Nicaraguan Biographies/Glossary

Nicaraguan Biographies
United States Department of State • Office of Public Affairs
Appendices: Glossary

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ALPROMISU: Alliance for the Promotion of the Miskito and Sumo Peoples, Alianza para el Progreso del Pueblo Miskito y Sumo. An Indian rights and self-help organization organized in 1973 by Wycliffe Diego, a Moravian pastor. Gave way to MISURASATA in 1979.

AMNLAE: Luisa Amanda Es- pinoza Association of Nicaraguan Women, Asociacion de Mujeres Nic- araguenses "Luisa Amanda Espinoza." The FSLN organization for women.

ANN: New Nicaragua News Agency, Agenda Nueva Nicaragua. The official Sandinista news agency.

ANPDH: Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, Asociacion Nic- araguense Pro Derechos Humanos. Founded in 1986 in Costa Rica. Led by Nicaraguan human rights lawyers Marta Patricia Baltodano, a former Director of the CPDH, and Mateo Guerrero Flores, a former Executive Director of the CNPPDH. Receives funds appropriated by the US Congress to promote the observance and advancement of human rights.

ANS: Sandinista Children's Association, Asociacion de Ninos Sandinistas. The FSLN organization for grade school children.

ARDE: Democratic Revolutionary Alliance, Alianza Revolucionaria Dem- ocratica. An anti-Sandinista, political- military organization organized in Costa Rica in 1982 by Eden Pastora, Alfonso Robelo, Brooklyn Rivera, and other former FSLN members or supporters. Remnants of the old ARDE military are now in the ERN/South.

ATC: Rural Workers Association, Asociacion de Trabajadores del Campo. The principal FSLN labor organization for farm workers.

Barricada: Daily newspaper, the official FSLN press organ.

BLI: Sandinista Army Irregular Warfare Battalion, Batallon de Lucha Irregular. A dozen such battalions have been created since 1983 for operations in rural areas against the Resistance.

BOS: Southern Opposition Bloc, Bloque Opositor del Sur. Anti-Sandinista political group led by Alfredo Cesar. Founded in Costa Rica in 1985. Joined with UNO to form the RN in 1987.

CDS: Sandinista Defense Committees, Comites de Defensa Sandinista. The network of FSLN neighborhood or block committees. Responsible for the maintenance of "revolutionary vigilance" in local communities. Modeled upon the Cuban Committees in Defense of the Revolution.

CEPAD: Evangelical Committee for Aid to Development, Comite Evan- gelico Pro Ayuda al Desarrollo. Protestant relief agency closely linked to the FSLN. Headed by Gustavo Parajon.

El Chaparral: The Cuban-inspired and supported "Rigoberto Lopez Perez" anti-Somoza guerrilla column, made up mainly of Nicaraguans who had been in Cuba, accompanied by some Cubans. Destroyed at El Chaparral, Honduras, in June 1959 by Honduran and Nicaraguan Government forces.

El Chipote: Maximum security MINT prison in Managua. Originally built under Somoza, the prison has been remodeled to facilitate isolation of prisoners, interrogation, and psychological abuse of individuals held in temporary custody.

Christmas party raid: On December 27, 1974, FSLN commandos led by Eduardo Contreras and German Pomares seized the home of Jose Maria "Chema" Castillo Quant. Many prominent guests were taken hostage. At the time, FSLN was discounted as moribund. Four days later, with mediation of then-Bishop Obando, 14 FSLN prisoners (one of them Daniel Ortega) were on their way to Cuba with $1 million and a dramatic propaganda victory.

CNPEN: National Council of Evangelical Pastors of Nicaragua, Consejo Nacional de Pastores Evangelicos de Nicaragua. The umbrella organization for Protestant and Evangelical churches. Denied legal recognition by the Sandinista government.

CNPPDH: National Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Comision Nacional para la Promocion y Proteccion de Derechos Humanos. The "official" human rights commission founded by the FSLN and run through the Foreign Ministry. Has limited inclination or ability to investigate abuses. Serves mainly for foreign consumption. The FSLN counterpoint to the independent CPDH.

Commander of the Revolution: Comandante de la Revolucion. Highest rank in the Sandinista hierarchy, held only by the 9 members of the FSLN National Directorate.

Coordinadora: Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinating Board, Coordinadora Democratica Nic- araguense. A civic coalition opposed to FSLN policies. The coalition includes four democratic political parties (Conservatives, Liberal Constitutionalists, Social Christians, and Social Democrats), two labor organizations (Confederation for Labor Unification and Nicaraguan Workers Central), and the business organizations belonging to the Superior Council of Private Enterprise.

COPROSA: Archdiocesan Commission for Social Advancement, Comision de Promocion Social Arquidiocesana. The Catholic Church's social service agency. Closed by the Sandinista government since 1985.

COSEP: Superior Council of Private Enterprise, Consejo Superior de la Empresa Privada. A private sector umbrella organization representing tens of thousands of large, medium, and small businesses, merchants, farmers, ranchers, and professionals. Its component organizations are members of the Coordinadora.

CPDH: Permanent Commission on Human Rights of Nicaragua, Comision Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua. The independent nongovernmental human rights commission founded in 1977 with help from the World Council of Churches, the PSC, and a variety of anti-Somoza organizations, including the FSLN. Played a major role in drawing the world's attention to the abuses of the Somoza regime and provided legal and moral support for political prisoners, including Tomas Borge. Harassed when it began to investigate murders and disappearances after the Sandinistas came to power. Its original director, Jose Esteban Gonzalez, and his sucessors, Marta Patricia Baltodano and Lino Hernandez, have at one time or another all been arrested by the Sandinistas.

CST: Sandinista Workers Central, Central Sandinista de Trabajadores. The Sandinista labor confederation for urban workers and some farm workers.

CTN: Nicaraguan Workers Central, Central de Trabajadores de Nicaragua. An independent social-Christian labor


confederation. Member of the Coordinadora.

CUS: Confederation for Labor Unification, Confederacion de Unificacion Sindical. An independent democratic labor confederation, a member of the Coordinadora.

DGSE: General Directorate of State Security, Direccion General de Seguridad del Estado. The Sandinista secret police and MINT special forces.


  • The FSLN Direccion Nacional, the nine-member leadership body of the FSLN, appointed in Havana, Cuba, in March 1979 with three representatives from each of the FSLN's then three main factions. Tomas Borge, Henry Ruiz, and Bayardo Arce represented Prolonged Popular War, Guerra Popular Prolongada (GPP); Jaime Wheel- ock, Carlos Nunez, and Luis Carrion represented the Marxist-Leninist Proletarian Tendency, Proletarios; and Daniel Ortega, Humberto Ortega, and Victor Tirado represented the the Insurrec- tionalists or Terceristas. Today seven of the nine also hold top government positions, controlling everything from the presidency and the police to the army, the legislature, and the mass organizations.
  • The RN Directorio, the seven- member leadership body of the RN. Elected in May 1987 by the 54-member Assembly of the Nicaraguan Resistance. One position was left open for a representative to be named by YATAMA and other Atlantic Coast organizations. The remaining six Directors are Adolfo Calero (Conservative), Alfredo Cesar (BOS), Azucena Ferrey (Christian Democrat), Alfonso Robelo (Social Democrat), Aristides Sanchez (Liberal), and Pedro Joaquin Chamorro (at large).

EEBI: Basic Infantry Training School, Escuela de Entrenamiento Basico de Infanteria. Its troops, commanded by Sandhurst graduate Ana- stasio Somoza Portocarrero, the heir- apparent, were the elite force of the National Guard.

EPS: Popular Sandinista Army, Ejercito Popular Sandinista. Nicaragua's regular army, considered the armed wing of the FSLN. Virtually every officer with the rank of Captain or above is an FSLN party member. A force of less than 10,000 in 1979-80, the EPS is now the largest and best- equipped army in Central America, with an active duty strength of over 70,000 and additional reserve, militia, and security forces that add to a total strength of about 120,000. In December 1987, Minister of Defense Humberto Ortega confirmed reports that the FSLN plans to expand this total force to 600,000 by 1992, regardless of the outcome of Central American peace talks.

ERN: Army of the Nicaraguan Resistance, Ejercito de la Resistencia Nicaraguense. Formed in mid-1987, consisting of two military fronts, the ERN/North (made up of the old FDN forces), and the ERN/South (made up of UNO/South, FARN, and remnants of Pastora's FRS, Sandino Revolutionary Front). Total force strength is about 18,000. The two front commanders are Enrique Bermudez and Pedro Jose Lara. Bermudez's forces operate in northern and central Nicaragua and as far south as the Rama Road. Lara's forces operate primarily from the Rama Road to the Rio San Juan. ERN forces maintain informal contact with those of YATAMA, commanded by Osorno Cole- man.

FAO: Broad Opposition Front, Frente Amplio Opositor. An anti- Somoza alliance formed in mid-1978 by non-FSLN organizations, political parties and labor confederations. In August 1978, FAO presented a 16-point plan for the departure of Somoza and the democratization of Nicaragua.

FARN: Nicaraguan Revolutionary Armed Force, Fuerza Armada Revolu- cionaria Nicaraguense. Military arm of the anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan Democratic Union (UDN) led by Jose Francisco Cardenal. Founded in November 1980 by "El Negro" Chamorro and his brother Edmundo. Carried out guerrilla operations in southern Nicaragua. Its forces are now part of ERN/South. See entry for ERN.

FDN: Nicaraguan Democratic Force, Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense. Founded in 1982. An armed anti-Sandinista organization of former National Guardsmen, former Sandinista soldiers and militiamen, MILPAS, and civilians. Grew from less than 100 in the early 1980s to over 15,000 in 1987, becoming in the process an increasingly representative force with a strong peasant base. Known since mid-1987 as ERN/North. The largest of the anti- FSLN military fronts. See entry for ERN.

FER: Student Revolutionary Front, Frente Estudiantil Revolu- cionario. University front group run by the FSLN for agitation and recruitment from 1962 until it fragmented as a result of divisions over strategy within the FSLN in 1975.

FMLN: The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional. The coordinating organization for the guerrilla movement fighting the government in El Salvador. Formed in Havana, Cuba, in 1980.

FSLN: Sandinista National Liberation Front, Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional. Violent Marxist organization founded with Cuban help in 1961. Known initially as "the Front" or National Liberation Front. The name of Sandino was added later to obscure the Cuban connection and increase nationalist legitimacy. When Somoza's rigid dictatorship sparked a national insurrection that forced his departure, FSLN guerrillas gained widespread acceptance, then displaced other members of the anti-Somoza coalition to monopolize power. The FSLN Assembly, which has 103 members, operates as a de facto Central Committee. See also entry for Directorate.

FSLN militant: militante. An official member of the Sandinista "vanguard" party. According to the FSLN party document, De los miembros del FSLN, Sus Deberes y Derechos, militant status is granted only after a 6-18 month trial period, during which time the aspirant, aspirante, "studies the fundamental documents and is pervaded by the political line of the FSLN, is educated in the partisan life and discipline [of the Front] by completing all the tasks assigned to him, elevating his political- ideological level and learning of the lives and thoughts of our Heroes and Martyrs." FSLN militant status is then conferred on those who pass this stage and "who accept [the Front's] political line, respect its discipline, join an [FSLN] mass organization and regularly fulfill the established economic quota." Between 1% and 2% of the adult population — an estimated 15,000-20,000 Nicaraguans and foreign "internationalists" — have been admitted officially into the Sandinista Front as militants.

GN: National Guard, Guardia Nacional. Organized as a national constabulary under US Marine occupation in 1920s, used as personal vehicle by Somoza family, one of whose members always commanded it. Disintegrated in July 1979 in the wake of Somoza's departure and Sandinista military pressure. About 5-6,000 strong, GN ranks expanded after 1975, reaching about 7-10,000 at the end. Eight


years later, some 2,000-2,500 GN officers and enlisted men are still in prison.

GPP: See entry for Directorate (FSLN).

GRN: Government of National Reconstruction, Gobierno de Reconstruccion Nacional. The official designation of the Government of Nicaragua from July 1979 until January 1985, when Daniel Ortega formally became president.

Group of 12: Grupo de los Doce. Twelve prominent Nicaraguans who served as a bridge between the Sandinistas and other groups in the civil opposition to Somoza. After the revolution it became apparent that most of the 12 were secret FSLN members, not the independents they had claimed to be. Led by FSLN member, Sergio Ramirez, now Vice President of Nicaragua.

INCAE: Central American Institute for Business Administration, Instituto Centroamericano de Administracion de Empresas. Affiliated with Harvard University. Moved its headquarters from Managua to San Jose, Costa Rica in early 1980s.

INDE: Nicaraguan Development Institute, Instituto de Desarrollo Nic- araguense. Founded in 1963, INDE has been active in the development of independent agricultural and business cooperatives. A member of COSEP.

JPN: Patriotic Nicaraguan Youth, Juventud Patriotica Nicaraguense. Radical student group founded in 1959 with support from the Cuban embassy. Prominent in riots the summer of 1960.

JS-19J: Sandinista Youth— July 19, Juventud Sandinista — 19 de Julio. The Sandinista mass organization for youth in their teens and twenties. Active in the turbas divinas.

KISAN: United Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Nicaragua, Kus Indian Sut Asla Nicaragua ra. Atlantic Coast organization established in 1985. Headed by Wycliffe Diego. Became part of an alliance which formed YATAMA in 1987.

MAP-ML: Popular Action Movement — Marxist/Leninist, Movimiento de Accion Popular — Marxista/Leninista. An Albanian-influenced Maoist microparty hostile to the Soviet Union. Suppressed by the FSLN.

MCR: Christian Revolutionary Movement, Movimiento Cristiano Rev- olucionario. Radical Catholic student organization founded in 1972 by Father Uriel Molina. Merged into the FSLN in 1973.

MDN: Nicaraguan Democratic Movement, Movimiento Democratico Nicaraguense. A social democratic party led by former junta member Alfonso Robelo forced into exile in 1982.

MILPAS: Popular Anti-Sandinista Militias, Milicias Populares Antisan- dinistas. Rural resistance groups active in 1980. Largely composed of nationalist fighters who felt betrayed by the FSLN, many MILPAS leaders are now ERN commanders. See the entries for Pedro Joaquin Gonzalez, and Diogenes Hernandez Membreno. Also, Popular Anti-Somoza Militias, Milicias Populares Antisomocistas, urban militias active against Somoza in 1978-79 but disbanded by the FSLN.

MINT: Ministry of Interior, Ministerio de Interior, the law enforcement and internal security arm of the Nicaraguan Government. Headed by sole surviving FSLN founder Tomas Borge.

MISURASATA: Miskito, Sumo, Rama, Sandinista All Together, Miskito Sumo Rama Sandinista Asla Takanka. Atlantic Coast Indian organizational successor to ALPROMISU created by the FSLN in November 1979 in cooperation with Steadman Fagoth and Brooklyn Rivera. Both men broke with the FSLN in 1981. Fagoth founded MISURA in 1983, which then entered into an alliance with the FDN.

El Nuevo Diario: a pro-Sandinista daily newspaper.

Olama y Mollejones: Sites in Chontales and Matagalpa where a botched airborne invasion took place in May-June 1959. Pedro Joaquin Cham- orro participated in the attempt, which was organized by the Conservative Party and launched from Costa Rica. More than 100 persons were involved, but chief result was heightened Somoza repression.

OLAS: Organization of Latin American Solidarity, sponsored by the Castro government and notable chiefly for a conference in Havana, July-August 1967, that broke with Moscow's policy of "peaceful path to socialism" in Latin America, declaring that "The path of Vietnam is our path." A month later, the FSLN was routed at Pancasan. That fall, "Che" Guevara was killed in Bolivia. Both were seeking what the OLAS closing statement had called "the creation of the second and third Vietnam in the world."

Pancasan: Area in eastern Matagalpa where Fonseca, Borge, and Mayorga in 1966 first attempted to establish a permanent presence, following Guevara's foco theory. By 1967, the effort, which had involved a majority of the FSLN's membership, had been crushed by the National Guard; 35 to 50 combatants, including Mayorga, lost their lives.

Patrice Lumumba University: Training school in Moscow for foreign communist cadre, most of them from developing countries.

PCD: Democratic Conservative Party, Partido Conservador Demo- cratica. A rump faction that with Sandinista complicity captured the party's name and now frequently collaborates with the FSLN.

PCdeN: Communist Party of Nicaragua, Partido Comunista de Nicaragua. Formed by PSN members purged in 1967.

PCN: Conservative Party of Nicaragua, Partido Conservador de Nicaragua. The principal conservative party, a member of the Democratic Coordinating Board. Traditional opposition to Somoza-dominated Liberal Party.

PFLP: Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the most pro-Moscow factions of the PLO. See entry for PLO.

PLC: Liberal Constitutionalist Party, Partido Liberal Constitu- cionalista. A moderate democratic party, member of the Coordinadora.

PLI: Independent Liberal Party, Partido Liberal Independiente. A leftist democratic party allied with the FSLN until 1984.

PLN: Nationalist Liberal Party, Partido Liberal Nacionalista. The official party of the Somozas.

PLO: Palestine Liberation Organization. Linked to the FSLN by a mutual support network of training and occasional hijackings dating back to the late 1960s. In 1979, the PLO was granted diplomatic status in Nicaragua. On July 22, 1980, during a 4-day "state visit," Yasser Arafat told Tomas Borge and other FSLN leaders that "Anyone who threatens Nicaragua will have to


face Palestinian combatants." Behind this public bravado recorded by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) has been money, weapons, pilots, and other military specialists provided to the FSLN by the PLO.

PPSC: Popular Social Christian Party, Partido Popular Social Cris- tiano. A leftist democratic party.

La Prensa: Independent daily newspaper owned and edited by the Chamorro family.

PSC: Social Christian Party, Partido Social Cristiano. A moderate democratic party, member of the Coordinadora. Affiliated to the Christian Democratic International.

PSD: Social Democratic Party, Partido Socialdemocratica. Moderate democratic party, member of Coordinadora.

PSN: Nicaraguan Socialist Party, Partido Socialista Nicaraguense. The orthodox communist party in Nicaragua. Founded in 1944 as a "socialist" party because Somoza Garcia had outlawed the "communist party." Follows the orthodox communist line, loyal to Moscow. Many FSLN leaders started their political careers in the PSN, including all three FSLN founders — Carlos Fonseca, Silvio Mayorga, and Tomas Borge. In the 1960s, the PSN remained committed to Moscow's official Latin American strategy that communist parties had the best opportunity for power through "United Front" politics. The FSLN, however, moved to the violent far left, fired by the optimism inspired by the Cuban revolution. Since 1979, the PSN and the FSLN have inconclusively discussed merging into one party. The PSN received 1% of the 1984 vote and has two seats in the National Assembly.

Radio Catolica: The radio station of the Catholic Church. Closed by the Sandinistas in January 1986 and allowed to reopen in October 1987 as part of the Central American Peace Plan. Transmitter problems reduce its range to part of the city of Managua.

Radio Sandino: The FSLN's official party-owned radio station. Works closely with the government-owned Voice of Nicaragua radio station and the 15-plus stations of the People's Radio Broadcasting Corporation (CORADEP).

SSTV: Sandinista Television System, Sistema Sandinista de Television.The two-channel television system run by the FSLN. The two stations were seized by the FSLN for party use in 1979. One was seized from the Somoza government; the other from private owners. These are the only domestic television channels available to the Nicaraguan population. Private requests to establish an independent station have been routinely ignored since the first request was filed by Fabio Gadea Mantilla in late July 1979.

RN: Nicaraguan Resistance, Resistencia Nicaraguense. Umbrella group uniting political and military groups opposed to Sandinista regime. Formed in 1987 by the unification of UNO and BOS. The RN Assembly in exile has 54 members, 6 for each of 9 categories (Conservatives, Liberals, Social Christians, Social Democrats, BOS, Labor, Agrarian, Business, and Atlantic Coast). See entry for Directorate. The RN's military forces are the only significant armed opposition to the Sandinistas. See entry for ERN.

SMP: Patriotic Military Service, Servicio Militar Patriotico. The Sandinista program of forced military conscription begun January 1, 1984, for males between 16 and 21.

TPA: People's Anti-Somocista Tribunals, Tribunales Populares Anti-Somocistas. A political court system accountable to the FSLN, not to the Nicaraguan Supreme Court. Modeled after the "special" or "popular" tribunals of 1979-81, the TPAs were established in 1983 to deal with anti- government activities. Roundly criticized by international legal and human rights organizations for systematized abuse of due process, the TPAs prosecute individuals accused of violations of Decree 1074, the law for the mainte- nence of public order and security. TPA panels consist of one lawyer (usually a former government prosecutor) and two lay members drawn from FSLN mass organizations. Sentences range to 30 years in prison. Those convicted have no right of appeal to the national court system. Those most often brought before the TPAs are lower- and mid-level opposition party organizers, rural farmers accused of supporting the Resistance, and others whose cases are not likely to attract international attention. In January 1988, Daniel Ortega announced the suspension of TPA activities.

Turbas divinas: "Divine mobs." Sandinista thugs directed by DGSE Department F-8 (Mass Organizations). Composed of DGSE agents, members of the Sandinista Defense Committees, and other FSLN activists.

UCA: Universidad Cen- troamericana. The private, Jesuit-administered Central American University in Managua.

UDEL: Democratic Union for Liberation. A broad political and labor movement founded in 1974 to protest the Somoza-manipulated elections of that year. Pedro Joaquin Chamorro was a principal leader.

UNAN: National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, Universidad National Autonoma de Nicaragua. Nicaragua's public national university, with branches in Managua and Leon.

UNAP: National Union of Popular Action. The Christian Democratic movement of young Conservatives. The predecessor of the PSC.


  • In 1959 and 1966-67, National Opposition Union, Union National Opositora. Anti-Somoza coalition of the Conservatives and the Independent Liberals, joined in 1967 by the Social Christians.
  • In 1985-87, Unified Nicaraguan Opposition, Unidad Nicaraguense Opositora. An anti-FSLN coalition of political, labor, and private sector organizations in exile. Joined with BOS to form the RN in 1987.

YATAMA: The Miskito Indian-language acronym for "Yapti Tasba Mas- raka Asla Takanka" or "the United Nations of Yapti Tasba — the Sacred Motherland." Formed by the 1987 merger of the anti-Sandinista Atlantic Coast forces of KISAN, MISURA, and MISURASATA. See entry for ERN.