Skip to comments.The Passing of a Patriot
Posted on 06/07/2012 4:39:35 PM PDT by jazusamo
MANAGUA, Nicaragua The classical definition of a hero is a person who puts himself at risk for the benefit of others. That certainly describes Adolfo Calero, who died June 2 at the age of 80. The obituaries of this remarkable man hardly do justice to his courage, perseverance, faithfulness and humility. Here is the Adolfo Calero I knew, admired and called a friend for nearly three decades:
A graduate of Holy Cross High School in New Orleans and the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., he was a devout Roman Catholic and educated to be a businessman, not a soldier. But after he was jailed twice by the Somoza regime and then by the Marxist Sandinistas, who overthrew the Nicaraguan dictator in 1979, Calero quietly joined the armed resistance in an effort to liberate his country. Threatened with arrest for anti-regime activities in 1982, he and his family escaped and watched from exile as the Sandinistas seized their property. The following year, he was chosen by his countrymen to lead the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, or FDN. By 1984, it had become the largest insurgent army ever fielded in the Western Hemisphere more than 20,000 freedom fighters under arms.
Most of Calero's all-volunteer counterrevolutionaries were poor but fiercely independent farmers and indigenous Christian Miskito, Suma and Rama Indians with no military experience. Destitute and hounded, they fled Sandinista tyranny, Soviet-style "collectivization" and police-state repression for sanctuaries on Nicaragua's borders. I first met Adolfo at one of these encampments early in 1983. While walking among the fighters and their families, he made a passionate, emotional appeal for food, medical support, clothing, shelter and arms to "help these brave people resist the regime in Managua from spreading their 'revolution without frontiers' throughout this hemisphere."
This wasn't just rhetoric for the visiting "gringos." Calero meant it and lived it. His integrity, wisdom, steadfast resolve and fidelity to the cause of freedom were crucial to building and sustaining an unprecedented political-military organization committed to a democratic outcome in his homeland. It worked. Despite eight years of on-again, off-again support from the U.S. and other governments, his Contras forced the Soviet bloc/Cuban-supported Sandinistas to the negotiating table and to agree to an internationally supervised secret ballot. Thanks to Adolfo and those he led, the Marxists were defeated in the freest and fairest elections in Nicaraguan history. So great was Calero's credibility among his countrymen that when he asked his soldiers to lay down their arms, they did.
Their victory came at a heavy price. Thousands of his Contras were killed and maimed during their quest for freedom. The long fight also took a heavy toll on Adolfo and his family. From 1983 to 1989, he traveled incessantly to rally political and financial support for his Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance throughout Latin America, to European capitals and to Washington home of his most fervent supporters and critics.
Though Calero accepted assurances that his troops would not be abandoned in the field, he asked for a personal audience with the man who had promised to sustain them "body and soul" President Ronald Reagan. A private, "off-the-books" White House meeting was arranged in 1985, and during the session, Adolfo gave the president an FDN lapel pin. President Reagan turned to the camera and said, "I'm a Contra, too."
On one occasion in the mid-1980s, I flew to Miami to visit him when he was briefly hospitalized for exhaustion and respiratory distress the malady from which he eventually succumbed. But when I arrived, he wasn't in his hospital bed. I found him in a visitors waiting room lecturing a group of obstetricians, pediatricians and nurses many of them children of Cuban refugees on why they should volunteer to come to Honduras on weekends to treat the families of his anti-communist combatants. His powers of persuasion were such that many of them did just that.
After Congress barred the CIA from assisting the Contras, I accompanied Adolfo on numerous visits to the Contra camps along the Honduras-Nicaragua border. He ignored frequent and credible intelligence about Soviet, Cuban, Sandinista and even Palestinian assassination plots, eschewed an offer of a phalanx of bodyguards and insisted on attending memorial services for his fallen fighters at their bases.
One of my enduring memories of Calero is captured in a photo of him taken at a border camp in 1985, listening to one of his young "column" commanders. Adolfo was then just 54 years old and armed only with a pistol. The image is on the cover of his book "Crónicas de un Contra" ("Chronicles of a Contra"). The work is more than a saga of extraordinary courage and commitment. It also provides the only accurate list of those Adolfo credits with "winning against the communists" his field commanders.
In the aftermath of the victory he had forged, Adolfo and his family braved death threats and returned to Nicaragua to rebuild their lives and reclaim their home, though much of the Calero property never was returned. Until his health began to fail early this year, Adolfo remained active in Nicaraguan politics and diplomacy and, most importantly, as a forceful, articulate advocate on behalf of his FDN veterans and their families.
The epitaph for the Adolfo Calero I knew ought to read: "He fought the good fight. He finished the race. He kept the faith."
Whew! I looked at the title and thought Oliver North had died.
Had me going there. Story should have stated "by" .....
........for a second I thought Ollie had passed away.
Holy Crud, Batman...the title mad me think the Colonel had passed.
A prayer for the unsung heroes who fought the good fight against satan’s own communism.
There are/were many who knew that marxism/communism is the devil’s own realm.
Me too...I couldn’t understand why there were no headlines if he died on the 2nd. I need to take deep breath,
Jazusamo, there is a reason why nobody’s ever hired you to write headlines.
I hear you all and shouldn’t have included his name in the title. Sorry!
You and me both! I almost had a asthmatic seizure!
Headline writers need to take more care and be more specific.
I really thought that Col. North had passed. And that wouldn’t be good.
Thank you much, AM!
You haven’t committed any crime that all posters on FR haven’t committed before!
Even the most VETERAN posters (and you bums know who you are)have messed up a headline.
LOL, take a copy and save it under the tag “the day I killed Ollie North and everyone believed it!”
Thanks for the article though, its one of those things that not too many people know of, and they should know about that man’s life.
Supporting the Contras was my first real conservative activism, after the 1984 Reagan campaign. Someone let the air out of my tires in the office garage once, probably because of my “Resistencia Nicaraguense” bumper sticker ... since I doubt “Picard for President” generated such hostility.
I believe you're right about that. At least they only let the air out and didn't slash them. :-)
Ollie is right on the money about Adolfo Carero being a Patriot as all the Contras were, they fought communism and won.
That blunder is sure gonna make me think about adding to titles in the future.
Thank you, FRiend. All should know about Calero’s life.
Bless you for the article, all kidding aside!
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