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The Contras is the name given to the rebel groups opposing Nicaragua's FSLN. Sadinista Junta of National Reconstruction government following the July 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's dictatorship. Although the Contra movement included a number of separate groups, with different aims and little ideological unity, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) emerged as by far the largest. In 1987, all Contra organizations were united into the Nicaraguan Resistance.

During the war against the Sandinista government, they carried out many violations of human rights. In 1989, Human Rights Watch released a report on the situation, which stated: "[The] contras were major and systematic violators of the most basic standards of the laws of armed conflict, including by launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians, selectively murdering non-combatants, and mistreating prisoners."

U.S. military and financial assistance

Ronald Regan played a key role in the contra alliance when he became president in 1980. Reagan accused the Sandinistas of importing Cuban-style socialism and aiding leftist guerrillas in El Salvador. On January 4, 1982, Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the CIA the authority to recruit and support the Contras with $19 million in military aid. The effort to support the Contras was one component of the Reagan Doctrine, which called for providing military support to movements opposing Soviet supported, communist governments. The Reagan White House set about undermining the government by arming and training a group of soldiers on bases in Honduras, from which they launched a "secret was" to over throw the Sandinistas.

In 1984, Sandinista-run Nicaraguan government filed a suit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States through such actions as the placement of underwater mines by CIA operatives and training, funding and support for the guerrilla forces. The court concluded that the United States was "in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State", "not to intervene in its affairs", "not to violate its sovereignty", "not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce", and "in breach of its obligations under Article XIX of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956." Regarding human rights violations by the Contras, however, the court stated that the United States could be held accountable only for acts the Contras committed in connection with the United States, and therefore the "Court does not have to determine whether the violations of humanitarian law attributed to the contras were in fact committed by them." The Court found that the United States "has encouraged the commission by them [the Contras] of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law; but does not find a basis for concluding that any such acts which may have been committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United States of America" The United States was ordered to pay reparations.

Regan's administration sent direct aid, but it was interrupted by the Boland Amendment, passed by the US Congress in December 1982. The Boland Amendment was extended in October 1984 to forbid action by not only the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency but all U.S. government agencies.

Administration officials tried to get funding and military supplies from other countries. These efforts were shown in the Iran- Contra Affair of 1986–1987, which concerned contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to Iran. The US military had to get funding this way because Congress cut off money for this cause. The administration at that time likes to deny that it ever happened, but the US broke foreign codes and acted very unethically toward a country that was trying to become independent.


1. ^

2. ^ "International Court of Justice Year 1986, 27 June 1986, General list No. 70, paragraphs 251, 252, 157, 158, 233.". International Court of Justice. Retrieved 2006-07-30. Large PDF file from the ICJ website

3. ^ National Security Archive (1990?). "The Contras, cocaine, and covert operations: Documentation of official U.S. knowledge of drug trafficking and the Contras". TheNational Security Archive / George Washington University.

4. ^ "Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General Report of Investigation Allegations of Connections Between CIA and the Contras in Cocaine Trafficking to the United States (96-0143-IG) Volume II: The Contra Story". Central Intelligence Agency. October 8, 1998. Retrieved January 13, 2008.

5. ^ Uhlig, Mark A. (August 4, 1989). "Sandinistas Suspend Army Draft Until After Election". New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.

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