The use of nuclear weapons on D+18 almost set Central America and the Caribbean on the backburner for the US permanently. But the fear and uncertainty that came in the hours following the nuclear exchange ended up working to Washington’s benefit. The remaining appetites for further conflict in the region were extinguished, with one significant exception.
In Managua, peace was in sight for Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega and his country. On D+17, he informally requested discussions for a ceasefire with the US government. The request went through the Costa Rican government and before the US State Department and White House could formulate an outline for a ceasefire and permanent peace with Nicaragua, the nuclear exchange took place. Ortega was fearful that the conflict was at a point where it would spiral into a global nuclear war. He was fully aware that there were military installations and cities in his country marked for nuclear destruction on US nuclear targeting lists. Increasingly horrified at what the future might hold, Ortega took to the airwaves on the morning of D+19 and announced that Nicaraguan military forces were standing down and a formal request for the United Nations to broker a ceasefire would be made by Nicaragua’s UN ambassador in New York on that evening. It was another twenty-four hours before that effort managed to get off the ground. Again, owing to US preoccupation with events in Europe.
However, on D+20 concrete efforts to iron out a cease fire finally started up. A delegation of Nicaraguan diplomats was flown to New York to meet with US government officials and UN diplomats. After four hours of talks, the foundation of a thirty-day ceasefire was ironed out and accepted by all parties. The Nicaraguan delegation, at Ortega’s direction, had requested thirty-six hours before the ceasefire’s implementation to withdraw Nicaraguan soldiers, proxy militia members and intelligence officers from all Central American and Caribbean nations. Washington agreed but did not fail to warn the Nicaraguans that if the time was used to make preparations to resume hostilities, the US response would “negate the need for a cease fire in the first place,” the head of the US delegation promised. “We can move directly to rendering aid to the people of Nicaragua. Once the fallout clears, of course.” Needless to say, the United Nations officials present to hear this statement were horrified, as were the Nicaraguans.
The Americans, on the other hand, were secretly delighted. However, they were professional and polite enough to keep their emotions and thoughts hidden.
In Cuba, news of the destruction of Madrid and Gorki halted the budding civil war in its tracks. The confusion in the aftermath of nuclear weapons being used enabled forces loyal to Fidel Castro to recapture the handful of military installations seized by pro-Soviet factions of the Cuban military. Over the next thirty-six hours, Castro distanced himself and Cuba as far from the Soviet Union as possible. Contact was made with the US government on matters similar to the talks Washington was having with the Nicaraguan government. On the afternoon of D+21, a formal ceasefire was announced between the United States and Cuba. The Third World War in the Caribbean had drawn to a close.
The significant exception talked about in the opening of this entry was, not surprisingly, Manuel Noriega……
Author’s Note: I wanted to tie up the loose ends down in the Carib and Central America before we jump into the meat of D+21. I had neglected this region for a few days of the conflict. Part II will be up either tomorrow night or Friday. Stay frosty guys, the balloon is going up soon in the real world, it would seem. –Mike