“Psychological Operations in Guerrillas” CIA Manual Used in Nicaragua

Shenali D Waduge

The reason the United States invaded Latin American countries for 39 years was bananas. However, the Nicaraguan operation was different. The United States was involved in 2 covert operations in Nicaragua and Iran (1984-1987) The 1stoperation was to use a Honduran rebel group called the Contras against the Nicaraguan Sandinista government. Bothn/a covert operation was to sell arms to Iran to free American hostages held in Lebanon. Profits from arms sales to Iran were used to help the Contras overthrow the Nicaraguan government through third parties and private funds. It is the propaganda aspect used that Sri Lanka must examine.

The United States occupied Nicaragua from 1912 to 1932 and left after replacing pro-American trained Somoza Garcia, who seized power in 1936 after assassinating Sandino. Garcia’s regime held power for 43 years, after which Sadinista seized power in 1979 and declared an emergency, expropriated land and businesses belonging to a former dynastic family, nationalized banks, mines, abolished d old courts, denounced churches and annulled the constitution. Naturally, the United States did not take these measures lightly and began to support those who were anti-Sandinistas. These became known as Contras.

President Reagan’s “Decade of Democracy” resulted in more than 80 publicity stunts to sway public and congressional opinion to sway aid to the Contras. However, many members of Congress were skeptical, but the CIA was given a greater role in training and funding the Contras and twisting propaganda in favor of the covert operation.

The National Security Act of July 26, 1947 created the National Security Council and the CIA, allowing them to work around Congress and frame US policy with third-party actors. Both ended up performing covert operations bypassing the State Department.

The Intelligence Authorization Act of 1985 prohibited US government agencies from soliciting money from third countries to fund Contras, it authorized the US State Department to solicit funds for humanitarian aid”! This is how loopholes were created and the Nicaraguan Refuge Fund emerged and $12 million was raised, of which $2.7 million went to the Contras.

Lt. Col. Oliver North was the Deputy Director of Politico-Military Affairs at the NSC. It was Oliver North who suggested overcharging Iran for the arms sold to it and using the surplus to finance the Contras.

In 1985, $14 million was given to the Contras as humanitarian aid”.

In 1986, $100 million in aid was given to Contras.

The CIA provided money to the Contras via Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Iran. An airstrip was built in Costa Rica to send supplies to the Contras – this ended when the Sandinistas shot down the plane on October 5, 1986 capturing the American pilot. The CIA also undertook aerial attacks on Nicaraguan storage tanks (destroying fuel), medicine. The same tactics used in America’s wars in the Middle East and Africa.

CIA planes bombed Nicaragua’s international airport while CIA agents mined Nicaraguan ports. This operation was recommended by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North!

Iran-Contra Hearings – Testimony of Oliver North (1987)

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The 98-page CIA manual used for Nicaragua was titled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare” https://irp.fas.org/cia/guerilla.htm

This was used to train, arm, finance the Contras to fight the Nicaraguan government. The manual was not revealed until 1984.


The manual included

  • Armed propaganda teams use deception, intimidation and violence
  • Assassinations – Neutralize »
  • Taught the Contras how to interact with the civilian population
  • Taught the “rules of engagement”
  • How to demonstrate and turn protests into clashes and cause riots and shootings leading to murders and these deaths were to be treated as martyrs. This scenario was meant to leverage against the government and create bigger problems for the government.
  • The manual recommended the selective use of armed force for the psyop – carefully planned targets – judges, police, tax collectors, etc.
  • The key was to get people to ‘agree’ by engaging the affected population and promoting the ‘affected’.

The CIA also used the Freedom Fighters Manual (15 pages) airmailed to Contra rebels and average citizens on how to work against the government.

The manual explained how to cause civil disturbances and the initial instructions were simple, harmless and risk-free – call the sick to work, leave the lights and taps on (the aim was to reduce production and hamper the economy)

Subsequently, the instructions went to the next stage – people asked to steal food from the government, free livestock from agriculture, cooperatives, make false reports of fires and crimes, serious phone lines, cables, disable vehicles,

The end of the manual gave violent instructions with diagrams showing how to make Molotov cocktails to use as incendiary bombs in police stations, how to burn fuel reserves, how to puncture fuel tanks with ice picks.

Americans and the world learned about American-Iranian relations after the ousting of Iranian Mossadegh in 1953 and the placement of the Shah until 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, severing ties with the United States. United, resulting in the seizure of the American Embassy and 53 hostages on November 4, 1979, embargo against Iran resulted in more American hostages in 1984, then came the Iran-Iraq War, the American arms deal with Iran was brokered by Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi and $1 million worth of weapons were sent to Iran on August 20, 1985. According to Brown University, of the million dollars – only $150,000 dollars were spent on arms, the remaining $850,000 was for the Contras.

2 Lebanese newspapers published the story of the arms deal with Iran in November 1986 and the United States was exposed. Oliver North faced criminal charges while Pointdexter resigned as national security adviser. The Tower Commission and the majority report of the Congressional Committee to Investigate the Iran-Contra Affair simply blamed the President and the whole scandal was covered up as just another case.

In 1984, Nicaragua sued the United States at the ICC claiming $17 billion and won. The United States was ordered to pay reparations but failed to do so.

The ICJ held that the United States was:

  • “in violation of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State”
  • do not interfere in his affairs”
  • do not violate its sovereignty”
  • not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce”
  • in breach of its obligations under Article XiX of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the parties signed in 1956.

The ICJ statements included:

Says that the United States of America, by drawing up a manual in 1983 entitled Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas, and distributing it to the contra forces, encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to the general principles of humanitarian law”.

Nicaragua is now ruled by a former Sandinista leader, President Daniel Ortega.

It is a case study in itself that the mighty United States would go after a nation of only 6.5 million people with propaganda that has mobilized over 100 columnists, over 1,500 conferences and roundtables, 107 religious organizations, journalists, lobbyists and even members of Congress. Much of the propaganda was based on well-told lies in such a way that they were believable and believed.

These are all lessons for Sri Lanka…. But most “educated” people in Sri Lanka seem to think that no foreign involvement or interference prevails in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka and none of the kinds of propaganda that American textbooks reproduce in all the nations that are geopolitically important to them are also deployed in Sri Lanka. Lanka.

Shenali D Waduge

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