(ESTIMATED PUB DATE) NICARAGUAN SUPPORT FOR SALVADORAN INSURGENTS -- INTERAGENC

Created: 3/1/1981

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NICARAGUAN SUPPORT FOR SALVADORAN INSURGENTS

KEY JUDGMENTS

believe that the Sandinista Directorate views support of the Salvadoran insurgencyey element in the solidification of the Nicaraguan revolution. This priority explains Nicaragua's wide-ranging supportfor the insurgents since the Sandinistas took power in9 and the high level of arms shipments during the periodanuarythethat such activities could embroil relations with the United States.

In response to US diplomatic- pressure and enhancedmeasures, air shipments of arms directly frost Nicaragua to El Salvador have apparently stopped since early February. Moreover, land and sea shipments, which are sore difficult to monitor, appear to have been cut back sharply.

*m- *StaW

.wide range of other support

very probablyincraaiuS gTlellllla Uaining, "secure transit of insurgents to and from Cuba, use of "volunteer" Nicaraguan combatants in El Salvador, and assistance in the areas of planning, intelligence, and communications.

ncluding.some from

receive additional arms, for theiligentlyrms deliveries from Nicaragua and Costa Rica.^

pressures

Despite the pressures brought to bear by theo far, and the Sandinistas' anticipation of increased we see no change in their commitment to the

Salvadoran insurgents. Temporizing tactics nay continueime; but, if forced to choose, the Sandinistas will very likelyigher priority to supporting the insurgents than to appeasing the United States.

If, as is likely, the present level of military action continues in El Salvador, we expect to see at leastarms shipments from Nicaragua, directly andover the next several weeks or months.

In sua, little shortharp change in thecharacter of the Sandinista regime or termination of serious combat in El Salvador would be likely to force the Nicaraguans to cease or indefinitely curb their support activities.

DISCUSSION

I. SANDINISTA MOTIVES AND PATTERNS OF SUPPORT Motives

We believe that the Sandinista Directorate, in effect the government of Nicaragua, views support of the Salvadoran insurgencyey element in theof the Nicaraguan revolution. The Sandinistas share the belief of the Castro regime that,egion long dominated by the United States, the ability of revolutionary governments to withstand antagonistic foreign pressures is linked to the fortunes of other Latin American revolutionary movements. Additionally, the Sandinistasersonal debt to the ,Salvadoran insurgents, who provided arms,and financial assistance to the Nicaraguans in their struggle against President Somoza.

The calculations of the Sandinistaformer insurgents themselves--reflect practical concerns about the survival of their regime as well as the Ideology of revolutionary solidarity. They are acutely sensitive (even paranoid) about their isolated position as the only revolutionary government in Central America, especiallyis the hostile military-dominated regimes on theirorthern flank. By assisting the insurgents, the Sandinistas seek, in the near term, to tie down the Salvadoran military and. over time, to contribute to the victoryike-minded

:nerablfiHeiV.

3. This combJiiation of factors--ties' ofolidarity, moral indebtedness, and concern forhas led the Sandinistas to provide clandestine assistance to Salvadoran insurgents ever since they seized power in The close personal ties and clandestine networks forged by Cubans, Sandinistas, and other Central American revolutionaries during the Nicaraguan insurrectionramework for rapidlyupport mechanism for the Salvadoran Insurgents. In cooperation with Cuba and with other regional revolutionary groups the Nicaraguans have provided military training; secure transit and safe haven;

"volunteer" combatants; intelligence, planning, andsupport and arms and military equipment. We believe that only the last-named has varied much in intensity over time.

Training, Transit, and "Volunteers"**

Soon after the Sandinistas took power they began to train Salvadoranfew hundred of whom re-sained in Nicaragua after fighting against Soaoza'a forces. Most, if not all, the training has been provided under the direction of the Nicaraguan military, often in regular Army camps.

Apparently, Cuba and Nicaragua havewo-stage process for training revolutionaries from El Salvador and other Latin American countries. Basicis frequently given in Nicaragua to prepare for more advanced courses taught in Cuba. Last August, for example,

jH^Salvadorans reportedly began six weeks of basicin Nicaragua; afterward, the most promising trainees were to proceed to Cubaour-month advanced course. Between June and September,alvadoranshree-month pilot training proqi-^nNKaHaufL to be completed

^flLnted in^jirly November that he had txaTnecTinDotncoiuitries.

from Cuba for 'ided various..

alv

In addition to secure transit torainees,^the .Sandinistas have.pro. ng

rescue* missions "Into El Salvador"^fco transport woundedlcara^<wa_,fqr ^treatisent

7. The Sandinistas have also encouraged experienced Nicaraguan guerrillas to go to El Salvador to serve as coa-batints and advisers. Several sources have described canvassing by Cuban and Nicaraguan officials fo^volunteers

Among tecunty forceicaraguanhe ariather

Nicaraguans had been recruited by the Sandinista military iniven five months' additional training, and sent to El Salvador to fight.

Intelligence, and Communications"

The Sandinistas, along with the Cubans, haveassistance in the planning of insurgent strategy and tactics and in intelligence and communications. The Nicaraguans provide false docunentation to facilitate the movement of guerrillas throughout the region. They apparently also facilitate communication by pouch and radio signal.

The Salvadorana operated their own radio station (Liberacion) within Nicaragua fromecember until

t February, when US pressures forced it off the air. .By. locating in Nicaragua the insurgents for the first tliaeained the security necessary for establishing afacility powerful enough to broadcast throughout the .region..

ntil last fall, _eUrect_Nicaraguann facilitating the flow of arms to Elively modest. Several reporta indicated that in the spring

0 weapons were being ferried in small boats to El Salvador. Fragmentary information suggests that the Sandinistas also used land and air routes, but our ability to monitor these operations was limited by their intermittent nature, as well as by the likely frequent alteration of routes and carriers and the limited size of individual deliveries.

Sandinistas' desire to mask their roleaccounts for their decision inupport mechanism in Costa Rica forto El Salvador. By late summer, however, exposuresupply network forced Havana and Managua toof this operation in Nicaragua.

Accelerated Support for the1 Offensive

the Sandinistas greatly acceleratedof arms directly from Nicaragua last fall,Salvadoran insurgents readied themselvesajorthrust. Starting in September, Cubathe frequency of flights to Nicaragua tosharply augmented flow of military equipment thatumber of Communist "and"radicaV countries r"

. ^supervj

:atas

'inrfieldiat

small.

Sandinistas also stepped up the use ofroutes last fall. Small launchesof several Nicaraguan Pacific ports traversed the Gulf

teca ntand personnel

mvaded El Salvador's southeastern coast during the January offensive almost certainly came from Nicaragua.

addition, overland arms shipmentsalmost certaii

II. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Responding to US Pressures

x Sandinistas insurgents. Sandinistas greater pro the present no pressing to support

response to US demarches early the have cut hack their support to the Salvadoran

In addition to US diplomatic pressures, the probably are also reacting to fears about

spects of detection, and recognition that in phase of reduced combat, the insurgents have need for the large volumes of supplies provided

the January offensiveons).

- we have no report, on the recent dispatch of

Moreover, there is abundant andfragmentary andthat the Sandinistas are pursuing with determination the establishment ofroutes and methods. This evidence indicates that they are working toapability for resuming or expanding military deliveries, with greater potential for escaping detection or for providing plausible denial of Nicaraguan complicity:

Nicaraguans have been working with the Cubans,

and with.Costa Ricans long involved in air flights of arms in Central America, to reopen supply flights from CostaSandinista-supplied aircraft and pilots trained in Nicaragua

to expand.

Finally, we believe that

Nicaraguans in Honduras are still active in the processing of arms deliveries from there to the insurgents.

Net

21. In sum, we conclude that the Sandinistas very probably continue various efforts in support of the Salvadoran insurgents. They have either cut out or cut back arms deliveries. But they are taking steps to resume or expand these, if and when they so decide.

III. OUTLOOK

Reexamining Nicaraguan and Cuban Motives

net impact on the Sandinistas and onregime of the recent, more forceful US policyEl Salvador is difficult to anticipate withleaders are aware that US power andmaXe an already dismal economic situation morecould add muscle to security threat* fromand domestic sources. Cuban leaders also(if less serious) domestic problems and are

more concerned about potential forceful US moves against their Interests than at any time since the.

believe, nonetheless, that Managua anddetermined to support the Salvadoran insurgency.

In effect, theyreverse domino" thesis aboutfortunes in the region. Both countries would see stabilizationro-US government in San Salvador (whether conservative or moderate)etback to their interests. Especially the Sandinistas would seeevelopment as leading to US supported efforts by El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to move against tbe Nicaraguan revolution.

Conversely;"a'revolutionary regime in El Salvador--and even the continuationigorous revolutionarybe seen by Managua, and Havana as reducing

foreign and domestic adver-

rely even bore ^eavi:

on CastroIs counsel..aid, ,and

25. While the current tactics of reduced support may continue for some time,undamental change in Nicaraguan leadershipar-reaching change in the priorities of the present Directorate would alter the government's underlying commitment to revolutionary success in El Salvador. Neither development is moreemote prospect over the next six months or so. Moreover, while there is some evidence of increased factional strife within the Directorate, it has not yet clearly surfaced on the issue of aid to the insurgents, and we see recent Nicaraguan activities as an indication that Directorate members still are largely agreed on priorities.

Salvadorean Developments

The most likely near-term'prospect is formilitary stalemate in El Salvador: neither side is likely toeathblow to the other. But with programed US assistance, the momentum could shift to tbe government and the insurgents could be put increasingly on the defensive.

Under these circumstances, the Sandinistas will weigh carefully their intense commitment to tbe insurgents versus their fear of antagonizing the United States. As indicated, the Sandinistas have already taken preparatory measures for stepping up their arms support and haveother forms of direct assistance. Their preference, reflected in their mix of current activities, is to attempt to mollify'Washington while continuing more circumspect aid. Nonetheless, if forced to choose they would very likelyigher priority to aiding the insurgents than to appeasing the United States.

ire*

If the insurgents were to gain the momentum, we believe the Sandinistas would throw caution to the wind and dramatically step up their assistance, with little regard for the consequences. If, in contrast, the insurgents do very poorly in military terms, the Sandinistas wouldincrease their pressures on the insurgents to turn to political means (including negotiations) to preserve their influence. In these circumstances, the Nicaraguans would .

rjfil^

capabilities will the Sandinistas completely disengage froa' supporttie's ^

Dealing With US Pressures

The Sandinistas would probably like to put off any showdown with the United states for as long as possible. Toward that end they might continue the current partial pause for some time or even take overt propitiatory measures, such as.Issuing ambiguous declarations against outside interference in El Salvador. "

judge, however, that they realize they cannotthat the United States too is not stalling for itsbefore moving more aggressively against They may respond to sharper US pressures with

a quick expansion of aid to the insurgents, to show that they have not been intimidated.

conclude that no serious decline in theof support of the insurgency is likely, and thatincreased activity in arms support will occurnext several weeks or months.

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