Whereupon I enter the spirit world and connect with the former Great Leader, Major General, Commander of the Guardia Nacional, head of the National Emergency Committee, Presidente Anastasio Somoza DeBayle, Martyr of the Nicaraguan People, Victim of an International Communist Conspiracy, and Victim of Betrayal by Jimmy Carter and the United States government.
I am here, in Managua, in your beloved Nicaragua. Where you, your father and your brother ruled with great love and Christian devotion. I am learning to love Nicaragua, Tachito! It lacks certain things, such as street addresses, meters in taxi cabs and consistent wifi, but these mean nothing next to the soul of a nation.
I know of the criticisms, the attacks, my brother, by the Marxists, the liars, the conspirators. And I feel your pain, how you must have suffered. Your beloved land, for which you DID SO MUCH. Betrayed by the hypocrites with their talk of human rights.
I am thinking of your final hours, el presidente. In Asuncion, Paraguay, under the protection of another great leader, Alfredo Stroessner. You honor him in your autobiography, Tachito. He “represented the democratic principles and Western ideology so essential to peace and progress.” Some may have been upset that he harbored Dr. Josef Mengele, and kept his country under a state of siege with a firm hand for thirty-five years. But he was no Nazi. He was an anti-communist and a reliable friend to the United States. And he was the only leader in Latin America who allowed you refuge. He, too, would be betrayed and exiled from his beloved country.
I know you tried to stay out of politics since you left Nicaragua, Tachito. You gave a million dollars to the contras, their first real cash before the Reagan administration began organizing and funding the resistance through the CIA. You are focused, now, on business, on your one billion dollars in assets, perhaps also managing the $2-4 billion of the extended Somoza family.
On your final day, September 17th, 1980, one short year after your fall, I am imagining you having your morning coffee, dressing in a sharp, dark business suit, showering in your villa on the exclusive Avenida General Genes. It’s a beautiful home, as is your due. Through your business skill, you accumulated some money, yes, so why not enjoy the very best of Paraguay with your beautiful Dinorah? Business wisdom runs in the family – your father was one of the wealthiest men in the world in his time, despite the small size of your country. Since when is success and intelligence and initiative a reason for shame? I’ll tell you when, Anastasio. NEVER.
You kiss Dinorah goodbye, enter your white Mercedes Benz S-class limousine and head off to the bank down Avenida Espana. With you in the car are your Colombian financial advisor Jou Baittiner and your new driver César Gallardo. You notice something is wrong. A blue Chevrolet pickup drives into your path. A shiver of alarm, then abject fear courses through your body. Hugo Irurzun of the Argentine People`s Revolutionary Army raises a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher from the balcony of the house facing your car.
Can I tell you something, Tachito? The Sandinistas, the whole Satanic cluster of them, told the Argentinians not to do it. Tomas Borges, who imprisoned and tortured eight thousand of your beloved Guardia Nacional, said you were more useful alive than dead, because you were “the monkey that scares the people.”
Why were you hated so? I know the Argentinians and the assorted international scoundrels who waltzed in during your final desperate days in power, I know they hated you for your anti-communism and your loyalty to your beloved United States. For your tough leadership and imposition of order in a country under siege.
Still, why were you persecuted so, accused of such terrible things? You know the litany.
How you had the dead bodies of rivals dropped into the Masaya volcano.
Or kept political prisoners in your compound, caged next to lions, panthers and jaguars.
How you ordered sustained bombing raids on Chinandega, Masaya and Leon.
How General Omar Torrijos of Panama called you a mentally deranged man leading an army of criminals, attacking a defenseless population.
That your family owned ten thousand square miles of grazing and farm land in Nicaragua, innumerable overseas properties, railroad and steamship lines, lumber companies, the country’s largest brewery, factories, fishing fleets, a monopoly on cement, dominance of the coffee, sugar and beef industries, the national airline, the only Mercedes dealership.
How poor people sold their blood for a dollar to Plasmaferesis only to have your son sell it to the United States for ten times that amount.
Or that you and your son were responsible for the murder of La Prensa newspaper editor Pedro Joaquin Chamorro after his expose of the plasma scandal, accusing you of running “a classic dictatorship, characterized by corruption, violence, disorder and government-sponsored crime,” daring to compare your administration to “a Mafia gang, because it is dedicated first of all to self- enrichment.”
In your autobiography, “Nicaragua Betrayed,” you demonstrated that none of these things were true.
The rocket launcher malfunctioned. It didn’t work. Enrique Gorriaran Merlo runs at the car with an M16 automatic rifle and sprays the right rear door with bullets. Your bodyguards in the other car exchange fire with the attackers.Can I tell you that, when the top of your limousine, and your driver’s head, were sheared off by the second rocket, it was Dinorah who came running out of the house, hysterical with shock and grief? In that moment, so far from home, no adoring supporters, only Dinorah, your devoted final witness.
The Argentinans get away and eventually leave the country, all but Irurzun, who is caught and killed. Gorriaran tells Tomas Borge and Eden Pastora that his commandos had administered revolutionary justice and they submit their expense report. Thirty three thousand dollars. Which is paid.
Can I ask an intimate question, Tachito? When you suspected that you had only seconds to live, as your sweet body was punctured by two dozen bullets, what were your final thoughts? Did your life flash before your eyes? As a Christian, in your last moments, you know that you can ask forgiveness, that the blood of Christ can save you. Maybe there is nothing to be absolved for.
Maybe you were hated for no reason. Betrayed by your closest ally, the United States for no reason. Attacked without mercy by Pedro Chamorro and La Prensa for no reason. Opposed fiercely by the Organization of American States, who demanded your resignation, for no reason.
Today, I can tell you, many Nicaraguans miss you. Miss your insistence on order, miss the way you kept the streets clean of thugs and criminals. Miss the days gone by when people dressed properly, respected authority, and went to Church. Miss a better economy, at least as they remember it, at least for some people.
I’d tell you about Ronald Reagan and the contras and the arms for hostages deal with Iran and the Boland Amendment and Oliver North. Or of Violeta Chamorro, of all people, defeating Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas at the polls.
But you must be tired, my man. Rest in peace. Ask for forgiveness, as the scriptures promise that forgiveness will be given unto you.
Unless it’s not.