Nicaraguan Biographies/Leaders

Nicaraguan Biographies
United States Department of State • Office of Public Affairs
The Nicaraguan Resistance: Leaders

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AGUERO Rocha, Fernando. Eye surgeon. Conservative Party leader who has opposed both Somoza and the Sandinistas. Born in Managua on June 11, 1920. Studied medicine at the Central University of Nicaragua. Exiled to Corn Island for his activities as president of the student government. Performed his medical internship in St. Claire, New York. Ordered into foreign exile in 1954 by Somoza. Returned to Nicaragua in 1959 and became president of the Conservative Party. Nominated for the presidency in the 1967 elections with the support of the PSC, the PLI, the Conservatives and the Moscow-line PSN. Organized the January 1967 National Opposition Union Managua demonstrations and riots in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Somoza regime. Agreed to a Liberal-Conservative power-sharing arrangement (which split the opposition) in November 1970. Replaced as a member of the ruling triumvirate for his vocal opposition to Somoza's assumption of emergency powers in the aftermath of the December 1972 earthquake. Supported the UDEL general strike of January-February 1978. In exile since 1979. Conservative Party delegate to the RN Assembly. Member of the five-person RN Cease-fire Commission responsible for negotiating a cease-fire with the Sandinistas under the terms of the August 1987 Guatemala peace accords.

ARCHIBALD, Teofilo. A leader of the Nicaraguan Creoles. Director of the Nicaraguan Creole Peoples' Struggle and Creole representative on the YATAMA Council of Elders. Born on November 10, 1933, in Bluefields, Zelaya. Began working as an adolescent to support his family after his father died. Held several jobs: driver, lumber factory worker, merchant marine, mineworker, fish processing plant worker, and ultimately bought and operated a restaurant and furniture shop. Supported the Sandinista guerrillas in 1979, when Sandinista military actions first moved into Zelaya in an effort to divert the National Guard's attention from the final offensive. When the Sandinistas failed to keep their promises to develop the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua and began to deprive Creoles of job opportunities, he partici-

1 Enrique BERMUDEZ Varela.

2 Albert BENT addressing Miskito refugees.

3 Pedro Jose LARA Molina.

4 Osorno COLEMAN Padilla, with son, "Miskut."



Nicaraguan Resistance (RN) Directorate, July 1987. From left to right: Aristides SANCHEZ, Adolfo CALERO, Alfonso ROBELO, Azucena FERREY, Alfredo CESAR and Pedro Joaquin CHAMORRO Barrios. (© SIPA/Alan Oxley)

pated in the 1980 Creole protests in Bluefields against Sandinista policies. He was tortured and imprisoned for 10 months. After his release, he was approached by the Sandinistas to head a Committee for the Defense of Sand- inismo. "I either had to play their game, or I'd be in big trouble with them again," Archibald said. He took the job for 6 months, during which time he helped Jenelee Hodgson, another local Creole leader, secure an exit visa to leave Nicaragua. Ultimately, Archibald was warned that his activities were suspect and that he probably would be arrested soon. Went into exile in Costa Rica in 1982. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Honduras, where he has been active in the Creole opposition to the Sandinista regime since 1983. As he stated: "The Sandinistas made promises they did not keep. I remain in opposition because once having been tortured by the Sandinistas, I could never trust them again."

BENT, Albert. A patriarch of the Creole refugee community. Member of the YATAMA Council of elders. Known as "no me preguntes" (don't ask me). Born on November 14, 1914, in Tas- boponie, Zelaya. Has been a farmer all his life, running a coconut farm in the small town where he was born. By 1981, he concluded that the Sandinistas had betrayed the revolution, and he began providing supplies to the Indian Resistance forces. In 1982, when the Sandinistas sought to arrest him, he went into hiding. During his three years underground, Bent commanded about 150 Indian Resistance fighters and celebrated his 70th birthday. Fled to Honduras in 1985. One of his two sons was killed in military action against the Sandinistas; the other remains in Nicaragua taking care of Bent's wife. According to Bent, "When I saw the revolution turn to communism, I lost all faith in the Sandinistas. When I saw how the comandantes treat the Nicaraguan people I thought slavery days must have returned. I am fighting to free Nicaragua from this kind of slavery."

BERMUDEZ Varela, Enrique. General Commander, Northern Front, Army of the Nicaraguan Resistance. Known as "Comandante 380" for his student number at the Nicaraguan Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1952. Born on December 11, 1932, in Leon. Trained as a military engineer, he reached the rank of colonel in the National Guard. Attended the Agulhas Negras Military Academy course for engineers in Brazil (1954-57), the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (1968-69), and the US Army School of the Americas. Deputy Commander of the Nicaraguan contingent in the OAS force in the Dominican Republic in 1965. Highest command position in the National Guard was as executive director of the Managua transit police, 1966-68. Left Managua in August 1975 to attend the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, DC Upon graduation, he was assigned as Nicaragua's Defense Attache to the United States, where he earned the respect of Carter Administration officials as a professional soldier. In December 1982, Roberto Sanchez, special assistant to Sandinista Minister of Defense Humberto Ortega, noted publicly that Bermudez was never identified with "war crimes" committed under Somoza. Bermudez today is the senior professional military figure resisting the Sandinistas. His strength as an organizer and conciliator of different tendencies has been evident since early 1980, when he helped form the 15th of September Legion, consisting of less than 100 lightly armed former Guardsmen, MILPAS, and civilians.


CALERO Portocarrero, Adolfo. Member of the RN Directorate. Businessman and politician. Born in Managua on December 22, 1931. Graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1953, did graduate work in industrial management at Syracuse University, and earned a law degree from the University of Central America in Managua. In 1958, joined the anti-Somoza Conservative Party and became Chairman of the Milca (Coca-Cola) bottling company. In 1959, helped organize managerial strikes in coordination with an insurrection headed by Pedro Joaquin Cham- orro, editor of the opposition daily La Prensa. In 1978, Calero represented the Authentic Conservative Party in the Broad Opposition Front (FAO), working openly against the Somoza regime. Jailed September 4-28, 1978, for helping to lead the FAO's general strike against Somoza. After the fall of Somoza, Calero became Political Secretary of the Democratic Conservative Party. On January 27, 1983, while Calero was in Costa Rica, State Security agents responsible to Tomas Borge ransacked and occupied his home, expelling his brother and sister-in-law (the house is now used by the Sandinistas as their Foreign Press Center). Later in 1983, Calero agreed to serve on the FDN Directorate, shortly thereafter becoming its President and Commander in Chief. A member of the Nicaraguan Resistance Directorate since its inception in May 1987.

CESAR Aguirre, Alfredo. Member of the RN Directorate since May 1987. Economist and politician, President of the Central Bank under the Sandinistas until 1982. Born in Granada on April 24, 1951. Cesar earned a BS degree in industrial engineering from the University of Texas in 1972 and in 1975 an MBA from Stanford University, where he was an assistant professor for one year. While general administrator of the Nicaraguan Sugar Estates in San Antonio (at the time the largest sugar caning and milling operation in Central America), he promoted private sector strikes against Somoza and joined the Sandinistas in 1977. A Social Democrat, he developed close ties to former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez. Participated in Leonel Poveda's September 1978 attack on a Managua National Guard post which left several Guardsmen dead. Jailed and tortured, Cesar was freed under Somoza's December 1978 amnesty and went to Costa Rica. After Somoza fled, Cesar served in a succession of posts: Minister-Secretary of the Governing Board of the Junta, 1979; Executive Director of the International Reconstruction Fund; Executive Director of the Banking Superior Council and President of the Central Bank. In May 1982, Cesar resigned and went back into exile in Costa Rica, this time advising the Costa Rican Government on the external debt. In mid-1985, was the most prominent of six founding members of the Southern Opposition Bloc. Elected as a Director of the Nicaraguan Resistance in May 1987.

CHAMORRO Barrios, Pedro Joaquin. Member of the RN Directorate since May 1987. Journalist, politician. Born in Managua on September 24, 1951. Son of the martyred anti-Somoza La Prensa editor Pedro Joaquin Cham- orro and his wife Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who became a member of the first post-Somoza junta. BA with honors in political science and sociology from McGill University, Montreal, Canada, in 1974. After receiving an MBA from INCAE in 1976, worked as a writer and photographer at La Prensa. Co-editor of La Prensa from 1981 until just after the 1984 elections, when he left Nicaragua after repeated harassment and censorship. Elected Political Secretary of Social Democratic Party in 1983. Edits Nicaragua Hoy in exile. Brother of Carlos Fernando (editor of Barricada), Claudia (Sandinista Ambassador to Costa Rica), and Cristiana (of La Prensa).

CHARLEY Lopez, Morlan. Sumo Indian representative on the YATAMA Directorate. Born in Umbra de Coco, Zelaya, in 1960.

COLEMAN Padilla, Osorno. Military General Commander, Atlantic Front of the YATAMA Resistance. Mis- kito Indian. Known as "Blas." Born in December 1955, in Kum, Rio Coco, northern Zelaya. Completed 3 years of high school. Joined MISURASATA in 1980. Fled Nicaragua on May 9, 1981, due to Sandinista opposition to his work with youth organizations. Directed 200-300 troops against the Sandinistas before being elected by the KISAN Assembly to the post of chief of the General Staff in 1985. He left that post after 6 months to become KISAN S-3 (Director of Operations). In 1986, returned to a battlefield command position. Elected to the post of YATAMA military commander by the YATAMA Assembly, on June 17, 1987.

DIEGO, Wycliffe. A Moravian pastor and Miskito Indian leader from the Atlantic Coast town of Puerto Cabezas. Born about 1941. Founder of the Miskito organization ALPROMISU. Jailed by Somoza in 1971 for allegedly being a communist. When MISURASATA was formed in 1979, Diego served as a member of its executive board. Reacting to the Sandinista mistreatment of Nicaragua's indigenous population, went into exile and helped found the armed resistance group MISURA. Wounded in a Sandinista-engineered 1982 assassination attempt. In 1985, elected by Miskito Council of Elders to head KISAN. Now one of the Directors of YATAMA.

FAGOTH Muller, Steadman. Miskito politician YATAMA Directorate member. Born about 1949. Science student and UNAN faculty member in Managua in the mid-1970s. Member of ALPROMISU, the original Atlantic Coast Indian organization. Founder and leader of MISURASATA. Represented the Atlantic Coast on the Council of State after the revolution but quit after widespread abuses by the new regime against Atlantic Coast peoples. Arrested in Managua in February 1981 after the riots and protests in Puerto Cabezas over the Cuban presence and activities. Released on his promise of good behavior and cooperation, Fagoth left immediately for Honduras, where he formed MISURA and entered into armed struggle against the Sandinistas. Fagoth has been accused of a variety of human rights abuses.

FERREY Echaverry, Maria Azucena. Member of the RN Directorate. Christian Democratic and feminist leader. Born in Granada, on June 2, 1945. Began her anti-Somoza political activism in the 1959 student protests which the National Guard suppressed, killing four. Joined the Social Christian Party (PSC) but was forced into hiding and then exile in Panama after the January 1967 street protests. As a member of the Student Christian Democrats, then the major student activist organization on the campuses, organized strikes against Somoza seeking the release of imprisoned Sandinista student leaders. Received field weapons train-


Resistance OrganizationEdit

Nicaraguan 2
Nicaraguan 1

Inter- 3
National 4
Press and 5
Council 8
1 In May 1987, the Nicaraguan Resistance (RN) Directorate was formed. It comprises six civilians of equal ranking: Aristides Sanchez, Alfonso Robelo, Azucena Ferrey, Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, Alfredo Cesar, and Adolfo Calero. A seventh seat is reserved for a member of the YATAMA Directorate.
2 The Resistance Assembly, an advisory body to the Resistance Directorate, is composed of 54 representatives-in-exile of the Social Democratic, Liberal, Conservative, and Social Christian Parties; representatives from labor, business, and agricultural sectors of society; as well as BOS and the Atlantic Coast.
3 The International Relations Committee, headed by Donald Castillo, represents the Nicaraguan Resistance in such countries as: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Argentina, Canada, Venezuela, Italy, Spain, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany.
4 The National Committee is responsible for domestic and exile political affairs.
5 Press and Information is responsible for media liaison, press and public affairs, as well as the production and broadcasting of Radio Liberacion, and the production of the monthly journal, Resistencia.
6 The YATAMA Assembly consists of village, military, and religious leaders throughout the Atlantic Coast region. The June 1987 Assembly had more than 1,500 participants, with some 49 towns and villages represented.
7 The YATAMA Directorate is composed of six Atlantic Coast leaders in exile: Brooklyn Rivera, Stedman Fagoth, and Wycliffe Diego (all Miskito Indians), Morlan Charley Lopez (Sumo Indian), and Walter Ortiz (Rama Indian). The sixth seat is reserved for a representative of the Creole (black) population.
8 The Council of Elders, composed of recognized tribal leaders, is to perform judicial functions and advise the YATAMA Directorate.


ing in the mountains of San Luis, Esteli, and went underground after participating in the opening-day takeover of Granada's baseball stadium. In 1970, Maria Azucena and her sister Maria Eugenia (a Sandinista militant) helped FSLN comandante Jaime Wheelock escape to asylum in the Chilean Embassy after he was accused of killing a National Guardsman. Retired from politics in 1972, but became active again after the January 1978 assassination of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro. Sent by the PSC to Venezuela in 1981 to study at the Christian-Democratic Institute. Elected PSC Vice President for International Affairs in 1983 and Vice President for Finance and Administration in 1985. General Secretary of the Women's Social Christian Union. Attended the July 1985 Nairobi UN women's conference as head of a delegation opposed to the official Sandinista representative. One of 25 dissidents denied exit visas in December 1984, she finally left Nicaragua for exile in April 1987. A brother, Roberto Ferrey, is also a Social Christian activist in exile. Another brother, Carlos Jose, is a lawyer, in exile in Costa Rica. A sister, Maria Eugenia, joined the FSLN in 1970, fought on the Southern Front, and is now a lieutenant in the Sandinista Army.

HODGSON Bobb, Jenelee. Creole opposition leader. Born on November 19, 1942, in Bluefields. Completed high school in Nicaragua and received her bachelor's degree in theology at the Latin American Seminary in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1975, she returned to Nicaragua in 1975 to teach and counsel students at a Moravian high school. The same year, aware that Atlantic Coast Creole customs were being lost to the dominant Spanish culture, Hodgson founded the Southern Indigenous Creole Community, an organization designed to instill awareness of Creole identity in Atlantic Coast residents. Community groups spread quickly throughout the Atlantic Coast region. Although contacted by the Sandinistas to provide them with concrete assistance to overthrow Somoza as early as 1977, the Atlantic Coast saw little military action during the war against Somoza. The community offered moral support to the FSLN, encouraged by the promises of development for the Atlantic Coast region. Hodgson and her colleagues knew the Sandinistas were communists, but as more and more moderates were attracted to the Broad Opposition Front, they hoped the Sandinistas would be outmaneuvered for control of the post-Somoza junta. In early 1980, when Hodgson, as a teacher, was required to take a course in Sandinista indoctrination, she decided that the revolution had lost its original direction and she began opposing FSLN policies. Jailed for 3 months for her participation in the 1980 Creole protests in Bluefields. Credits her relatively rapid release to the intervention of the independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights, headed at that time by Marta Patricia Baltodano. Although Hodgson remained in Bluefields for a year after her release, she concluded that she could no longer teach if Marxist indoctrination was to be a required part of the curriculum. After continued harassment by the Sandinista police, went into exile in Costa Rica in 1982. There, she has worked to maintain a SICC exile group and for Creole unity in opposition to Sandinista rule: "I remain in opposition to the Sandinistas because I regard their system as one designed to enslave the mind and force people to accept a totalitarian system. I refuse to be an instrument of a system of slavery."

LARA Molina, Pedro Jose. General Commander, ERN Southern Front. Known as "Ganso." Born on June 29, 1964, in Managua. Joined the FSLN's Internal Front in 1978 at the age of 14. Sent to Cuba in 1979 to attend a guerrilla warfare training course, then assigned to a "personal security" cadre. Assigned in 1980 to the personal security detail of Eden Pas- tora, then Vice Minister of Defense. Left Managua in June 1981 with Pas- tora. Received additional guerrilla and military training in Cuba, August- November 1981. Defected to Costa Rica in 1982 and took up arms against the Sandinistas and Cubans. In 1983, at age 19, became an ARDE Regional Commander. Signed the 1986 UNO agreement, uniting the Southern ARDE and FARN troops with the FDN farther North. In July 1987, at the age of 24, "Ganso" was elected unanimously as ERN/South military commander in chief.

RIVERA Bryan, Brooklyn. A Miskito Indian leader from the Atlantic Coast, former official in ALPROMISU and MISURASATA. Born in 1953. Chief proponent of autonomy for the Atlantic Coast, Rivera supported the revolution against Somoza and was a founding member of MISURASATA in 1979. Rivera became more outspoken in his opposition as anti-Sandinista sentiment grew in the region, especially over the replacement of Indian educators by Cubans and the murders of Indian leaders, such as Roger Suarez, leader of the Puerto Cabezas workers union. In February 1981, Rivera and 32 other Indian leaders were arrested by the Sandinistas and accused of "counter-revolutionary activities" for resisting efforts to force the "cultural assimilation" of Indian peoples. Released from jail, he continued to protest Sandinista efforts to nationalize Indian lands and to relocate the Indian populations. Rivera assumed the leadership of MISURASATA when Stead- man Fagoth fled to Honduras. Rivera entered into negotiations with the Sandinistas but broke them off in 1985. Now a leader of YATAMA. An eloquent spokesman for Indian rights, he has said: "I fight the Sandinistas because of their racist policies and their determination to exterminate us."

ROBELO Callejas, Luis Alfonso. Former member of the RN Directorate. Politician, businessman. Born in Leon on October 11, 1939. Earned a degree in chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.) in 1961. Rector of the University of Central America 1970-1972 and President of the Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce until 1975. He then headed the Nicaraguan Development Institute, long active in the development of independent agricultural and small business cooperatives. Following the assassination of La Prensa editor Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, Robelo cofounded the Nicaraguan Democratic Movement, a social-democratic political party of businessmen, industrialists, and professionals opposed to the Somoza regime. A leader and main spokesman for FAO working openly against the Somoza regime, he was arrested and publicly labeled a "subversive" by Somoza. After the revolution Robelo was one of the five members of the original 1979 post-


Somoza junta. Resigned in April of 1980 because of the Marxist tendencies in the FSLN-dominated government and the growing Cuban influence in the country. Became President of the Democratic Coordinating Board. Harassed by the FSLN after his resignation from the junta and detained by the Sandinistas when he sought to travel abroad in 1982, he was finally forced into exile later that year, and his property was confiscated. In 1982, he joined with Eden Pastora and others in founding the ARDE, seeking to achieve the original democratic goals of the revolution. Robelo was elected to the Nic- araguan Resistance Directorate in May 1987. Resigned from the RN Directorate in January 1988.

RODRIGUEZ Alaniz, Indalecio. Member of the International Relations Commission of the RN. Veterinarian, teacher. Born on January 16, 1939, in Esteli. The son of an anti-Somoza figure (his father spent 8 years in political exile, 1948-55). Jailed in 1956 after the assassination of President Somoza Garcia and again in 1959 after Olama y Mollejones. In 1959, joined the Independent Liberal Party, of which he was later to become political secretary. Also active in the JPN and in Fonseca's short-lived New Nicaragua Movement. Joined Fonseca to urge adoption of Sandino over Nicaraguan heroes Jose Dolores Estrada and Benjamin Zeledon Rodriguez as a nationalist symbol to add to the nascent Liberation Front's title in an attempt to broaden its appeal. Attended veterinary school in Brazil from 1962 until 1966. Returned to Managua to accept a position at the University of Central America, becoming professor, dean of the veterinary school and of the school of animal husbandry, and vice rector and rector (1978-80) of the university. Defines himself as an "agriculture and public health technical services adviser." In November 1981, left UCA to take up the struggle against the Sandinistas from abroad. On December 7, 1982, he joined the FDN as the member of the National Directorate in charge of organization, and from 1983-86, civil affairs. His brother, Sucre Alcala Rodriguez, was the RN representative in Spain (1985-87).

SACASA, Alfredo J. President of RN Assembly. Born on December 26, 1918, Sacasa received a chemical engineering degree from Purdue University in 1941 and has been active in private industry throughout his adult life. From 1954 to 1964, he was founder and President of the Nicaraguan Development Bank, and from 1965-79, he was general manager and chief stockholder in Compania Cervecera de Nicaragua as well as its subsidiaries — Pepsi Cola, Orange Crush, and others. With his brother, Ramiro, formed the Liberal Constitutional Party in 1969, a dissident Liberal party opposed to Somoza's official Liberals. Nephew of former President Juan B. Sacasa, the president overthrown by Somoza Garcia in 1936 to start the family dynasty. Elected president of the RN Assembly in May 1987.

SANCHEZ Herdocia, Aristides. Member of the RN Directorate. Lawyer and farmer. Born in Leon on May 7, 1943. Received doctorate of Law from UCA, 1969. Studied labor and penal law in Italy, 1970-71. Liberal party activist. Went into exile in May 1980, to Guatemala. In 1981, Sanchez was one of the first Nicaraguans affected by the Sandinista decree that mandates seizure of property of those who leave Nicaragua for more than 6 months. In exile, organized aid for Nicaraguan refugees and joined the 15th of September Legion, an early anti-Sandinista resistance group. Participated in the founding of the FDN. Became FDN Secretary General, 1983. Named to the FDN National Directorate in November 1984. Elected to the Directorate of the Nicaraguan Resistance in May 1987. Fiercely independent, he appears to be the member of the Directorate who is personally most in touch with the combatants, having spent years with them in the field. His brothers Enrique, Fernando, and Victor are all active in the Resistance.