Moral Low Ground


Nicaragua may Attempt to Collect $17 Billion from U.S. for Unpaid I.C.J. Reparations

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country may attempt to collect $17 billion from the United States, money he says is owed due to a 1986 International Court of Justice ruling against Washington.

Ortega: The people will decide whether to try to collect from the U.S.

According to CNN, Ortega announced he will ask the Nicaraguan people whether or not the country should proceed with such a claim. “In due time we will call for a referendum,” he said, speaking at an event to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the ouster of longtime brutal dictator Anastasio Somoza, an event which marked the ascension of Ortega’s Sandinista party to power and a decade-long struggle against U.S. intervention– both directly and through the anti-Sanidinista Contra rebels.

That intervention included a terrorist campaign against the people of Nicaragua, a Reagan-ordered effort which drew upon U.S.-authored torture and assassination manuals for guidance. The progressive Sandinistas had set about improving the lot of Nicaragua’s poorest citizens; the Reagan administration and its Contra proxies did everything they could to thwart their efforts. Kidnapping, torture and murder were everyday occurrences. A Congressional report detailed Contra rape, torture, burning alive, dismemberment, blinding and beheading of innocent civilians, including children and pregnant women. Yet the Contras were “freedom fighters”– “I am a Contra too,” declared President Reagan, while the leftist Sandinistas were “evil communists.”

In addition to arming, funding and training the Contras in their guerilla war against the Sandinistas, U.S. forces also attacked Nicaragua by air, land and sea. American forces also mined Nicaragua’s harbors.

In a 16-point ruling, the court decided in favor of Nicaragua. The U.S., ruled the I.C.J., 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.”

The U.S. was later ordered to pay $2 billion in compensation.

President Reagan not only ignored the I.C.J. ruling, he also withdrew the United States from the court. U.S. and Contra terrorism against Nicaragua continued unabated for years, and when American lawmakers barred further funding of the Contras, creative hawks within the Reagan administration (many of whom would later go on to serve during the Bush administrations and be instrumental in the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003) concocted the criminal Iran-Contra affair as a way to keep money and arms flowing to the barbaric rebels by selling weapons to America’s arch-enemy Iran.

After the Sandinistas were booted from power– through a democratic election– the Bush (I) administration pressured the pro-U.S. President Violeta Chamorro to drop Nicaragua’s claim against Washington, which she did in 1991.

But Ortega was re-elected in 2006 and, although more pragmatic and cooperative in his relations with Washington, he has not forgotten the horrors inflicted upon his country by a decade of U.S. state terror.

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