81. Editorial Note

In telegram 3913 from Managua, August 22, 1978, the Embassy reported that an armed group of Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) members had “taken over the National Palace” while Congress was in session and had taken hostages including Luis Pallais Debayle, Liberal Party Spokesman and Somoza’s cousin. Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo acted as a negotiator for the group which demanded ten million dollars, the release of all political prisoners, and a plane to take them and the released political prisoners to Cuba. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 38, Cables: 8/78) The Washington Post reported on August 24 that the Government of Nicaragua had broadcast “a statement by the Marxist group” on the radio, as they had demanded, and estimated that “more than 500 legislators, government officials and civil servants” were hostages. (“Managua Acts to Meet Demands of Guerrillas,” Washington Post, August 24, 1978, p. A1) The Washington Post reported the next day that two planes had flown “25 guerrillas, [Page 224] 59 freed political prisoners, three Roman Catholic prelates who had negotiated the release and the Panamanian and Costa Rican ambassadors to Nicaragua,” who had volunteered to be taken as security for the guerrillas. The FSLN “said they received $500,000” of the ten million they had demanded, while a government official said “they were given $71,000.” (“Rebels are Flown from Nicaragua; Hostages Released,” Washington Post, August 25, 1978, p. A1) Telegram 3924 from Managua, August 23, reported that Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza “had been contemplating military action, but had decided to negotiate because ‛lives cannot be regained, but money is ultimately negotiable.’” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780358–0233)