In the late 1980s, they were portrayed as heroes in the tradition of Che Guevara, unselfishly dedicated to the well-being of the downtrodden masses.
- The problems began again in 1974, when Sandinista guerrilla groups began to mount very successful operations against Somoza. One popular example was the time when a group of Sandinistas took some elite people hostage at a party and received all of their demands from Somoza in exchange for their release. 
- Unlike the Somoza regime, the Sandinistas did not leave the native populations on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua in peace. All Nicaraguans had to take part in the Marxist experiment. Thus, in perfect Khmer Rouge style, the Sandinistas inflicted a ruthless forcible relocation of tens of thousands of Indians from their land. Like Stalin, they used state-created famine as a weapon against these "enemies of the people." The Sandinista army committed myriad atrocities against the Indian population, killing and imprisoning approximately 15,000 innocent people. Front Page magazine
President Reagan said, "... just as Castro had done in Cuba, the Sandinistas ousted the other parties to the revolution. Many of them are now the Contras. They exiled some, they jailed some, they murdered some. And they installed a Marxist-Leninist totalitarian Government. 
In 1981 Robert McFarlane, then assistant to the Secretary of State proposed a coordinated covert political, economic, and military approach to the pro-Communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua and the insurgency in El Salvador. His proposal was approved in January, 1982, in "National Security Directive 17," which provided for a $20 million program against the Sandinista government and gave the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) responsibility for organizing a five-hundred-man "interdiction" force. Democrats in Congress began voicing opposition in 1982; Reagan and Congress were in constant battle until 1987, when all five Central American heads of state signed a peace accord. The Sandinistas and Contras signed a cease-fire agreement in 1988, and in 1991 democratic elections overthrew the Sandinista regime.
- "Havana unquestionably assisted the Sandinista insurgency with both money and arms, but the revolution was an indigenous Nicaraguan affair. This powerful, although inherently unstable, alliance overthrew Anastasio Somoza in 1979." U.S. Aid to Anti-Communist Rebels: The "Reagan Doctrine" and Its Pitfalls by Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato Institute
- See Portions online
- James M. Scott, "Interbranch Rivalry and the Reagan Doctrine in Nicaragua." Political Science Quarterly 1997 112(2): 237-260.