The Freedom Fighter’s Manual – Battling Communist Rule

The United States of America started to view Nicaragua as a serious threat when, on 19 July 1979, the Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza, was overthrown by the Sandinista National Liberation Front. To ensure that Nicaragua would not become a communist government, America began to support the Contras groups and decided to take up the responsibility of assisting the local communities to fight against the government, but without encouraging a revolt. It was with this in mind, that the C.I.A. began to compile the Freedom Fighter’s Manual.

In any war, revolt or uprising it is always the innocent civilians, children and women that seem to bear the brunt of the fighting. They often feel helpless, as they do not have the means, knowledge or tools to either be a part of the war or to be in control of their own destinies. The Freedom Fighter’s Manual was designed to be easily understood and was a fifteen page booklet of ideas, plans and actions that citizens would be able to use to destabilize the government, without the use of weapons or putting themselves in harms way.

In 1983, thousands of the booklets were airdropped over Nicaragua. Even though the Freedom Fighter’s Manual recommended that all actions were to be taken in pairs of two, there were a few pages that could benefit individuals. Divided into various sections, the booklet had instructions on how to disrupt the workplace by causing damage, calling in sick, clogging bathroom toilets and cutting cables. Public disruption was also included with methods, such as setting livestock free, graffiti, blocking roads and cutting the electricity. To disable vehicles, the booklet suggested how to cause damage with dirt, ice picks and candles and explained how the electrical system worked. The booklet even showed citizens how to make a Molotov cocktail and use explosives.

The existence of the Freedom Fighter’s Manual was exposed in 1984 when a copy of the booklet was given to an American journalist by a Nicaraguan Contra. Various opinions were sparked by the revelation of the booklet, but it was a valiant attempt by the C.I.A. (Central Intelligence Agency of the United States) to empower the people of Nicaragua, so that they could decide for themselves what action they were prepared to take.