– Moscow Begins to Quietly Rebuild Nicaraguan Military, Sends US$26.5 Million to Equip “Rescue Brigade,” Build Hospitals
We have decided on a plan of covert actions, etc. to block the Cuban aid to Nicaragua & El Salvador. There is no question but that all of Central Am.[erica] is targeted for a Communist takeover.
— US President Ronald Reagan, entry for November 16, 1981, The Reagan Diaries (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007)
Pictured above: Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega (left) salutes next to Commander in Chief of the Army of Nicaragua, General Julio Cesar Aviles, during a military parade commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the Nicaraguan army, on Simon Bolivar Avenue in Managua, on September 3, 2011.
In a sign of the revitalized friendship between Managua and Havana, Nicaragua’s top general, Sandinista Julio Cesar Aviles, has traveled to Cuba to promote bilateral military cooperation that was severed in 1990, after President Daniel Ortega lost to US-backed candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and her 14-party opposition coalition. Ortega returned to the presidency in January 2007 on the basis of a meager 38% of the popular vote, one of the provisos of a sordid pact with Constitutionalist Liberal Party leader Arnoldo Aleman.
In Havana, ex-guerrilla Aviles thanked Cuba for the support the island communist state historically offered his Central American country, especially in the military and health sectors. “We came to strengthen these historical bonds of friendship and cooperation between our armed forces,” Aviles told reporters after laying a wreath on the tomb of Cuban independence hero, General Antonio Maceo, at the Cacahual Mausoleum.
“You supported us to make Nicaragua a free country, helped us in all areas and continue to help”, said Aviles, who extended the good wishes of President Ortega for the Cuban people. “Cuban doctors have provided medical care to thousands of Nicaraguans living in remote areas of our country,” remarked Aviles. “I am happy and pleased to be here”, Aviles said, recalling his years as a student at the General Jose Maceo Inter-Arms Academy of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), one of the sites he will visit during his stay until September 16. Aviles will also visit FAR military units, higher education institutions, and historical sites.
With training from the Soviet KGB and pep talks from Fidel Castro, Ortega, brother Humberto and Maoist Tomas Borge led the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to victory over the Somoza dynasty in 1979. In 2006, Lloyd Billingsley, citing Vasili Mitrokhin’s The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World, writes:
Under the same ISKRA codename, the KGB also trained the Nicaraguan guerrillas who seized the National Congress in August 1978. Vladimir Kryuchkov head of the FCD, the KGB’s foreign intelligence directorate, was briefed on operations. The guerrillas flew to Havana, where Castro met with Tomas Borge, Humberto Ortega and Daniel Ortega. Cuba’s Departamento America (DA) helped them set up a base in Costa Rica, vital in their ousting of strongman Anastasio Somoza in 1979.
After the communist takeover of Nicaragua, Soviet, Eastern European, and Cuban advisors flocked to Central America’s new “Red Mecca.” According to a 1987 report published by the Los Angeles Times:
The leftist Sandinista regime last year conceded that 800 Cuban military personnel were in Nicaragua. However, Reagan Administration officials believed their number to be as much as three times higher. The military advisers were in addition to about 2,500 Cuban civilians who serve as teachers, health workers and technical advisers.
In spite of the “collapse of communism” in Eastern Europe 20 years ago, the neo-Sandinista regime’s ideological continuity with its own past has not changed. This past week, governments and individuals in solidarity with Cuba conveyed their sympathies over the recent death of Cuba’s defense minister, General Julio Casas Regueiro, one of the island’s communist “old guards.”
In Managua, a much older Borge attended a memorial for Regueiro at the Cuban embassy at the request of Ortega. Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency referred to Borge as “Commander of the Revolution,” referring, of course, to the 1979 uprising in Nicaragua. During the 1980s, Borge was Nicaragua’s feared interior minister. Since 2007, he has been Nicaragua’s ambassador to Peru. The book of condolences was also signed by leaders of the ruling FSLN, Sandinista deputies of Nicaragua’s National Assembly, and Nicaraguan legislators of the Central American Parliament.
The communist regimes in the People’s Republic of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Laos hastened to send their sympathies over Regeiro’s death. The Secretary General of El Salvador’s ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, Medardo Gonzalez, dispatched his condolences to Cuban President Raul Castro.
Bolivian Defense Minister Maria Cecilia Chacon expressed her “deepest sympathies” and signed the book of condolences open at the Cuban embassy in La Paz. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, is a self-avowed “Marxist-Leninist.” Like Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, Bolivia is a member of the eight-nation Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas and, since earlier this year, has hosted a military school tasked with indoctrinating member armed forces in neo-Marxism and pan-Latin Americanism.
Incidentally, the ALBA states are united in their support for deposed Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, who is also a long-time personal friend of Ortega. This week, Venezuela’s foreign minister, Nicolas Maduro, protested: “The NTC is part of a brutal and criminal foreign occupation and intervention and of a war that has been imposed on the people of Libya.”
Russia has also revitalized its relationship with Ortega, sending US$26.5 million to the Nicaraguan military, ostensibly to form a “rescue brigade” and build two hospitals for victims of natural disasters. However, this news was only reported in the Spanish-language media, so most citizens of the “shopping mall regime” will remain in the dark.