I painted these two youngsters on the archipelago of Solentiname in eastern Lake Nicaragua in 1985. They were armed by the Sandinista government, as were many country folk, so they could defend themselves against the Contras. The Contras specialized in terrorizing the civilian population They targeted new schools and hospitals built by the revolutionary government for the rural poor, often torturing the teachers and doctors to death. They assassinated a young, idealistic American, who traveled with us for a while, named Ben Linder. His crime: he was constructing small, inexpensive hydroelectric systems to bring electricity to isolated communities.
At the time we were told by President Ronald Reagan that the Contras were 'the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers' and that they alone prevented the Nicaraguan Sandinista government from invading Texas. Imagine our surprise on "The Artists' Tour of Nicaragua '84" when we saw Managua the capitol of this fearsome 'communist' state still lying in ruins twelve years after the catastrophic quake of December 1972. We were even more surprised by the fearsome Sandinista army: many troops were barefoot and some even carried WW2 vintage rifles.
The Contras were organized and funded by the CIA in Honduras with the tacit consent of our Ambassador John Negroponte.
Fast forward twenty-four years. The constitutional president of Honduras is seized by the Honduran military in his pajamas and flown to Costa Rica. Curfews and a news blackout are imposed on the country. Many democratic activists are seized by the army. There are rumors of widespread torture and assassination. As many as two hundred thousand Hondurans protest for the return of their president and are fired on by their own troops, but a curious news blackout in the United States muffles these events.
The Obama administration admits that it was informed of the impending coup and advised against it. Hold on a minute. The President of the most powerful nation on earth which maintains a huge military base in this, the third poorest nation in the Americas, which is it's major trading partner and which bestows millions of dollars in aid, could not halt a coup. Even stranger, after the coup, the Administration allowed the coup leaders to enter the United States to talk with their Republican allies.
Some of these coup leaders directed the Contras in the 8o's. Hillary Clinton's close adviser on the situation in Honduras is none other the our ambassador to Honduras in the 80's, John Negroponte .
Is this the change we voted for? Tell me it isn't so.