Nicaraguan Biographies/Business and Labor
Business and LaborEdit
BACA, Omar. Labor union activist. Born about 1952. Works with the Confederation of Labor Unification, CUS, the most vibrant independent labor confederation still in Nicaragua. Fought against Somoza.
BAEZ Sacasa, William. Sociologist. Executive Director of Nic- araguan Development Institute until 1986 when he sought exile in the United States. Born on October 16, 1947, in Managua. Has not allowed polio to interfere with his life's activities. BA from Holy Cross. In 1971, became INDE Director. From 1977, worked as an intermediary between Ernesto "Tito" Castillo in exile in Costa Rica and the internal opposition to Somoza. Under Baez's direction, INDE played a major role in coordinating the 15-day national work-stoppage in January 1978. Immediately following Eden Pastora's seizure of the National Palace, FAO instituted an open-ended general strike with the solid support of the Chamber of Commerce and INDE. At the time, Baez estimated that 70% of Managua's businesses shut down, with 90% compliance in the other cities of the country. He noted, "The only reason the strike is not 100% effective is that Somoza owns the rest of the businesses" (Washington Post, September 4, 1978). Somoza retaliated by arresting 200 FAO and business leaders and revoking the legal charters of the Chamber of Commerce and INDE, making them illegal organizations. When the US State Department's Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs condemned the actions, Somoza's spokesman accused the State Department of Marxism. In November 1979, Baez said, "We understand there has been a revolution, not just a change in name.... We believe in the revolution and have decided to stay. The more private sector people who stay, the better chance we can swing it." In June of 1986, after 7 years of trying to work with the revolutionary process, Baez resigned from INDE and sought exile in the United States.
BENGOECHEA Delgadillo, J. Jaime. President of the Chamber of Industries. Member of the Council of State, 1980-84. Born on October 2, 1930 in Managua. Trained as a chemist, he studied at the University of Michigan and the University of Ghent in Belgium. Professor of chemistry at the National School of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and at the Schools of Engineering and Sciences of Managua, 1956-63. Codirector of a medical-chemical laboratory in Managua. Currently active in the promotion of small-scale enterprises among campesinos. Bengoechea states, "The Sandinistas use three means to enforce obedience. They control the press; they apply the law in an irregular way so that the ordinary citizen feels insecure; and they distribute food and other necessities through outlets that only certain cardholders can use. The whole system is very subtle. Those of us who have stayed here want a transformation of this country, but not one that disrupts our cultural or economic traditions. We are trying to build democracy in a country where democracy has never existed" (New York Times, August 11, 1987).
BOLANOS Geyer, Enrique. Engineer, cotton grower, civic leader. President since 1983 of INDE and COSEP. Born on May 13, 1928, in Mas- aya. Established with his brothers SAIMSA, a model cotton processing facility, known for its use of modern agricultural technology and progressive management-labor relations. Became politically active in 1978, convinced of both the need for and the possibility of a political alternative to Somoza. Arrested in October 1981 and charged with violating the emergency laws on the grounds that he had signed "the Dreyfus letter," a COSEP letter responding to Humberto Ortega's threat that, in the event of a US invasion, the private sector leadership would be "the first to be hanged by the people along the roads and highways." Released when it was found that he had not signed the letter (the six actual signers were either imprisoned or fled the country). Detained two more times in 1982. In 1985, named President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Central America. In the same year, prevented from holding a ceremony marking the anniversary of Jorge Sal- azar's 1980 murder; State Security agents barricaded his home and placed him under de facto house arrest. In a move widely viewed as retaliation for
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Bolanos' political views, his properties were confiscated in June 1985. Constantly harassed by the Sandinistas and their controlled media, yet is committed to remaining in Nicaragua.
BOLANOS Geyer, Nicolas. Pharmacist and coffee farmer. President of the Nicaraguan Union of Coffee Growers and Director of the Nicaraguan Union of Agricultural Producers. Born on December 11, 1926, in Masaya. Former member of the Nicaraguan national baseball team. Brother of Enrique and Alejandro. Vice President of the Federation of Nicaraguan Cattlemen's Associations.
BONILLA, Daniel. Former Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Industries and a former Vice President of COSEP. Emigrated to Costa Rica in 1986.
CUADRA S., Gilberto I. Elected President of the Nicaraguan Development Institute and Nicaraguan Development Foundation in 1986. Elected First Vice President of COSEP in 1986. Born on July 6, 1934, in Managua. Cuadra received his degree in civil engineering from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in 1958 and his MA from the University of Kentucky in 1960. Served as President of the Nicaragua Confederation of Professionals (1979-83), Vice President of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (1980-83), and Vice President of INDE (1984-86). Cuadra has been a member of the Coordinadora since 1980. He was jailed by the Sandinistas for his opposition activities from October 1981 to February 1982 and detained again in 1987.
CUADRA Somarriba, Jaime. Farmer-activist, former Sandinista. Born in 1927. Owner of a coffee farm in Matagalpa Department. Smuggled guns and performed other clandestine support activities for the FSLN until his imprisonment by the National Guard in 1974. One of 14 Sandinistas freed from prison by the FSLN's 1974 Christmas party hostage-taking. Traveled to Cuba, Moscow, Prague, Rome, and Costa Rica before becoming a school inspector in Montreal. Rejoined his wife on the farm after the 1979 revolution. Opposed Sandinista discrimination against the private sector as President of the Matagalpa Coffee Grower's Cooperative Association. Now lives in the United States.
DREYFUS, Enrique. Businessman. Owner of a large Nicaraguan department store chain. Active in the anti-Somoza campaign. His wife, Mercedes Stadthagen de Dreyfus, was tried in absentia by Military Court in January 1976 for her role in supporting the Sandinista underground. As leader of the Nicaraguan Development Institute and President of COSEP, he was author of the October 17, 1981, "Dreyfus letter," which he signed with the five COSEP Vice Presidents. Responding to a not-so-veiled death threat from Hum- berto Ortega, the COSEP leaders wrote that they supported revolutionary change in Nicaragua but not a
"Marxist-Leninist adventure." For signing the letter, Dreyfus, Gilberto Cuadra (President of the National Association of Professionals), and Benjamin Lanzas (President of the Chamber of Construction) were charged with violating "the laws of the social-economic emergency and the maintenance of public order" and jailed from October 1981 to February 1982. Another signer sought asylum in the Venezuelan Embassy. Two others were abroad when the arrests were announced. Dreyfus still lives in Managua.
ESPINOZA Navas, Jose. Political Secretary for the independent Confederation for Labor Unification. Labor leader at the forefront of union opposition to Sandinista attempts to destroy independent labor unions. Born on April 2, 1944, in Rivas. Left school at age 8 to earn his own living as a shoe- shine boy. Taught himself to read and write. Began his union career as President of the Strike Committee in the Union of Carpenters, Masons, Fillers in 1967. Moved to Chinandega in 1968 and was imprisoned for participation in a campesino union strike. Helped establish six unions in the Chinandega area between 1969 and 1975, serving as president of two. Imprisoned in 1978 for leading a sugar mill workers' strike and for a third time in November 1978 after national strikes protesting the Somoza regime. A member of the CUS since 1969, Espinoza served as Treasurer (1978), Secretary General (1979-82), and Political Secretary (1982-present). Espinoza was Assistant Secretary General of the Central American and Caribbean Workers' Confederation (1981-86) and was elected President for 1987-90. Received his pilot's license in 1975. Participated in the armed struggle against Somoza in the Chinandega area. After the revolution, he was designated as a representative to the Council of State.
GURDIAN Ortiz, Ramiro. President of the Union of Agricultural and Livestock Producers of Nicaragua. Vice President of COSEP, the Superior Council of Private Enterprise. Born on September 18, 1943. Married to Joyce Scarborough. BA in economics from Arkansas State University, 1969. An outspoken critic of Sandinista rule, Gurdian's properties have been confiscated by the government.
GUTHRIE Rivers, Alvin. The most prominent independent labor leader in opposition to the Sandinista regime. Secretary General of the Confederation for Labor Unification, since 1983. Born in Bonanza, Zelaya, in 1946. Became involved in the labor movement as an airline employee in the late 1960s. Later became President of the Nic- araguan airline employees union. Studied labor law at Catholic University in Managua in the 1970s. Actively opposed Somoza. After CUS Secretary General Luis Medrano Flores was killed on January 9, 1979, during an anti-Somoza demonstration, Guthrie helped organize the longshoreman's boycotts and the general strikes which contributed greatly to the collapse of the Somoza dictatorship. Member of the Coordinadora. Since 1979 the Sandinistas have pressured industrial and rural workers to join one of the two union federations controlled by the FSLN (CST and ATC, respectively) to the exclusion of all independent unions (reminiscent of Somoza's forcing most unions to belong to his government's trade union federation). The independent CUS is strong on the Atlantic Coast and some other areas such as Chinandega. CUS headquarters were occupied and looted by the Sandinista police in August-September 1984. In 1985, Guthrie received an award from the Swiss Foundation for the Freedom of Human Rights for CUS work in organizing workers and peasants from the most dispossessed classes. As Guthrie noted in 1986, 7 years after the fall of Somoza: "It is often claimed that Nicaragua has a government made up of workers and campesinos. The reality is that huge numbers of workers and campesinos are being abused and imprisoned whenever they attempt to exercise their rights as Nicaraguan citizens. Somoza used to call us 'communist subversives.' Now whenever workers choose to join our confederation, they are labeled 'counterrevolutionaries.'"
HANON, Mario. President of the Nicaraguan Rice Growers' Association. Director of the Union of Agricultural Producers of Nicaragua and of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise. Born on December 28, 1938, in Nan- daime. Received his BS in agricultural engineering from California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo in 1961. Did postgraduate studies at UNAN, in 1963 and at the University of the Andes, Merida, Venezuela, in 1967. A major independent rice grower, Hanon directs a farm of 1740 acres which produces rice, bananas, and vegetables. Arrested after the Sandinista murder of his friend Jorge Salazar on the grounds that he had been attempting to overthrow the regime.
HUEMBES Trejos, Carlos. Independent labor leader and President of the Coordinadora. Secretary General of the Nicaraguan Workers Central, affiliated with the Christian Democratic Confederation of Latin American Workers and linked to the Social Christian Party. Lives in Managua.
JARQUIN Rodriguez, Jose Antonio. Labor leader and grassroots organizer. Born on July 7, 1955, in Managua. Educated only through grade school. General Secretary of the Autonomous Nicaraguan Workers Central (CTN-A), one of two labor confederations of Christian Democratic persuasion in Nicaragua. National Assembly representative of the Popular Social Christian Party. Guided by a philosophy of worker self-management, his labor confederation is comprised largely of rural workers, now actively organizing rural credit and procurement for cooperatives of small farmers, particularly in the Nueva Guinea area of Nicaragua. The union is also strong in the service sector. Hundreds of CTN-A members have been arrested; others enticed to join the FSLN's openly Leninist trade unions. Detained on November 8, 1986 (the 25th anniversary of what the FSLN celebrates today as its founding) for distributing leaflets asking why the FSLN spends so much money on military parades and so little on social services.
MEMBRENO Moreno, Jose. Born on March 20, 1957, in Managua. Executive Secretary of the Nicaraguan Workers Central. Former Secretary General of the Union of Gasoline Station Workers of Chinandega. A CTN representative to the Coordinadora's Board of Directors.
(1) Jaime BENGOECHEA Delgadillo, (2) Ramiro GURDIAN Ortiz, (3) Gilberto CUADRA.
(4) Enrique BOLANOS Geyer, (5) Mario HANON, (6) Carlos HUEMBES Trejos.
MONTEALEGRE Lacayo, Alfredo. Vice President of the Nicaraguan Chamber of Industries and an official of COSEP, the Superior Council of Private Enterprise. Brother of Haroldo and Jaime.
MONTEALEGRE Lacayo, Haroldo. Former senior economic official under the Sandinistas. Born on October 29, 1953, in Managua. Economist with degrees from the University of Chicago and Columbia University. Anti- Somoza strike leader, founding member of Nicaraguan Democratic Movement. Became Minister of Reconstruction Finance when Alfredo Cesar moved to head the national banking system. Accompanied Daniel Ortega to Libya in September 1981 in search of additional funds (Qadhafi had made a $100 million soft loan earlier in the year). Informed during this trip that Nicaragua was to follow the centralized economic model urged by the Planning Ministry's Bulgarian advisers, he decided to break with the Sandinistas. Instead of accompanying Ortega to Cuba and then Nicaragua, he feigned a need to stop in Washington to sign some international loan papers and changed planes in London. Instead, he proceeded to Costa Rica and tendered his resignation. Now lives in the United States.
MONTEALEGRE Lacayo, Jaime. Former Vice President of the Council of State under the Sandinistas, where he represented the COSEP. Born on February 23, 1952. BA and MBA from the University of Chicago.
MORALES Hernandez, Adan Humberto. Agricultural Engineer. Born on September 3, 1941 in Managua. Served in the US Army (1960-62). Received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Heald Engineering College in San Francisco (1966). Recently reelected Secretary for International Relations, Social Democratic Party. Member of the Union of Agricultural and Livestock Producers. Author of "Design of a Domestic Refrigeration Unit" and other works.
NOGUERA Pastora, Carlos Antonio. Executive Director of the Nicaraguan Development Institute. Born on March 17, 1948, in Jinotega. Degree in business administration from UCA, 1972. Former President of the Jinotega Chapter of INDE. Member of the Board of Nicaraguan Coffee Growers Association and of Wisconsin Partners (of the Partners of the Americas).
POVEDA Sediles, Leonel. Sandinista guerrilla commander now in exile. Born in 1941. Earned a degree from UCLA before returning to Nicaragua in the late 1960s. Contacted the FSLN in Costa Rica as the representative of several dozen business professionals "disposed to do whatever was necessary to get rid of Somoza." From early 1978, led a military cell of "middle-management types" allied with the Internal Front of the FSLN's Ter- cerista faction which carried out commando actions against the National Guard. Eden Pastora hid at Poveda's house in the weeks before he directed the August 1978 National Palace takeover. Poveda had provided logistical support and served as an escort vehicle driver for the operation. One of several hundred Sandinistas to seek asylum at the Colombian Embassy after the September 1978 urban insurrection. Declined to join the many others going to Cuba for military training in early 1979. Reappeared in Costa Rica as one of Eden Pastora's lieutenants. A leading commander of the Southern Front, he directed the May 1979 attack (of Nic- araguans and Panamanian internationalists) on Penas Blancas, considered the opening shots in the Southern Front war. Dubbed "El Comanche" by Pastora after FSLN leaders complained of Poveda's being referred to as "comandante." While the FSLN National Directorate celebrated the taking of Managua on July 19, 1979, Poveda and his several hundred troops were still engaged in intense fighting against the National Guard near Rivas. Removed from his military command in August
1979 by Tomas Borge. Served as the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade until arrested for directing the August 1981 "spraypaint conspiracy," a graffitti campaign designed to secure the release of Eden Pastora from Cuban custody. Went into exile in early 1982. Reappeared in Costa Rica at Pastora's April 1982 announcement of opposition to FSLN rule. Commanded ARDE troops against the Sandinista Army. Now lives quietly in Costa Rica.
SALAZAR, Ernesto C. A Vice President of the independent Federation of Nicaraguan Cattlemen's Associations. Opposed the Somozas since May 1947, when, learning that he was to be replaced as head of the National Guard, Somoza Garcia launched a military coup, installing a more pliant puppet, Benjamin Lacayo Sacasa to replace President Arguello. The United States refused to recognize the new government and opposition parties launched a revolt which was quickly suppressed by the National Guard. Salazar's record and probity did not prevent him from being arrested in the December 1985 Sandinista crackdown on the private sector.
SOLORZANO, Alejandro. Moscow-line communist PSN labor leader. Born in Granada. Leader of the powerful SCAAS construction workers' union and Secretary General of the CGT-I. Prominent in the 1978 general strikes against Somoza. Briefly jailed by the Sandinistas in October 1979. Led the January 1980 construction strike protesting government efforts to absorb the CGT-I into the FSLN-controlled CST labor federation. Jailed in October 1981 for leading a hunger strike in support of higher wages and Christmas bonuses for workers. Detained again by the Sandinistas in 1985 for organizing protests.