The above is another cartoon from Roger Sanchez published by the Nicaraguan Solidarity Campaign. In it Sanchez’s Uncle Sam calls out an imagined Soviet invasion while opening the door for U.S. intervention. The United States justified its war against Nicaragua by arguing that the Sandinistas were a puppet of the Soviets. Interestingly, the Soviets and the FSLN wanted nothing to do with each other. The expensive experience of aiding the Cuban Revolution combined with the catastrophic decline of the Soviet economy ensured that the Soviets had neither the will nor the resources to turn Nicaragua into a hemispheric beachhead. Also, by the mid 1980s Cold War tensions between the Soviets and United States had thawed and Soviet leaders feared that supporting the Sandinistas would undermine these more congenial relations. The depiction of an invasion of the United States by Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Soviet Union in the film Red Dawn was never even close to reality (however that movie is an awesome 80s action flick and should be watched). However, this is not to say that the Soviets did not aid the Sandinistas. As the U.S. embargo of Nicaragua slowly strangled the small nation and as Latin American and European states cut aid in the face of U.S. pressure, Nicaragua turned to the Soviets and Cuba for assistance. Ironically U.S. actions pushed the FSLN into a closer relationship with the Soviets. However, this aid was limited and short lived. By the late 1980s the Soviets drastically cut much of their assistance to Nicaragua.
For their part the Sandinistas followed the advice of the Fidel Castro and pursued policies that would not agitate the United States, this included not cultivating a relationship with the Soviets. Highlighting their own experience of attacks at the hands of the United States, Castro and the Cubans advised the Sandinistas not turn to the Soviets, giving the United States a reason for aggression, but instead turn to Western Europe and the Nonaligned nations for aid. The Sandinistas followed this path until the U.S. embargo forced them to turn to the Soviet Union.
Danuta Paszyn, The Soviet Attitude to Political and Social Change in Central America, 1979-90 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000).