Here we are in the midst of what passes for a democratic debate these days, this one on guns. Our friendly Marxists in the Socialist Democrat Party want us to be part of a universal gun registry (yes, they are interested in this data even on Neptune) so that the Obama regime can take one or all of the following actions: a) tax us; b) relieve us of our weapons; c) distribute our names and addresses to their party base — I mean criminals, excuse me — with an invitation to break into our homes and take the guns for the commission of real crimes. I guess I should add under (b) “drag you out of your home in chains” as this seems to be the preferred method of confiscation.
This subject in all its ramifications is being hashed out vigorously by both the left and those of us who think having an arm or arms is part of our Constitutional rights, but today I have a little story, one I’ve referred to before, to remind Americans why one should never, ever give up their guns short of being shot to death or dragged out of your home in chains.
The story starts in 1979, when James Earl Carter happily greased the skids for a takeover of sunny Nicaragua from the Somozas by Marxists with the snappy moniker “Sandinistas.” (Sandino was a Nicaraguan cowboy who raged against American imperialism in an earlier age, but he was most definitely not a communist.) The Sandinistas owed their ascent to dictatorial power in great part to Jimmy, who had apparently made up his mind that what Nicaragua needed was another dictatorship, this one of the left. The Nicaragua debacle was one of the earliest known examples of Carter’s by now decades-old gross stupidity in foreign relations, topped only by his jettisoning of the Shah of Iran and the subsequent and consequent Iranian hostage crisis and rescue attempt.
As part of ensuring domestic tranquillity and harmony in the post-Somoza Nicaragua, Carter gave his blessings to a scheme whereby every single member of the old National Guard, those who had not managed to flee the country, would be disarmed and sent to the United States, leaving the Sandinistas as the only guys with guns. There was controversy over this decision. Some thought it might be wiser to purge only the top leadership, who were political cronies of Somoza (or even relatives), leaving in place the non-political grunts who were the bulk of the Army. Some thought this might act as a brake on whatever the Sandinistas had in mind for the Nicaraguan public. But blind rosy optimism ruled Jimmy’s day, then as ever, and he opted for the lethal option of “Sandinista weapons only.”
The tricky part of this scheme was getting all those little guys to turn in their weapons peacefully, rather than fleeing to the mountains and prolonging the civil strife. But the chance of being flown out of the country to Miami, gratis, proved too great a temptation to resist. And so the big charade began. The Sandinistas set up a congregation point near the airport in the Free Zone (a customs term at the time rather than a political one) and began taking possession of the weapons and corralling the donors for onward disposition. Meanwhile, the International Red Cross, charged with overseeing the process, stood around striking through “things to be done” on their clipboards.
All went well until, having assured themselves that everybody they could get was in place, the Sandinistas set up an armed cordon and began building a prison around the men. (There were a number of non-Guard members caught in the trap, too, people who had dropped by to say goodbye to friends or deliver clothes or other needed items — but what the heck, nothing is perfect.) This became the infamous Zona Franca political prison that for all the years of the first Ortega dictatorship provided barred cells and interrogation and torture for the unfortunates who ended up within its walls. If you were around at the time, you wouldn’t have heard much about that prison because it wasn’t on the tour provided to European and American leftwingers who regularly arrived to enjoy the exhilarating freedom of a Marxist paradise and write home to their Red Army cells about it. As for the foreign press who did know about it, they didn’t feel it was worth comment. In fact, the black-out on coverage of this torture center was so complete that today I cannot find a single image of the prison on any search engine.
As you can imagine, the International Red Cross had egg on its face, but they were not in any physical danger so it wasn’t that bad. On the other hand, inside the prison walls the Sandinistas had begun summary executions of the prisoners and continued doing so for a couple of months while their IRC co-criminals occupied their idle time wringing their hands. Day and night, the Sandinista guards would appear in the corridors and call out the names of the condemned, who were dragged into the courtyard, executed by firing squad, and buried on prison grounds. I guess just collecting the victims wasn’t enough satisfaction, or maybe there was a little anxiety about prisoner rioting, because sometimes the Sandinistas would lob a stun grenade into the cell before removing the prisoners. Those lucky enough not to have their names called that day were, however, now deaf.
Finally, having satisfied their initial blood lust, the Sandinistas agreed with the brave IRC that the summary executions should let up. Perhaps the Sandinistas were confident they had taught a good lesson to the rest of the country and those not yet dead in their cells. And in any case, the prisoners weren’t going anywhere and the Marxist overlords knew they could look forward to the consolation of years of daily torture sessions. The sound of firing squads stopped inside the prison, and the Nicaraguans in the area could get some sleep at night.
Alas for the Sandinistas, their faithlessness served as a very good lesson indeed for all kinds of people in the country, including the small farmers who had supported Somoza’s Liberal Party and whose land the Sandinistas were expropriating at a rapid clip to create “nature preserves.” The war the Sandinistas mocked as “contra” — that is, against the Marxist revolution — began with the flight of these farmers to the mountains with their rifles or small arms, where they banded together and eventually drew the substantial support of the US government and thousands of Nicaraguans who had learned how good it was to be ruled by the communists.
And that, my friends, is the moral of the story. The day you give up your weapons to the people who are thinking only of the general welfare is the day your freedom runs out. That’s why my motto is “pry it out of my cold dead hands.”