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This man was the real thing. Although I do not believe that 'guerilla war' is going to occur in the US on a substantial scale,

it does not hurt to be familiar with the sorts of things that can happen in a civil war. Along with Cuba, Nicaragua was the

only other example, in the last sixty years, of a successful war against a government which resulted in victory for the

rebel forces.

Edén Pastora, ‘Commander Zero’ in Nicaragua, Dies at 83

A hero of the 1979 Sandinista revolution, he later turned on his comrades
in arms, mounting an international campaign of political pressure and later
guerrilla attacks inside the country.

By Robert D. McFadden June 16, 2020

Edén Pastora, a hero of the 1979 Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua who was
known by his nom de guerre, Commander Zero — and who later turned against
his victorious comrades in arms in a long counterrevolutionary war of words
and guerrilla attacks that failed to budge the socialist regime in Managua
— died early Tuesday in a military hospital in that city, the capital of
Nicaragua. He was 83.

A grandson, Álvaro Pastora Gutiérrez, said the cause was a heart attack. He
said Mr. Pastora had been gravely ill when he was admitted to the hospital,
though he did not identify the nature of the illness.

Mr. Pastora’s wife told a local newspaper that the cause was
bronchopneumonia. His family had denied rumors that Mr. Pastora had
contracted Covid-19. The government has been widely accused of listing
pneumonia as the cause of death in Covid cases as a way to dispel reports
that the pandemic was out of control in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua has resisted adopting the strict measures that have been put in
place around much of the world to curb the spread of the disease, refusing
to close schools and businesses and allowing, and even organizing, mass
events.

Mr. Pastora, in a life of danger and adventure that stretched from the
jungles of the Miskito Coast to the halls of Congress in Washington, was
instrumental in toppling the military dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza
Debayle, the last of the line in a repressive family dynasty that had ruled
their Central American country for nearly a half century.

But deprived of a major role in the revolutionary government he had helped
to install, and increasingly disillusioned by its Marxist-Leninist
tendencies, Mr. Pastora went into exile and for years challenged the
regime, led by Daniel Ortega, first with an international campaign of
political pressures and later with hit-and-run guerrilla attacks inside
Nicaragua.

Along the way he courted sympathizers and bankrollers in the United States,
Europe and Latin America; took money and air support secretly from the
Central Intelligence Agency; attacked cities in Nicaragua; was denounced by
Managua as a traitor and tried in absentia; was seriously wounded by an
assassin’s bomb that killed eight people; and once ran for the presidency
of Nicaragua. He lost — and two years later, in 2008, announced that he had
reconciled with the Ortega government.

Known for bold stratagems that captured world headlines and romanticized
his daredevil exploits, Mr. Pastora was an early leader of the Sandinista
National Liberation Front and a charismatic figure in the struggle against
a dictator who had looted the national treasury and ordered the deaths of
countless opponents, including Mr. Pastora’s father.

On Aug. 22, 1978, Mr. Pastora, a former medical student, led some 25
Sandinista guerrillas on a daring raid into the National Palace in Managua.
The invaders killed or disarmed the palace guards and seized more than
1,000 hostages, including the entire Nicaraguan Congress and most of the
senior officials of the Somoza dictatorship.

For three days, as a shocked world watched, the revolutionaries held out
until General Somoza capitulated to their demands for the release of scores
of political prisoners, a $500,000 ransom and safe passage to Panama. The
spectacular raid established the legend of “Comandante Cero.” Photographers
caught him as he mounted the steps of the escape plane: a triumphant
swashbuckler in a dark beret, clutching a rifle, his chest crossed with
bullet and grenade bandoleers.

The raid reignited a revolution that had been simmering for years. Within
days, six cities rose in revolt. Insurrections soon spread across the
country. By spring, a civil war was underway, pitting General Somoza’s
well-equipped National Guard against a ragtag coalition of rebel forces.
Mr. Pastora commanded the southern front in an offensive that slowly closed
in on Managua.

With battles raging on the city outskirts, General Somoza resigned on July
17, 1979, and flew to Miami. As triumphant rebels drove through the city
firing automatic weapons in the air, a Junta of National Reconstruction was
installed. The war had left 50,000 people dead and 600,000 homeless.

A year later, General Somoza was assassinated in Paraguay by Sandinista
commandos, who blew up his limousine with an anti-tank rocket.

Despite his efforts for the revolution, Mr. Pastora, who had voiced
presidential ambitions, was not named to the junta or to a ruling
directorate. He was named deputy defense minister and assigned to organize
Sandinista militia reserves. He was offended when many Sandinista leaders
moved into luxury homes in Managua.

The junta took on Cuban advisers and pledged land reforms, equality for
women and a nonaligned foreign policy. But critics said the regime was
turning Nicaragua into a state modeled on Cuban socialism, with cadres
enforcing political discipline and stifling dissent.

In 1981, Mr. Pastora quit the government and disappeared. Ten months later,
he surfaced in Costa Rica and, echoing United States charges, denounced the
Sandinista government as a betrayal of the revolution, saying that it had
imposed censorship, delayed elections and aligned itself with Cuba and the
Soviet Union. The Sandinistas dismissed him as a renegade.

Mr. Pastora in 1982 raised funds in Portugal, Italy, West Germany and
Spain. He met congressional leaders and White House officials in Washington
in 1983, winning pledges of $27 million in aid. American corporations made
large contributions as well. Panama gave him a helicopter and $300,000.

But his efforts to dislodge the Sandinistas with political pressure did not
succeed, and in 1983 he declared war.

“I consider it my duty as a revolutionary citizen to do everything within
my power to prevent the revolution from being aborted — either by this
Marxist obstinacy or by spurious counterrevolutionary forces,” he said in a
commentary in The New York Times. “It is with a feeling of sadness that I
have taken up arms not as a rebel but to challenge the legitimacy of the
Sandinist leadership in Managua.”

With secret C.I.A. support, Mr. Pastora assembled a large force of
guerrilla fighters, calling it the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance. It
attacked the Managua airport, the Pacific port of Corinto, the city of San
Juan del Norte and other targets. But there was no popular uprising, as he
had hoped for. He was branded a traitor and tried in absentia. Sandinista
offensives forced his retreat to Costa Rica. As his losses mounted, funds
from the United States and elsewhere dried up.

n 1984, Mr. Pastora was badly burned and three reporters and five other
people were killed by a bomb that exploded at a news conference at his
jungle camp. He blamed the C.I.A., which he said had retaliated for his
refusal to merge with other anti-Sandinista groups. The Reagan
administration blamed the Sandinistas for the bombing. Some investigators
traced the attack to a leftist Argentine operative, but no one was ever
prosecuted.

After six senior commanders defected to a rival group in 1986, Mr. Pastora
abandoned his war against the Sandinistas and opened a shark-fishing
business in Costa Rica.

“He has been a great symbol, a man with great charisma,” said José Davila,
speaking for the defectors. “But he lacks political ability. He could never
make an alliance. So instead, people left him.”

(The fight against the Sandinistas was carried on by a right-wing force
known as the contras with aid from Washington and secret assistance from a
conspiracy, led by the National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver
North, that sold arms to Iran for funds that were illegally passed to the
contras.)

In the 1990s, Mr. Pastora was allowed to return to Nicaragua under an
amnesty. But his efforts to form a new political movement fizzled, and his
plan to run for president in 1996 was rejected by election officials on
technical grounds. In 2006, he was allowed to run for president as a
minor-party candidate, but he finished fifth with less than 1 percent of
the vote. (His return to the political arena was portrayed in a 2006
documentary, “Edén Pastora — Comandante Cero,” directed by Alvaro Pardo.)

Edén Pastora Gómez was born in Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua, on Jan. 22, 1937,
one of six children of Panfilo Pastora and Elsie Gómez de Pastora. When
Edén was 7 or 8, his father, a prosperous rancher, was killed by Somoza’s
National Guard. Officials said he died in a dispute over land, but his
family called it murder. It left his son with a hatred for “injustice,
oppression and regimes of terror,” as he later put it.

The boy wanted to be a Roman Catholic priest, but his mother opposed it. At
Colegio Centro América, a Jesuit-run secondary school in Granada, about 26
miles southeast of Managua, he studied history, the arts and the humanities
with the sons of Nicaragua’s elite families.

When he was 16, a priest introduced him to the nationalist teachings of
Augusto César Sandino, the rebel general who, from 1927 to 1933, led a
guerrilla war against American Marines who were enforcing a United States
presence in Nicaragua. Murdered on orders by Somoza, who regarded him as a
threat, Sandino inspired generations of future Somoza enemies.

In Mexico in the mid-1950s, Mr. Pastora studied medicine at the University
of Guadalajara. He organized anti-Somoza revolutionaries at the university,
and did not complete his studies. Instead, he returned to Nicaragua in 1959
to run his family’s ranch and to join the recently formed Sandino
Revolutionary Front, one of many groups that arose in the 1960s and ’70s to
oppose the dictatorship.

Mr. Pastora had been married since the 1960s to Yolanda Torres Giron de
Pastora, his second wife. In addition to her and his grandson Álvaro, his
survivors include 11 children, 20 other grandchildren and two
great-grandchildren, according to his family. (In a televised interview,
Mr. Pastora himself once said, “In four marriages and six affairs, 10 women
have given me 21 children.”)

In 2008, two years after losing his presidential bid, Mr. Pastora announced
that he had reconciled with the Sandinistas and pledged support for
President Ortega.

“This government is making a revolution,” he said, “one-eyed or lame, but
it is a revolution.”

In 2016, nearly four decades after the Nicaraguan revolution, Mr. Ortega
was elected to his fourth term as president. Mr. Pastora held a minor
government post as minister of development for the San Juan River Basin,
where he owned a thriving shark-fishing business at San Juan del Norte.

Alfonso Flores Bermúdez contributed reporting from Managua.

Robert D. McFadden is a senior writer on the Obituaries desk and the winner
of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. He joined The Times in
May 1961 and is also the co-author of two books.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/world/americas/eden-pastora-commander-zero-in-nicaragua-dies-at-83.html

scale, we ought to be familiar with the most important episodes of it.

=======================================================================

Edén Pastora, ‘Commander Zero’ in Nicaragua, Dies at 83

A hero of the 1979 Sandinista revolution, he later turned on his comrades
in arms, mounting an international campaign of political pressure and later
guerrilla attacks inside the country.

By Robert D. McFadden June 16, 2020

Edén Pastora, a hero of the 1979 Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua who was
known by his nom de guerre, Commander Zero — and who later turned against
his victorious comrades in arms in a long counterrevolutionary war of words
and guerrilla attacks that failed to budge the socialist regime in Managua
— died early Tuesday in a military hospital in that city, the capital of
Nicaragua. He was 83.

A grandson, Álvaro Pastora Gutiérrez, said the cause was a heart attack. He
said Mr. Pastora had been gravely ill when he was admitted to the hospital,
though he did not identify the nature of the illness.

Mr. Pastora’s wife told a local newspaper that the cause was
bronchopneumonia. His family had denied rumors that Mr. Pastora had
contracted Covid-19. The government has been widely accused of listing
pneumonia as the cause of death in Covid cases as a way to dispel reports
that the pandemic was out of control in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua has resisted adopting the strict measures that have been put in
place around much of the world to curb the spread of the disease, refusing
to close schools and businesses and allowing, and even organizing, mass
events.

Mr. Pastora, in a life of danger and adventure that stretched from the
jungles of the Miskito Coast to the halls of Congress in Washington, was
instrumental in toppling the military dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza
Debayle, the last of the line in a repressive family dynasty that had ruled
their Central American country for nearly a half century.

But deprived of a major role in the revolutionary government he had helped
to install, and increasingly disillusioned by its Marxist-Leninist
tendencies, Mr. Pastora went into exile and for years challenged the
regime, led by Daniel Ortega, first with an international campaign of
political pressures and later with hit-and-run guerrilla attacks inside
Nicaragua.

Along the way he courted sympathizers and bankrollers in the United States,
Europe and Latin America; took money and air support secretly from the
Central Intelligence Agency; attacked cities in Nicaragua; was denounced by
Managua as a traitor and tried in absentia; was seriously wounded by an
assassin’s bomb that killed eight people; and once ran for the presidency
of Nicaragua. He lost — and two years later, in 2008, announced that he had
reconciled with the Ortega government.

Known for bold stratagems that captured world headlines and romanticized
his daredevil exploits, Mr. Pastora was an early leader of the Sandinista
National Liberation Front and a charismatic figure in the struggle against
a dictator who had looted the national treasury and ordered the deaths of
countless opponents, including Mr. Pastora’s father.

On Aug. 22, 1978, Mr. Pastora, a former medical student, led some 25
Sandinista guerrillas on a daring raid into the National Palace in Managua.
The invaders killed or disarmed the palace guards and seized more than
1,000 hostages, including the entire Nicaraguan Congress and most of the
senior officials of the Somoza dictatorship.

For three days, as a shocked world watched, the revolutionaries held out
until General Somoza capitulated to their demands for the release of scores
of political prisoners, a $500,000 ransom and safe passage to Panama. The
spectacular raid established the legend of “Comandante Cero.” Photographers
caught him as he mounted the steps of the escape plane: a triumphant
swashbuckler in a dark beret, clutching a rifle, his chest crossed with
bullet and grenade bandoleers.

The raid reignited a revolution that had been simmering for years. Within
days, six cities rose in revolt. Insurrections soon spread across the
country. By spring, a civil war was underway, pitting General Somoza’s
well-equipped National Guard against a ragtag coalition of rebel forces.
Mr. Pastora commanded the southern front in an offensive that slowly closed
in on Managua.

With battles raging on the city outskirts, General Somoza resigned on July
17, 1979, and flew to Miami. As triumphant rebels drove through the city
firing automatic weapons in the air, a Junta of National Reconstruction was
installed. The war had left 50,000 people dead and 600,000 homeless.

A year later, General Somoza was assassinated in Paraguay by Sandinista
commandos, who blew up his limousine with an anti-tank rocket.

Despite his efforts for the revolution, Mr. Pastora, who had voiced
presidential ambitions, was not named to the junta or to a ruling
directorate. He was named deputy defense minister and assigned to organize
Sandinista militia reserves. He was offended when many Sandinista leaders
moved into luxury homes in Managua.

The junta took on Cuban advisers and pledged land reforms, equality for
women and a nonaligned foreign policy. But critics said the regime was
turning Nicaragua into a state modeled on Cuban socialism, with cadres
enforcing political discipline and stifling dissent.

In 1981, Mr. Pastora quit the government and disappeared. Ten months later,
he surfaced in Costa Rica and, echoing United States charges, denounced the
Sandinista government as a betrayal of the revolution, saying that it had
imposed censorship, delayed elections and aligned itself with Cuba and the
Soviet Union. The Sandinistas dismissed him as a renegade.

Mr. Pastora in 1982 raised funds in Portugal, Italy, West Germany and
Spain. He met congressional leaders and White House officials in Washington
in 1983, winning pledges of $27 million in aid. American corporations made
large contributions as well. Panama gave him a helicopter and $300,000.

But his efforts to dislodge the Sandinistas with political pressure did not
succeed, and in 1983 he declared war.

“I consider it my duty as a revolutionary citizen to do everything within
my power to prevent the revolution from being aborted — either by this
Marxist obstinacy or by spurious counterrevolutionary forces,” he said in a
commentary in The New York Times. “It is with a feeling of sadness that I
have taken up arms not as a rebel but to challenge the legitimacy of the
Sandinist leadership in Managua.”

With secret C.I.A. support, Mr. Pastora assembled a large force of
guerrilla fighters, calling it the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance. It
attacked the Managua airport, the Pacific port of Corinto, the city of San
Juan del Norte and other targets. But there was no popular uprising, as he
had hoped for. He was branded a traitor and tried in absentia. Sandinista
offensives forced his retreat to Costa Rica. As his losses mounted, funds
from the United States and elsewhere dried up.

n 1984, Mr. Pastora was badly burned and three reporters and five other
people were killed by a bomb that exploded at a news conference at his
jungle camp. He blamed the C.I.A., which he said had retaliated for his
refusal to merge with other anti-Sandinista groups. The Reagan
administration blamed the Sandinistas for the bombing. Some investigators
traced the attack to a leftist Argentine operative, but no one was ever
prosecuted.

After six senior commanders defected to a rival group in 1986, Mr. Pastora
abandoned his war against the Sandinistas and opened a shark-fishing
business in Costa Rica.

“He has been a great symbol, a man with great charisma,” said José Davila,
speaking for the defectors. “But he lacks political ability. He could never
make an alliance. So instead, people left him.”

(The fight against the Sandinistas was carried on by a right-wing force
known as the contras with aid from Washington and secret assistance from a
conspiracy, led by the National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver
North, that sold arms to Iran for funds that were illegally passed to the
contras.)

In the 1990s, Mr. Pastora was allowed to return to Nicaragua under an
amnesty. But his efforts to form a new political movement fizzled, and his
plan to run for president in 1996 was rejected by election officials on
technical grounds. In 2006, he was allowed to run for president as a
minor-party candidate, but he finished fifth with less than 1 percent of
the vote. (His return to the political arena was portrayed in a 2006
documentary, “Edén Pastora — Comandante Cero,” directed by Alvaro Pardo.)

Edén Pastora Gómez was born in Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua, on Jan. 22, 1937,
one of six children of Panfilo Pastora and Elsie Gómez de Pastora. When
Edén was 7 or 8, his father, a prosperous rancher, was killed by Somoza’s
National Guard. Officials said he died in a dispute over land, but his
family called it murder. It left his son with a hatred for “injustice,
oppression and regimes of terror,” as he later put it.

The boy wanted to be a Roman Catholic priest, but his mother opposed it. At
Colegio Centro América, a Jesuit-run secondary school in Granada, about 26
miles southeast of Managua, he studied history, the arts and the humanities
with the sons of Nicaragua’s elite families.

When he was 16, a priest introduced him to the nationalist teachings of
Augusto César Sandino, the rebel general who, from 1927 to 1933, led a
guerrilla war against American Marines who were enforcing a United States
presence in Nicaragua. Murdered on orders by Somoza, who regarded him as a
threat, Sandino inspired generations of future Somoza enemies.

In Mexico in the mid-1950s, Mr. Pastora studied medicine at the University
of Guadalajara. He organized anti-Somoza revolutionaries at the university,
and did not complete his studies. Instead, he returned to Nicaragua in 1959
to run his family’s ranch and to join the recently formed Sandino
Revolutionary Front, one of many groups that arose in the 1960s and ’70s to
oppose the dictatorship.

Mr. Pastora had been married since the 1960s to Yolanda Torres Giron de
Pastora, his second wife. In addition to her and his grandson Álvaro, his
survivors include 11 children, 20 other grandchildren and two
great-grandchildren, according to his family. (In a televised interview,
Mr. Pastora himself once said, “In four marriages and six affairs, 10 women
have given me 21 children.”)

In 2008, two years after losing his presidential bid, Mr. Pastora announced
that he had reconciled with the Sandinistas and pledged support for
President Ortega.

“This government is making a revolution,” he said, “one-eyed or lame, but
it is a revolution.”

In 2016, nearly four decades after the Nicaraguan revolution, Mr. Ortega
was elected to his fourth term as president. Mr. Pastora held a minor
government post as minister of development for the San Juan River Basin,
where he owned a thriving shark-fishing business at San Juan del Norte.

Alfonso Flores Bermúdez contributed reporting from Managua.

Robert D. McFadden is a senior writer on the Obituaries desk and the winner
of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. He joined The Times in
May 1961 and is also the co-author of two books.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/world/americas/eden-pastora-commander-zero-in-nicaragua-dies-at-83.html

You can get a lot further in life with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone.

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