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The American Hijacker

Nicaraguan Childhood | Life in the States | Political Activities  
The Hijacking | His Life and Death  

Political Activities

Quotes During the 1960s, Patrick Arguello went to college and, like many young people of the era, became fascinated with left-wing politics. The heady combination of a desire to improve the world, the witnessing of brutal repression, and a determination to take a stand added up to Arguello's commitment, in the late 1960s, to the cause of the Sandinistas, a Marxist group opposed to Nicaragua's Somoza dictatorship. His interest would lead him to Europe for guerrilla training -- and into contact with a militant Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Photo of Patrick Arguello

We were totally unaware [of Pat's political activities]. It came as a shock, but as I looked back, because of his sensitivities, I could understand why he would do what he did. He wanted Nicaragua to be free from dictatorship... All his memories are in Nicaragua, though we moved to the United States...

Rose Arguello, sister

Patrick came back to Nicaragua in the middle of massive student riots against the Somoza regime in the summer of 1961. It was almost like a baptism of fire... Patrick at this time starts to identify more and more with guerrilla struggle. He goes to UCLA, he studies Latin American Studies... In 1967, Patrick received a Fulbright scholarship to study in Chile... it was the intellectual capital of Latin America.

When Patrick was in Chile, two things happened which fundamentally changed his personality. One was the wiping out of the Sandinista guerrilla movement in Pancasan... when Patrick got the news, he was devastated... these were people he had known, and they were brutally killed. Several months later... Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia... He could no longer be a bystander. Patrick felt, I need to become part of the guerrilla movement.

Marshall Yurow, biographer

He studied political science... that was his major. I think your own interest grows, you're curious, you want to know more about it... He got a scholarship to go to Chile, and I think that opened up another venue for him to find out what was going on in the world. It wasn't only in Nicaragua that this injustice was going on.

Rose Arguello, sister

All I ever recall is Mom saying was that "Pat got involved in a demonstration." And of course at that time, anybody who was anybody in Nicaragua was protesting the Somoza regime. It wasn't viewed in those days as being Communist or anti-communist -- it was just anti-Somoza. I never saw him after that. The last time I saw him was in a coffin.

Robert Arguello, brother

Like most revolutionary movements everywhere, the Sandinistas had always been getting involved with other revolutionary movements and governments... The Sandinistas went to Europe, and there they met with representatives of the Fourth International, a Trotskyite grouping of worldwide guerrilla movements, centered in Paris... It was through [them] that the Sandinistas went to Amman, Jordan, to get guerrilla training.

In the spring of 1970, Patrick Arguello was one of the first Sandinistas who went to the camps in Amman to train... they were there for about two months.... They found a certain amount of frustration with the training... For one thing, a lot of the skills they were learning weren't really applicable for Nicaragua -- like how to slit open a camel's belly, how to fight in the desert... The training was more physical conditioning. The Sandinistas wanted something more sophisticated... So they left...

Back in Europe, they told representatives of the Fourth International, "We're not satisfied with the training we got. What can we do?" And they were told, "We can put you in touch with another faction, George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. So they got in touch with George Habash, and basically they were told, "We can help you. But you don't get something for nothing. In order for us to help you, you need to carry out certain missions for us." One of which was... the skyjackings.

Marshall Yurow, biographer

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