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PostHow I Got Out of Jail in Nicaragua (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 08/14/19 4:41 am)
Gary Moore writes:
John E asked (Aug 12) the length of my incarceration period in Nicaragua, and indeed it was brief, just a few nights in the windowless cell on top of Tiscapa volcano, plus the captive time in the jungle, from which I was flown back to Managua in a government cargo plane, whose pilot was both Cuban and a woman. Interesting details to be learned there, too, but she was less conversational than my cellmate the cane toad. I was not allowed to contact the US embassy or anyone else, and was told I might remain "disappeared" forever. (The words of the acne-scarred guy glaring through the cigarette smoke were: "You may never get out of here").
Each day when I was taken from the cell to interrogation, I had to walk bent over at the waist so I could see only the floor, and not the super-secret insides of the notorious place without windows (aside from the intimidational value). However, as I said, I was never harmed physically, and in retrospect their eagerness to believe my majestic Hollywood excuse story reprises the suspicion that much of this, unlike in many horrific cases, was less life-and-death struggle than theater.
JE also asked what happened to the toad, and mentioned the archetypal notion of licking it. First, it turned out to be a foul-weather friend, for at some point while I was preoccupied with what I would say in interrogation next day, it somehow disappeared, as mysteriously as it had come. Was its cosmic job done? Was it really a sneaky rat-toad planted in my cell to lure me into revealing more about Clint and Barbra? And as to any fairy tale applications, I think I dimly knew in those days that cane toads are poisonous. It's a contact poison, requiring only a touch. This can be confirmed by countless backyard dogs in Miami, after accidental cane-toad importation from the Caribbean began to populate people's swimming pools, forcing the periodic replacement of too-adventurous family pets. But the toad was there when I needed it.
JE comments: Theatrical or not, Gary, your experience must have been absolutely terrifying. I can only imagine the anguish of lying awake at night, in a dank cell, and wondering if the "never get out of here" threats are real.
When the ordeal finally ended, did they put you on a plane out of the country, or were you simply let go in Managua?
My Nicaraguan Jail Saga, Part III (from Gary Moore)
(John Eipper, USA
08/15/19 7:59 AM)
Gary Moore writes:
Responding to JE's further questions about my prison experience in Nicaragua:
yes, being "disappeared" into a windowless cell was very frightening, as it was
meant to be. I got to observe firsthand some of the psychological effects of such fear:
1) an extreme feeling of how stupid I was to have gotten into this mess,
manifested even in seeing symbols of stupidity in chance stains and shadows;
and 2) as I mentioned, an awe-inspiring acceleration of thought process, leading
strangely to me figuring out where my hosts were coming from psychologically
and how to use it against them, a kind of Br'er Rabbit jiu jitsu. But don't try this
at home, kids. Results not guaranteed.
Once their clever interrogation had discovered I was an advance scout for the
moguls of Hollywood, I was finally allowed to contact the American consulate, and
a nice guy came over to the windowless volcano top (maybe Timothy Brown knew him)
and wanted to make an international news release out of this oppression of journalistic
freedom. But, again stupidly, I thought of how such sudden news--while I was still in prison--might scare my family to death, so I asked him not to. Disappointedly but considerately,
he agreed. I did later write a Wall Street Journal piece about it. A patrol car took me
to the Costa Rican border, amid other pratfalls and bumps, and that was that.
JE comments: I'll remember that Hollywood ploy if the need arises. Gary, I couldn't find the WSJ piece on-line, but you did make the Congressional Record (1990). Please tell us more!
It's Good I Stayed Away from Gary Moore's Nicaraguan Volcano
(Timothy Brown, USA
08/17/19 1:10 PM)
It's probably just as well I didn't show up to visit Gary Moore in his volcano-top Nicaraguan jail. At the request of Washington, from 1987 through 1990 I was head of the Special Liaison Officer (SLO) to the Nicaraguan Democratic Resistance in Central America, both its political and armed branches, a unique compartmentalized State Department (yes, State not spook) inside the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Decades earlier (1956-'59), I had been a Marine Guard in Managua, come to know socially later activists from both sides of of the so-called "Contra War"--from the real first leader of the Sandinista Front, Noel Guerrero Santiago ("El Patriarco") (see page 52 in my book Diplomarine), who told me during his videotaped Oral History that he was a COMINTERN agent, a surprise assertion I was able to cross-check with Guerrero's Honduran wife, as well as with José Puente León (Ch. 2 in my When the AK-47s Fall Silent), and Carlos Fonseca's widow, María Hayde Terán Naves (pg 38 in AKs). Carlos Fonseca Amador later became the FSLN's best-known leader.
PS. I still have a copy of Fonseca's Un nicaragüense en Moscú (Publicaciones Unidad, Managua 1958) that I bought in Managua. Some manuscripts he wrote while in prison in Costa Rica are now in the Hoover Archives of Stanford.
JE comments: I've collected a few dozen books about the Soviet Union written by Latin Americans, but not Fonseca's tome. Tim, did Fonseca receive "training" in the USSR, or was he there on a short visit?
- It's Good I Stayed Away from Gary Moore's Nicaraguan Volcano (Timothy Brown, USA 08/17/19 1:10 PM)