The Miller Institute further noted that “the United States took tangible actions to protest the human rights practices of the governments of Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Uganda.” It seems pertinent to look into what was happening in some of these countries and just who Carter was protesting.
Sandinista revolutionaries liberated Nicaragua from the reign of President Somoza in 1979, directly in the middle of Carter’s presidency, ending his 46-year dictatorship. Following Somoza’s ousting began a period of protracted conflict between the revolutionaries and the organized gangs of mercenaries and moneyed interests who wished to preserve their “interests” in the country — from the spanish term la contrarrevolución (“the counter-revolution”) these US-backed forces became known as contras. While the majority of the crimes committed by the US-backed contras occurred after Carter was out of office — such as being found guilty by the International Court of Justice for planting mines in 3 harbors in 1987 — the President was still involved in numerous actions against Nicaragua. Near the end of Carter’s presidency, in 1980, Brown University notes that “Carter authorizes a finding that allows the CIA to support resistance forces in Nicaragua with organizing and propaganda…” The majority of contra activity seems to have occurred after Reagan replaced Carter, but that does not make Carter innocent if he laid the foundations for what was to come.
In June 1979, the Organization for American States (OAS) called for an “immediate and definitive replacement” of Somoza. On the surface, such a call sounds positive. However, things are more complicated than they seem. A Latin American proposal “called for formation of a government ‘which will recognize the contribution that the various groups within the country have made in seeking to replace the Somoza regime....’” As the Washington Post noted in 1979, “[t]hat was unacceptable to the United States, which mistrusts the Marxist, pro-Cuban positions of some Sandinista leaders and wants their influence in any government diluted by more moderate forces.” The resulting point that actually passed the OAS was one that called for countries involved to “to take steps to facilitate an enduring and peaceful solution of the Nicaraguan problem” — implying that the Sandinistas were not a solution and the US should take steps to intervene against the wishes of the Nicaraguan people.
Those steps of intervention involved, as reported by the Washington Post in June of 1979, sending an “OAS delegation to assist in the political transition and consider the need for an inter-American peacekeeping force in Nicaragua.” The Sandinistas responded to the US plan, calling it "an attempt to violate the rights of those Nicaraguans who have almost succeeded in throwing off the Somoza yoke." The New York Times reported that “the US proposal for a peace force … won no support …” Despite not actually sending a force to Nicaragua, even proposing it should be considered a violation of the sovereignty of the Nicaraguan people and their right to self-determination. Finding any information about such a proposal was difficult since it did not officially pass; it was brushed off as a “mistake” of the Carter administration. In typical fashion with US foreign intervention undertakings, complaints were lodged by the US against both Somoza and the Sandinistas. This is a common tactic in order to equate both sides as equal, and equally unfit for self-determination — thus justifying continued US intervention. As highlighted in PD30, adopted roughly a year prior to the Sandinista victory, US concerns related to the Sandinistas were intimately tied into Cold War hysteria and propaganda regarding “human rights.”
As reported by Gordon Smith for The Prism, the Carter administration was involved in plans for a US military intervention in support of the Somoza regime against the Sandinistas. Following the failure to materialize such an intervention, and the collapse of Somoza’s forces, the Carter administration allegedly ensured not only that the failed dictator was able to be ferried to safety under the guise of the Red Cross — utilizing NGOs for such means is a crime — the Carter administration was likewise directly involved in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s efforts to then re-organize the remaining forces into the contras. If true, this would make Carter directly responsible not only for the later Iran-Contra scandal that rocked the Reagan administration, but also the numerous terrorist acts carried out by the contras themselves.