Kerry and the Communists
By Cliff Kincaid
April 6, 2004

We have been wondering how the major media would handle Senator John Kerry’s cordial relations with the communist Sandinistas who once ruled Nicaragua. Now we have our answer. The March 21st Washington Post ran a story by Glenn Kessler declaring that Kerry was merely “engaging” with them. The whole theme of the article was that Kerry’s foreign policy was one of “engagement.” This story has got to go down in history as a classic in terms of whitewashing a candidate’s record.

Kerry adamantly opposed President Reagan’s policy of preventing a communist takeover of Central America. Evidence showed that communist Cuba and the then-Soviet Union were coordinating a massive assault on the Western hemisphere. Reagan had set them back with the liberation of Grenada and the overthrow of a communist gang there. He was also supporting a resistance movement, known as the Contras, opposing the communist Sandinistas who had taken control of Nicaragua.

In an article in the American Spectator, entitled, “The Bolshevik in Kerry,” George Neumayr wrote, “Kerry’s limousine liberation theology led him into one of the most embarrassing moments of his early Senate career—his disastrous Neville Chamberlain-style diplomacy with Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega. Shortly after becoming a Senator, Kerry took off for Nicaragua with Tom Harkin on a free-lancing fact-finding tour, the purpose of which was to stymie congressional support for the Contras by ‘finding’ that the Sandinistas weren't such bad guys after all.”

Kerry said at the time, “We believe this is a wonderful opening for a peaceful settlement without having to militarize the region. The real issue is: Is this administration going to overthrow the government of the Sandinistas no matter what they do?” Neumayr notes that Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz “was so flabbergasted by Kerry’s shilling for Ortega that he denounced Kerry publicly for ‘dealing with the communists’ and letting himself be ‘used.’”

But that’s not how Glenn Kessler of the Post saw it. “Over the years,” he wrote, “Kerry has pushed engagement with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the communists in Vietnam and the mullahs who run Iran.” Kessler wrote that, “Early in his Senate career, in 1985, he riled the Reagan administration by traveling to Nicaragua to meet with the Sandinista government, saying that ‘we've got to create a climate of trust.’” Kessler said that Kerry had “questioned U.S. support for the contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s.”

That’s how Kessler sanitized a Kerry policy of appeasing the communists in Nicaragua. If we had followed Kerry’s advice, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and perhaps even Mexico might be communist today. But no thanks to Kerry, pressure from the Contras forced the Sandinistas to hold free elections, which they lost. As a result, the communist insurgency in El Salvador collapsed and assumed the role of a political opposition party. On March 21, that party, led by veteran communist Schafik Handal, lost an election for the presidency. He got about 34 percent of the vote, compared to 58 percent for the conservative. Reagan was right, Kerry was wrong.

Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of the AIM Report and can be reached at