1974 - Ortega freed after operation Juan Jose Quezada

38 years ago today (December 27th 1974) was the assault on the house of Somoza Minister Jose Maria "Chema" Castillo which resulted in the release of Sandinista prisoners among them being Daniel Ortega.

In an operation named after Juan Jose Quezada (see bio below) and led by Commander Eduardo Contreras (see bio below) they took the house of the Somoza Minister "Chema" Castillo during a party where there were also other members of the Somoza dictatorship. The plan was, among other things, to secure the release of members of the FSLN who were imprisoned and being tortured in the prisons run by Somoza.

Some interesting information on CONTRERAS and QUEZADA (and many more) from: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Nicaraguan_Biographies/The_Sandinista_Regi...

CONTRERAS Escobar, Eduardo. FSLN National Directorate member at the time of his death in 1976. Born in Ticuantepe, Masaya, in 1945. Joined a Honduran guerrilla group before traveling to Berlin to study engineering and economics in 1962. Joined the FSLN upon his return to Nicaragua in 1970. Organized solidarity committees in Mexico and ran arms from Honduras. Returned to Nicaragua in 1973 and joined the FSLN National Directorate as "Marcos." Led the "Juan Jose Quezada" Command at 1974 Christmas party hostage-taking. Accompanied the freed Sandinistas to Cuba, then returned to Managua to head the urban underground. Killed in a shootout at a suburban Managua safehouse in November 1976.

QUEZADA, Juan Jose. Led the first successful FSLN airline hijacking in November 1969 with Pedro Arauz Palacios. Known as "El Brujo" (The Sorcerer). Participated in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's September 1970 hijacking of a British BOAC airliner. According to Sandinista spokesman Jorge Mandi, "A number of Sandinistas took part in the [September 1970] operation to divert four aircraft which the PFLP seized and landed at a desert airfield in Jordan.... Nicaraguan and Palestinian blood was spilled together in Amman and other places during the 'Black September battles.'" (al-Watan newspaper, Kuwait, August 7, 1979). Quezada returned to the Nicaraguan mountains in 1971. Killed in September 1973 in Nan- daime. The FSLN squad that carried off the December 1974 Christmas party hostage-taking was named in his honor.

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Christmas dinner

Stephen Kinzer's first interview upon arriving in Managua in Nov, 1976, was with Colonel Pataky, a guest at that dinner and a hostage during the 62 hour siege. The host was killed. Borge had planned the assault. Somoza paid one million dollars, released 14 rebel prisoners and provided the plane to fly them to Cuba, to free the elite hostages. One had swallowed her $15,000 diamond ring.

Kinzer's book, 'Blood of Brothers' is worth its weight in gold for the interview that followed, with Pedro Joaquin Chamorro.