248. Telegram 4972 From the Embassy in Nicaragua to the Department of State1

4972. Subj: Terrorists Take Hostages Demanding Release of Political Prisoners. From Ambassador Shelton.

1. An estimated 10–15 individuals who have been described as “Sandinista Communist terrorists” tonight shot way into home of Former GON Min. of Agriculture Jose Maria Castillo shortly after my wife and I left a reception given in our honor. Approximately 20 hostages are being held in house at gunpoint and with grenades and Sandinistas are demanding release of “political prisoners.” Among prominent hostages being held are Nicaraguan Amb to U.S. Guillermo Sevilla Sacasa, GON Amb to UN Guillermo Lang, GON Min of Foreign Affairs Alejandro Montiel, GON Min of District Luis Valle Olivares, Gen Manager Banco de America Ernesto Fernandez Holman, Exxon Gen Mgr. Danilo Lacayo, Architect Alfredo Osorio, Pres of Infonac Noel Pallais, Amb of Chile, Castillo, Col. Pataky, and other prominent members of community, and wives of most of above.

2. As of 2 a.m. Dec 28, police report 2 killed, 3 wounded but this is unconfirmed and individuals not identified. House is surrounded by police under command of General Jose R. Somoza and General Samuel Genie. President Anastasio Somoza with his wife went to Corn Island late afternoon of Dec. 27. He has been reached by radio and is returning immediately to Managua by air and is expected to arrive at approx 3:30 a.m.

3. All U.S. personnel are safe. Further developments will be reported ASAP.

  1. Summary: Shelton reported that 10–15 FSLN militants had occupied the home of former Agriculture Minister José María Castillo and taken approximately 20 hostages shortly after the Ambassador and his wife had left a reception there.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D740376–0805. Confidential; Niact Immediate. In telegram 4974 from Managua, December 28, the Embassy reported that the Nicaraguan Government had declared martial law in response to the incident. (Ibid., D740376–0768) In telegram 4977 from Managua, December 28, the Embassy reported that the FSLN was demanding $5 million, the repeal of all repressive laws, the release of imprisoned FSLN members, the publication of FSLN pronouncements, and safe passage to Cuba. (Ibid., D740376–0801) In telegram 4985 from Managua, December 30, the Embassy reported that Somoza had negotiated an agreement with the terrorists through the intercession of the Papal Nuncio and the Archbishop of Managua. (Ibid., D740377–0190) In telegram 4994 from Managua, December 30, the Embassy reported that the hostages had been released at the airport and that a plane had carried the terrorists, 14 released prisoners, and a ransom payment to Cuba. (Ibid., D740377–0869)