Declassified files from the Ministry of Security, known as the Stasi, of the former East Germany show that the Sandinista government of Nicaragua in the 1980s “committed serious errors with the schematic application of Cuban experiences from conflicts with the Catholic Church.”
The Nicaraguan daily La Prensa cited the report of a Stasi agent in Managua, who said, “The mistakes made had grave consequences, above all because the Soviets did not have much experience in this area either. The most famous case was that which the State Security carried out against Father Bismark Carballo,” who was then director of Radio Catolica and one of the most prominent critics of the Sandinista regime.
On August 11, 1982, Father Carballo, who was pastor of the Church of San Miguel, was invited to have lunch at the house of one his parishioners. While there, a man forcibly entered the house, began to the beat the priest and forced him to take off all of his clothes. The Sandinista Police showed up and dragged him out onto the street where he was grabbed and photographed by a mob and a group of Sandinista photographers. The pictures were later published insinuating a homosexual relationship between Father Carballo and the parishioner. In 2004, Daniel Ortega apologized to Father Carballo and asked for his forgiveness.
A top official in the Nicaraguan government who wanted to remain anonymous told La Prensa that the framing of Father Carballo backfired and “caused the opposite effect and led the Catholic Church to personify opposition to the Sandinistas.”
According to La Prensa, the Stasi files confirm that the work of the Nicaraguan State Security was concentrated on the CIA and the Contras, as well as on the Church. “The Sandinistas believed the CIA was financing the Catholic Church and had taken it as part of its policy against the Government,” the newspaper reported. The main targets in the Church were the leaders of the Bishops’ Conference, specifically eight priests and Cardinal Miguel Obando, then Archbishop of Managua.