(TODAY NICARAGUA) There is really no end as to how far the dictator Daniel Ortega will go to deny over and over that Nicaragua does not have a pandemic on its hands, that all is under control, there is no community contagion and that the hundreds who have died of pneumonia everyone knows it was really COVID-19.
One example is the death politician and guerrilla, leader of the Southern Front, the largest militia in southern Nicaragua, the group first to call itself “Sandinistas”, second only to the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) in the north, the group first to call itself “Sandinistas” nicknamed Comandante Cero (“Commander Zero”), Eden Pastora.
Days ago, rumors circulated in the media of Pastora’s death. However, they were quickly dispelled, with news that Comandante Cero was in “grave condition” in hospital.
Today, June 16, the Nicaraguan government through Moises Absalón Pastora published that Eden Pastora died “of a heart attack”.
“Eden Pastora, Commander, rests in peace. His heart surrendered today at two this morning,” said the commentator on his program on the state television Channel 6.
However, there is no mention that the 83-year-old ex-commander had days of being intubated and the family was notified of his death on Saturday, the same day rumors of his death made headlines outside of Nicaragua.
Se siente feo alegrarse del mal https://t.co/wVMDIWzMVO tener 83 años su muerte era pronta ya con la edad las complicaciones son frecuentes el cuerpo ya sin muchas defensas.Pero no podemos obviar que no es que uno se alegre pero dan ganas de celebrar.Hizo mucho daño.
— Yonarqui Martinez (@YonarquiM) June 16, 2020
The “official” report says Pastora died at 1:18 am on June 16 at the Hospital Militar, after suffering for several days a respiratory condition aggravated by the health crisis of COVID-19, which is in Nicaragua is in a phase of local community contagion.
On June 13 (Saturday), the day when rumors of his death circulated, La Prensa reported Pastora was in serious condition at the Military Hospital.
The ex-guerrilla had previously been admitted to the Carlos Roberto Huembes hospital with suspicions of Covid-19, it was known unofficially, however, his wife Yolanda Torres said that the Commander was recovering from bronchopneumonia, but not from Covid-19.
“I can assure you that he’s okay. They sent him to recover at home. He was there three days, but everything is fine,” she told La Prensa by telephone on June 5.
Days later he was admitted again to the Military Hospital in Managua, after suffering a relapse in his health, sources from the Sandinista Front party confided.
La Prensa says it visited the former guerrilla’s house on June 10, but Torres sent word to one of the custodial police officers that “he is not receiving visits” and she did not want to refer to the health of her husband, who at that time would have already been in the hospital for two days.
100% Noticias reports that Pastora spoke by telephone to Nicaragua Investiga on June 5, confirming that “a bronchopneumonia was what I had, a bronchopneumonia that I had had ten years ago and it escaped killing me ten years ago and now it escaped me again, everything has been overcome,” he said.
Edén Atanacio Pastora Gómez (1936 – 2020)
The guerrilla commander fought against the Somoza dictatorship in the seventies of the last century and staunch enemy of the FSLN in the counter-revolution based in Costa Rica in the eighties. However, Pastora became an unconditional political operator to Daniel Ortega since his return to power in 2007, after failing politically as a presidential candidate.
Pastora was one of the few commanders at the service of the new Ortega dictatorship who had any historical role in the overthrow of Somoza in 1979, first as head of the guerrilla operation that assaulted the Somoza Congress on August 22, 1978, and later as military chief of the Southern Front ‘Benjamín Zeledón’ in 1979.
Eden Pastora supported the April 2018 massacre
During the 2018 civic protest, known as the April Rebellion, which was repressed with police and paramilitary violence by Ortega, causing more than 300 deaths, Pastora openly supported the repression and said, during the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the taking of the Palace Nacional, that they had to wait 55 days for Ortega to give them the “signal” to openly attack the citizens, with weapons of war, when he told them “that (his detractors) were murderers and there began” the deployment of paramilitary gangs in the so-called ‘Operation Cleaning’.
On the morning of that same day, as a defender of the regime’s policies, Pastora had appeared in the magazine En Vivo, by the official Channel 4, to virulently attack the bishops of the Catholic Church.
A diplomatic and environmental disaster
His public office as the delegate for the Ortega presidency for the dredging of the San Juan River was marked by international controversy, when in 2010 Edén Pastora ventured to dredge the Harbor Head area, causing an international demand by the Costa Rica government, that in 2015 the International Court of Justice of The Hague determined that the delta belonged to Costa Rica.
In 2016, the Government of Costa Rica demanded compensation of six million US dollars from Nicaragua for the environmental damage that Pastora would have caused by the dredging and affecting green areas and Costa Rican wetlands.
Almost 21 months later, the Court ordered that Nicaragua should pay US$378,890 to Costa Rica, a cost that added to an estimated one million dollars that the judicial process should have cost.
Pastora defended himself saying “I am a soldier, I followed orders” while assuring that he would continue to dredge the river if Ortega ordered it once more.
In 2017, he was accused of extracting wood from the Indio Maíz Reserve, without having the corresponding permission from the Rama Kriol Territorial Government, although he defended himself arguing that he did have it.
2006 Presidential candidate
In 2006, Commandante ‘Cero’ participated in that election as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic under the ‘Alternativa por el Cambio’ (AC) party, where he got 0.27% of the votes, and zero legislators.
It was not his first foray into an election. Ten years earlier, the Supreme Electoral Council had inhibited him from participating in the 1996 elections, as a presidential candidate for the Movimiento de Acción Democrática (MAD), due to his dual citizenship: Nicaraguan and Costa Rican.
Six years earlier, Edén Pastora had also dabbled in the search for votes, when she supported the Partido Social Cristiano (PSC) in the 1990 electoral campaign, where Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, candidate for the Unión Nacional Opositora (UNO), was elected, as the woman first president of Nicaragua, which marked the return to democracy in the country.
How much did you sell your membership card for?
Pastora had returned to the country in the context of that electoral joust, after having resigned from the Sandinista Front in 1981 and declared a traitor by the vice minister of the Interior in the revolutionary government. A propaganda campaign against him by the now-deceased commander Tomás Borge, who demanded publicly to know for how much he had sold his FSLN membership card.
After traveling to Panama, Pastora moved to Costa Rica, where he founded the counter-revolutionary organization Alianza Revolucionaria Democrática (ARDE) that established itself in part of Costa Rican territory to launch armed operations against the then-so-called Sandinista Popular Army.
On May 30, 1984, while giving a press conference in La Penca, on the banks of the San Juan river, Edén Pastora was wounded when he suffered a bomb attack by the Sandinista government counterintelligence agents, in which seven people died eleven, including several journalists.
Two years later, he announced his decision to abandon the armed struggle against his former Sandinista comrades, after the United States Government denied him economic and military assistance. Several of his commanders decided to continue in the military struggle, supporting the Fuerza Democrática Nicaragüense (FDN).
Pastora returned to fishing, which was his old civilian occupation.
Operation Chanchera”: Death to Somocismo
On August 22, 1978, the guerrilla fighter Edén Pastora directed the seizure of the National Palace, in an operation known as ‘Operation Chanchera’. From that moment on, he began to be known by his name in that operation, which was ‘Commander Zero’, while his two lieutenants Hugo Torres and Dora María Téllez were designated as ‘One’ and ‘Two’, respectively.
The ‘Operation Chanchera’ was a political success because the 25-member Sandinista command was able to capture all the legislators who were present at the time in parliament, as well as two relatives of Anastasio Somoza: his cousin Luis Pallais, president of the Legislative Assembly, and his nephew, the legislators José Somoza Abrego.
The dictator Somoza had to free 50 Sandinista prisoners, deliver half a million dollars to the rebels, and publish an extensive manifesto that was printed in the country’s newspapers, including Novedades, owned by the tyrant, in addition to being read on national radio and television;
In 1979, Edén Pastora was the military chief of the “Benjamín Zeledón” South Front, one of the flanks from where the Sandinista National Liberation Front declared war on the Somoza dictatorship.
Pastora was part of the ‘Third Party’ or ‘Insurrectional’ trend, before the three FSLN trends joined.
In his last appearance he pleaded for Ortega’s replacement
In his last public appearance, on November 11, 2019, the day that Daniel Ortega celebrated his 74th birthday, Pastora demanded in an official television program that the Sandinista Front should reactivate the Sandinista Congress, to select the candidate who will relieve Ortega, not to mention the current vice president and wife of Ortega, Rosario Murillo.
“I would recommend,” said Pastora, that this Congress “tell us who the next candidate, our next leader, is going to be, when God sends our commander (Ortega) a fatality, a stroke, a serious illness, an old age within ten or twelve years, a certain death”.
Edén Pastora was born in Ciudad Darío, November 15, 1936, and “officially” died in Managua on June 16, 2020, at the age of 83.
Sources: Confidencial, La Prensa, 100% Noticias