On August 23, Catholic officials in Nicaragua confirmed that a body recently recovered on a road leading to the city of Leon was that of Father Marlon Ernesto Pupiro Garcia, pastor of Concepcion Parish since 2006. According to the Archdiocese of Managua, the 40-year-old Fr. Marlon had been missing since August 20 under as yet to be determined circumstances. Archbishop Leopoldo Jose Brenes Solórzano of Managua said that news of Fr. Marlon’s murder “shocked everyone.” The priest’s remains were found at an illegal refuse dump, wrapped in plastic.
Pictured above: Nicaraguan soldiers train at a military base on the outskirts of Managua, on August 31, 2011. On September 2, Nicaragua’s armed forces will commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the organization, when it was known as the Sandinista People’s Army, a title that was not changed until 1995. Ex-guerrilla General Julio César Avilés Castillo is the Nicaraguan army’s commander.
Thousands of Catholics in Masaya, capital of the department of the same name, took to the streets to express their grief and repudiation of the crime. Bishop Bismarck Conde, dean of the cathedral in Managua, said: “We are walking together with our Catholic community so that together we can bid our last farewell to our beloved brother, Father Pupiro. We are mourning the fact that, as happened today to a priest, unfortunately happens every day to many people even though the police say ours is the safest country in Central America.”
Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) refuses to acknowledge Marlon’s death, prompting the Catholic media to note simply that the clergyman “had been a critic of the government.”
This is not the first time that KGB asset Ortega has locked horns with the Catholic Church. After leading the Sandinista guerrillas to victory against the Somoza dynasty in 1979, “Comandante” quickly turned Nicaragua into a base for East Bloc subversion, welcoming thousands of Soviet, Cuban and Eastern European “advisors” to Managua, taking delivery of tons of Soviet Bloc weaponry, and persecuting the Catholic hierarchy, which was perceived as being in league with the US Central Intelligence Agency. In early 1990, a democratic election kicked him out of power, even though the Sandinistas retained control of the military and national police.
In the early 2000s, Ortega “saw the light,” humbled himself before the ecclesiastical authorities, married ex-guerrilla girl Rosario “in the Church” in 2005, and began faithfully attending Mass. Manipulating a sordid pact with the corrupt Constitutionalist Liberal Party, Ortega clinched the 2006 presidential election, returning from political oblivion, but not after retired US Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North showed up in Managua to endorse the PLC candidate. Eighty-five-year-old Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who opposed Ortega in the 1980s and retired as Archbishop of Managua in 2005, became a prominent Ortegista.
The repackaged Ortega’s campaign slogan “Christian, Socialist, and in Solidarity” and frequent references to God in speeches, as well as his wife’s comparison of a Sandinista rally to a Mass, offended many Catholics. “The use of biblical words and Church symbols is in bad taste,” protested Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara of Esteli. “They are messing around with religion and the Christian faith.”
Meanwhile, a former Nicaraguan official who was in the employ of the country’s first Sandinista regime (1979-1990), alleges that his government orchestrated the bombing that killed three journalists at a news conference in neighboring Costa Rica in 1984. At the time, Luis Carrion served as assistant to then Interior Minister Tomas Borge, the only living co-founder of the FSLN.
Carrion tells the Associated Press that his department arranged the bombing to kill Eden Pastora, a dissident Sandinista who joined the US-backed Contras. Pastora survived the attack and, ironically, is presently overseeing the second Sandinista regime’s dredging of the San Juan River, which borders Costa Rica. For his part, Maoist Borge is now Nicaragua’s ambassador to Peru.
The bombing was previously attributed to the CIA, which President Ronald Reagan acknowledged in his published diaries (2007) was engaged in covert operations in Central America. In the 1980s, Reagan was very concerned about a communist takeover of Central America, especially Nicaragua and El Salvador. He regularly discussed this subject with the National Security Council, but the Democratic-controlled Congress frequently obstructed his attempts to fund the Contras and the Salvadoran military. However, reports in the 1990s suggest that the Costa Rican bombing was part of a plot by the FSLN to kill the renegade Pastora.
The timing of Carrion’s public allegations suggest a plot by disaffected Sandinistas to derail Ortega’s re-election bid. Many ex-Sandinistas believe “Comandante” betrayed their revolutionary ideals by moving ideologically to the right in the 1990s.
This is not the first time, too, that Catholic priests have been murdered in Central America. Right-wing death squads and the Salvadoran armed forces, respectively, were officially held responsible for the 1980 assassination of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, and the gunning down of six Jesuit priests at the Central American University in 1989.
Events in Central America have turned full circle since the Cold War supposedly ended. Reagan died in 2004. The Sandinistas are back in the saddle in Nicaragua, having modernized the Soviet-built, strategic bomber-capable air base at Punta Huete. The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front peacefully took control of El Salvador in 2009.
Center-left president Alvaro Colom imports oil into Guatemala under the auspices of Hugo Chavez’s Petrocaribe program. An anti-communist coup in Honduras removed Chavez lackey Manuel Zelaya in 2009, only to witness the installation of “ex”-Stalinist Porfirio Lobo as president the next year.
Red Chinese front company Hutchison-Whampoa manages port facilities at both ends of the Panama Canal. Powerful criminal cartels transporting “red cocaine” from rebel-held territory in Colombia have destabilized much of Central America.
But, hey, all of these facts are “no biggie,” ‘cause we’re all good capitalists now. Right?