Nicaraguan Biographies/The Sandinista Regime


The Sandinista RegimeEdit


AGUERO Echeverria, Carlos. Alternate member of the FSLN National Directorate at the time of his death in combat against the National Guard in April 1977. Nephew of Conservative Party leader Fernando Aguero Rocha. Led the FSLN's October 21, 1970, hijacking of an airliner to Cuba that resulted in the release of Carlos Fonseca, Humberto Ortega, and others held in Costa Rican prisons on bankrob- bery and jailbreaking charges. In 1971, went from Cuba to North Korea for political and military training with Carlos Fonseca, Rufo Marin, Humberto Ortega, and a dozen other FSLN cadre. Returned to Nicaragua from Cuba in 1973. Leader of the FSLN squad that robbed the Banco Nacional de Abisinia in Jinotega on December 19, 1974, as a diversionary maneuver before the December 27 Christmas party hostage- taking. The Sandinistas have named their military school the Carlos Aguero Echeverria Military Instruction Center. His widow is now married to Humberto Ortega.

ARAUZ Palacios, Pedro. Member of the GPP leadership at the time of his death in 1977. Joined the FSLN through its student revolutionary front, the FER. Staged the first successful FSLN airline hijacking, diverting a Nicaraguan airliner to Havana, Cuba, on November 4, 1969. Returned from exile and military training abroad in 1971 to work in the Leon underground. After the 1973 death of Oscar Turcios, he became a coordinator of the northern guerrilla movement. Captured and killed on the Managua-Masaya Highway in October 1977. A BLI is named after him.

ARGŰELLO Ryan, Patricio. named "CITIZEN OF THE WORLD" for his personal sacrifice to bring attention to the 40 year old war between the Palestinian people and the State of Israel by planning and carrying out a strategy to place the on going war between the two nations before the World, without losing a single life but his own. Born on March 27,1943 in San Francisco, California, to Rodolfo Arguello a nicaraguan citizen and Kathleen Clara Ryan de Arguello a US -citizen and perishes in an attempt to hijack an El Al Airline on September 6th, 1970. Attended Belmont High School in Los Angeles and UCLA (University of California in Los Angeles)where from he graduated Magnum Cum Laude and achieved a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Chile where he earned a Master's Degree and earned another Scholarship to study at the University in Geneva, Switzerland. He trained and formed a group of Sandinistas who trained in Jordan, Lebanon, in the late 1960's. In a prison journal entry for September 5, 1970, Tomas Borge notes that, "in an FSLN act of solidarity with the just cause of the Arab peoples, the Sandinista combatant. Patricio Arguello is mortally wounded when he tries, along with Palestinian guerrillas, to hijack a Zionist plane in French skies." Borge was referring to the joint effort by the FSLN and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP- one of the most pro- Moscow factions of the PLO) to hijack an El Al airliner en route from Tel Aviv to London. PFLP leader Leila Khaled was captured in the same incident. As a request by the United States Government, President Anastasio Somoza Debayle consented to permit the body to enter Nicaragua as a face saver to the Nixon administration who at the time was traveling throughout Europe and who silenced the newspapers in the United States by having them call Patrick "an unknown arab". Somoza strictly admonished the Arguello Ryan family on the "propriety" of the funeral services and just to ensure his orders were kept he had secret service agents everywhere and at every event writing down names of attendants. Father Edgard Parrales, a very dear and close friend to Patrick and the Arguello Ryan family, from Perpetuo Socorro (Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church) gave a mass for the dead against all orders given from the Archdiosis of Managua. Father Ernesto Cardenal was never asked to say anything nor did he attend. It was the non violance in the strategy to bring attention to the problem in the Middle East that has encourged both nations to come to the table, exposed all the nations involved in the continuous war and allowed the people of the World to become actively involved in the fight for injustice. It was also his sacrifice which has been recognized by those who stood to benefit that training and armament was provided to the FSLN in order to finally overthrow the Somoza Dynasty. Without his heroic attitud which won him the respect and support of all nations who struggle against injustice and those of the nicaraguan people he loved, it is doubtful the Dynasty would have fallen nor the Palestinian and Israelies would be talking at Summits held in Washington D.C.

BUITRAGO Urroz, Julio Cesar. Member of the FSLN National Directorate at the time of his death in 1969. Born in 1944. A leader of the JPN student riots of the summer of 1960. Joined the FSLN about 1964. Became a FER agitator at UCA law school. Represented the FSLN at the August 1967 OLAS conference in Havana, which broke with Moscow's policy of "peaceful path to socialism" in Latin America, declaring that "The path of Vietnam is our path." After additional military training in Cuba, Buitrago was captured in March 1968 in Costa Rica, where he was using the pseudonym "Rene Martinez." Released after a week, he entered Nicaragua clandestinely to take charge of FSLN urban activities. Led a series of bank robberies starting in September 1968 but was killed in July 1969 when the National Guard surrounded and destroyed his Managua safehouse.

CONTRERAS Escobar, Eduardo. FSLN National Directorate member at the time of his death in 1976. Born in Ticuantepe, Masaya, in 1945. Joined a Honduran guerrilla group before traveling to Berlin to study engineering and economics in 1962. Joined the FSLN upon his return to Nicaragua in 1970. Organized solidarity committees in Mexico and ran arms from Honduras. Returned to Nicaragua in 1973 and joined the FSLN National Directorate as "Marcos." Led the "Juan Jose Quezada" Command at 1974 Christmas party hostage-taking. Accompanied the freed Sandinistas to Cuba, then returned to Managua to head the urban underground. Killed in a shootout at a suburban Managua safehouse in November 1976.


FONSECA Amador, Carlos Alberto. FSLN founder. Born on June 23, 1936, in Matagalpa. Illegitimate son of Fausto Amador Aleman, general administrator of the Somoza family's rural properties and Augustina Fonseca, an unmarried washerwoman. Entered law school at UNAN in Leon in 1954 and, with Tomas Borge and Silvio Mayorga, joined the Moscow-line communist party PSN. Used the pseudonym "Valentin Hernandez Nolasco." In the summer of 1957, as a PSN youth delegate, traveled to Moscow, Vienna (to attend the Fifth World Youth and Student Festival), and Leipzig (for the Congress of Students for Peace and Friendship). Other stops on the trip included Kiev, Leningrad, Prague, and East Berlin. In 1958, the PSN published his A Nicaraguan in Moscow, an adulatory book on life in the Soviet Union that extols the Soviet system for its democracy and religious freedom. Concluded after Castro triumphed in Cuba that Latin America was ripe for violent revolution. Participated in the "Rigoberto Lopez Perez" guerrilla column, made up mainly of Cubans and Nicaraguans who had been in Cuba. Wounded and arrested when the band was destroyed at El Chaparral, Honduras, in June 1959 by Honduran and Nicaraguan Government forces. Over two dozen of those captured were expelled to Havana. Founded the New Nicaragua Movement in February 1960 while in Cuba. Returned to Nicaragua in June 1960, but in July was captured and deported to Guatemala, where he met future Guatemalan guerrilla leader Luis Augusto Turcios Lima. Back in Cuba by October 1960. Founded the FSLN in Honduras, with Borge and Mayorga in July 1961. Arrested in Nicaragua in 1964. In testimony given to a judge on July 9, 1964, and published the next day in La Prensa, Fonseca described his foreign travels and the founding of the FSLN, including the names of party members. In January 1965, again expelled to Guatemala when Rene Schick, then Nicaragua's titular president, commuted sentence of long- term imprisonment to foreign exile. Returned to Nicaragua in December 1965. After the FSLN was routed at Pan- casan in August 1967, fled with other survivors to Cuba. Tried and convicted on August 31, 1969, for bank robbery in Costa Rica. That New Year's Eve, FSLN comrades assaulted the jail but were unable to free him, and Humberto Ortega and Rufo Marin were captured by Costa Rican authorities. All three (and other FSLN members in Costa Rican jails) were flown to Cuba in October 1970 to secure the freedom of hostages taken when Carlos Aguero led an airliner hijacking. In 1971, Fonseca traveled to North Korea for political and military training with Aguero, Marin, and other FSLN leaders. Excluding those months in North Korea and a visit to Allende's Chile, Fonseca resided mostly in Cuba until he returned to Nicaragua in August-September 1975. Killed in combat in the Zinica Mountains on November 8, 1976. After Somoza's fall, Fonseca's body was exhumed and reburied in Managua's newly renamed Revolution Square.

GUEVARA, Ernesto ("Che"). Guerrilla internationalist. The FSLN Party Oath begins "With my thoughts and heart focused on the immortal patriotic example of Augusto Cesar Sand- ino and Ernesto "Che" Guevara...." Born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1928; killed in Bolivia in 1967. Exposed to Sandino's theories in 1953 in Costa Rica (see entry for Heriberto Reyes). After Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba, Guevara supported several abortive invasion attempts of Nicaragua from Cuba and Honduras. Instrumental in the planning and development of the "21st of September Movement, Rigoberto Lopez Perez" that sought to invade Nicaragua in 1959 from a guerrilla camp at El Chaparral, Honduras. The would-be guerrillas included survivors of Sandino General Ramon Raudales' 1958 defeated invasion, Carlos Fonseca and other young members of Nicaragua's Moscow-line communist PSN, and several Cubans. Guevara told the group as it left Havana for El Chaparral in June 1959 that "I love the land of Sandino, and I want to fight there, too." After the El Chaparral effort failed, Guevara brought Fonseca and other Nicaraguans into his inner circle. (Borge says Fonseca developed a close friendship in Havana with Tamara Bunke, the East German woman who died with Guevara in Bolivia.) Again providing military and logistical assistance in 1962-63 to FSLN members operating from Honduras, Guevara is rumored to have crossed into Nicaragua with guerrillas under the command of Santos Lopez during the FSLN's Rio Coco fiasco of June 1963.

MARIN, Rufo. FSLN militant captured with Humberto Ortega in the December 1969 attempt to storm the Costa Rican jail where Carlos Fonseca was serving a sentence for bank robbery. Freed and flown to Cuba with Fonseca, Humberto Ortega, and others after Carlos Aguero's October 1970 hijacking of a Costa Rican airliner. With Fonseca, Aguero, and Humberto Ortega, he led 12-15 FSLN members to North Korea for political and military training in 1971. Joined the ranks of the mountain guerrillas in 1975, after attending Aguero's clandestine mountain training school. A BLI bears his name.

MAYORGA, Silvio. FSLN founder in 1961 with Borge and Fonseca, with whom he joined the Moscow-line communist PSN in 1955. Student leader at National University of Nicaragua. Traveled in Cuba, Europe. Died leading a guerrilla column at Pancasan, 1967. The Silvio Mayorga Military Dog Training School today commemorates this fiery student radical.

ORTEGA Saavedra, Camilo. Brother of FSLN National Directorate members Daniel and Humberto Ortega. Born on December, 1950, in Managua. Went to Cuba in April 1972 for political and military training and became chief FSLN representative there. Did not return to Nicaragua until October 1975. A member of the Managua clandestine urban network. Worked in Costa Rica on the development of the ¿¿¿


Southern Front, which later flourished under Eden Pastora's leadership. Led the February 2-3, 1978, attack on the La Polvora barracks in Granada. Killed while trying to wrest control of the February 20-28, 1978, insurrection in the Indian barrio of Monimbo, Masaya, away from independent Indian leaders and followers of Tomas Borge. The EPS Military Instruction Center is named after him.

POMARES Ordonez, German. FSLN military leader known as "El Danto." Born on August 17, 1937, in El Viejo, Chinandega. Joined the Conservative Youth of El Viejo in 1958. Participated in the Olama y Mollejones invasion force in 1959. One of the initial FSLN cadre in 1961. Fought on the Rio Coco in 1963 and in Pancasan in 1967. Fled to Cuba in 1967 with Borge, Tur- cios, and the other survivors of the FSLN's urban and guerrilla disasters. Led the unsuccessful attempt to free Fonseca from jail in Costa Rica in December 1969. Was captured in Nicaragua but released in April 1971 as a result of student occupations of churches and schools. Squad leader under Eduardo Contreras at the 1974 Christmas party hostage-taking. A leader of the "Northern Front Carlos Fonseca" in the October 1977 and February 1978 offensives. Directed FSLN operations during the September 1978 insurrection. Led the "Oscar Turcios" Column attacks on El Jicaro in March 1979 and Jinotega in May 1979. Died from wounds received during the retreat from Jinotega. Anti-Sandinista MILPAS were later formed by one of Pomares' top aides, Pedro Joaquin Gonzalez, but the EPS nonetheless named a BLI for Pomares.

QUEZADA, Juan Jose. Led the first successful FSLN airline hijacking in November 1969 with Pedro Arauz Palacios. Known as "El Brujo" (The Sorcerer). Participated in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's September 1970 hijacking of a British BOAC airliner. According to Sandinista spokesman Jorge Mandi, "A number of Sandinistas took part in the [September 1970] operation to divert four aircraft which the PFLP seized and landed at a desert airfield in Jordan.... Nicaraguan and Palestinian blood was spilled together in Amman and other places during the 'Black September battles.'" (al-Watan newspaper, Kuwait, August 7, 1979). Quezada returned to the Nicaraguan mountains in 1971. Killed in September 1973 in Nan- daime. The FSLN squad that carried off the December 1974 Christmas party hostage-taking was named in his honor.

RUGAMA, Leonel. One of the noncommunist minority in the early years of the FSLN. Born in Esteli in 1950; died in Managua in 1970. Briefly attended a Catholic seminary. Known for his poetry. Joined the FSLN in 1966 and abandoned Christianity, devoting his life to following the example of Che Guevara. Worked as a conduit for contacts with the mountain guerrilla forces of Victor Tirado and Jose Benito Escobar. Entered UNAN-Leon in 1969 and became a member of the FER Executive Committee while maintaining contacts with Julio Buitrago's Managua underground. After Buitrago's July 1969 death, Rugama went underground as the new leader of urban commando operations. Among other actions, he led the robberies of a Leon bank in November 1969, the Santa Cecilia factory in December 1969, and a Managua bank in January 1970. Killed later that same month in a National Guard assault on his Managua safehouse.

SANDINO, Augusto Cesar. When Tomas Borge, Carlos Fonseca, and Silvio Mayorga first founded the FSLN in 1961 with Cuban help, they called it simply the National Liberation Front. The official Sandinista edition of his writings says that it was Fonseca, the most widely traveled of the three, who later proposed to add Sandino's name. Sandino's resistance to the US Marine occupation made him an obvious choice to symbolize Nicaraguan nationalism (see biography of Sandino among Nicaraguan historic figures, p. 86). But that strength also created problems for Marxist revolutionaries allied with Cuba and the Soviet Union. The real Sandino did not get along with communists. He had become a hero to liberal democrats like Pedro Joaquin Cham- orro, whom Borge and the others despised as a bourgeois rival. Worse, his name was already being used as an anti-Somoza organizational symbol by non-Marxists (the Sandino Revolutionary Front [FRS] had been founded in 1958 by social democrats). In Sandino, Proletarian Guerrilla (1972), Fonseca boldly recast Sandino in the FSLN's Marxist and internationalist mold, identifying him (pp. 32-33) with the "Marxism of Lenin, Fidel [Castro], Che [Guevara] and Ho-Chi-Minh" and the "difficult road of guerrilla warfare." It was an inspired stratagem, for Sandino conveyed an image of nationalism that was to effectively disguise the FSLN's Marxism-Leninism until long after Somoza was gone.

TURCIOS Chavarria, Oscar Ariel. Member of the FSLN National Directorate at the time of his death in 1973. Began engineering studies at UCA in 1961, where he was a cell leader in the Moscow-line communist PSN Socialist Youth. Sent by the PSN to study economics at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, he was expelled for "Maoist tendencies" and sent home. Returned to Managua in March 1964 and joined the FSLN through Julio Buitrago and Daniel Ortega. Became a member of the FSLN National Directorate in 1965, in charge of military operations. From July to October 1966, he led an FSLN guerrilla contingent that fought alongside the Guatemalan Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) of Luis Augusto Turcios Lima (no relation). Returned to Nicaragua in December 1966. With the approval of Carlos Fonseca, he led the four-man FSLN squad (Daniel Ortega participated) that assassinated National Guard Sergeant and reputed torturer Gonzalo Lacayo in October 1967. Turcios escaped the National Guard crackdown that followed and traveled to Costa Rica, Mexico, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union, ending up in Cuba for military training. Returned to Nicaragua in January 1970. Promoted the


post-1969 Cuban-backed strategy of "Prolonged People's War" that envisioned up to 30 years of rural guerrilla warfare as a precondition for an FSLN victory, leading some to call him the "Nguyen Giap" of the FSLN. Developed many of the FSLN's early ties with North Korea, the PLO, and the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Captured and killed by the National Guard at a Nan- daime, Granada, safehouse in September 1973.

UBEDA, Pablo. Pseudonym for Rigoberto Lopez Cruz, one of the first militants of the FSLN in 1961-62. Attempted to organize peasants in the mountains of Matagalpa. Along with Fonseca, Doris Tijerino, and Oscar Turcios, denounced the mainstream left as ineffective during the National Opposition Union's January 1967 anti-Somoza strikes and demonstrations, which the National Guard suppressed, killing several hundred. Died along with FSLN co-founder Silvio Mayorga in the FSLN's debacle at Pancasan, August 27, 1967. His memory was kept alive in the name of a column during the final offensive against Somoza, and today Tomas Borge's Special Forces Battalion in the Ministry of Interior (MINT) are named "Tropas Pablo Ubeda."