Adolfo Calero

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Adolfo Calero Portocarrero (December 22, 1931 – June 2, 2012) was a Nicaraguan businessman, and leader of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, which was the largest contra rebel group opposing the Sandinista government.[1][2] In the contra leadership, Calero was responsible for managing the bank accounts into which money was deposited and then used to buy supplies and arms. He was brought to testify at U.S. Congressional hearings in May 1987.

Early years[edit]

Calero was born in Managua to Adolfo Calero Orozco (1899–1980) and María Portocarrero (1911–1944) who got married in 1927; he was the oldest of four children. He studied in the United States, graduating from University of Notre Dame in 1953 and Syracuse University. In Managua, he managed the Coca-Cola bottling plant.

Calero was associated with the Conservative Party. From 1963, he was a CIA information source. Before the overthrow of the government of Anastasio Somoza in 1979, he was briefly imprisoned, giving credibility to his claims to have opposed Somoza as well as the Sandinistas.

Contra leader[edit]

In early 1983, he joined the political directorate of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN). By October he became its president, though many observers wondered about his real power, due to the political wing's weak control over the military wing. In a bid to unify contra factions and win aid from the U.S. Congress, he became a member of the United Nicaraguan Opposition (UNO) triumvirate with Alfonso Robelo and Arturo Cruz.

Calero controlled the FDN through his deputy, Aristides Sánchez, and the contras' military commander, Enrique Bermúdez, an alliance so tight that it was dubbed the "Iron Triangle."

However, there were tensions below the surface. After the Sapoa ceasefire, Calero exploited discontent with Bermudez among the FDN's field commanders in an effort to push him out. Heavy-handed intervention by the CIA helped to crush this effort. Later, however, other commanders, with the blessing of the State Department, ousted both their political and military leadership.

Personal life[edit]

Calero married Maria Ernestina Lacayo on December 7, 1957. The couple had two children, Myriam(b. 1958) and Adolfo(1960–1994). Calero has three grandchildren. He has three younger siblings: Myriam (b. 1933), Mario (1935–1993) and Martha (b. 1943). On July 26, 2011 he published his book "Cronicas de un Contra" which narrates his participation during the 1980s in Nicaragua.


Calero died in Managua on June 2, 2012 after complications from pneumonia and a kidney failure.[3] He is survived by his wife, daughter, three grandchildren and two sisters.


  1. ^ Hart Strober, Deborah; Gerald S. (2003). The Reagan Presidency: An Oral History of the Era. Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-583-9. 
  2. ^ "Northern Front Contras: The Contra Story — Central Intelligence Agency". Archived from the original on 26 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  3. ^