Alfonso Robelo Callejas joined the Directorate of the United Nicaraguan Opposition in 1985 and was elected to the Directorate of the Nicaraguan Resistance by that organization’s assembly last May. Both Contra organizations oppose the ruling Sandanista (FSLN) regime and seek the democratization of Nicaragua.
Robelo, 46, has moved through several stages in his struggle for a democratic Nicaragua. He opposed the Somoza dictatorship beginning in 1977, and later, as part of the Reconstruction Junta, he stood up to the totalitarian FSLN as president of the Coordinadora Democratica from 1980-2. In exile from Nicaragua, he and other leaders founded the Alianza Revolucionaria Democratica, and subsequently – due to the Sandanistas’ refusal to seek a political solution – he joined the armed Contra struggle, concentrating his efforts in the political sphere.
Robelo, a graduate in chemical engineering Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., was elected president of the Chamber of Industries of Nicaragua in 1972, distinguished himself in the economic revitalization of the country after that year’s devastating earthquake. In 1975, he was elected president of the Nicaraguan Development Institute and the Superior Council of Private Enterprise, the principal organizations of the Nicaraguan private sector. Also, Robelo served as director of the Central American University in Managua in the mid-1970s.
Following the assassination of the director of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Presna, Robelo threw himself wholeheartedly into the political arena, achieving distinction for his role in two general strikes against the Somoza regime. In 1978, he founded the Nicaraguan Democratic Movement, which was a key factor in the ultimate union of the country’s political opposition parties.
During the period that preceded the fall of Somoza, he was active abroad in efforts to enlist the international community in their struggle against dictatorship. In 1978, he was jailed by Somoza and accused with other Union leaders of plotting another general strike. Under international pressure, Somoza released him a month later, after which he fled to Costa Rica in exile.
With the fall of Somoza, he returned to Managua as a member of the Reconstruction Junta in 1979. The following year he resigned his post, denouncing the Sandanista’s swing toward totalitarianism. Following his resignation, Robelo became a notable figure in the internal opposition, and suffered assaults by the regime in its efforts to repress civilian opposition.