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Another Central American Tyrant Passes from the Scene: Farewell to Tomás Borge

Borge had been from the start, even in the period of pretend moderation, the regime’s enforcer. He was made minister of the Interior. He named the building which housed state security -- something that Orwell might have dreamed up in his novel 1984 -- the "Sentinel of the People’s Happiness,” which was proclaimed in a loud banner over the building’s front.

In his post, Borge contracted with the East German government to send a team of Stasi -- that country’s hated secret police -- to come to Nicaragua to train his own ministry’s agents in the type of techniques they used to control the populace. From East Germany and other Communist regimes in Eastern Europe he obtained advisors, communications equipment, uniforms, and other supplies. But what interested him most was concrete advice on how to use his spies to help concentrate power and give the FSLN complete control of the country. East Germany’s Stasi chief  sent him a specially selected group of agents who, he promised Borge, would give them the ability and know-how to crush potential civilian opposition to the Sandinista regime.

He also liked to show the press how adept he was at fooling gullible Western fellow-travelers. Borge met them -- as he did me at one time in the 1980s -- in his would-be office, behind which was a display of Christian crucifixes and a Bible sitting at his desk. Many would remark when they wrote about him how the hated security chief was really a believing Catholic and a religious individual. When they left, Borge would retreat to his actual office, which is the site at which he worked and which had no visible religious symbols of any kind. Of course, Borge used his ministry to regularly attack the Church, to deport opposition priests, and to give his support to an officially sponsored liberation church whose clerics backed the FSLN.

Daniel Ortega, now president of Nicaragua and still the leader of the FSLN, proclaimed a three day period of mourning. Those who benefit from the regime’s largesse will undoubtedly hold memorials, while others will go about their daily life, hoping to get by and undoubtedly happy that this once strong henchman is no longer alive to give them trouble.

Most obituaries end with R.I.P. Not this one. I trust the good Lord will know him for what he was, and that his pretense of being a good Catholic will not enable him to enter the pearly gates, but that other place where he will finally get to consort with his beloved late comrades, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.