area was so remote, the Sandinista's could control access to foreign media. I remember being in Managua, and hearing about the relocation 'efforts', which the goverment was doing to protect the "Miskito People", and watching footage of smiling Miskito kids happy in their new home.
For the Sandinistas the entire East Coast region was key, it had the ports where Cuban and Soviet goods came in, and the roads were they were shipped to Managua, and in the north it bordered Honduras. They began militarizing the region early in the Revolution, bringing in Cuban military advisors, setting up well-armed military posts, and putting their Stasi-trained State Security in place to take care of the locals. In their usual heavy-handed manner the tried indoctrinating the locals into Sandino-Leninism, while also asserting control over food distribution. The very religious East Coast residents, including the Miskito, resisted this right from the beginning.
From disturbances in Bluefields to actual shoot-outs, things kept on getting worse from 1980 to 1981. Armed resistance by the Miskitos started, and rumors of dead Cubans and Sandinistas started spreading in Managua. Eventually, the presence of 'Counter-Revolutionary elements' in the East Coast, started appearing in the state-controlled media. But this had nothing to do with the Somocista holdouts operated out of, this was on the other side of the country. And we know now, that this was a spontaneous movement that started independent of Reagan's Presidential findings calling for aid to anti-Sandinista elements.
And this clash ended up being rather one-sided, since the Sandinistas were the ones with the gunships and Cuban advisors. They quietly shipped more troops to the region. When that didn't work they tried the age-old remedy of forcibly relocating an entire Indian population from their land.
Funny how the left avoided the issue, and some even went along Sandinista "apologies", saying it was a mere "error".
This has brought back some memories. We got an inkling that something was going on, when family friends and acquaintances in the Army - hardcore veterans of the Civil War, trained in Cuba and/or Soviet block countries - ended up sent to the region, first indicating that there was an significant military buildup there. And when they came back with war stories, it was clear something was definitively up.
To this day, two people stand out in my mind. One was a committed Sandinista, a foreigner who had fought in the Southern Front with Pastora, and afterwards was a Captain in the Sandinista Army. I saw him when he was on leave sometime in 82, when he enthusiastically told us how they "kicked the shit out of the counter-revolutionaries" in the Costa. I remember sort of freaking when he said it, because nice guy as he was, in his mind he could do no wrong if it was in defense of the revolution. The second guy, had been just as dedicated, and was a fairly high-up cadre in the Frente's urban front, and spent some time in Somoza's dungeons. Also in the Sandinista Army, something in him snapped when he went to the Costa. All we heard from his sister was that he became greatly disillusioned and shocked by what he saw in the East Coast, she wouldn't go into details. The Sandinista's ended up throwing him in jail. When a guy this 'committed' snaps like that, you know something is up.
And to put this all into proper perspective, 'Red December' was in 1981 and 1982, before even Eden Pastora had announced he was going to fight the Sandinistas. This was straight-up repression, there was no external threat in that part of the country. The Sandinistas brought this all upon themselves, and it was all a result of their ideology and hunger for power. What they did that December and January, particularly the killings, is not different from what Pinochet is being prosecuted for today. On a smaller scale, it is on par with what the Salvadoran Army did in El Mozote. Some might even call it a form of ethnic cleansing, (ideological cleansing?) forcibly relocating 8,000 people, and causing 25,000 more to flee the region for Honduras. I hope Ortega, Borge, Lenin Cerna and those other guys responsible for these misdeeds do go on trial. The very least they can do is explain why they did what they did.