Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who is presiding over a national reconciliation commission in Nicaragua created by the current Sandinista government, emphatically stated this Sunday that he never asked the US government for arms against the “Contras,” the guerrilla army that fought against the first government created after the Sandinista revolution (1979-1990). Last Sunday, the local newspaper “El Nuevo Diario,” published an interview with the poet Michelle Najlis, a one-time Sandinista militant, who accused the cardinal without proof of soliciting arms for the Contras.
Najlis, who was also an activist in the self-titled “popular church” inspired by Marxist liberation theology as a branch of the Sandinista revolution, claimed, “Obando went to ask the gringos (United States) for arms for the Contras.”
“Neither at that time, nor in the most difficult moments of the war, nor ever have I solicited arms for anyone,” the cardinal responded in a statement. He emphasized that whenever he was called to intervene in conflicts, he did so always seeking “dialogue as the only means to achieving peace and reconciliation between all Nicaraguans, without exclusion.”
Recalling one particular episode during the conflict in which he was involved as mediator, the cardinal noted that “while a cease-fire was being observed,” a group of people “who had suffered greatly from the consequences of the fighting” asked him to help them acquire arms to confront their adversaries. The cardinal said his answer was: “You cannot achieve peace with arms, but I assure you I will get you humanitarian aid.”
“Therefore, I state that the declaration by Ms. Michelle Najlis is absolutely false,” he said.
Sandinista sources have acknowledged the Najlis lacks evidence to support his statements but that he still resents the cardinal for his efforts to stop the spread of the “popular church” in Nicaragua.