Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

U.S. Charges That the PLO is an Active Ally of Communist Revolutionaries in Central America

August 2, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Reagan Administration has charged that the Palestine Liberation Organization “is an active ally of Communist revolutionaries throughout Central America.” This charge was contained in the July 20 issue of the White House Digest, a service provided by the White House Office of Media Relations and Planning.

According to the Digest, the PLO is supplying training and materiel to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and to the anti-government guerrillas in El Salvador. The report noted that “since being introduced to the region by (Cuban President Fidel) Castro, the PLO has developed ties with revolutionary groups in nearly half the countries in the region.”

At the same time, the Sandinistas were fighting alongside the PLO in the Middle East as early as 1970, according to the report. The Digest emphasized that neither side has denied the link between them, and it cited statements issued by Latin American and PLO leaders.


“There is a longstanding blood unity between us and the Palestinians,” Sandinista press spokesman Jorge Mandi said in June, 1979, shortly before the Sandinistas came to power. “Many of the units belonging to the Sandinista movements were at Palestinian revolutionary bases in Jordan. In the early 1970’s, Nicaraguan and Palestinian blood was spilled together in Amman and in other places during the Black September battles. It is natural, therefore, that in our war against (President Anastasio) Somoza, we received Palestinian aid for our revolution in various forms.”

Mandi also made it clear that the Sandinistas had participated in PLO terrorist acts such as hijackings, according to the Digest. In 1980, PLO chief Yasir Arafat told the Sandinistas while he was in Managua: “The links between us are not new; your comrades did not come to our country just to train, but to fight. Your enemies are our enemies,” the Digest reported.

The Digest explained that the PLO was introduced to the region in 1966, when Castro sponsored the First Conference of the Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. PLO representatives attended the conference, according to the report, and Castro “began efforts to make the PLO a part of international revolutionary activities, especially in Latin America.”

By the late 1960’s, Cuban and PLO officers were training together in the Soviet Union and assisting each other with military and intelligence personnel. In 1972, Castro met with PLO leaders in Algeria and the two sides agreed to step up their joint activities, the Digest said. In 1973, Cuba broke relations with Israel and in 1974, the PLO opened its first Latin American office in Havana.


Cooperation between the Sandinistas and the PLO also goes back to the late 1960’s, according to the Digest. The report charged the following:

In 1969, Sandinista guerrillas went to Tyre in Lebanon for training under the PLO.

In 1978, the Sandinistas joined the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine in a joint “declaration of war” against Israel.

Nicaragua is one of the few countries in the world where the PLO Mission is officially designated as an Embassy and the ranking PLO official is referred to as “Ambassador.”

In 1980, representatives of the Salvadoran United Revolutionary Directorate (DRU), which was then the unified military command for the various Salvadoran Communist groups, met with Arafat in Managua, and were promised arms and aircraft. Later that year, the PLO did send arms to the DRU, and reportedly sent fighters to El Salvador, as well.

By early 1981, according to a State Department spokesman, there had been “a massive influx of arms from Soviet and other Communist sources. Radical Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have furnished funds, arms and training.”

In 1982 Arafat said publicly that PLO guerrillas were serving in El Salvador and documents captured in Beirut during the summer of 1982 revealed that there were Salvadoran guerrillas in. PLO camps in Lebanon.

Recommended from JTA