War drive on Nicaragua

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No 33, October/November 1983

Following the air bombardment of their cities, the firing upon of their boats, the burning down of their villages and the murder of their citizens, the Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega stated before the United Nations General Assembly in late September that US imperialism had 'declared war on the people of Nicaragua'. On 6 September a light plane fired rockets into the city of Esteli, two days later Managua's international airport was bombed by planes flown out of Honduras, and the following day two more unidentified planes, this time coming from the direction of Costa Rica, attacked the docks and fuel supplies at Puerto Sandino. Air sorties over Nicaragua have continued and in October Sandinista anti-aircraft batteries downed a US registered DC-3 transport plane, adding to what Ortega listed as five hundred and twelve violations of Nicaraguan airspace since January 1981.

At sea, where the giant imperial armada (see FRFI 32) has been joined by two British Royal Navy frigates in a pincer movement on Nicaragua, US and Honduran planes have fired on Nicaraguan boats, and US warships have forced Nicaraguan merchant vessels to declare their cargo and destination.

These deliberate escalations in the drive to all-out war with the Nicaraguan revolution by the imperialists came as the US ruling class is becoming increasingly frustrated at the failures of the land assaults mounted by the counter-revolutionary 'contras' based in Honduras and Costa Rica. One ex-Somosa guard confessed that 'Our effort to simply fight a war in the rural countryside was a failure because it did not produce the popular uprising of the Nicaraguan people we had hoped for ...Our strategy now has been to go for important economic targets'.

US military investment in El Salvador has risen from US$1 million in 1979 to US$116 million in 1982. Estimates of the cost of training and equipping the Nicaraguan 'contras' rise to over US$80 million, but these do not compare with the vital imperial investment in the myth of Yankee indomitability in Central America. The US ruling class is desperate for results. As US troops manoeuvre with the Honduran Army, weapons, radio equipment and medical supplies are now being ferried from the US through US Southern Command Headquarters in Panama and on to El Salvador and Honduras. There, they are transferred to the local forces and to the counter-revolutionaries gathered along Nicaragua's border and within the remote parts of Nicaragua itself.

Superior airpower is vital to the imperial war effort. Time magazine gives an example of their use on the villages of Tenancingo in El Salvador:

‘... the fighter planes unloaded their cargo of 250 pound bombs, sending bottles and statuettes of saints flying from shelves and demolishing many adobe homes. Fleeing civilians were gunned down in indiscriminate fire from jets and helicopters ...’

Honduras has been equipped with the largest airforce in Central America. Helicopters are to be part of the new military aid agreement between the US and Guatemala. This October a joint meeting of the Defence Ministers of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala with the new head of US Southern Command pledged its intention to 'employ forces' in Central America.

GUATEMALAN PRECEDENT

The sequence of frustrated land assaults by US proxy bands, air raids and full US Airforce involvement, combined with a carefully planned propaganda campaign, replicates an earlier CIA success in 1954 against Guatemala. Then Somoza's Nicaragua and Honduras were used as the launching pads to crush the democratic reforms of the Arbenz government and to plunge Guatemala into the nightmare it suffers to this day. In 1954 the Guatemalan government armed the people too late, when the imperialists and their tools were already upon them. This autumn the Nicaraguan revolution has added another fifteen thousand combatants to the hundreds of thousands in the militias, and Comrade Ortega told the assembled representatives of the world that Nicaragua would go 'everywhere' to get the combat planes that the revolution needs. In the best gesture of solidarity that they could give to their Nicaraguan brothers and sisters, the popular liberation forces of the Salvadorean FMLN openly declared a provisional government in the province of Chaletenango while other freedom fighters captured the eastern city of Jucuapa.

Trevor Rayne

 

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