From Marinette to Managua

It was 29 years ago this week that a young Sandinista soldier named, José Fernando Canales Alemán, would shoot down a C-123K cargo plane in Nicaragua. The only survivor of the crash would be Marinette, Wisconsin resident, Eugene Hasenfus (seen after his capture in the above photo). A headline in the New York Times would declare,  “Nicaragua Downs Plane and Survivor Implicates C.I.A.” Hasenfus would confess that he had participated in 10 such missions. This incident would serve to unravel the arms for hostages negotiations between the Reagan administration and Iran, the profits from which were used to supply the anti-government rebels of Nicaragua. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the rebels had been prohibited by Congress. In the end, fourteen administration officials were indicted, including then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Eleven convictions resulted, some of which were vacated on appeal. The rest of those indicted or convicted were all pardoned in the final days of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, who had been vice-president at the time of the affair. The image of the Hasenfus capture would be immortalized on billboards in Nicaragua.