All Things Considered,
In your interview on Sunday, October 26, 2003 with former contra leader Salvador Talavera in Nicaragua, NPR interviewer Steve Inskeep asked if they were not satisfied with Daniel Ortega’s electoral defeat in 1990 and the return to democracy.
The question is premised on two basic misinterpretations of Nicaraguan history. First, Nicaragua could not “return” to democracy because before the victory of the leftist Sandinistas in 1979 the country never had a functioning democratic system. In fact, that was one of the main demands of the Sandinista revolution, and something that was achieved with the 1984 elections.
Following from this is the second misinterpretation. Almost the entire U.S.-backed contra command structure was comprised of officials from the former dictator Anastasio Somoza’s hated National Guard that terrorized the country. The contras were not fighting for democracy but for a return to the Somoza-style dictatorship that controlled Nicaragua with an iron fist for more than 40 years.