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Former Contra, Adolfo Calero, Dies at 81

June 4, 2012

Adolfo Calero, courtesy of FoxNews Latino

Adolfo Calero, former head of Nicaraguan rebel movement known as the Contras, died of health complications in Managua, Nicaragua on June 2, 2012 at the age of 81. He was the president of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN), the largest organized force against the leftist Sandinista government which took power on July 17, 1979 when the ruling Somoza family left Nicaragua for exile in the U.S.

On July 10, 1979, seven days before the transition, Calero met with U.S. Embassy officials to express his concern that the United States failed to bring about a solution to the Nicaraguan crisis. The cable reports that,

“Calero lamented the apparent inability of the USG [U.S. government] to resolve the situation and avert a Marxist victory which would be disastrous for all Central America.”

[see full document here]

Additionally, the cable describes Calero as having an attitude “representative of the doomsday view we get from most moderates in the capital.”

Ten days later, on July 17, 1979, the Somoza family flew to the United States, ending one of the longest familial regimes in Latin America.

After the Sandinista take-over, Calero joined the FDN as a ‘Contra’ fighter, and became president of the organization which secretly received arms and funds from the U.S. as part of the later infamous ‘Iran-Contra Scandal.’

In 1987, Calero testified before congress during the Iran-Contra Investigations into National Security Council staff Oliver North’s organization of a clandestine network to support the Contra rebels.

For more on the Iran-Contra Affair, see National Security Archive senior analyst Peter Kornbluh’s piece marking its 25th anniversary, here.

Also see the National Security Archive’s extensive collection of documents on Nicaragua, and Iran-Contra, available by subscription, here  and here.

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