In 1978 and 1979, Eden Pastora led guerrilla actions against Somoza, and in 2018 he supported the massacre unleashed by Ortega to squash the April rebellion.
By Iván Olivares (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Eden Pastora Gomez, 83, known as ‘Commandante Cero’, died at 1:18 a.m. on June 16 at the Military Hospital, sources linked to his family confirmed. He had suffered a respiratory condition for several days aggravated by the health crisis of Covid-19, which in Nicaragua is in a phase of local community spread.
A guerrilla commander in the fight against the Somoza dictatorship in the 1970s and staunch enemy of the FSLN in the counter-revolution based in Costa Rica in the early eighties, Pastora became an unconditional political operator to Daniel Ortega since his return to power in 2007, after failing politically himself as a presidential candidate.
Pastora was one of the few commanders at the service of the new Ortega government who had any historical role in the overthrow of Somoza in 1979. He headed the guerrilla operation that assaulted the Somoza Congress on August 22, 1978, and later was a commander of the FSLN ‘Benjamin Zeledon’ Southern Front in 1979.
Eden Pastora supported the April 2018 massacre
During the 2018 civic protests, known as the April Rebellion, Pastora openly supported the police and paramilitary violence unleashed by Ortega, causing more than 300 deaths.
At the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the taking of the Nacional Palace, he said that they had to wait 55 days for Daniel to give them the “signal” to openly attack the protesting citizens, with weapons of war, when Ortega told them “that (his detractors) were murderers” and then began the deployment of paramilitary groups in the so-called ‘Operation Clean-up’.
On the morning of that same day, as a defender of the regime’s policies, Pastora had appeared on the show En Vivo, aired on the governing party’s Channel 4 TV, to virulently attack the bishops of the Catholic Church.
“What are these satanic bishops going to do? It was they who called for war, who called for the coup, for the destruction of Nicaragua, in the name of God?… What they have done is an unprecedented crime in the history of Nicaragua… they don’t have a hint of being Christians. Christ is going to get off the cross, he is going to remove the nails, and he is going to stamp on them in the Church,” he said.
The night of the same day, he told Camilo Egaña, of CNN, that he had heard “the bishops, in the pulpit, calling for war.” He went on: “There are good bishops here: Sándigo in Chontales; the one in Leon … Christian priests, but there are perverse bishops, who seem to come from the underworld, inspired by Satan. I feel very resentful with these bishops who are spoiling Catholicism,” he told Camilo.
Asked by the journalist who he was talking about, Pastora mentioned Monsignor Silvio Baez as “a satanic bishop… who inspired many to war, hatred, torture and crime: Bishop Mata, from Esteli, and Bishop Roland Alvarez, from Matagalpa”.
Some background on Eden Pastora
On August 22, 1978, guerrilla fighter Eden Pastora led the takeover of the National Palace, in an operation known as ‘Operation Chanchera’. From that moment, he began to be known by his name in that assault, which was ‘Commandante Cero’, while his two lieutenants Hugo Torres and Dora Maria Tellez, were designated as ‘One’ and ‘Two’, respectively.
In 1979, Pastora was the military chief of the “Benjamin Zeledon” South Front, one of the flanks from where the Sandinista National Liberation Front made war on the Somoza dictatorship. Pastora was part of the Tercerista (Third Way) or ‘Insurrectional’ segment of the three FSLN tendencies.
In 1981 he resigned from the Sandinista Front and his post of vice minister of the Interior in the revolutionary government, for which he was declared a traitor. A propaganda campaign was mounted against him with the now deceased Minister of the Interior, Tomas Borge, asking how much money he had sold his FSLN membership card for.
Pastora returned to Nicaragua in 2006 to participate in elections as a candidate for the presidency with the organization ‘Alternative for Change’ (AC), where he got 0.27% of the votes, and zero deputies.
Then, with Ortega back in office, Pastora became the representative of the government for the dredging of the San Juan River. His management of the project was marked by international controversy when in 2010 he ordered the dredging of a creek in the Harbor Head Lagoon area, causing an international suit by the Costa Rican government, settled in 2015 by the International Court of Justice in The Hague which determined it was Costa Rican territory.
Pastora was born in Ciudad Dario on November 15, 1936 and died in Managua on June 16, 2020 at the age of 83.