On this date, I, with other students of the Esteli, Nicaragua NICA language school, met with Garrett Sweeney, Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy. Sweeney, a career State Dept. Foreign Service officer, boasted that there were 20,000 Contras, with 5,000 to 8,000 being in Nicaragua at any one time.
He described four critical factors that would determine the future of Nicaragua (reading from his large briefing book):
- Military "fortunes" of the Contras;
- Reaction of the Nicaraguan population to internal economic trends and conditions, including food shortages, stemming from the U.S.-imposed economic embargo;
- Stability of neighboring states of Costa Rica and Honduras;
- The amount of continued Soviet economic support.
In other words, the U.S. policy was intended to:
- Terrorize the population with military hit-and-run tactics destroying civilian communities, civilian infrastructure, while murdering civilians themselves (mostly favored by Congressional Republicans);
- Starve the population through food shortages and economic deterioration (mostly favored by Congressional Democrats);
- Continued support from neighboring Costa Rica and Honduras to serve as safe staging areas and sanctuaries for Contra terrorist forces moving in and out of Nicaragua;
- Cut off any outside aid from the Soviet Union while the giant U.S. conducted its military and economic war against tiny Nicaragua–self-defense is prohibited.
Mr. Sweeney then described four major policy goals of the United States:
- End Nicaraguan support for guerrilla groups in other countries (State Dept. Special Report #132, Sept. 1985, "Revolution Beyond Our Borders" ) [no substantiating evidence ever offered];
- Severance of Nicaraguan security and military ties to Cuba and the Soviets [self-defense prohibited];
- Reduction of Nicaragua’s military strength to levels that would restore its military to an equilibrium position with remainder of Central America [self-defense prohibited];
- Fulfillment of original Sandinista promises to support democratic pluralism and protect human rights. [The Nicaraguan government was more democratic and protective of human rights than most other Latin American nations, despite the all-out war being imposed upon it by the U.S.]
Sweeney, reading an official document about Third World Revolutions, identified their features:
- Movement to one party government;
- Revolutionary party takes control of military and security apparatus;
- People in power take control of the economy;
- People in power take control of labor, workers, and professional organizations;
- Increased control of the educational system;
- Attempt to reduce religious influence;
- Formal ties with the Soviet Union (if a Marxist revolution).
Sweeney stated that the U.S. policy in Nicaragua could be described as follows: "Goal is peaceful but the manner in which we pursue it is not." Sweeney agreed that there was a need to distinguish between military targets and human rights violations.
Sweeney noted that in the latest Congressional appropriations for the Contras ($27 million), money had already been spent for clothing ($2 million), food ($1 million), equipment, medical needs, and transportation (air charter service and ground transportation). In response to a question of how many contras there were in existence, he responded by indicating that there had been a purchase of 20,000 poncho liners.
He identified the manner in which the U.S. Embassy was organized: the Department of State personnel were divided into four sections: administrative, consular, economic, and political; the Department of Defense had a Military Attache. Finally there was the U.S. Information Agency (USIA).