The Iran-Contra scandal had a big effect on the United States but it had a huge effect on Nicaragua. Through out 1985-86, the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran illegally in order to encourage Iran to free hostages in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Reagan administration wanted to support the Contras in Nicaragua, a rebel group fighting to overthrow the Sandinista government. The administration decided to use the money made from selling arms to Iran, and had it sent to the Contras without passing through the United States. (Walsh, p2.) In this paper, I am going to provide the background of the situation. I will explain how the money from the missile sales was used to support the Contras. I will also tell how everything became public, the end of United States support for the Contras and about then investigations and public hearings in the United States. But finally this paper is about the significance, or impact, of the Iran-Contra affair. The Sandinista National Liberation Front was founded in 1963. Named after Augusto Céser Sandino, it was an extreme leftist organization “of Castroite and Maoist direction.” There were only about 150 members as of 1975, but sympathy was growing. (Times, 1/3/75) By August 1975, the SNLF had “begun to gain strength as discontent with the Somoza regime [had] spread through the middle classes.” (Times, 8/6/75) By August 1977 according to The New York Times, Amnesty International said that “there had been widespread abduction, torture and killing of peasants by the National Guard” during the previous year. (8/16/77) The strength of the SNLF continued to grow. In October 1977, the SNLF, for the first time, was “joined by non-Marxist opponents of the regime” including some conservatives. (Times, 10/20/77) By May 1978 opposition groups, including the SNLF, were proposing a coalition government that would exclude Somoza. (Times, 5/1/78) By November 1978, the Carter Administration was trying to push Somoza “into a compromise with his opponents.” (Times, 11/21/78) After 4 years of growing violence, including street fighting in the capitol, Somoza finally resigned. (9/17/79) After the Sandinistas took power in 1979, the remnants of Somoza’s National Guard scattered. As Kornbluh and Byrne describes The Iran Contra Scandal, they were reduced to small bands of some 250 men, hiding in Honduras and Guatemala, where they resorted to random violence and stealing to survive. The CIA brought these small groups together. After the Contras started receiving money from the CIA, the number of attacks on the Sandinistas increased a lot. “Attacks during this period included, sabotage of highway bridges, sniper fire on small military patrols, the burning of customs warehouses and crops, and ‘the assassination of minor government officials’”( Kornbluh, p.2; they are quoting from a document in the National Security Archives). On December 1, 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed a finding allowing our government to help the Contras. Beginning in March 1982, the whole thing became public as articles in the Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Newsweek reported on CIA aid to the Contras. Congress reacted to this by passing the Boland Amendment, which read: None of the funds in this Act may be used by the Central Intelligence Agency of or the Department of Defense to furnish military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities, to any group or individual, not part of a country’s armed forces, for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua or provoking a military exchange between Nicaragua and Honduras. (Kornbluh, p.2) In spite of this, the Reagan Administration continued to aid the Contras, all the time denying that they were doing so. Among the aid they sent was the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare training manual, referred to by those who knew about it as the “murder manual.” (Kornbluh, p.2) The Reagan...
Cited: Britinaca.com. http://www.britinica.com/EBchecked/topic/413855/Nicaragua .
“Iran-Contra and Arms-for-Hostages Scandals: Eugene Hasenfus”
Kornbluh, Peter, and Malcom Byrne. The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History.
New York: The New Press, 1993.
The New York Times, January 3, 1975-September 17, 1979.
Walsh, Lawrence E. Independent Counsel Report. “Executive Summary,” p. 2.
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