Nicaraguan Contras

Nicaraguan Contras

The contras (some references use the capitalized form, "Contras") is a label given to the various rebel groups opposing the Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government in Nicaragua that were active from 1979 through to the early 1990s. Among the separate contra groups, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) emerged as the largest by far. In 1987, virtually all contra organizations were united, at least nominally, into the Nicaraguan Resistance.

From an early stage, the rebels received decisive financial and military support from the U.S. government, initially supplemented by the Argentine dictatorship of the time. After U.S. support was banned by Congress, the Reagan administration covertly continued contra aid.

The term "contra" comes from the Spanish contra, which means against but in this case is short for la contrarrevoluciĆ³n, in English "the counter-revolution". Some rebels disliked being called contras, feeling that it defined their cause only in negative terms, or implied a desire to restore the old order. Rebel fighters usually referred to themselves as comandos ("commandos"); peasant sympathizers also called the rebels los primos ("the cousins"). From the mid-1980s, as the Reagan administration and the rebels sought to portray the movement as the "democratic resistance", members started describing themselves as la resistencia.

During the war against the Sandinista government, the contras carried out many human rights violations, and evidence suggests that these were systematically committed as an element of warfare strategy. Contra supporters often tried to downplay these violations, or countered that the Sandinista government carried out much more. In particular, the Reagan administration engaged in a campaign to alter public opinion on the contras which has been denoted as "white propaganda".

Read more about Nicaraguan Contras:  U.S. Military and Financial Assistance, Human Rights Violations, Military Successes and Election of Violeta Chamorro, See Also