Other Discussions on Nicaragua


Landmines


The issue of landmines is worldwide, but Tim Brown pinpointed the case of Nicaragua, leading to differences of opinion about that country. Bill Ratliff writes:

"Sorry, but I must disagree fundamentally with Rodney Beard. There are not many shades in the Nicaraguan case. My book written with Roger Miranda - for eight years the top aide to Sandinista Defense Minister Humberto Orgeta - demonstrates the overwhelming responsibility of the Sandinista leadership specifically for the "Contra war" and so much else that went so badly in Nicaragua during the 1980s, which is not to say there were no atrocities on the other side. In "The Civil War in Nicaragua: Inside the Sandinistas," Miranda and I try to put the conflict in context and tell what Sandinista leaders were thinking and why, even how they committed atrocities themselves and then manufactured Contra responsibility, as in the much-publicized death of Belgian internationalist Paul Dessers. The Nicaraguan Resistance has been as misunderstood as it has been maligned largely due to ignorance and politics. I urge those with the slightest serious interest in Nicaragua - and anyone with superficial interest who opines on the conflict of the 1980s - to grab a copy of Tim Brown's recently completed (but not yet published) book which describes the origins and make-up etc. of the Resistance Movement with detail and insight no one else has ever approached. Brown's book will utterly blow down and blow away the straw houses of many Latins and even more American academics, journalists and politicians - on both sides of the aisle."
Ronald Hilton - 03/27/98


More on Landmines


The landmines issue arouses strong feelings. Tim Brown writes:
"On Sandinista land-mines planted in Honduras, Bill Ratliff's story, while true, was the least of it and only made the news because the victims were white journalists. The vast majority of the Honduran victims of Sandinista land-mines were simple, brown Indian peasants, so no one noticed except a few of us. From 1988 through to the early 1990s the U.S. financed an entire office dedicated exclusively to repairing the human carnage wrought by Sandinista mines planted illegally and indiscriminately on the Honduran side of the border, including thousands far removed from any immediate battlefield. Because they were not marked in accord with the laws of land warfare and were not mapped or replanted as is required, few of the victims were Contras, the alleged targets of this mining. Instead, virtually all were innocent civilians.

In addition, because it was safer, easier and cheaper than protecting power line pylons, secondary bridges and the like, the Sandinistas also planted tens of thousands of anti-personnel land mines throughout the battle grounds, which covered over 60% of the total land mass of Nicaragua. In very few, if any instances, were these mine fields marked, even though the principal purpose of planting lands mines is not to inflict casualties but to deter an enemy from the use of the mined piece of land. They could easily have been marked, mapped, replanted and remapped while having exactly - or almost exactly - the same tactical deterrent effect for which they were planted in the first place. Yes, by letting people know where they were the Contras would have avoided them. But innocent civilians would also have been able to do so. The tactical objective of protecting with mines undefended isolated points would have been equally, or almost equally, well served, since fast moving guerrillas rarely if ever have the time, equipment or motivation to spend days in a fixed position clearing a mine field."

Ronald Hilton - 03/28/98

Ronald Hilton -


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