An Impoverished Land
A high proportion of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, and malnutrition exists in most Central American countries. While American multinational corporations have been exploiting this area of the world, the United States government has virtually ignored these inherent problems. 

The Pan-American Health Organization estimates that of 850,000 children born every year in Central America, 100,000 will die before they reach age five, and two-thirds of the remaining ones will be undernourished, resulting in severe physical or mental development problems. The exception is Nicaragua. In the decade of Sandinista rule in the 1980s, the mortality rate dropped from 128 to 62 deaths for every 1,000 births. Health care is not provided to 75 percent of Guatemalans, 60 percent of Salvadorans, and 35 percent of Hondurans. Each year in Guatemala 20,000 people die of hunger, and 1,000 children die of measles before they reach four months of age. Since the return of a right wing dictatorship to Nicaragua in 1990, the country's health care programs have been drastically reduced, and consequently the mortality rate is once again climbing.

The World Health Organization revealed that 15 million Central Americans, approximately 60 percent of the population, live in poverty. Of that number, 9.7 million live in "extreme poverty." The Inter-American Development Bank reported that the 1990 per capita income rate dropped in Guatemala to below its 1971 level; in El Salvador to below its 1971 level; in Honduras to below its 1973 level; in Nicaragua to below its 1960 level; in Costa Rica to below its 1974 level; and in Panama to below its 1982 level. In the Central American countries, land ownership by a relatively small proportion of the population has led to an immense disparity in income and wealth. Less than half of all farmers own land. 48.8 percent are tenant farmers, and the remaining 6.4 percent have mixed tenure agreements. 78 percent of all the farms account for 60 percent of the entire rural population, but this area consists of only 11 percent of all the farmlands. Most farms grow crops -- not to feed the populous  but to export them for profit. Large corporate farms consist of 85 percent of all the arable land. Beef is the fourth largest commodity behind coffee, cotton, and bananas. The displacement of small family farms by the expanding banana industry has driven much of the population into poverty. 

Because of low wages, low taxes, nonexistent work benefits, weak labor unions, and nonexistent occupational and environmental laws, American corporate profit rates in the Latin American countries Third World have been 50 percent greater than in developed countries. Citibank, one of the largest multinational banks, has earned about 75 percent of its profits from overseas operations. While profit margins at home sometimes have had a sluggish growth, earnings in the Third World have continued to rise dramatically.

In Latin America, approximately half the manufacturing assets are owned or controlled by foreign companies and primarily by the United States. Even in instances when the multinationals have only a minority interest, they often retain a veto control. When a Latin American nation totally owns an enterprise, American multinationals benefit by monopolies and superior technology. 

The Third World nations have found it expedient to borrow heavily from Western banks and from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is controlled by the United States and other Western member-nations. In addition, its sister organization is the World Bank, an international consortium of bankers and economists who spend billions of dollars -- much of it from American taxpayers -- to finance development projects. These have served to prop up repressive right-wing regimes and to subsidize American multinational corporations in the Third World.

The Latin American dictatorships cannot default on these loans even though their debt has continued to escalate. If they were to default, they would run the risk of being unable to qualify for short-term credit in the future. They risk having their overseas accounts frozen, their overseas assets seized, and their export markets closed. Thus, to avoid walking away from the IMF or the World Bank, they have continued to borrow. To qualify for more loans, a country must agree to the IMF's restructuring terms which includes cutting back on domestic consumption while producing cash crops for export in order to pay off more of the debt. Therefore, the already poverty-stricken peasants have been hurt even more by more cuts in food subsidies, housing, and other human services. These countries may even be forced to devalue their currency, freeze wages, and raise prices, so that their people will work even harder while consuming less. In addition, the poor nations must offer large tax concessions to foreign companies and eliminate subsidies to locally-owned and state-owned enterprises. The debt- ridden Third World countries have added to the profits of American multinational corporations, while the status of their working poor has deteriorated.

As the United States has financially subsidized Latin-American capitalist dictatorships, it also has coerced these countries to purchase American goods at American prices and to transport these products on American ships. Therefore, the net result of American foreign aid has been to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor. 

When a Latin American country refuses to comply with the wishes of the United States, it frequently brings a quick response from the CIA. For example, when the democratically elected Allende government in Chile initiated reforms that benefitted the working class and discouraged American multinational investments, American aid was cut from every element except the Chilean military. When the contras went to war against the democratic Sandinista government, the United States dumped sorghum and frozen chickens onto the Nicaraguan market to undercut cooperative farms and undermine land reform. 

In Guatemala, the loss of life due to the CIA-sponsored 35-year-old conflict was estimated at 100,000 by 1994, while an additional 60,000 others disappeared. Some 440 villages, with peasants suspected of sympathizing with the guerrillas, have been destroyed and their residents massacred, except for the ones who managed to escape. Almost a million people have fled the country and another million have been forced from their homes.

Nicaragua, part 1
Early American Imperialism
Latin American countries may be characterized as ones where the ownership of land, capital, labor, natural resources, and technology are concentrated in the hands of the wealthy and multinational corporations. For the most part they are autocratic police states with military forces which are partially financed and trained by the United States. The population endures poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, poor housing, substandard medical services, and people are often displaced from their land. 

Since Central America gained independence from the Spanish in 1821, American multinational corporations began gaining a foothold. Soon after gold was discovered in California, eastern Americans found that the quickest route westward was by ship, across Central America, and up the Pacific coast. In the 1850s Cornelius Vanderbilt was the first successful American entrepreneur to exploit the people of Latin America. In the 1850s, he built his own railroad across Nicaragua in addition to owning thousands of acres of property.

By the 1850s, the first American entrepreneurs set sail for Nicaragua. Two years after gold was discovered in California, Cornelius Vanderbilt formed the American, Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal Company which had exclusive control over travel from New York to San Francisco. For the first time American marines landed to protect American interests. It was at this time that the Clayton- Bulwer Treaty between the United States and Britain demilitarized the canal.

In 1851, Castle and Cooke set out as missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands. After gaining a monopoly on the islands' sugar and pineapple industry, they moved on to Central America. They constructed the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company and soon became one of the leading banana exporters in Honduras and Costa Rica. Castle and Cooke owned 41,000 acres in Central American countries. After acquiring Nabisco Brands in 1985, R. J. Reynolds became one of the largest food processors in Central America. In addition, this conglomerate is one of the world's largest consumer products corporations.

In 1853, William Walker led a filibustering expedition in Baja California. The same year the United States acquired 30,000 square miles of Mexican territory across southwest. The Gadsden Purchase allowed railroad entrepreneurs to profit from this venture. Two years later, Walker sailed for Nicaragua and in 1856 led a successful coup with the aid of 850 Americans. He declared himself president of Nicaragua, the only American to proclaim himself head of state of a foreign country, and twice more the United States marines landed. 

In 1857, Americans landed for the fourth time and found safe passage for Walker who escaped to Honduras. In 1860 Walker was finally caught and executed. His filibustering had included 2,518 Americans whom he recruited. 1,000 Nicaraguans were killed or died of diseases, 700 soldiers deserted, 250 were discharged, and 80 were taken prisoner.

American businessmen were more free to move south into Nicaragua as a result of the Cass-Irisarri Treaty in 1858. This provided for: the protection of all American transit routes across Nicaragua; allowing the United States to use force to protect American businesses and lives; and the right of Americans to own real estate in Nicaragua.

With the completion of the Suez Canal by Ferdinand DeLesseps in 1869, Europe had a decisive edge on world trade. This gave impetus to the need for a Western Hemispheric canal. At first the United States and Britain thought of a combined effort to build a canal, but this would not have been possible in Panama because of the Clayton Bulwer Treaty. In 1879, the Frenchman Ferdinand DeLesseps failed to build a trans-Panamanian canal since the United States opposed giving Britain exclusive control. This could only be accomplished by rescinding the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.

With the beginning of coffee production in Nicaragua in 1869, more American businessmen converged upon Nicaragua. Being a cash crop, coffee was only for export  yet 80 percent of the Nicaraguan peasants were subsistence farmers.

The United Fruit Company was created in 1889 by Minor C. Keith with its headquarters in Boston. By 1930 it had solidified its control on the Central American banana industry when it bought out the Cuyamel Fruit Company of Honduras. By 1950, United Fruit owned three million acres of land in Central America. Ironically, one of its employees was Fidel Castro. In 1970 United Fruit changed its corporate title to United Brands, one of the world's largest producers and processors of food products. It not only controlled the banana industry but also owned 18 plastic manufacturing companies in Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. It also owned the Numar Processed Food Group in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

In 1894, Honduras posed a threat to the United States and Britain when they landed troops on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, and martial law as declared. Britain sent in troops which withdrew within a few months. The United States followed and sent in marines to "protect American lives and property." They were pulled out later in the year. As the United States reached the status of a dominating world power by the turn of the century, American businesses became more deep-rooted in Nicaragua. This was a result of high tariffs which protected American businesses; the Spanish-American War (1898) which reduced the Spaniards' influence in the Western Hemisphere; and Britain's role in Latin America which diminished its power as a result of being bogged down in the Boer War in South Africa.

In 1900, the United States attempted to negotiate a treaty with Nicaragua across which it would build a canal within a six-mile-wide area at a cost of $1.5 million and $100,000 annually. The Nicaraguan Zeyala government rejected the treaty. Then in 1907, the United States severed relations with the Zeyala regime and armed insurgent forces. By 1910, Zeyala's government was under attack, and the United States blockaded San Juan Del Norte.

By 1912, America businesses continued to flourish in Nicaragua. There were millions of dollars in loans which were floated to Nicaragua at 6 percent interest rate. American businessmen controlled 51 percent of Nicaragua's banks, and the Nicaragua's Pacific Railroad was owned by an American firm. In 1912, American marines landed to overthrow the highly nationalistic regime of Zeyala. "Free elections" were instituted with American marines guarding the polling places. The United States government placed Adolfo Diaz in power and declared him to be the newly elected president. The United States ignored World Court decisions which castigated it for interventionism in Nicaragua, and in 1916 the World Court upheld a Costa Rican claim that the United States infringed on the rights of Nicaragua. 

In order for the United States to maintain a firm grasp in Nicaragua, American marines were sent down again and remained for nearly 20 years, only to be pulled out for two years before returning once again to maintain martial law. As an underground movement began to spring up in Nicaragua, the first labor unions were organized in 1920. Strikes took place against American-owned mining, lumber, and banana companies. Then came the first uprising in Bluefields in 1926, but it was squashed by American marines.

After being pulled out two years earlier, 6,000 American marines landed again in 1927. They led an offensive against Augusto Sandino's Defensive Army of National Sovereignty. Augusto Sandino had been raised in Masaya and, after injuring a politician, fled to Guatemala. He worked for United Fruit, and then he moved on to Tampico and Vera Cruz, Mexico to work for American oil refineries. After the 1926 uprising in Nicaragua, he returned. Soon Sandino became leader of the nationalistic resistance group. He spent years in the mountains of Nicaragua, fleeing American marines.

Finally in February 1934, Sandino accepted a dinner invitation to come down from the mountains and to negotiate peace terms with the American marines and Anastasio Somoza, leader of the National Guard which the United States created the year before. Afterwards Sandino and his brother, Socrates, were taken to the Managua airport and assassinated. The National Guardsmen returned to inform Somoza who then went upstairs to continue to read poetry and sip wine.

The Somoza family continued to rule Nicaragua with an iron-fist. In 1956, when Somoza was assassinated, his power was passed down to his two sons, Luis and Anastasio. They continued the autocratic, repressive regime, and American weapons continued to be shipped to Nicaragua.

At this time the FSLN was formed by Tomas Borge and Carlos Fonseca. Known as the Sandinistas, the movement for years had to operate underground against the Somoza regime. Then in 1972 a massive earthquake in Managua killed over 6,000 and tens of thousands were left homeless. American aid was transferred to Swiss bank accounts of the Somoza family. The United States sent blood plasma to Managua. Much of it was sold to by the Somozas to European governments.

For the first time the Sandinistas took to the streets in 1979. For six months the Carter administration froze economic and military aid to Nicaragua because of its immense human rights abuses. In 1978, the FSLN seized the National Palace, and 58 Sandinista prisoners, including Tomas Borge, were released in a swap for hostages. The raid was led by Eden Pastora, who was later to switch sides and become the contra leader working out of Costa Rica. Finally on July 19, 1979, the FSLN finally seized Managua, and Sandinista rule under Daniel Ortega was established. 

Somoza was forced to flee the country and later was assassinated in South America. In the half century of running a tyrannical government in Nicaragua, the Somoza family owned 51 percent of cattle ranches, one airline, a newspaper, the Barricada Cement Company, a textile mill, several sugar refineries, six breweries, and a Mercedes Benz dealership. Under their totalitarian regime only 5 percent of the population owned 58 percent of arable land, while the Somozas owned 23 percent of the land. By the end of the 1970s, the annual income was $60 per capita. 50 percent of Nicaragua's children suffered from malnutrition; almost 50 percent died before reaching age four, and 80 percent of all people were illiterate. 

In the last year of Somoza's reign, his National Guard destroyed one-third of Nicaragua's farmlands and thousands of homes. 50,000 people were killed, and 40,000 children became orphans -- in a country with a population of only two million people. While tortures and killings were common in Nicaragua, the American media never reported these mass murders which were carried out by Somoza's National Guard. Only once was it mentioned on ABC News by correspondent Bill Stewart.

As a result of Nicaragua's civil war, 70 percent of the country's industries were destroyed. Unemployment reached 35 percent in Managua. By 1979, the American-owned Penwalt Corporation, operating outside the jurisdiction of American environmental laws, polluted Lake Managua with mercury.

After only five years of Sandinista rule, Nicaragua's infant mortality dropped to the lowest rate in Central America. For the first time medical clinics were established for peasants in the countryside. In addition, the national budget for health rose 600 percent, so education was provided to the peasants for the first time. By 1984, the illiteracy rate, based on a third grade reading level, dropped from 80 percent to 16 percent.

To increase the availability of food for the peasants, the amount of staple crops increased by 30 percent while cash crops, which only benefitted the Somoza regime as well as American multinational corporations, decreased by 50 percent. Corporate ranches and property were nationalized, and land was distributed to 40,000 peasant families. As the lives of peasants slowly improved, the only statistic reported by the American media was the literacy campaign. 

Nicaragua, part 2
Reagan's Dirty War
During Carter's last year and one-half as President, the United States continued trade with Nicaragua, but American policy changed suddenly after the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981. First, within five months of being sworn in, American hostages were returned from Iran. Known as the October surprise, there is substantial evidence which indicates that William Casey, as Reagan's campaign manager, and George Bush cut a deal with Prime Minister Bani-sadr of Iran. In October 1980, Carter was slightly ahead of Reagan in the polls. The strategy was to have the Iranians keep the American hostages until the November election to insure a Reagan victory.

Second, on March 9, less than two months after his inauguration, Reagan authorized his newly appointed CIA director, William Casey, to put together plans for covert actions to overthrow the Sandinista regime. The Nicaraguan Democratic Front (FDN), more commonly referred to as the contras, was set up. Reagan referred to them as "the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers," The goals of Reagan and the CIA were to fight a surrogate war and to break the moral of the people of Nicaragua. White House spokesperson Charles Redman admitted that the contras' attacks on agricultural collectives were "legitimate and proper." This was the first time that any country officially endorsed state terrorism. It was clear that the contras were attempting to overthrow the first democratic and nationalistic government in the history of Nicaragua, despite the fact that Reagan stated that this was not the goal of the contras. Later during the contra war, Reagan stated: "If the Sandinistas are allowed to consolidate their hold on Nicaragua, we'll have a permanent staging ground for terrorism for Qadaffi, Arafat, and the Ayatollah, just three hours by air from the United States."

On November 23, 1981, Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 17, authorizing the CIA to build a paramilitary force to overthrow the Sandinista government. The CIA was provided with $19.5 million to begin a full scale operation against the Sandinistas. Reagan authorized the CIA "to finance the war primarily through non-Americans" and with "appropriate foreign governments." The CIA authorized $50 million in training programs which for the first two years of the war was carried out by the right wing Argentine government.

By the middle of 1981, CIA director Casey was meeting with Argentine military officials. He also met with General Leopoldo Galtieri in Washington, D.C. The right wing Argentine government, known for repression and death squads, agreed to train the newly created contras, as long as weapons and money were supplied by the Reagan administration. Argentina was known for training Guatemala's military and police. In the past Guatemala's death squads had killed thousands. The Argentines convinced the neo-fascist Guatemalans to first interrogate suspected subversives before killing them. 

In the early 1980s, even the American embassy in Guatemala City was reporting 400 to 500 deaths per month by the government. Human rights groups placed the figure at a minimum of 500 per month. In 1980, Guatemalan President raised $500,000 for Ronald Reagan at a fund raiser in Denver. When Congress did not certify that Guatemala was abiding by human rights in 1981, Reagan merely took some items, needed by Guatemala, off the restricted list. In November 1981 Congress appropriated $19.5 million in aid to Guatemala.

Since 1954, Guatemala was responsible for over 100,000 deaths at the hands of its military. Another 40,000 people disappeared. Amnesty International reported that in 1989 there were 222 cases of human rights abuses. Government targets included anyone suspected of subversive activities. In April 1990 Amnesty International reported that the death squads were targeting human rights workers. The United Nations Human Rights Commission noted "the increase of assassinations, kidnappings, attempts and threats against people who participate in political activities." In March 1990, the United Nations approved a resolution to "name an independent expert to examine the human rights situation in Guatemala and to continue assisting the government in human rights matters."

Just one month after the inception of the contras, Reagan believed that "the contras would march into Managua by Christmas (1983)." Code-named Operation Christmas, the CIA hoped to establish "a beach head" in the cities on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua and then quickly move westward and end the war. This never materialized in Managua, let alone in any city or village. The contras resorted to hit-and-run tactics aimed primarily at women and children in hopes of breaking the morale of the people of Nicaragua.

Horatio Arce, chief of contra intelligence, stated "We attack a lot of schools, health centers, and those sorts of things. We have tried to make it so that the Nicaraguan government cannot provide social services for the peasants, cannot develop its project . . . that's the idea." In addition White House spokesperson Charles Redman admitted that the contras attacked agricultural collectives as "legitimate and proper." This is the first time that any country has officially endorsed state terrorism. In 1983, the CIA circulated a number of assassination manuals, explaining how to "neutralize" Nicaraguan civilians. When one was discovered, the CIA immediately denied any knowledge. However, after several months, blame for this was placed upon low-level CIA agents who were "properly disciplined" for their behavior.

Late in 1981, Eden Pastora, commander of the contras operating out of Costa Rica on the southern front, attempted to persuade Panama president Omar Torrijos to exert influence over the Sandinistas. Pastora was being paid $150,000 per month by the CIA. This mission failed, as Torrijos was killed in a mysterious airplane crash. In 1982, Pastora announced that he was severing relations with the mainstream element of the contras, operating in Honduras under the control of Eden Pastora.

In 1984, it was alleged that General John Singlaub helped supply C-4 plastic explosives to CIA agent John Hull in Costa Rica. This was used by Amcac Galil, a former right wing agent of the Chilean secret police, to assassinate Pastora. Galil, who assumed a false passport under the name "Hansen," was apparently paid $50,000. He also met with Pastora to discuss the assassination which was to be carried out at La Penca, along the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. Hansen (Galil) placed an aluminum case on the floor where Pastora was surrounded by journalists. The bomb exploded, and eight people were killed. When informed that Americans had been killed, the United States embassy refused to respond until the following day. This was after Galil arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica and was able to flee the country.

Soon after the assassination attempt, the CIA began a disinformation campaign by providing the Washington Post and the New York Times with information that the hired killer was a Spanish Basque who was hired by the Sandinista government. Additionally, the Costa Rican government mounted a campaign to discredit Pastora, claiming that he was a communist and drug trafficker.

Since the contras were unable to gain the support of the peasants, the CIA engaged in mining ports on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua. On January 3, 1983, Nicaragua announced that the United States mined five of its eastern ports. Several European ships were damaged. On January 31 the House Intelligence Committee was informed by the CIA that this was true, and two months later the CIA acknowledged this fact to the Senate.

The following year, Nicaragua brought a lawsuit to the World Court in the Hague. Nicaragua contended that the United States had invaded its territory and mined harbors. Ironically, Reagan chose this same day to proclaim May 1 as "Law Day 1984" and hailed America's "200 year old partnership between law and liberty." Reagan added that without law and liberty there would be "chaos and disorder."

The United States announced that it would not abide by the rulings of the World Court. One vote was 16-0, condemning the United States for mining Nicaraguan harbors. A second decision was 12- 3, stating that the United States must terminate the minings. And a third vote was 14-1, demanding that the United States compensate Nicaragua for damages. Judges from Great Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, and Japan all voted against the United States.

The United Nations General Assembly also voted a resolution condemning the United States. Only the United States, El Salvador, and Britain voted against the resolution which was passed by a vote of 95-3. This went virtually unreported by the American media. Furthermore, the Security Council passed a resolution which stated that "all states must observe international law. This was vetoed by the United States. Additionally, the United Nations opposed a United States sponsored economic boycott of Nicaragua, by a 91-6 vote in the General Assembly. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Japan, Canada, and most Western European countries opposed the boycott. This left it up to the United States to impose its own boycott in 1985.

The 1984 free elections were intolerable to the United States, since they would be very difficult to control. Therefore, the White House did its best to disrupt them and to encourage the media to ignore them. Just prior to the elections, the Reagan administration attempted to discredit the FSLN. The White House claimed that a Soviet freighter, loaded with MIG fighters, was steaming across the Black Sea and destined for Nicaragua. As the weeks passed, this made front page news and was frequently reported on the nightly news. The White House was hoping this disinformation would persuade more Americans to oppose the Nicaraguan government and that it would prevent the FSLN from being legitimately elected.

The study of cratology deals with the determination of what can be stored in boxes or crates. The United States claimed that the skies were overcast when Soviet "MIGs" were loaded onto a freighter. However, cratologists claimed that the boxes contained something other than MIGs. As it turned out, the Soviet Union was delivering tractors to Nicaragua. The White House quickly dropped this disinformation campaign.

For the first time in the nation's history, free elections took place in Nicaragua in 1984. They were monitored by a number of human rights delegations. Parties to the right of the FSLN included: Democratic Conservative Party (PCD). This was basically a pro-Sandinista party. Independent Liberal Party (PLI). This party was founded in 1944 to challenge the dominance of the Somozas. In 1984 it was considered be the only party which was nationally organized. Popular Social Christian Party (PPSC). This party stressed "economic socialism;" criticized the FSLN for castigating the Roman Catholic church; and considered FSLN foreign policy to be too close to that of the Soviet Union.

Parties to the left of the FSLN included: Nicaraguan Socialist Party (PSN). This was the oldest political party dating back to 1944, having its social base among the working people of Nicaragua. It was alligned with the Soviet Union which officially recognized it. Nicaraguan Communist Party (PCN). This party was aligned with the Soviet Union but not recognized by the Soviets who called it "petty bourgeoisie reformers." The Soviet Union also considered it to be unnecessary in the 1984 elections, claiming it one of the "Contadora capitalist nations." Marxist-Leninist Popular Action Movement (MAP-ML). This was the smallest party and farthest to the left. It considered the FSLN to be a bourgeois party; and did not want the business community to have any say in government matters. Furthermore, it opposed the elections, stating that they were giving into the reactionary interests of the United States It called for an official atheist state and favored complete nationalization.

The 1984 election was perhaps the most democratic which any nation has had. No parties were required to have permits to campaign or demonstrate. Radio and television stations were not censored, and candidates were given $321,000 in funds with which to campaign during a 12 week period prior to the election. These facts were suppressed by the American media. 

Much misinformation and disinformation during the elections emanated from the White House and media. There were no reports about the openness in the Nicaraguan elections. On the other hand they reported "free elections" the same year, something which was totally untrue. The American media never reported that 93.7 percent of the Nicaraguan people registered to vote and that 75 percent actually participated in the election. This is a number 25 percent higher than those who vote in United States elections. The FSLN received 69.2 percent of the vote, while parties to the left of the FSLN received only 3.8 percent of the vote. 

The American media did not report the fact that the elections were monitored and that the 450 delegates reported the elections to be free. For example, one group, the Irish Inter-party Parliamentary Delegation was composed of four people, three of whom came from the far right or right-center. Another monitoring group, the Latin American Studies Association was composed of 15 individuals, about half of whom had experience in national elections. The group stated that they "spoke with anyone who we chose to approach as well as numerous people who spontaneously approached us." 

No permits for candidates were required. Minor parties held demonstrations without the fear of reprisals. The campaign time was 12 weeks. The Sandinista government gave $321,000 to each opposition party. Candidates were given free time on television and radio, unlike the United States where third party candidates are frequently denied equal time. 

The White House initially sought to obtain Arturo Cruz, a contra leader, as its candidate. However, he refused to run, knowing that the people's vehement opposition to the right wing contras would only embarrass him and the United States government. Also in 1984, Congress passed the Boland Amendment which barred any American actions "for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua." Oliver North claimed that the Boland Amendment made no reference to any "agency or entity of intelligence activities," and consequently it did not apply to the National Security Council.

With the Boland Amendment intact, the CIA went to other extremes to insure that arms were being sent to the contras. So the White House could only get Congress to appropriate money for humanitarian aid. "Humanitarian" aid became helicopters, jeeps, and trucks (if they carried first aid supplies) and boots and helmets (since they protected human beings). A senior White House spokesperson stated: "If a truck carries 1,000 pounds of food and 500 guns, that will be fine." Since the Boland Amendment prevented Congress from allocating funds to arm the contras, the National Security Council resorted to illegal and covert methods to continue to fuel the war effort. Just two years after the Boland Amendment was invoked, the GAO stated that only $5.1 million of a total of $12.2 million could be accounted for. The remaining $7.1 million had been deposited in a Miami bank to which contra leader Calero had access. 

Continuing to fight an illegal war, the CIA got more heavily deeply involved in Nicaragua. In 1986, Eugene Hasenfus, a "kicker" on a C-123 cargo plane, was shot down over Nicaragua. CIA weapons were found on the downed plane. It was the same plane that had been flown by convicted cocaine dealer Barry Seal. Also the plane's logs indicated it had flown out of Colombia, home of the Medellin and Cali drug cartels. The CIA denied any knowledge of him, and stated that he was working outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. After several weeks, Hasenfus was released and returned to the United States where he subsequently received no aid or support by the government.

Several plans to bring peace to Central America were discussed in the mid-1980s. However, only one, the Reagan plan, would have prevented democracy from continuing in Nicaragua. 

The Contadora process: Representatives from Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela met on the island off the coast of Panama. The following was agreed upon in regards to Nicaragua and the contras: the withdrawal of all foreign military units, the termination of importing all arms, free elections, the closing of all foreign military bases, a verification process, and the termination of arms smuggling. Not believing that Nicaragua would be in favor of this proposal, the United States supported Contadora. However, when the FSLN also showed support, Reagan slowly moved away from this peace proposal.

The Arias plan: Costa Rican president Oscar Arias proposed that all nations "freely choose their economic, social, and political systems." This also was unacceptable to the Reagan administration, since it would have allowed for popular elections, and subsequently FSLN candidates would have been reelected.

The Tela accords: In 1989, the Central American nations voted to expel the contras from Central America. This also was intolerable to the White House.

The Reagan plan: Reagan proposed that there be no Soviet or Cuban influence in Nicaragua and that the FSLN stay out of the affairs of other nations. At that point free elections would be conducted. Nothing was stated about the contras, who would still be free to operate in Nicaragua.

In March 1988, the United States and Nicaragua agreed upon a cease fire which prohibited any further aid to the contras by the Reagan administration. Any further assistance would be supplied by "neutral organizations" and would be restricted to resettlement and repatriation. However, the United States reneged on this agreement by allowing Congress to appropriate more contra aid which would be administered by the State department and then U.S. AID to maintain the contras. United Nations Secretary-General Soares condemned the United States from abandoning on its pledge, and the White House ignored his statement. 

A year later, the same scenario was repeated when the presidents of the Central American countries castigated the United States for continuing contra aid. They stated that the contras and their families should be "restricted to the voluntary demobilization, repatriation, or relocation in Nicaragua and in third countries." The presidents concluded that Congress flagrantly violated its agreement with Nicaragua. The United States continued to pull out every stop to block the threat of peace.


Nicaragua, part 3
Bush Wins the 1990 Election
Six years earlier the Reagan administration attempted to disrupt Nicaragua's second democratic elections. In the case of the 1990 elections, the Bush administration interfered massively from the outset to insure that its candidate would be triumphant. High level White House officials looked around for a puppet whom they could likely place in power in Nicaragua. In November 1989, Violetta Chamorro, a businessperson with no political experience, was brought to the White House for publicity purposes. Bush promised to "lift the trade embargo and assist in Nicaragua's reconstruction" if Chamorro would choose to run as a candidate and then get elected to office. She agreed to the terms.

Also in late 1989, the White House, Congress, and the media sought to sabotage the elections. First, the United States funneled in $12 million -- the equivalent of a belligerent nation spending $2 billion in an American election -- to campaign for Chamorro, and to falsely advertise to the world that Nicaragua was a repressive state. The Reagan administration revived the 1984 fabricated story of MIG fighters as part of its effort to bring down the Sandinista Party. The FSLN allowed for foreign contributions which are not allowed even in American elections. Second, the contras stepped up terrorist attacks in Nicaragua, despite the fact that a cease fire had been agreed upon 19 months before the February 25 election. 

In accordance with the Tela accords, the Sandinista government called for a meeting of all parties at the United Nations to agree on rules and guidelines for the campaigning process. During this cease-fire the contras sent 2,000 more troops into Nicaragua in order to create havoc. The theory was that more turmoil in Nicaragua would be blamed on the FSLN, and then the voters would choose an anti-Sandinista candidate.

On October 21, 1989, 19 FSLN reservists were killed in an ambush. This led Ortega to announce that "criminal actions" might compel the government to resort to force in self-defense. On October 30 the contras raided a cooperative near Managua and killed five civilians. Observers for Witness for Peace testified that 49 civilians were killed, wounded, or kidnapped in 14 contra attacks in October alone. The Bush administration claimed that the Sandinistas fabricated the contra attacks, or even carried them out themselves as an excuse to cancel the elections. Both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly to condemn Ortega, stating that the Sandinistas must "end their aggression in the region . . . and their tyranny over their own people." In the Senate, the vote was 95-0. 

Bush emerged as a clear victor in the 1990 elections. Even with $12 million in American campaign money and with increasing contra terrorism, Chamorro alone could not win. She was forced to form a coalition of 14 parties in order to defeat the FSLN. The UNO coalition consisted of parties from the far left as well as from the right. The FSLN received 43 percent of the vote and lost to UNO, which received 57 percent. However, the FSLN easily won the assembly election and controls this legislative body by a considerable majority. After Chamorro was elected, Congress appropriated $40 million, but it was withheld until Nicaragua would drop its $15 billion lawsuit in the World Court.

By 1990, the eleven-year war claimed the lives of over 30,000 Nicaraguans, while merely a handful of Americans were lost. Proportionately, this would have been the same as two million Americans dying at the hands of a foreign invader. Most of the casualties were civilians, since the goal of the contras was to break the morale of those people. More than three million were killed, and more than 500,000 people were uprooted. Economic losses totaled $12.2 billion and inflation by the end of the war in 1990 exceeded 3,000 percent. The United States spent $300 million on the contras, and private contributions were never totally accounted for. Furthermore, the United States was able to sustain $15 billion in damage to Nicaragua's infrastructure.

In the six years since the UNO Party has been in power, the United Nations reported that the unemployment rate for the working age population increased to 60 percent and that 70 percent of the population live in severe poverty. In addition, the illiteracy rate climbed to 40 percent.


Iran-Contra, part 1
October Suprise
The Iran-contra scandal can be traced back to October Surprise in the 1980 Presidential election between incumbent Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. In the fall of 1980, Carter was marginally leading Reagan in the polls with the election right around the corner. The release of hostages before election day presumably would have insured the election for Carter. The Reagan team conspired to negotiate a deal with Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. Campaign manager William Casey and George Bush met with Iranian Prime Minister Bani-sadr in Paris in October, only weeks before the election and with Carter having a slight lead over Reagan. Part of the deal cut between the Reagan team and Iran was to provide military weapons which Iran desperately needed in its war with Iraq. As it turned out, the 52 American hostages remained captive in Teheran. Carter's popularity continued to plummet, enabling Reagan to be elected in November, and ironically the hostages were returned at 12 o'clock noon on January 21, 1981 when Reagan was inaugurated. 

The first meeting regarding arms-to-Iran occurred in July 1980 in Barcelona, Spain, not in Madrid as was initially reported. The Republican team met at the Hotel Princess Sofia and at the Pepsico International headquarters. The American team was led by Republican campaign director William Casey, who months later was to be named CIA chief by Reagan, and by Robert McFarlane, who later became National Security adviser under Reagan. 

Three months after Barcelona, a more important meeting took place in Paris. CIA agent Richard Brenneke testified that George Bush was in Paris on Sunday, October 19, 1980 when he met with members of the Khomeini regime to consummate an arms package to Iran. Bush, along with Casey and other government officials, flew to Paris on a BAC 111 on Saturday evening, October 18. The plane arrived in Paris on Sunday morning, October 19, at 8:40 a.m. European time.

In Paris, the Republican team gave $40 million to the Iranian government as a gesture of good faith that the Reagan team was serious in dealing with the terrorist Khomeini government -- and that the 52 American hostages should remain captive until after the November election. After the meeting, Bush had to quickly return to the United States in order to deliver a speech at the Washington Hilton Hotel. He departed France in an SR-71 reconnaissance plane, piloted by Gunther Russbacher. The plane was refueled by an Air Force tanker nearly 2,000 miles out of Paris. The entire return flight to the United States was less than two hours.

When news of the Paris meeting leaked out, the CIA moved quickly to cover-up Bush's meeting. CIA agent Frank Snepp wrote an article in the Village Voice, stating that the SR-71 pilot, Gunther Russbacher, was not capable of flying an SR-71 and, therefore, his allegations were false. However, in an interview between government whistle-blower Rodney Stich and Russbacher, it was very clear that Russbacher had been trained in flying the SR-71. 

Several other witnesses corroborated the story that Bush was present in Paris. Ari Ben-Menashea, a member of Israel's Mossad and involved in the transfer of arms to Iran, stated that Bush was at the meeting. Also, Iranian Prime Minister Bani-sadr produced documents indicating that Bush was present. On the other hand, CIA agent Donald Gregg, who was on the flight to Paris, failed a polygraph test when asked about Bush's presence. 

The Secret Service unequivocally denied the fact that Bush was in Paris. Yet, the agency refused to allow any of its agents, who were assigned to Bush at that time, to testify. Justice Department prosecutors called two Secret Service agents who swore that Bush was in Washington, D.C. on that weekend. The Secret Service claimed that Bush was in Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 18; however, the agency did not produce any evidence to indicate Bush's activities on the following day. 

Under pressure by the Republicans, both the House and the Senate initially refused to investigate the October Surprise. However, eventually in 1991, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a token gesture and superficially did look into allegations of improprieties. The investigation was virtually blocked, since the committee: 1) prevented investigators from traveling to Europe to interview witnesses; 2) denied subpoena power to investigators; 3) limited the time frame of the investigation; and 4) limited the funds to investigate alleged illegalities. 

In addition, the committee called Russbacher an imposter and refused to accept his sworn statements. The testimony of Brenneke was discredited. The committee claimed that he was in Portland, Oregon on the weekend of the October 19, 1980, since he had used his credit cards on that day on the west coast. However, Barbara Honegger, a member of the Reagan-Bush campaign team and one who claimed that Bush was in Paris on October 19, reported that a handwriting expert examined the credit card signatures and swore that they were not those of Brenneke.

A year after the Senate's "investigation" of the October Surprise, the House October Surprise Committee, chaired by Lee Hamilton of Indiana, was formed. However, chief counsel Lawrence Barcella, Jr. had a tarnished reputation, since he had earlier helped conceal clandestine CIA operations in Libya. Also, Richard Pedersen, another key member of the investigation committee, had been involved in corruption. The House committee followed the pattern of its counterpart in the Senate and refused to hear testimony from anyone who had evidence that Bush was in Paris on the weekend of October 19, 1980. In 1993, the committee issued its final report which mirrored that of the Senate committee: the October Surprise was fabricated.

If the October Surprise did indeed occur, there would have been potential enormous consequences: the possibility of impeachment of high level government officials, including members of Congress; criminal activities of Republican Party nominees Reagan and Bush; and the exposure of illegal CIA activities.

Five months after the October Surprise and two months into his first term, Reagan gave CIA chief Casey the green light to begin clandestine activities to attempt to overthrow the Nicaraguan Sandinista government. However, for three years the contras only killed innocent Nicaraguans and were incapable of seizing any villages. This frustration, coupled with the American public's opposition to Reagan's dirty war, influenced Congress to cut off aid to the contras.

Arms for Hostages
In 1984, the CIA chief for the Middle East, William Buckley, was kidnapped by the Hezbollah which was operating out of Iran. Close sources to Reagan confirmed that he would do anything to obtain the release of Buckley. However, that was never to happen, since he was murdered several months later. This was followed by more abductions: Benjamin Weir, Father Jenco, Terry Waite, assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and several professors from the American University in Beirut. The CIA and the National Security Council now moved to attempt to negotiate with Iran.

The National Security Council (NSC) consisted of Vice-President Bush, Secretary of State George Shultz, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, CIA director William Casey, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, and National Security adviser Robert McFarlane. On June 7, 1985, the NSC was given permission to deal with Iran which could exert pressure on the Hezbollah to release the American and British hostages.

Soon thereafter six separate arms deals took place: 

1. August 1985. 96 TOW missiles but no hostages were released. A DC-08 flew from Israel to Iran and transferred $1,217,410 into the Swiss bank account of arms dealer Ghorbanifar. 

2. September 1985. 408 TOWs were sold to Iran. One American hostage, Benjamin Weir, was released a day later. 

3. November 1985. 18 Hawk missiles were shipped to Iran via a Portugal and Israel. North arranged for the transfer of one million dollars which was placed into the bank account of Lake Resources, a CIA operated front to launder money in Florida. 80 Hawks were to be delivered; however, 62 were never delivered. North and Secord testified later that the money received covered the payment for the aircraft. $150,000 was actually spent for transportation, and $850,000 was diverted to the contras. 

4. February 1986. 1,000 TOWs were sent to Iran in increments of 1,000 each and at $10,000 per missile. $10 million was placed in the account of Lake Resources. $3.7 million was used to pay for the TOWs. Of that amount, $6.3 million was profit. 

5. May 1986. $16.5 million was paid to the United States for spare parts for Hawk missiles. $6.5 million was given to the government, and $10 million was deposited in the bank account of Lake Resources. Two months later on July 26 Father Lawrence Jenco was released, and the remaining Hawk parts were sent on to Iran. 

6. October 1986. 500 TOWs were sold to Iran, David Jacobsen was released. $3.6 million was given to the United States. $2 million was paid for the missiles, while $1.3 million became profit.

On November 25, 1986, after a Lebanese newspaper broke the story of arms-for-hostages, Attorney General Edwin Meese revealed that illegal funds had been diverted to the contras. However, Reagan downplayed the weapons which were delivered to Iran. He stated that TOW missiles were "hand held" and that they all could be "transported in one cargo plane." It took several days before North's White House office was sealed, so he and his secretary, Fawn Hall, were able to shred damaging papers in this time period.

Reagan attempted to convince the public that his administration was not dealing with Khomeini but with "moderate elements" within the country. Reagan sent both McFarlane and North on a goodwill trip to Teheran to meet with Khomeini and to present him with an autographed Bible and a cake in the shape of a Bible. The Khomeini government refused to allow them to meet with anyone, and they only waited on the Teheran tarmac for several hours before returning to the United States. Because McFarlane's frustration level increased and because he continued to wrestle with the unethical American covert operations, he resigned as Reagan's NSC adviser and was replaced by Navy Admiral John Poindexter.

The next year a joint Congressional hearing was created to investigate Iran-contra. The committee granted immunity to North, thus forcing him to testify. North bragged that the United States carried out an illegal covert operation to fund the contras in Central America. Since the Boland Amendment prohibited the funding of the contras in their effort to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, the NSC sought other avenues. The first was to convince Congress to allocate funds for "humanitarian aid." However, this money was used illegally to arm the contras and was terminated after several months. Therefore, the NSC had to look for other sources of funds.

North testified that he took it upon himself to carry out "Operation Democracy." He boasted that the profits from the illegal arms sales to the Khomeini regime were placed in secret Swiss bank accounts and that dummy CIA fronts such as Lake Resources in Florida. These funds were used to purchase weapons with which to arm the contras in Central America. This was carried out by North along with Albert Hakim, General Richard Secord, and General John Singlaub.

Secord helped arrange for weapons which were illegally obtained with profits from the sales to Iran and then shipped south to the contras. Hakim was a military sales agent who worked as a middleman with Secord. Hakim was quoted after President Carter's aborted hostage rescue in Iran in 1979: "He couldn't have been happier when the Carter administration needed." Air Force General John Singlaub, who was president of the World Anticommunist League, became involved in raising funds overseas for the contras in 1981. 

On the domestic front North solicited donations from various wealthy people. Claiming that communism was entrenched in Nicaragua and that it would move northward, he was able to solicit $80,000 from Adolph Coors. An $80,000 Cessna spotter plane, to be used in flights over Nicaragua, was purchased. North called wealthy widows, promising them photo sessions with Reagan if they made large contributions. One wealthy woman contributed $200,000 and was rewarded with a five minute meeting with Reagan. Billionaire Ross Perot supplied private funds to North in an attempt to liberate Beirut CIA station chief Buckley in Lebanon. The sultan of Brunei contributed one million dollars, and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia turned over $32 million.

Iran-contra did not break until November 1986 when the hostage swap was discussed in detail. Weinberger contended that Bush supported the arms-for-hostages, while he and Secretary of State George Shultz opposed the idea. Weinberger stated: "President Reagan decided to go with Israeli-Iranian offer to release our 5 hostages in return for the sale of 4,000 TOWs (anti-tank missiles) to Iran by Israel." Weinberger's notes read: "George Shultz + 1 opposed  Bill Casey Ed Meese (Attorney General) + VP favored." Weinberger's notes told of a straightforward swap of weapons for hostages: "Our 5 hostages in return for sale of 4,000 TOWs."

Iran-Contra, part 2
Reagan and Bush's Involvement
A high level official on the National Security stated that on several occasions in 1986 Bush was at high level meetings when arms-for-hostages were discussed. Weinberger contended that Bush supported arms-for-hostages, while he and Shultz opposed the idea. A high level official on the National Security stated that on several occasions in.1986 Bush was at high level meetings when arms-for-hostages were discussed. However, Bush always contended that he did not know about the arms-for-hostages and diversion of illegal funds to the contras until after it was made public in November 1986. He claimed that he had been informed by the Senate Intelligence Committee a month later. 

Bush did say that he had supported the sale of arms but did not realize that it concerned the release of American hostages. Bush has consistently said that he "was out of the loop." In addition, he stated that Israel was not a third party in sending some arms to Iran. After being indicted in Iran-contra in 1992, Weinberger was ordered to turn over his notes which he kept in his Pentagon office. As vice-president, Bush was a member of the National Security Council. He attended at least six documented meetings between May and October of 1986 and a total of at least 24 meetings in the 1980s. After being indicted in Iran-contra in 1992, Weinberger, was ordered to turn over his notes which he kept in his Pentagon office. Weinberger confirmed that Bush was present at a White House meeting on January 7, 1986.

Reagan attended four National Security Council meetings, but he contended that he knew nothing of illegal arms shipments to Iran and illegal weapons sales to the contras. In November 1986, a Beirut newspaper broke a story which explained that American arms sales to Iran.

A month earlier on October 8, 1986, Reagan was asked at a news conference: "Was there any United States involvement in this fight over Nicaragua  carrying the arms -- any involvement whatsoever? Reagan replied: "I'm glad you asked. Absolutely not. While they (three Americans, including Eugene Hasenfus) there is no government connection with that at all" Then after the Reagan administration acknowledged that the United States was selling weapons to Iran, Reagan stated on November 19, 1986: "To eliminate the widespread but mistaken perception that we have been exchanging arms for hostages, I have directed that no further sale of arms of any kind be sent to Iran." Reagan was then asked, "Didn't the United States condone shipments of arms to Israel and other nations?" Reagan denied this charge by saying, "We did not condone and do not condone the shipment of arms." Then Reagan was asked, "Could you explain what the Israeli role was here?" Reagan's response was, "No, because we, as I say, have had nothing to do with other countries or their shipment of arms."

On December 8, 1986, Reagan stated, "Let me just say it was not my intent to do business with Khomeini to trade weapons for hostages, nor to undercut our policy of antiterrorism." Then on March 26, 1987, Reagan stated: "With regard to whether private individuals were giving money to support the contras, yes, I was aware that there were people doing that. But there was nothing to my knowledge, of anyone whom I was aware of." Two days later Reagan said, "As a matter of fact, I was definitely involved in the decisions about (private) support to the freedom fighters. It was my idea to begin with."

Reagan told the Tower Commission that he "approved the shipment of arms by Israel to Iran" but later said that he was "surprised that Israelis had shipped arms to Iran." Then he said that he had incorrectly remembered both instances.

In his 1990 autobiography, Reagan wrote: "To this day I still believe that the Iran initiative was not an effort to swap arms for hostages. But I knew that it may not look that way to some people. Unfortunately, an initiative meant to develop a relationship with moderate Iranians and get our hostages home took on a new shape I never expected and was never told about."

"Mistakes were made, and I tried to rectify them, first by appointing the Tower board to investigate, then by reorganizing the National Security Council so that no one there could ever again take it upon himself to set foreign policy. In time, my ranking in the opinion polls rose. But that never made me feel happy as some might think; it was as if Americans were forgiving me for something I hadn't done." 

"If I could do it over again, I would bring both of them into the Oval Office and say, 'OK, John (Poindexter) and Ollie (North), level with me. Tell me what really happened and what it is that you have been hiding from me. Tell me everything.' If I had done that, at least I wouldn't be sitting here writing this book still ignorant of some of the things that went on during the Iran-contra affair." 

In November 1986, Reagan explained the TOW missile sales: "The modest deliveries could easily be put into a single cargo plane." He also stated that the TOW missiles could be hand-held. Additionally Reagan denied that Israel was used as a third country to help deliver arms to Iran. John Tower was appointed by Reagan to head a commission to investigate Iran-contra. In less than a year the Tower Commission exonerated Reagan of any wrongdoing. Then in 1989, newly elected President Bush appointed Tower to be his Secretary of Defense. Knowing that the Senate would not confirm his appointment because of allegations of womanizing and alcoholism, Tower withdrew his name, since it was impossible for him to receive a majority vote in the Senate.

Iran-Contra, part 3
The Iran-Contra Indictments
It is not a crime to deceive the American public as high officials in the Reagan Administration did for two years while conducting the Iran and Contra operations. However, it is a crime to mislead, deceive, and lie to Congress when Congress seeks to learn whether Administration officials are conducting the nation's business in accordance with the law. Lawrence Walsh was hired as a special prosecutor to determine precisely if this had occurred. He subsequently found several upper-level Iran-contra participants in violation of the law.

Several American laws were defied: 

The National Security Act. Select committees in both houses must be informed of all intelligence gathering by the CIA. 
The Hughes-Ryan Amendment (1974). The CIA may only use funds which are intended for obtaining necessary intelligence. The CIA must brief at least eight separate Congressional committees in regard to any covert action other than simple intelligence gathering. 
The Boland Amendment (1984). The United States cannot use funds to support any military operations in Nicaragua unless appropriated by Congress. 
The Neutrality Act (1794). It is illegal to initiate, organize, and/or provide money for military action against any foreign country which the United States is not officially at peace with. The United States had officially severed diplomatic relations with Iran which had been officially branded a terrorist nation. 
Oliver North was given Congressional immunity, and consequently most of his convictions were overturned by an appeals court. Ironically, North was sentenced to several hundred hours of community work to help the drug problem in Washington, D.C. The investigation and subsequent lawsuits by the Christic Institute against the "enterprise" of alleged drug traffickers were held up and later dropped in the federal courts.

At the Iran-contra trials, North was found guilty of altering and destroying documents, accepting an illegal gratuity, and aiding and abetting in the obstruction of Congress. He was sentenced to a three year suspended prison term and two years probation; fined $150,000 and given 1,200 hours community work. In July 1990, North's conviction was overturned by a 2 to 1 appeals court ruling, because the evidence used to convict him was his Congressional testimony for which he was granted immunity.

Former National Security adviser John Poindexter was convicted of five felonies involving conspiracy, obstruction of Congress, and false statements. He was sentenced to six months in prison. Robert McFarlane pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress. He was sentenced to two years probation and fined $20,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community work.

Casper Weinberger was charged with withholding and concealing notes; lying about his knowledge of illegal Saudi Arabian contributions and lying about the existence of such notes; as well as perjuring himself twice by denying knowledge of Israeli arms sales to Iran and the need to supply Israel with arms it sold to Iran. 

Major Richard Secord, who helped arrange illegally purchased arms for the contras, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Iran-contra committee. He was sentenced to two years probation.

Richard Miller, who headed a Washington public relations firm, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to withholding information from Congress. He was given two years probation.

Carl (Spitz) Channell, a conservative fund raiser, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States government. He was sentenced to two years probation.

Clair George, former deputy director of the CIA, was charged with ten counts of perjury. He was convicted on two charges. 

Elliott Abrams, deputy Secretary of State to Central America, pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress. He was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours community work.

Albert Fiers, part of the CIA's Central American task force, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges as part of the deal to cooperate with special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh's investigation.

Albert Hakim, a California arms dealer in sending illegal arms to the contras, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for supplementing North's salary. As a large shareholder in Lake Resources, he pleaded guilty to the theft of government property, and illegally shipping arms to the contras. He was sentenced to two years probation and fined $5,000. 

Thomas Clines, CIA official, was found guilty for under reporting his earnings to the IRS between 1985 and 1988. He also received illegal profits in Iran-contra. 

Other high level White House officials were unscathed. Chief of Staff Donald Regan was not implicated, even though he had participated in top secret meetings which dealt with the illegal sale of arms to Iran. CIA director William Casey, who directly organized and orchestrated the covert contra war died before any charges were brought against him.

Before special prosecutor Walsh completed his investigation, President Bush issued the Christmas eve pardons in 1992, just weeks before he was to leave office. This made it virtually impossible to convict anyone including Bush himself. He issued pardons to Casper Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, Robert McFarlane, Alan Feiers, Clair George, and Duane Clarridge. 

In the United States ten-year contra war, the government failed to overthrow the Sandinistas and to bring back a capitalistic dictatorship to Nicaragua. The Reagan and Bush administrations fought against the people of Nicaragua instead of waging war against poverty. The war and the Iran-contra probe, the latter of which began in 1986, finally came to a halt in 1992 with the Christmas eve pardons. In these years, the White House was incapable of eliminating a democracy based on Marxist principles, while on the home front the American judicial system failed as well. High-ranking officials, going all the way to the Oval Office, received minuscule sentences or no punishment at all.