Ronald Radosh: Another Central American Tyrant Passes from the Scene: Farewell to Tomás Borge

Roundup: Talking About History

Ronald Radosh is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at The Hudson Institute, and a  Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York, Queensborough Community College.

I cannot let this day pass without noting the death of one of Central America’s greatest tyrants, Tomás Borge. The obituary notice in today’s New York Times hardly lets readers know the kind of moral monster that Borge was. Perhaps the mourning by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro is enough to let people understand how vile he was.

Borge was one of the original group of Sandinista rebels who had been imprisoned by the authoritarian ruler of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza. He had been in prison for one year when in 1978 a raid by Sandinista troops (disguised in Nicaraguan army uniforms) seized the National Palace and held the leaders of Somoza’s regime hostage. The government gave into the raiders’ demands, released fifty of those they had incarcerated, paid the FSLN (the initials of the Sandinista National Liberation Front) a half million dollars in ransom money, and provided a plane to fly them out of the country to safety.

In 1979, Somoza fled and the Sandinistas took power, at first hiding their true intent and putting into office a coalition junta composed of non-Sandinista opponents of the old regime but in which their movement had a majority. The coalition collapsed, and the government was then run by the so–called commandantes of the revolution, who formed a new government intent on imposing a communist regime according to the classic Marxism-Leninism in which they believed....

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