In the 1930s in Nicaragua,
U.S. Marines had helped put dictator Tacho Somoza into power.
Forty years later, Nicaragua was still ruled by a Somoza. After
years of fighting, guerrillas who called themselves Sandinistas,
after the name of a 1930s anti-U.S. rebel, ousted Somoza in
1979. The Sandinistas allied themselves with Cuba and attempted
to bring a Marxist order to their country. But they found
themselves being challenged by a counter-rebellion -- the
At the same time, in neighboring El Salvador, protests had
broken out against right-wing military rule. Catholic Archbishop
Oscar Romero was among those who spoke out. In March 1980, as he
was saying Mass in a private chapel, the archbishop was
assassinated. At Romero's funeral, mourners were fired upon --
and many died. Later in the year three U.S. nuns and a female
lay worker were kidnapped, raped and killed by men later
discovered to be part of El Salvador's National Guard. The U.S.
briefly, and temporarily, withdrew aid to the Salvadoran
military. Meanwhile, Salvadoran guerrillas expanded their
campaign against the government.