Edén Atanacio Pastora Gómez (born in Ciudad Darío January 22, 1937) is a Nicaraguan politician and former guerrilla who ran for president as the candidate of the Alternative for Change (AC) party in the 2006 general elections. In the years prior to the fall of the Somoza regime, Pastora was the leader of the Southern Front, the largest militia in southern Nicaragua, second only to the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) in the north. Pastora was nicknamed Comandante Cero ("Commander Zero").
His group was the first to call itself "Sandinistas", and was also the first to accept an alliance with the FSLN, the group that was to become more popularly identified by the name. At the end of 1982, a few years after the revolutionary victory, Pastora became disillusioned with the government of the FSLN, and formed the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (ARDE) with the object of confronting the "pseudo-Sandinistas" politically and militarily.
As of 2010, he is reconciled with the FSLN and holds a ministerial post in the government of Daniel Ortega. His role in a border dispute with Costa Rica and allegations of environmental damage to territory claimed by that country has led to legal indictment by the government of Costa Rica.
When he was seven, Pastora's father was killed by the Chief of Staff of Anastasio Somoza Garcia's National Guard. While in high school with the Jesuits in Granada, he first learned about Augusto César Sandino through his Panamanian history teacher. He began his rebel career when he decided that the government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle was corrupt and formed the southern Nicaraguan ARDE from local peasant farmers (called campesinos) and aboriginal tribes living according to more traditional ways.
Pastora allied himself with the FSLN in the mid-1960s. He became a rebel guerrilla and was the mastermind behind the August 1978 standoff in the Nicaraguan National Palace, in which he and 19 FSLN commandos disguised as members of Somoza's National Guard stormed the Palace, disarming or killing the real Nicaraguan National Guard members. Among the hostages taken were members of the Nicaraguan Congress, which was in session at the time of the attack, and Somoza's half brother, José Somoza. Members of the commando used numbers as codenames, with Pastora as Zero, and Dora Maria Tellez as Commander "two" leading to a lasting identification of Eden as Comandante Cero and Dora Maria as Commander "two."
The operation infuriated Somoza and was considered one of the turning points in the insurgency. Originally organized to free FSLN members imprisoned by the regime — among the prisoners being Daniel Ortega and Tomas Borge — the raid marked an uncontested victory for the FSLN. After negotiating a USD $500,000 deal with Somoza and Cardinal Miguel Obando, Pastora, Ortega and other released prisoners left for Cuba, where he claimed to have been a "prisoner" lavished with women and luxury, but not allowed to leave the country until Martín Torrijos, the son of then Panamanian strongman Omar Torrijos and Pastora's personal friend, voiced his concern and went to Cuba to rescue him personally.
Pastora was put in command of the FSLN's Southern Front, advancing on the town of Rivas from bases in Costa Rica. In reaction to Pastora's widely held reputation, Somoza sent his best troops against him and as a consequence the Southern Front made little headway while suffering heavy casualties. However, the Southern Front contributed to the Sandinista victory by tying down over 2,000 heavily equipped Nicaraguan National Guard forces, as Somoza remained fixated on stopping Pastora, even as major cities fell to the rebels.
Pastora became disenchanted with the turn of the revolution when most of the Sandinista leaders moved to the luxury residences of Managua; he felt the leadership was doing too little to benefit the campesinos and aboriginal tribes he represented and was overly concerned with propagating ideological consistency in a poorly concealed bid to consolidate Ortega's political power.[dubious ] Consequently, Pastora turned against the Sandinista regime to fight against it. He once again began military operations in southern Nicaragua, loosely federated with northern forces which, composed mostly from highly paid former National Guard members and some Miskito Indians, were collectively referred to as the Contras. From a military standpoint, Pastora's efforts contributed much less than did forces in the north.
Pastora also received less support from the US government; whether his performance was a result or cause of this disparity is subject to debate. Military achievements aside, the presence of Pastora, a former FSLN revolutionary hero, among the Contras, helped the public image of the Contras abroad and provided a sort of public-relations counterweight to the bad reputation accorded to the FDN faction (mostly led by ex-National-Guard "Somocistas"). However, Pastora soon lost whatever popularity he might have had among common Nicaraguans as he adopted the strategy of the northern Contras, committing human rights abuses while mostly avoiding direct encounters with the Nicaraguan military.
Pastora was reviled by John Hull[disambiguation needed], Oliver North, the CIA, and other Reagan-era insiders for his refusal to subordinate to the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Democratic Force. This ultimately led to the CIA cutting off aid to the ARDE. Later, when the Iran-Contra scandal broke out and widespread allegations of Contra drug trafficking emerged, the CIA attempted to lay all the blame for any and all Contra drug trafficking at the feet of Pastora. Those who investigated the scandal concluded that it was highly unlikely that Pastora's ARDE was the only Contra faction involved in drug trafficking.
Pastora became disillusioned with Nicaragua and became an exile in Costa Rica during the 1990s, where he became a citizen. Later, however, he returned to Nicaragua.
Role in Zapatista Crisis
Mexico Secretary of Interior Esteban Moctezuma championed a pacific solution of the 1995 Zapatista Crisis He organized a creative strategy that demonstrated Subcomandante Marcos' natural pacifist vocation and the terrible consequences of a military solution. During the investigative stage to identify Subcomandante Marcos' identity, the Government speculated him to be a dangerous terrorist. There were strong political pressures for a military solution to the conflict. Max Appedole, a Instituto Cultural Tampico, Marcos high school colleague, played a major role to avoid a military solution when the government revealed his identity by demonstrating that Subcomandante Marcos was no terrorist. Max Appedole recognized his literary style in all his manifestos that were published in the media, linked them to their literary tournaments organized by the Jesuit Schools in which they competed in Mexico. Confirming that he had no doubt that Subcomandante Marcos was his friend Rafael Guillén, a pacifist. Once Marcos was allegedly identified as Rafael Guillén]], on 9 February 1995, in an counterproductive turn of events, the President Ernesto Zedillo took a series of decisions that completely broke with the strategy and action plan previously defined and the agreements he authorized his Secretary of Interior Esteban Moctezuma to agree just a few days before in Guadalupe Tepeyac with Marcos. So without consulting his Secretary of the Interior; without knowing exactly who Subcomandante Marcos was; with the Single presumption of the Attorney General of Mexico that Marcos was a dangerous guerrilla, President Ernesto Zedillo decided to send the Mexican army to capture or assassinate Marcos. In his camp at the Lacandon Jungle, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation was under military siege of the Mexican Army. Marcos' response was immediate, sending the following message: "See you in hell". Faced with this situation, Max Appedole, his childhood friend and colleague at the Jesuit College Instituto Cultural Tampico, asked for help from Edén Pastora "Commander Zero" of Nicaragua, to prepare a report for under Secretary of the Interior Luis Maldonado Venegas; to the Secretary of the Interior Esteban Moctezuma and the President Ernesto Zedillo about Marcos' natural pacifist tendencies and the terrible consequences of a tragic outcome. The document concluded that the marginalized groups and the radical left that exist in Mexico have been fulfilled with the movement, while Subcomandante Marcos maintains an open negotiating track. Eliminating Marcos and his social containment work would give opportunity to the Radical groups to take control of the movement. They will response to violence with violence. They would begin the terrorist bombings, kidnappings and belligerent activities. The country would be in a very dangerous spiral, which could lead to very serious situations because not only there is discomfort in Chiapas, but in many places in Mexico. Mexico under-Secretary of Interior Luis Maldonado Venegas achieved with Subcomandante Marcos the re-initiation of discussions and all the necessary agreements in accordance with the law to start the formal Peace Talks dialog between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the Mexican government. Subcomandante Marcos led the EZLN to lay down their arms and start the dialog for peace agreements with the Mexican Government. Edén Pastora's expert opinion was useful since time demonstrated that the fight against a military solution to the conflict and the creative strategy for a peaceful solution to the 1995 Zapatista Crisis to be legally, politically and honorably correct, saving many lives in Mexico.
He was seen at a Sandinista demonstration over the slow certification of winners in the November 5, 2000 municipal elections.
Alvaro Pardo made a documentary about Pastora in 2006 called Edén Pastora - Commandante Cero. It portrays Pastora's return to the political arena of Nicaragua when he was nominated as a candidate for the mayor of Managua.
Pastora ran for president in the general election of 2006. He finished in fifth place, with 0.29% of the vote. In 2008, Pastora announced that he had become reconciled with the current FSLN and pledged support for the government of Daniel Ortega. He is quoted as saying, "this government is making a revolution, one-eyed or lame, but it is a revolution." As of 2010, he holds the title of Minister of Development of the Rio San Juan Basin.
In November 2010, in perhaps the most publicized Costa Rican arrest warrant issued in years, prosecutors in northern Caribbean canton of Pococí announced that Pastora, now 73 years old, has been indicted for severe environmental damage caused in the eastern Limón province near the Río San Juan that the Republic of Nicaragua claims to be a part of their territory. Pastora (and the Nicaraguan Government) based his arguments not on official cartography maps but on faulty border information obtained from Google Maps. Pastora and his soldiers invaded the Caleros Island in order to create a channel connecting the San Juan River with the Atlantic Ocean. The government of Costa Rica, which disputes ownership of the island with Nicaragua, holds that this has caused irreparable ecological destruction.
Following this endeavor, the media exposure it has given Pastora, and the diplomatic scandal arising from his invasion, it is believed that he will pursue a candidacy for president in Nicaragua.
Pastora had three failed marriages. Lamenting about the interpersonal strains that occur in the life of a revolutionary, Pastora said: "The first thing we revolutionaries lose is our wives. The last thing we lose is our lives. In between our women and our lives, we lose our freedom, our happiness, our means of living."
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